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Master System Appreciation Thread


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22 minutes ago, Dudley said:

You know what, I've absolutely no idea, I only have the 2nd one and I haven't played that because of the first one :)

 

I'll definitely look at getting the 2nd one, after I've completed the first though.

I'll post up in this wonderful thread of course :)

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So with my PS5 turning up on Thursday and me spending an ungodly number of hours playing Spiderman Remastered on it I did spare a bit of time last night to give a proper Spidey game a chance... Spider-Man vs The Kingpin! For years I thought the Mega Drive game was THE spidey game to play until Friday but this is a... fair enough attempt to port something better from the 16 Bits. The controls aren't the best and can imagine the original controller making this a nightmare to fling webs properly but thanks to my RetroBit pad it does play a lot better.

 

From the fancy swinging title screen and the funky music I was hoping this would be something more. It gets the levels and locations right from the MD counterpart but fails where it really should count.. the game play. It just doesn't give you enough to do and the web combat is pretty dull to be worth playing for more than the shortest sessions. My favourite part was how they gave you a lot of room to do some web swinging but that's all it really has. I was going to buy it anyway on my hunt for a full set but I was expecting a lot more after playing so much PS5 over the last few days.  The MD is leaps and swings (ho ho) above this so an average rope platformer with not much going for it... next!!!

 

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Been a week, so a few more pick ups.

 

Lorf will recognise Renegade, Tried one of those universal game boxes with his cart and sleeve only copy. I quite like the look on the shelf, certainly enough not to go hunting for boxes just yet but you should know they do not hold the cart securely, it can bounce around a little and that applies for all the formats they claim to support because I tried them all.

 

World Cup is fun, I won a cart only auction, that arrived, it has a near mint manual in. I can only assume since it said it was an attic clearance they found it after listing.

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OK, stupid question time.

 

I'm playing SMS games on a 60Hz modded Mega Drive, and there's bars at the top and bottom like a bad PAL conversion.

 

I've read this is normal due to the resolution of the SMS.

 

But I just wanted to triple chick: short of using zoom on my TV or messing with the secret service menu, all SMS games, even on an NTSC SMS played in an NTSC country on an NTSC CRT TV, are definitely meant to be letterboxed, correct? This is absolutely normal wherever you are in the world, right?

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3 hours ago, Sketch said:

OK, stupid question time.

 

I'm playing SMS games on a 60Hz modded Mega Drive, and there's bars at the top and bottom like a bad PAL conversion.

 

I've read this is normal due to the resolution of the SMS.

 

But I just wanted to triple chick: short of using zoom on my TV or messing with the secret service menu, all SMS games, even on an NTSC SMS played in an NTSC country on an NTSC CRT TV, are definitely meant to be letterboxed, correct? This is absolutely normal wherever you are in the world, right?

 

Normal....I've owned 3 60hz Modded sms systems and there are still bars top and bottom.

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Cool, thanks for absolutely confirming. I might try fiddling with zoom then. I really dislike letterboxing. Years of seeing bad MD and SNES conversions has left me scarred.

 

EDIT:

 

I have discovered something crazy weird using my Everdrive cartridge. This is difficult to explain though...

 

The SMS version of Predator 2 is glitched at 60Hz. Lots of flickering and you need to run it at 50hz. That's easy to follow.

 

However, the Game Gear version of Predator 2... Well, it seems to be a literal SMS ROM on a GG cartridge? When you put the GG ROM on an Everdrive, having renamed it with an .sms file extension, it runs, at 60Hz, without problems, and functions exactly as an SMS ROM would function. Despite being a GG ROM. Despite other normal GG ROMs not doing this.

 

Does anyone know how or why this is?

 

This is a weird mystery!

 

 

 

 

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Some GG games basically are SMS games which run in 'SMS mode' (the mode GG runs at when using a Master Gear converter). Predator is probably one of those, I'd imagine.

 

For what it's worth I don't personally regard the SMS as having letterboxed video. Well, it is in the sense that its common video resolutions are more letter boxed than those displayed by other common consoles but most SMS games hide it with a full screen of colour.

 

I'm generally allergic to letterboxed 50hz bullshit too - but my SMS games that run mostly at 60hz via a Mega Drive are all full screen (even if no 'active' graphics ever occupy the very top and bottom areas).

 

Granted, on a HDTV the 'widescreen' effect is probably more pronounced and maybe some careful zooming / scaling would work better. I recall @Lorfarius showing off a pic of super crisp zoomed-in SMS courtesy of his Mega SG and it did look pretty amazing.

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Pro Wrestling takes me back. I really liked it but my younger brother..not so much. I used to pressure him into 2-player bouts which probably didn't help. I should fire it up and see if it's reasonably playable.

 

I noticed @RastanSaga picked up Vigilante a while back (and seemingly promptly put it up for sale in the trading folder) which also took me back. Like Pro Wrestling it was one of those middling average games that I enjoyed anyway, and would happily sink a few 10ps into the arcade cab too. It was a streetwise evolution of Kung Fu and another game I knew the PC Engine got a better port of, but I digress.

