The year was 1988, I had just turned twelve, and it was Christmas time. My father came and asked me in his usual Foghorn Leghorn like voice, “Boy, I say, Boy! Whatcha want for Christmas? You want one of those Nintegros?”
I thought for a moment, searching my inner soul for what I really wanted. Did I want a Nintendo Entertainment System, the game system known for such hits like Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid.
No, of course not! Those games were for kids. I wanted the Sega Master System, the system known for such hits as… Um… hmmm…
In other words, what the Hell was I thinking? Maybe it was the sleek black and red design that caught my eye as opposed the boxy gray and white design of the NES. Or maybe it was the fact that the SMS was offering a free copy of Double Dragon as a selling scam (I had to wait three months for that game to get mailed to me). Or maybe I was dropped too many times as a kid. Whatever the reason, I got my Sega Master System! And as sub-par as many of the games were, I enjoyed the Hell out that thing. Sure, the nationhood kids were all talking about their Excite Bikes, and Megamans, but I didn’t care what they said, because I was perfectly happy playing my Rambo 2 and Gangster Town (and finally Double Dragon) Sure the games were a lot harder to find, but that was okay, it made it more of an adventure. My lazy summer afternoons were that much more special. And really, was the Nintendo really that much better. Was Mario Bros really that much better than Alex Kidd in Miracle World, was Zelda really that much better than Golden Axe Warrior, or Final Fantasy than Phantasy Star? I say nay! And true, a lot of the games on the SMS were downright trash, but it still had its brilliant gems. So here, my readers, are (in my opinion) the fifteen greatest games that were available for the SMS. So whenever you have a chance, make sure to download your local SMS emulator (legally, of course *wink*) and check out these great games. In fact, go ahead
and check out some others while your at it. Seriously, what harm could it do?
15. Rambo: First Blood (part 2)
I think this is the best Rambo game ever made. In this game (called "Secret Commando" in non-American countries) you are Rambo or, if playing two players, his buddy Zaine (who?). Together you two blast your way through through the jungles, plains, rice fields, and even city streets. You take down insurgents, snipers, tanks, police officers and many other kinds of Cobraesque bad guys while blowing up prison huts in order to rescue your captured comrades. The bullets may resemble huge floating white cannon balls, but the game is still nothing but fun shoot'em up action.
14. Cloud Master
In this game, you play the part of a wise wizard, riding around on a cloud blasting fierce beasties with great flaming balls of energy. And what are these horrible monsters that attack you out of the cloudy blue, why non-other than monster dishes of chinese food: bowls of rice, spring rolls and flying pig heads. Of course there are other baddies as well. This is a fun, and extremely challenging shoot em up with beautiful "chinese art" type scenery, and neat and surprising bosses.
13. Aztec Adventure
Now don't let the cutesy, kidsy appearance and sound of this interesting game fool you, this game is all about killing your enemy in an all out search for the boss monsters. Your character, who has the appearance of a young boy in a pancho, is a ruthless assassin hell bent on annihilating his target. Along the way, you'll run into various mercenaries with the heads of birds, cats, or dogs. Pay them the right price, and they'll follow you to the death, if not, they'll f#$kin' kill you!! But at least you can enjoy the colorful and whimsical scenery along the way
12. Alien Syndrome
Sure, this game is also on the NES, but it doesn't compare to the SMS version. Here, you play either Ricky and Mary, both on an intergalactic rescue mission to save your pals from the clutches of alien monsters. You explore huge alien fortresses and with suspenseful music as a timer ticks down to the alien fortress's eventual destruction. But before you can escape with your life and the lives of your comrades, you have to fight a highly detailed and gruesome boss, and most of them are quite challenging.
11. Black Belt
How would you like to be such a badass at martial arts that you could make a man explode just by punching or kicking them? Who wouldn't want that? And here's your chance. You are the black belt Riki and have to save your girlfriend from your archenemesis Wang. You have to go through hoards and hoards of marauding badguys, most you can take out with one hit, some are little tougher, until, finally, you reach the big bad boss of the round. When you do, the game completely changes. It goes from the linear KungFu kick-and-punch-em-up to a total StreetFighter/Mortal Kombat type showdown where only one of you will walk out alive. Come on hero, your girlfriend needs you.
10. Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Now this fun little game was Sega's answer to Super Mario Bros way before the blue blur (Sonic) came along. He was the kid with big ears, a red jump suit and a powerful punch. As Alex Kidd, you could jump from platform to platform, swim under the water and on some parts even drive a motor bike and fly a gyro-copter. You punch little pterodactyls, scorpions and little mustached bouncing balls that resemble Mario. There's even a few bosses you deal with along the way. I personally think this game is way more fun that the overly long and repetitive Super Mario Bros. Just be careful, it's one hit, one kill in the Alex Kidd universe, but at least you get to start again where you died.
9. Golvelious: Valley of Doom
Now, to the untrained eye, this game is a ripoff of Legend of Zelda. Not so, my good readers. The only similarities are the hero carries a sword and he walks around on an overworld killing monsters looking for underworlds. Okay so that does sound a lot like Zelda, but the underworlds aren't like the same at all. Half of them are two dimensional platformers and the other half are downscrolling conveyors of monstrous challenges. The bosses are a lot more challenging too. And the music to the game, unbelievably catchy.
