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Now, There Are No Limits.
The Sega Mark III was Sega's second video game console in Japan. Their first one was known as the SG-1000, which had an updated model called the SG-1000 II (which is where the "III" in "Mark III" comes from). Realizing the SG-1000 was not competitive enough with Nintendo's Family Computer, Sega significantly upgraded its hardware, which had been largely similar to the MSX computer platform, giving the Mark III graphical capabilities superior to both the MSX and the Famicom. The restyled international version of the SG-1000 Mark III was introduced under the names "Sega Base System" and "Sega Master System," though the former name soon disappeared.
All things considered, the Master System was probably the most powerful of the 8-bit systems, although the NES was able to catch up somewhat with the help of add-on chips.
The Mark III was rereleased in Japanese with the Master System name and styling, and also with an FM synth card (never included in the international version) to enhance the quality of chiptunes. However, the Master System was discontinued early in Japan, soon after Sega introduced the 16-bit Mega Drive. The Master System lasted only a year or two longer in the United States, although its failure to gain ground was largely due to Nintendo trying to monopolize the market there, but it did gain a lot of ground in Europe and South America. Heck, games were still being developed for the Master System in Brazil by the mid-to-late 90s (such as a port of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition).
Although Sega's own series didn't really gain ground until the Genesis, their popular Phantasy Star series got its start here. Their handheld, the Game Gear, uses hardware quite compatible with the Master System, and converters exist to run games on each other.
- The CPU, a Zilog Z80, runs at 3.55 or 3.58 MHz, depending on the region.
- The graphics are handled by the Video Display Processor, a modified version of the TI 9918/9928 GPU MSX and Coleco also used.
- Eight kilobytes of main RAM with 16 KB of Video RAM. Games like Phantasy Star I really showed all this memory off.
- ROM size ranged from 8 KB to 512 KB.
- Like the NES, SMS sprites are 8x8 or 8x16 pixels, with up to 64 on screen.
- Resolution was 256x224 pixels.
- Thirty-two colors were allowed on screen, out of 64 total.
- The system's basic sound functionality included three square wave channels, a noise generator and three tone generators. This was the only area in which the Master System's hardware was noticeably inferior to that of the NES, though was still way ahead of what the Atari 7800 had to offer.
- That is unless you lived in Japan, where the latter versions of the console included an FM synthesis chipset, giving it vastly superior sound capabilities to any other of the 8-bit systems, and even putting it on a par with what the Genesis later offered. Sadly none of the versions released outside of Japan included this chip, though it can be added to the console with some modifications.
Games/series that appeared or debuted on the Sega Master System include:
- Alex Kidd in Miracle World
- BMX Trial: Alex Kidd
- Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
- Alex Kidd: High-Tech World
- Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
- Alien Storm
- Alien Syndrome
- Ashura (modified into Rambo in the United States and Secret Commando in Europe)
- Black Belt (a modified international version of a Hokuto no Ken game)
- Castle of Illusion
- Land of Illusion
- Double Dragon
- Fantasy Zone
- Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa
- Fantasy Zone: The Maze (Opa-Opa)
- Ferias Frustradas Do Pica-Pau
- Golden Axe
- Golden Axe Warrior
- Jurassic Park
- The Lucky Dime Caper
- Deep Duck Trouble
- Ninja Gaiden (Different from both NES and other versions)
- Out Run
- OutRun 3D
- Battle OutRun
- OutRun Europa
- Phantasy Star I
- Power Strike
- Psychic World
- The Cyber Shinobi: Shinobi Part II
- Shadow Dancer
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Even though it debuted simultaneously on Master System and Genesis, the games - even those with identical titles - were different)
- Space Harrier
- Space Harrier 3D
- Spellcaster (a modified release of Kujaku Oh)
- Wonder Boy (Super Wonder Boy)
- Zaxxon 3D