 

So I put it on the other week, expecting to find it unplayable..but it was actually..fun. Once I got around compensating for the lag (it's not exactly responsive but is consistent) it was quite the pleasure. The great tunes and satisfying sounds of your fists and feet whacking the endless parade of goons set to strangulation mode was probably what I liked the most. I'll never argue it's a great game - more than one boss went down with nothing but direct punches to the groin and I finished it straight through as if I never had 30 year break - but the atmosphere is a unique one. Like I said, the music and sound design is what made it and the humble SMS did it well here. Those smack sounds are what it's really all about..but I totally understand why it's probably not a keeper without a little nostalgia.

 

 

Another SMS game I recently replayed for the first time in decades was Mickey Mouse in the Castle of Illusion. Pretty much regarded as a stone cold classic today and one I have fond memories of..but I had to see for myself how it all flooded back (or not). And basically, in short, yeah of course it's good. But I think most of it is about the excellent colour palette use and animation of the the Mickey sprite. It handles great too, really responsive and maintains a solid 60fps. A couple of the moodier tunes found in later stages are kinda brilliant too, and I found myself enjoying them immensely.

 

I remember finding a couple of sections a little tricky as a kid but really the challenge here is next to non-existent. I think I ran through it in what felt like 12 minutes and only lost a couple of lives (one of which was on the final boss), and when I missed a gem in one level it kindly let me go and get it without having to redo the stage as a whole. It's a really nice fair low-frustration experience and perfect for a kid..but despite all it does so well I'm not totally sure it belongs in the upper echelon of SMS games or warrants a high asking price (assuming its a pricier one for collectors).

 

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10 hours ago, Dudley said:

It's very much not a pricier one because it sold well, literally the next SMS item to end of ebay as I type this is a boxed copy at £4 with an hour to go. It'll sell for under £10 shipped.

 

If it's a common cart that makes sense. I assumed incorrectly because from what I've casually observed it's like Wonderboy III - a must-own SMS game.

 

8 hours ago, Lorfarius said:

I really want to play that Land of Illusion. Completely passed me by as a kid and seems to get raved all the time, not sure how I missed it back then. Weird considering how crazy I was about Castle. Was THE MS game to own in my head.

 

I didn't play this one either so will probably give it a bash soon. From what I've seen its a better game on paper but might not have the charm of Castle of Illusion..

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On 06/12/2020 at 14:22, Dudley said:

Just picked up this on ebay because I had to know.

 

If you can't see that top one excellently says "Alex the Kid".

 

Let's hope it's Miracle World!

 

Might be an unreleased proto with home made label. Do let us know if so. But don't open the cart in case it uses light erasing EPROMs.

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2 hours ago, spanky debrest said:

 

If it's a common cart that makes sense. I assumed incorrectly because from what I've casually observed it's like Wonderboy III - a must-own SMS game.

 

 

I didn't play this one either so will probably give it a bash soon. From what I've seen its a better game on paper but might not have the charm of Castle of Illusion..

 

Fair, clearly Disney just meant it sold better in the UK :)

 

38 minutes ago, Sketch said:

 

Might be an unreleased proto with home made label. Do let us know if so. But don't open the cart in case it uses light erasing EPROMs.

 

It'll be Lost Stars and we know it but it's a laugh :)

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Well, I did Land of Illusion and it's much better than what I was expecting.

 

Took me about two solid hours and a bit of some pretty focused play to clock, and I'm shocked they squeezed so much content in there; It's colossal compared to Castle of Illusion, absolutely stonking-sized, especially for an SMS platformer. 

 

Some of the puzzly aspects in the game weren't obvious on my playthrough, and a couple of bosses even took a few lives before I figured them out. I needed a few of those infinite continues for sure.

 

One surprise was the influence of Super Mario World, evident not only with the world map but also with aspects of some of the later level designs. There are even really nicely working slopes and gradients to traverse in some stages, together with appropriate character animation frames, and one particular level progression gimmick I definitely associate more with 16-bit game design than anything I've seen on the Master System.

 

When it wasn't clear how to progress and that I needed a new ability, the info and clues I needed were relayed by in-game characters as required, and with excellent looking animated cut scenes. 

 

I did find some of its edges rough though, with imperfect collision detection being standard fare and Mickey's inertia and platform-edge-animations making some jumping, navigation around spike hazards & enemy avoidance - under some tight time constraints - a bit annoying, especially during bouts of slowdown.

 

The way the large level maps are sliced up and somewhat hamstrung by four-way flipbook scrolling took a bit of getting used to as well, and resulted in a few mean gotcha moments with enemy placement.

 

The music is mostly generic and forgettable too, with maybe only one song (that I dubbed 'The Samba') being anything other than workmanlike to my ears. 

 

These niggles however feel acceptable in the context of how ambitious this game is, and when the credits finished rolling I was informed that I'd found four out of fourteen hidden Power Stars, proof enough that I'd steamrolled through and missed at least ten secret / optional areas.

 

Good game.

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