8. Miracle Warriors
Now I admit, this roleplaying game is a bit hard to get into at first, and, because of the small visibility of the surrounding country, is virtually impossible without the map that came with the cart (which you can find displayed online), but once you get into it, it's a pretty solid RPG. You are a resurrected warrior who must travel the five lands in search of your fellow warriors who together must defeat the evil demon queen Tararin and close the Seal of the Dark Lord which has unleashed horrible nasty creatures all throughout the land. It's this large cast of horrible abominations that is the game's largest saving grace. There are over sixty different creatures, hardly any of which are repeat graphics, and we're not talking about orcs, goblins and trolls here, no sir, those are for kids. In this world, you have to battle:
and many more hideous and ghastly creatures around every corner of every dungeon and the dark shadows of every forest.
7. Space Harrier
This is definitely one of the most trippy games ever created. You are man in blue and red tights, flying across fields of chessboard patterns, fighting against the toughest baddies in the galaxy: Fighter planes, giant robots, flying dragons, fire breathing stone heads, leaping fungus and that's just the first three levels. You still got about 12 more to go. It's a trancy disco ride through time and space, with some of the best graphics and most advanced 3d images of its day. Get Ready!!
6. Fantasy Zone 2
This beautiful and unique game was my favorite when I was younger. You play Opa-opa, an egg shaped space craft with birdy wings warping through various planets shooting all sorts of unusual creatures while collecting coins and dollars to pimp out yo egg shaped ride. You go though all sorts of landscapes from fields of flowers; to ice worlds; water worlds; fire worlds; and even some abstract, borderline-Salvador Dali type worlds. All finishing off with their own unique boss. There is a first Fantasy Zone available as well, but its just too difficult and doesn't measure up to it's colorful sequel.
5. Wonderboy in Monsterland
This game is just plain fun. The first Wonder Boy (called Adventure Island on the Nintedo) was a boring repetitive atrocity, but this time around, Wonder B get's a complete D&D makeover: with a sword, a shield, armored breastplate and fancy jumping boots. As WonderBoy, you travel across Monsterland, fighting through snakes, imps, and toadstool people, uncovering secret passageways that lead to various bosses that give you either powerups or keys out of the level, until you finally reach the last labyrinth-like castle to fight the dragon. This is a fun little platformer with a RPG fantasy twist. Any fan of Super Mario or Megaman would love it.
4. Wonderboy 3: The Dragon’s Trap
This delightful game takes place after Wonderboy slays the dragon of "WB in Monsterland", and, alas, poor Wonderboy has been cursed. As soon as he lays the last finishing blow to the dragon, he himself is turned into a dragon. Now WB has to travel the land to discover how to change himself back into the hansom young man he's been for the majority of his life prior. The quest however is not that easy. With every new dragon boss he faces, he transforms into a different animal man: the mouse man, Fish man, Lion man and Hawk man. This game is a lot like Metroid, in which there is this one big world with various parts that you are unable to get to until you change into a different creature. As high as this game is on my list, it would be a lot higher if not for its one drawback: with only five stages, it's just too short. The game is over right after Wonderboy becomes himself again, leaving the player wanting more. But, it's still an addicting, fun game with a great soundtrack and beautifully colorful graphics.
This is just a great game, never before or since has the been a game like Zillion (except maybe Impossible Mission). Sure, there was a Zillion II, but it's arcade-like and far inferior to this gem. In this game, you are special agent "J", and you must explore the labyrinth maze of an underground technological fortress. This is not your average adventure game where you spend the whole time shooting badguys, which, of course, there are, but it's more about being stealthy, avoiding the badguys and if encountering them, shooting them first before they have a chance to shoot at you. You have to dodge the gunfire of wall mounted torrents, crawl underneath security alarm beams that will alert the badguys if crossed, find the secret passwords that will open up the doors and allow access to the next part, rescue your friends Apple and Champ, find the five top secret diskettes, and finally make it to the main terminal and set the destruct device and escape with your life. Oh, and there's a big boss you have to kill too. Unlike most games, it's not separated into different stages. The entire game in just one big and complicated stage. Only the tough and crafty will make it out alive.
2. Golden Axe Warrior
This game is considered by many to be a big ripoff of the Legend of Zelda, but hey, it's all that the Sega owners had to fill their Zelda fix. Also, I know this may sound like blasphemy to many of you hard core gamers, but this game blew Zelda away. For one thing, the graphics are more colorful and far superior, the whole world is ripe with color, unlike the Legend of Zelda's dull colors. There's also a bigger variety of weapons, you can eventually use an axe and magic instead of a sword, and the dungeons have more surprises and are more complicated than those of Zelda, with more challenging bosses as well. The plot of the game is pretty much the same as the Golden Axe arcade game, the evil Death Adder has the golden axe and you must claim it from him. Any fan of the Legend of Zelda needs to play this game, if you have to, pretend its another sequel to Zelda.
This, along with GAW, is by far the best game on the SMS, in fact, it's arguable, that it may be the best 8bit game on both systems. In this RPG, you are Alis, a young girl who witnesses her brother being killed by robot guards serving the ruthless dictator, Lassic. So instead of mourning his death like a pansy little girl, Alis swears bloody revenge!! This game has both a fantasy and science fiction theme to it. You search the land like a fantasy RPG and fight different monsters with, at first a sword, and eventually you can upgrade to laser guns and laser swords and different types of high tech armor. You even eventually fly to different planets. There are three planets you can explore (a green planet, desert planet and icy planet) all of which with their own towns and dungeons that you explore from a first person 3D point of view. Using both magic and technology as its theme, this game is a must for any one interested in experiencing the Master System.