• Category Archives Sega Master System
  • Retro Games » Sega Master System
  • Phantasy Star (Sega Master System)

    Phantasy Star (Sega Master System)


    Phantasy Star, when it came out for the Sega Master System in 1987, started a long running Fantasy/Sci-Fi RPG series that continues today. The first game in the series was the only one to appear on the Master System. The next three in the main series would appear on the Sega Genesis before transitioning to the online world.

    Phantasy Star was the first 4 megabit cartridge for the Master System and was very large for the time. This also made it very expensive and was priced at $70-$80 when introduced. At one point this game cost almost as much as the console itself.

    While Phantasy Star has been critically claimed since its introduction, it never quite gained the popularity of the likes of Zelda or even Dragon Warrior. This probably comes down to the fact that the Sega Master System was far less popular, at least in North America, than was the NES.

    Phantasy Star had a number of relatively novel features for the time. First, while there was magic involved in the game, it really had more of a sci-fi theme which was fairly unusual for RPGs of the time. Most were fantasy based, bearing more of a resemblance to Dungeons & Dragons. Second, the game had a female protagonist. You wouldn’t think this would be all that unusual by this point but I guess even identifiable characters with anything that could be described as a personality or backstory were still a relative novelty. This game was also among the first to introduce animation to encounters and travel between planets in the RPG world.

    The first Phantasy Star is still arguably the best in the series though most of the others are very good games as well. But at least the first one is one you should not miss out on if you are a fan of RPGs. If you don’t have a Master System, there are a couple of ways you can still play this game. Phantasy Star Generation 1 was a remake for the PS2 but this was released only in Japan. However, a fan translation was made and is available for download. In addition, Phantasy Star is an unlockable bonus in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

  • R-Type (Sega Master System)

    R-Type (SMS, 1988)


    R-Type is arguably one of the best, most famous and influential and most difficult horizontal side-scrolling shooters of all time. As such, it received a number of home ports over the years and this includes a port to the Sega Master System.

    The original arcade game was released by Irem in 1987. R-Type for the TurboGrafx-16 was one of the earliest games for that system released in the U.S. in 1989. The Sega Master System version came out slightly earlier in 1988. Oddly, while there was a Super Nintendo version there was no Genesis version.

    My first experience with R-Type was actually with Super R-Type on the Super Nintendo. It was basically R-Type with a mixture of old a new levels. Despite the slow down on that platform, I always loved the game, especially the Geiger-esque graphics. I think I only ever beat it on the easiest difficulty level.

    When the Sega Master system version came out, it was considered one of the best games on that platform. It too has slow-down problems and in addition, graphics detail is somewhat reduced, especially in terms of the number of colors displayed. Despite this, it is still a very good if difficult game.

    The best home port of R-Type is the TurboGrafx-16 version. At one point, both the TurboGrafx-16 version and the Sega Master System version were available on Nintendo’s Virtual Console for the Wii. While the SMS version is quite good for that system, there aren’t very many reasons you would want that one over the TG-16 version. The graphics, sound and gameplay were all vastly superior on the TurboGrafx-16 version and if you had to pick only one then that would be the one. For completists though, there might be one reason you would want the Master System version. It had a bonus hidden level that was only available on that system.

    bonus level

    In addition to the ports mentioned above there were also several home computer ports as well as numerous clones and other shooters heavily influenced by R-Type. More recently in 2009, R-Type and R-Type II became available on Xbox Live Arcade in the form of R-Type Dimensions which was also released for the PS3 in 2014. In 2010 and 2011 ports were also released for iOS and Android. If you want the Sega Master System port, you will have to track down the original cartridge or fire up an emulator. This version was delisted from Nintendo’s Virtual Console in 2011 due to licensing issues.

    Screens above are all for the Sega Master System version.