Video Carnage 15 — Sega Master System

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)

World Grand Prix

This seems to be an updated version of the excellent “GP World” that came out for the SG-1000.

World Grand Prix 01

The gameplay is very similar, and there is an improved track editor.

World Grand Prix 02

You can choose from three levels of difficulty.

World Grand Prix 03

Course information is shown briefly before you begin.

World Grand Prix 04

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.

World Grand Prix 05

You get counted in by lights..

World Grand Prix 06

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.

World Grand Prix 07

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.

World Grand Prix 08

He blowed up good… blowed up real good!

World Grand Prix 09

Compared to “GP World”, this game moves a bit faster, but seems a bit easier to control.

World Grand Prix 10

I think there are about the same number of built-in courses available.

World Grand Prix 11

This looks like London.

World Grand Prix 12

These screenshots are from the demo.

World Grand Prix 13

A night-time skyline.

World Grand Prix 14

And here is the track editor.  It’s easier to recover from an error in this game.

World Grand Prix 15

Again, I made a very simple track just to connect both ends and see if it would work.

World Grand Prix 16

If it works, you get to choose which level to play your track on.

World Grand Prix 17

And off you race.

World Grand Prix 18

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)

Enduro Racer box

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.

Enduro Racer 01

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.

Enduro Racer 02

You get one minute to race across the course, and there are obstacles and other racers in your way.

Enduro Racer 03

Ramps have been placed to help you jump.

Enduro Racer 04

In this first stage, you must avoid these hot rods.

Enduro Racer 05

If you don’t, you’ll crash and incur not only lost time, but damage to your bike.

Enduro Racer 06

If you don’t make it across the finish line in time, the game is over.

Enduro Racer 07

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.

Enduro Racer 08

The 5 points I had leftover from the first stage were spent on making my bike faster.

Enduro Racer 09

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.

Enduro Racer 10

It looks like I’m racing out in the ruins of Palmyra.

Enduro Racer 11

Here the other racers are on dirt bikes, just like me.

Enduro Racer 12

Ramps and boulders are here too, but they look a little different.  This game is very colourful and fast-moving.

Enduro Racer 13

I did fairly well in this stage too.

Enduro Racer 14

Again, my totals are added up.

Enduro Racer 15

And again, I chose to make my bike faster.  Luckily for me I hadn’t crashed and damaged the bike further.

Enduro Racer 16

Now with 71 seconds, I’m racing out in the Southwestern U.S. desert.  I think those are Northwest Pacific Native totem poles though.

Enduro Racer 17

I didn’t do so well on this, those other racers were far more aggressive in this stage.

Enduro Racer 18

They must be members of ZZ Top.  No one else would be able to drive such classic hot rods so recklessly.

Enduro Racer 19

I made it in even better time through this course…

Enduro Racer 20

…but you can see I really beat the bike up this time.

Enduro Racer 21

This next stage is a race through some kind of island course, and the difficulty on this is ratcheted up a few notches.

Enduro Racer 22

The usual boulders and ramps are back…

Enduro Racer 23

…and so are the other dirt bike racers…

Enduro Racer 24

…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.

Enduro Racer 25

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.

Out-Run (1987)

Out-Run box

This is a port of the famous arcade version, and many people consider the Master System version to be the best console port.

Out-Run 01

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:

Out-Run 02

Out-Run 03

Out-Run 04

Out-Run 05

Out-Run 06

Out-Run 07

Out-Run 08

Out-Run 09

Out-Run 10

Out-Run 11

Out-Run 12

Out-Run 13

Out-Run 14

Out-Run 15

Out-Run 16

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:

Out-Run 17

Out-Run 18

Out-Run 19

The view is third-person, and it’s handled quite well.

Out-Run 20

There are low and high gears to worry about…

Out-Run 21

…as well as roadside obstacles and other traffic.

Out-Run 22

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.

Out-Run 23

The other cars on the road look great too.

Out-Run 24

There is even some variety in not only their colour, but in their shape and design.

Out-Run 25

Hitting obstacles like palm trees can either spin you out or send you rolling into the air, like you see in the above screenshot.

Out-Run 26

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.

Out-Run 27

Oh, there we are.

Out-Run 28

As each stage of the race comes to a conclusion, the road will fork.

Out-Run 29

This does look kind of lame, but you must quickly choose either the left or the right path.

Out-Run 30

After the road splits, there is a checkpoint, and if you don’t make it in time…

Out-Run 31

…it’s game over.

Out-Run 32

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”.

Out-Run 33

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.