Can SEGA Still Do What NintenDon’t?
Genesis does what NintenDon’t. That was part of SEGA’s marketing for the Genesis way back when the console wars were in full swing. Did it ring true? Certainly in terms of gaming content, SEGA did release a bunch of titles that wouldn’t have felt like a good fit on the family orientated SNES. The same thinking doesn’t have to apply to the phrase moving forward though. You see, with the delay of the Genesis/Mega Drive Classic, it’s quite clear that SEGA are looking to make things as good as they can. The way I see it, there’s a way for them to continue to build on the recent nostalgia kick in gaming culture, and once again be able to say the they do what NintenDon’t with a degree of seriousness. And that all comes down to the Master System.
The Master System’s legacy is such that most now point to it as being instrumental in creating the superior 16-Bit follow-up. It never did really compete with the NES though, thanks largely to Nintendo striking up a lot of exclusive deals for games, resulting in the system having a much smaller library. Nevertheless, the console was not without some much loved titles. So, let’s say the Genesis/Mega Drive classic is a success and SEGA decide to delve further into the archives and release a classic version of their 8-Bit effort. First up, what sort of games would appear on it? Well, the NES Classic went for 30, so let’s go for the same here:
- Alex Kidd In Miracle World – Built into both the MS and MSII, this is the most well-known of SEGA’s initial attempt at creating a Mario rival. Truth be told, while not a patch on SMB3, it’s a decent game, and well worth playing, even now.
- Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse – This Disney license was another top not platformer from SEGA, and featured simple but fun gameplay to accompany the much loved character.
- Cyborg Hunter – Taking on the side scrolling fighter genre that served Altered Beast so well, this was a surprisingly deep game with multiple pick-ups and upgrades, and some really nice enemy designs to boot.
- Double Dragon – Which 8-Bit port was better, the Master System or the NES? Let’s be honest, neither was perfect. This was perfectly playable though, and still retains some fun even now.
- Ghostbusters – The movie tie-in saw players working through several gameplay styles, including top down car driving, side scrolling ghost catching, and even a platform level. It was varied, well executed, and a decent adaption of the first film.
- Hang On – Another title that was built into some versions of the Master System, this was a motorcycle racing game that saw players controlling their ride from a behind the bike perspective. Not as fun as Road Rash, but a nice historical piece.
- Hook – This one is an oddity because the game never made it beyond prototype status. But hey, you have to have some surprises on the classic consoles, right? So, why not touch it up a bit and give the movie tie in a release?
- The Lion King – The new movie is coming, so it seems like a good time to try to grab some of that hype. The game is not as polished as the 16-Bit version, but t’s not without charm, and is perfectly playable.
- Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker – Much as with The Lion King, Moonwalker was weaker than the 16-Bit version, but it did succeed in translating the film into a game that was clearly designed to sell music.
- Mortal Kombat – This should have been terrible. But somehow, it wasn’t. Despite some issues – such as blocked attacks clearly reaching into the opponent – this was a surprising port of a game that needed far more power to run that the Master System offered.
- The Ninja – In many ways, this was a typical run and gun game, though SEGA did try to add some variety with the occasional wall climbing levels. It’s simple, bright, and colourful, and a worthy addition to a collection.
- Predator 2 – Another movie tie in, and another run and gun title, Predator 2 deviated somewhat from the events of the film. This didn’t do it any harm though, as it’s a surprisingly challenging game.
- Pro Wrestling – Featuring big, cartoony sprites and the most bizarre box art on the console, this was a multiplayer classic. If the system allowed you to switch between the Western release and the slightly altered Japanese version (that featured female wrestlers and more weapons), that would be a bonus!
- Psycho Fox – Despite the name, this is a family friendly platformer that is fondly remembered by a lot of gamers. SEGA always did have a knack for creating fun games featuring anthropomorphic animals!
- Shinobi – An underrated port of the classic arcade machine, this one has been lost in the sands of time. Featuring some tight gameplay and decent graphics for the console, this should be a must own though.
- Snail Maze – You’re a snail, and you must traverse a maze. It’s that simple. So, why include it? Well, it was a hidden game built into the console. For the sheer nostalgia of that, it should be included.
- Sonic The Hedgehog
- Sonic The Hedgehog 2
- Sonic Chaos
- Sonic Blast – All four of the main titles for enduring SEGA’s mascot should be part of the collection. They’re all quite interesting because, rather than directly port the bigger games, SEGA decided to build new titles, complete with new mechanics, such as hang-gliders. They weren’t always as well received, but for historical purposes, they’re worth revisiting.
- Space Harrier – One of the more impressive titles on the system, it pushed the console to its limits and created a far better port than should have been possible.
- Spy vs. Spy – Ported to multiple machines, this is a fondly remembered title for many gamers.
- Street Fighter II – Released in Brazil after a joke was played on the team behind the original game, this was a surprisingly good version of one of the most iconic beat ‘em ups to ever be released.
- Taz-Mania – Who doesn’t love Tax, right? Serving as a simplified version of the Mega Drive game, this was a fun platformer featuring the cast of the popular cartoon.
- Tecmo World Cup ’93 – One of the better sporting games on the console, this was fast, looked decent for the generation, and featured some simple fun for fans of the sport.
- TransBot – Repetitive and with no real end, that this game was fun at all is a surprise. You paly a ship that transform into a robot and blast your way through the same levels over and over, side scrolling shooter style.
- Virtua Fighter Animation – It may not be as pretty as the arcade classic, and the cut scenes can be a bit tiresome, but the gameplay here is shockingly close to the arcade version. It’s simplified sure, but it’s decent.
- Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap – Easily one of the most iconic games on the system, it simply wouldn’t be complete without it. IF you’ve not played this classic, grab the remake and experience it first-hand.
- World Soccer – Featuring no licenses, this was a slower title than the superior Tecmo World Cup, but is nevertheless a fun little piece of cartoony sports action.
- Xenon II – Simplified from the 16-Bit port, but still a graphically gorgeous game for the era. The design work translates really well to the system.
So, those are my 30. So far, that doesn’t seem too different to the NES Classic though, does it? So, here’s where the changes come in. You see, most people remember the Master System II, the cheaper – and admittedly sleeker looking – version of the console that was released later on. Despite having a less attractive design though, I think that a classic Master System should be based on the original release. Why? Because it had a card slot.
Now, there weren’t many games released on card rather than cartridge. In fact, there were only ten, all of which were also I believe available on cart. BUT … what if SEGA used this as a way to offer expanded libraries? Think about it; you purchase the console, then if you want to legally purchase some more titles, you buy pre-loaded, licensed SD Cards designed to look like the old Master System cards. I can see two potential uses for this right off the bat.
First, and this is an obvious one, a Game Gear collection. The Game Gear was designed to be a portable Master System, so why not sell an SD Card with some pre-loaded Game Gear exclusives that will run through the emulator? Despite failing to topple the Game Boy, the Game Gear tried to be ahead of its time and does have a stellar library of games to choose from, after all!
Second, there’s the expensive option. There are a total of thirteen Master System games that were compatible with the Light Phaser gun. Can you imagine if they released a package containing the games on card and the gun to play them? Laser Ghost and Rambo 3 in particular would be fun nostalgia trips.
So, with no way to legally expand the NES and SNES classics, the way the original Master System was built does open up options for SEGA to do what NintenDon’t by offering a classic console that could grow in terms of content. Of course, they’d have to find a way to lock it so that you couldn’t just stick in any old SD card to update the library, but it still seems like a great idea to me.
But what do you think? Did you like the Master System? What games would you include in a classic console? Do you like the idea of selling expanded libraries in this way? Let me know in the comments below.