I barely mention the Sega Master System in ANESthetized, but the truth is that I spent a couple of months with the console in the waning days of 8-bit gaming. I hadn’t even heard of the SMS until after the Genesis was released, at which time it began appearing in the Toys R Us barbain bins. Since it was such a bargain, and since the Genesis had made a name for Sega, my friends and I picked it up. That makes the SMS just about the only example of backwards console awareness in my gaming history.
Those who know computers better than I say that the SMS was more powerful than the NES and that it’s colors were brighter. I don’t know about all that. I remember the SMS graphics (which was my only standard of measurement) being less than those on the NES. I also remember the SMS having a very ugly brand design. Where the NES had the black label/single game image design, the SMS had drawings over a grid.
And where the NES had those beautiful gray square cartridges, the SMS had Atari 2600-like chunky, small cartridges which had just the game title and a red-and-black grid.
The console was pretty nice looking, though.
And the SMS had some good games. I could have done without Alex Kidd in Miracle World (which was built into my SMS, starting if the power was turned on when no game was inside. But there was also Phantasy Star (unbelievably aweseome), Trillion (pretty cool), and my favorite, Cloud Master.
The SMS also had a light gun, like the NES Zapper, and a few superfluous accessories, like the 3-D glasses.
Again, those in the know say the reason for the SMS’ failure in North America was the lack of third-party games (which Nintendo monopolized through their exclusive policies). That may well be true. To me, though, it just doesn’t seem as good as the NES. That’s not to say that it should be dismissed as all bad. It wasn’t. The couple months I spent with it were fun enough. It just wasn’t what the NES was, at least not to me.