Sega not only had better hardware specs in the Master System compared to the NES, but they also had a history of making successful and critically acclaimed arcade racing games like “Hang-On“. It is because of these factors that when you compare the game libraries of the NES and Master system, you will find the number of great racers to be about the same, even though the NES library had way more games. I personally find the Master System racing games to be a notch better in quality.
World Grand Prix (1986)
This seems to be an updated version of the excellent “GP World” that came out for the SG-1000.
The gameplay is very similar, and there is an improved track editor.
You can choose from three levels of difficulty.
Course information is shown briefly before you begin.
The layout is a lot like it is in “Pole Position”, but I personally preferred the layout in “GP World”. I think this would have been better even if the info at the top of the screen had been moved to the bottom. But it’s not really a big deal. There are plenty of racing games laid out this way.
You get counted in by lights..
Then you’re off. The right button accelerates and the left button brakes. Joystick forward is low gear, back is high. Left and right steer.
This game is the first one I’ve reviewed that has a complex sprite animation for your car getting destroyed. You can see all the parts flying everywhere.
Compared to “GP World”, this game moves a bit faster, but seems a bit easier to control.
I think there are about the same number of built-in courses available.
This looks like London.
These screenshots are from the demo.
A night-time skyline.
And here is the track editor. It’s easier to recover from an error in this game.
Again, I made a very simple track just to connect both ends and see if it would work.
If it works, you get to choose which level to play your track on.
And off you race.
I’ll have to give this one a go with some more complex tracks to see how it handles.
I like the improvements that were made to the track editor. The graphical improvements are also nice, especially the way the landscape zooms by and the car-destruction animation. The sound is also better than the SG-1000 game, but not by much.
This is definitely a fun racing game, and it’s fast paced and challenging. But honestly, I think “GP World” is the better game. That just goes to show what you can do with limited hardware.
Enduro Racer (1987)
I mentioned before how I don’t much care for the isometric view when it’s incorporated into racing games. “Enduro Racer” uses this kind of view, but the game is so well done and so fun that it really doesn’t get in the way for me.
This is one of those games where you need to not only worry about getting to the finish line, but also how much damage your bike is taking on.
You get one minute to race across the course, and there are obstacles and other racers in your way.
Ramps have been placed to help you jump.
In this first stage, you must avoid these hot rods.
If you don’t, you’ll crash and incur not only lost time, but damage to your bike.
If you don’t make it across the finish line in time, the game is over.
If you do, whatever time you had left is converted into points. You also keep a running total of vehicles you have passed in each stage.
The 5 points I had leftover from the first stage were spent on making my bike faster.
You can see that whatever leftover time you get when you complete a stage is added to the clock in the next stage. I now have 65 seconds to complete stage 2.
It looks like I’m racing out in the ruins of Palmyra.
Here the other racers are on dirt bikes, just like me.
Ramps and boulders are here too, but they look a little different. This game is very colourful and fast-moving.
I did fairly well in this stage too.
Again, my totals are added up.
And again, I chose to make my bike faster. Luckily for me I hadn’t crashed and damaged the bike further.
Now with 71 seconds, I’m racing out in the Southwestern U.S. desert. I think those are Northwest Pacific Native totem poles though.
I didn’t do so well on this, those other racers were far more aggressive in this stage.
They must be members of ZZ Top. No one else would be able to drive such classic hot rods so recklessly.
I made it in even better time through this course…
…but you can see I really beat the bike up this time.
This next stage is a race through some kind of island course, and the difficulty on this is ratcheted up a few notches.
The usual boulders and ramps are back…
…and so are the other dirt bike racers…
…but there are a lot of gaps in the road. And if you land in the water, you will sink down to the bottom. Some of the ramps will get you across the gaps, and some of them will land you right into the water, so this is a stage you will need to play through at least once to get to know.
I ran out of time on this stage, and that was it for my first run.
But I will certainly be coming back to “Enduro Racer” for more. This is a great, fun game to play. It’s something that anyone can pickup right away and get into. Highly recommended.
This is a port of the famous arcade version, and many people consider the Master System version to be the best console port.
When you start the game, you are met with a demo of the action and told to push the start button. If you press the console reset button, you can get a different random view of the colourful artwork this game has to offer. Here are some of the different stages available:
Once you do start the game, you see a view of your dashboard, and you get to choose the music you will hear. A lot of people love this feature, but I’m not so much a fan of music in racing games. It can add to the experience, but I much prefer the option to turn it off and replace it with realistic racing sounds. “Out-Run” for the Master System only offers in-game music, and there are three different soundtracks:
The view is third-person, and it’s handled quite well.
There are low and high gears to worry about…
…as well as roadside obstacles and other traffic.
One thing this game has that’s been a rarity so far is hilly terrain. The Master System version of this game is one of the only ones that retains this feature, actually. This makes the gameplay far more engaging and fun.
The other cars on the road look great too.
There is even some variety in not only their colour, but in their shape and design.
Hitting obstacles like palm trees can either spin you out or send you rolling into the air, like you see in the above screenshot.
My Ferrari seems to be just fine after this though. I could have sworn me and my blonde girlfriend were just in that car though.
Oh, there we are.
As each stage of the race comes to a conclusion, the road will fork.
This does look kind of lame, but you must quickly choose either the left or the right path.
After the road splits, there is a checkpoint, and if you don’t make it in time…
…it’s game over.
After this you get to see a course overview. It looks to me like you must race to all five of those destinations marked “a” through “e”.
In keeping with its arcade roots, high scores are kept as long as you keep your Master System turned on or emulator running.
This was one of the early greats as far as racing games go. This version in particular pushes the Master System about as far as it can go in the graphics department, and the racing speeds onscreen are fast. The Master System sound chip was never going to be able to make very realistic car engine sounds, so playing music throughout the game actually makes things sound a lot better. I personally prefer engine sounds over music, but I know that the opposite is a popular gameplay choice with many people.
I have to rate this game very highly, even though I don’t see myself playing it very often. It’s solidly built and fast, just like a Ferrari Testarossa. I think there are better and more fun racers to be played, but if this one has the right mix of music, scenery and fun for you, get your Master System out and slap that cartridge in. Or download the MEKA emulator and play it on your PC.