8 bits of memory


December 16, 2011 by agooddaytoyou

It’s another YouTube post. Fridays are difficult – especially during this season – but I’ll probably talk more about that next Friday. For now – I present you: the defining Master System games of my youth.

Ultima IV

The first game to really get my attention. I first played this on the Apple //e but the version we had was pirated, so it didn’t have all the spells. So In couldn’t use dispell field in Jhelom to get the Rune of Valor in order top get the 8th piece of the Ankh. I purchased it when it was released on Master System and finally finished it. This game was groundbreaking and unique in a number of ways. All of which I’ll bore you with some other time.

The video (showing the title sequence) does a nice job of summing up the gameplay.

Psycho Fox

Bubbly music from the get go. Excellent sprites, the game let you change characters (each one had different abilities), had gambling between levels and warp zone easter eggs. For me this game topped Sonic The Hedgehog as far as a Sega platformer went. It might not have been Super Mario Brothers, but it had so much soul.

Teddy Boy

Look at this cover. This cover tells you NOTHING about the game. Nor does that actual description on the back of the box which amounted to “it’s a bad dream”. The Master System used to have different categories of games: cheap, medium, and expensive. The cheap games cost $29.99 and if I couldn’t hold out saving up for an expensive $60 game (like Wonderboy 3) then I’d get one of these ugly ones. Teddy Boy was an incredibly difficult game. But I enjoyed it for what it was worth. What sticks with me now more than anything is that music.

WonderBoy III: The Dragon’s Trap

Basically a platform RPG. This game was EPIC (in the original non-ruined by the Internet sense). You actually start this game by playing the final level and defeating the boss from the 2nd game – this level will be the place you try to return for the rest of the game. But you can’t because you’re a lizard, Harry. So you have to collect shit and change forms (Mouse (small and can stick to walls), Piranha (swimming), Lion (big attack), Bird (flying), and finally back to yourself) – switching between any that you’d ‘collected’ as you went – until you finally claw your way back to the final boss. It felt like such a victory. The game had ‘password’ saves, shops, and – most importantly for a platformer of its age – the ability to move LEFT. Great music too – I actually set down with a tape recorded ands recorded the level music from each level (boss fights was hard because they kept making noises). Mann.. this game. This video doesn’t even come close to summing it up.

Try to imagine playing this as an 10 year old boy: I just killed a fucking DRAGON, got turned into a fire breathing lizard and now the fucking castle is collapsing around me – and that’s just the first 4 minutes!

Bubble Bobble

TWO PLAYERS. Not like Teddy Boy claimed to have two players but just let each player take a turn. This game features two players _at the same time_ fun.
Even though, unlike Double Dragon, this game didn’t allow you to directly hurt the other player there were still enough opportunities to start a fight between siblings. From always collecting the giant bonus fruit/desert that would appear to bogarting a letter from the EXTEND bonus, if you didn’t need it.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Not a port of the 16 bit version – a fully fledged game in its own right. Apparently Sega worked on this at the same time as working on their Mega Drive game. It’s an odd practise if you think about it today, essentially supporting two systems in competition with each other. I never got a Mega Drive.

This game was better than Sonic 2 or any of the other SMS sonics – they all tended to feel ‘flatter’ and more static. Again – the music.

Mikey Mouse: Castle of Illusion

What a superb platformer – this was not some weird and lazy cartoon tie in – it was a beautifully realised game with its own story and ideas. And finally some BUTT JUMPING. Take that Mario. Another one developed in tandem for 16bit and 8bit. I should play the Mega drive version one day to see what I missed out on – because from what I could tell nothing was lacking. Chocolate cake, toys, colours and noises. DID I MENTION CHOCOLATE AND CAKES.

Spy vs Spy

Two players. Only this time you were supposed to fight. This game was brilliant. I think you had to search rooms and collect a bunch of stuff, then get on a plane – but the real goal was to booby trap doors and rooms and then have the other player unwittingly foil themselves – collect their booty – rub it in their stupid faces. ahh – good times. I don’t know if you can tell from this video but the white player successfully electrifies the black player at about 30 seconds.

Golden Axe Warrior

This game is a wholesale ripoff of Legend of Zelda for the NES – but it’s got better gameplay, better graphics, better music and I could buy it for my Master System. As far as the story goes – collect some crystals to save the world – the Golden Axe (from the arcade game) doesn’t actually factor into the game very strong – I mean you DO get it at some point, but it’s not really important. Again -= the music for me played sdtrongly on my emotion connection to it. But also the earth textures (yes, the 2 colour 8×8 pixels – my brain filled in the blanks). I have a vivid memory of being on a family retreat to Burrinjuck Dam and wandering around in the forests – I came upon a clearing where the earth was covered in red and brown pine needles from the trees and felt like I’d been there before. It was this friggen game. And I was a big lame wad.

Alex Kidd in Miracle Word

This game came BUILT IN to the Master System. I finished it multiple times but it’s interesting to me how many people I speak to who never finished it. It was BUILT IN – for some people it might have been the only game they played on the console. This game was another platformer along the Mario lines, only you could ride a motorcycle (that, punch people and play Scissors Paper Rock). ALL FEATURED IN THIS VIDEO:

Fantasy Zone

THE COLOURS. I used to use this as an example of Master System’s clear domaince over the NES. In almost every way the master system was a ‘better’ system than the NES. Most of the NES games appeared BROWN by comparison. The sound was better, the system could handle larger and more sprites. But it didn’t have Metroid, Mario, Battletaods or Zelda, to name a few. I never finished this game but this guy destroys it in 8 minutes. Also it turns out the ending has a TWIST. Wow.


One thought on “8 bits of memory

  1. Holy cow. Fantasy Zone, gutpunch ending.

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