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33 Consoles of Christmas
Sega Master System (1986)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 24, 2006   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  

   
It's time once again for Defunct Games' 33 Consoles of Christmas, your 33 part guide to the best and worst system designs of all time. Join Cyril Lachel and Chad Reinhardt as they judge 33 different game consoles based on what they think of the look. Forget about actual hardware and software, the only thing these guys care about is talking about their exterior design. Join us every day between November 23 and December 25 for a new console review!


Synopsis: The Sega Master System is an 8-bit cartridge-based game console that was manufactured by Sega. Its original Japanese incarnation was the SG-1000 Mark III. In the European market, this console launched Sega onto a competitive level comparable to Nintendo (due to its wider availability), but failed to put a dent in the North American and Japanese markets. The Master System was released as a direct competitor to the NES/Famicom. Unfortunately the system ultimately failed to topple its Nintendo competitor, but before it was killed Sega did manage to begin a few major franchises, including Phantasy Star.

Best Games: Phantasy Star, Ghouls N Ghosts, Govelius, and Sonic the Hedgehog!




When it comes right down to it, I cannot think of an uglier design for a video game system. Don't get me wrong, I love my Sega Master System, but there's absolutely nothing about the Power Base (as they call it) that makes me want to actually play games on it. It's not the fact that it has two different slots for games (carts and cards), but that certainly doesn't help its design any. My biggest issue is that the system is just massive. The thing is ridiculously long, it looks more like a misshapen skateboard than an actual game system. And worst of all, it has crazy writing on the front that doesn't look professional at all. It seems to tell you how to plug the system in and make it work, which is the kind of thing you expect in an instruction manual ... not on the game system itself. There are certainly games I love playing on my Master System, but this is one of the few game systems I'm embarrassed to show off. Perhaps we'll get to a worse looking game system, but as far as I'm concerned this system is the opposite of sexy.

This always looked, to me, like Neo Tokyo's answer to the Beta Max, or the answering machine. I feel it had the edge over the NES in terms of looks, but the games didn't exude the same sheen. It's very sleek and would look great sitting atop one of those room-sized VCRs of the era, provided it wasn't a top-loading VCR. I hated those things.

I'm surprised more system manufacturers didn't borrow the "play button" design. It seems logical to meld the function symbols of our various media devices in an attempt to create a true all-in-one machine. The consoles of today could learn from this lil scrapper.
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