It has long been said that the biggest weakness of the Sega Master System was its library in comparison to Nintendo’s NES. This has a lot to do with Nintendo’s cutthroat licensing policy and its efforts to dominate the lucrative North American market. Many Nintendo licensees were either unable to port their games to other consoles or were unwilling so as not to upset Nintendo which means many great NES titles either never saw a Master System release or had a different version of a game published by a third party.
In this post I have tried to speculate just how some NES games may have looked had they got a Master System release. I have used the equivalent NES box art for the titles.
Super Mario Bros
OK – this would never happen. I know that Nintendo would never port their biggest mascot to Sega but this post is about speculation. For this box I have gone with the early Master System gridlines look since Nintendo themselves had their own digital theme for their early games.
These gridline box arts of the early games for the console are the source of much debate amongst Master System fans. Some like them since they give the console and its library a sense of identity. Others however attribute the blandness to one of the reasons why the Master System struggled in North America. I have to agree on the latter. I don’t like them and prefer it when there is some effort in the artwork.
Sega quickly realised the importance of having a mascot like Mario and tried to replicate his success with their own mascot namely Alex Kidd. Alex Kidd in Miracle World looks like it could be a Mario Bros game but as much as I am a Sega fanboy I have to admit that the little Italian-American plumber’s games are a far more enjoyable experience.
This box art is notorious amongst NES fans who, from what I understand, hate it with a passion. I will admit it looks like a doodle done by a 12 year old sitting at the back of a rather dreary maths lesson but that isn’t the biggest complaint. That is reserved for the fact that the guy on the front looks nothing like the Mega Man character in the game.
Mega Man began life in Japan as Rockman on the Nintendo Famicom but it was Americanised in to Mega Man for the NES in the west. A well thought out and fast paced, action platformer this game would have been a welcome addition to the Master System’s library.
There was a Mega Man game on the Sega Game Gear which was released in 1995 by which time it was becoming somewhat easier to port games on to multiple consoles thanks to the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) having seriously eroded Nintendo’s grip on the market. In theory this could have easily been ported to the Master System which shares much of the same hardware but by 1995 the 8-bit console was as good as dead bar from in Brazil.
This was a game that Sega fanboys like me dreamed of getting on the Master System back in the day. Castlevania is justifiably one of the great game franchises of yesteryear being an immersive and well thought out action game. It just oozes with a horror movie themed atmosphere and that coupled with tight controls makes for an enjoyable, if quite tough, gaming experience. When I got my first NES this was one of the games I had to play first.
Just like with Mario, Sega recognised the potential of the series but unable to secure a port for their consoles they once again decided that imitation was the way to go. In 1991 they contracted out newly established game developer SIMS to essentially make a Sega Castlevania game. The result was Master of Darkness (Known as In the Wake of Vampire in Japan and Vampire: Master of Darkness in the US ) released in 1992 and which was effectively an homage to Castlevania in terms of theme and gameplay although it was set in Victorian England.
Sega would finally get a true Castlevania release on one of its consoles when Konami released Castlevania: Bloodlines (known as Castlevania: The New Generation in PAL regions) in 1994.
So there we have it.
Thanks for visiting.