Sega Master System

The Sega Master System (SMS) was manufactured by Sega as the third generation video game console, released on October 20, 1985 as the Sega Mark III in Japan. The system was redesigned and released as the SMS in June 1986 in North America, 1987 in Europe, and 1989 in Brazil. A re-release of the SMS came in late 2006 with a hand held device that used 3 AAA batteries and contained 20 built in games.

The console featured a cartridge slot and a card slot for game play. The unit also featured a few built in games. The game titles were different for the unit depending on the model. The console was redesigned several times since its official release. The game cartridges and cards for the SMS and the Mark III were not interchangeable unless an adaptor was used.

In 1989 Sega released the Master System II in North America but without a card slot. Low sales in the United States forced the cease of production for the console in 1992. However, in Europe Sega marketed the SMS to markets that Nintendo did not enter and enjoyed a high volume of sales. As a result the SMS and the Master System II was continued to be manufactured until 1996 when production ceased and Sega concentrated on manufacturing the Sega Saturn.

The most successful area for the SMS was Brazil where five different versions of the SMS were released, the Master system I, Master system II, Master System Compact, Master System Girl (colored in hot pink and had pastel buttons), and the final version released in 2009 the Master System Evolution. Some game titles were translated to the Portuguese’s language as well as several titles produce by Brazil itself. There were over 70 game titles released in the Brazilian market for the SMS and 132 built in games for the Master System Evolution.

The console used an 8-bit CPU with 64 Kb memory and 128 Kb video Ram. The game cartridge slot in Japan used 44-pin cartridges; other units used 50-pin. The newer Brazilian models did not have a game slot; all these units featured built in games. The original unit featured both a cartridge slot and a card slot but was removed in the redesign of the Master System II. This was to lower cost and unpopularity of the card-based games. Most of the card based games were re-released into cartridges.

The controllers for the SMS were: controller 3 featured two buttons and a hole for a screw in thumb stick; Controller 4 had six buttons (Brazil only). The control stick had two buttons and a joystick. Other controllers were a light gun, remote controller, sports pad, steering wheel, and the SG Commander featuring rapid fire.

Another accessory for the SMS was the SegaScope 3-D Glasses, which can only be used with the original SMS version because it uses the card slot for connection.

The original SMS had a built in game called Snail Maze. The SMS II had the Alex Kidd in Miracle World game built in North America, Australia, and Europe. Sonic the Hedgehog was built into the newer SMS II. See the full list of 318 games.

Image Caption: The American version Sega Master System with controller. Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikipedia