[Previous]    [Sega Master System index]   [Next]

 [A-B]   [C-E]   [F-G]  H-L  [M-O]   [P-R]   [S]   [T-Z

This site contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase after clicking a link, site may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Sega Master System Reviews H-L

Hang On
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1985)
Posted: 2001/2/11

screenshotHang On was a game built into the Sega Master System 2 consoles. It's a motorcycle game that looks and plays suspiciously like Pole Position, which came out many years prior. The steering is good; I felt in control even in traffic on curves. I did have a problem accidentally shifting gears when I was trying to turn however. The graphics aren't so hot. The other motorcycles all look the same. When your bike crashes, the explosion is ridiculously small. The road moves smoothly, and the other riders scale in and out pretty well, but there's not much to see.

There are some tiny background graphics on the horizon, but there's not much on the side of the road except for some bushes and rocks. Each course has several stages which abruptly change the background and color. The first few stages are fairly plain, and the last two look just awful. There's a pathetic "city night" stage with miniature street lights and buildings that never get closer, and the final stage is just like the first, except everything is orange! What the? There are three skills levels to keep the game challenging. Despite some unimpressive graphics, Hang On provides some decent racing action. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 133010
1 player 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Grade: D+
Publisher: US Gold (1990)
Posted: 2023/6/24

screenshotI was relieved that this Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is much different than the crappy game Ubisoft NES game. The stage designs are more or less the same, but the graphics are far richer and more colorful. The gameplay has less issues than other versions yet annoyances remain.

During the opening cave stage you no longer have to worry about stalactites falling on your head, which is always nice. You acquire your whip right off the bat, and there are fewer enemies to worry about. In addition, they tend to go down with a single hit. You can even walk through certain passages that appear blocked by stalagmites.

Unfortunately you still get hurt from bumping your head. It's bad enough you take damage, but it halts your momentum, sending you into freefall. For some reason touching water is fatal. When you grab a whip icon it only affords you with a certain number of lashes. How does that make any sense?

The controls are touchy and contact with an enemy results in instant death - even if you have full health! Another big issue is how once you jump, you can't alter your flight. Since the jumps are long, you really need to gauge your distance perfectly, often taking a step back before taking a leap. Should you accidentally make contact with an Indian's knee you'll drop dead on the spot.

I hate how you take continuous damage during a fall, accompanied by an irritating high-pitched squeal. Fighting enemies armed with guns is frustrating. You can't duck quickly enough to avoid their bullets, and getting shot interrupts your whip action. You just have to attack repeatedly in the hopes that a lash will connect before he walks into you.

The lack of bosses leaves me with mixed feelings. On one hand, they were really annoying on the NES. On the other hand, exiting a stage with no resistance doesn't feel right. Heck, you don't even need to recover the Cross of Coronado to complete the first stage! I like the look of Last Crusade on the Master System, but its gameplay is less satisfying than it should have been. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 10,350
1 player 

Joe Montana Football
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Posted: 2005/12/13

screenshotJoe Montana finally gave the Master System the respectable football game it so desperately needed. With its side-angle view, the game looks and plays much like the highly acclaimed Tecmo Bowl (NES, 1986). Selecting plays is easy enough, but the names are utterly bizarre. What the heck's a Subdural Hematoma? It sounds like a proctology procedure.

As for the passing game, I like how you can easily select receivers, but the ball tends to float, so by the time it arrives defenders have already moved into position. Incomplete passes often bounce off the receivers' hands, which looks pretty cool. The running game is weak. You have to press a button just to hand the ball off, and you can forget about busting out a big gain. As for the kicking game, Joe Montana does a lousy job of indicating the ball's position in the air. During field goals, the shadow always passes through the posts, but the ball never appears to do so.

Joe Montana won't win any awards for audio either, with its cringe-worthy crowd noise and tackles that sound more like flatulence. Did all of the players drive-thru Taco Bell on their way to the stadium? Finally, I really wish there was some type of half-time show. Joe Montana Football is no classic, but if you want to play football on your Sega Master System, this is clearly your best option. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
1 or 2 players 

Jurassic Park
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Posted: 2022/5/14

screenshotJust when I thought I had reviewed every last Jurassic Park console title I discovered this awesome Sega Master System game. It actually bears a striking resemblance to the portable Jurassic Park (Game Gear, 1993), which I gave a rave review. This version of course features far more detailed graphics.

I can't say enough about the colorful, well-animated introduction. It's fun to watch and nicely sets the tone as your helicopter approaches the ominous island and sets down on that landing pad. And it's always a thrill for me to watch that torch-lined Jurassic Park gate slowly open. If only this game had the music of the film.

Upon selecting a stage you'll hear a laughable "roar". Each begins with a driving stage that has you protecting a little jeep bouncing down a dirt road as ptyradacyls swoop down and velopcirapers pounce. You move a reticle around the screen to shoot them, tapping the fire button like mad. Though tiresome after a while, it's basically a bonus stage, since you can't really die.

All four stages pack exciting platform jumping mayhem and dinosaur-shooting fun. Playing as a sharply-rendered Alan Grant, you're placed in a variety of predicaments. One minute you're monkey-climbing over electrified water, and the next you're running across a collapsing cliff. There are some breathtaking scenes including several Brachiosaurus lounging in a nearby lake.

The shooting is fun because your shots expand as they travel through the air, making it easier to hit targets from a distance. Small dinosaurs often peek through the tall grass before making their entrance, but many have the annoying habit of dropping from trees above. Don't allow yourself to overlap with anything or your life will instantly drain. The game saves the larger dinosaurs for boss encounters.

As much as I enjoyed this, part of me prefers the Game Gear version. The characters were pixelated but larger, and its pacing was better. This version forces you to hit the pause button on the console to access weapons and medkits, which is a pain. That said, Jurassic Park for the Sega Master System is still great, providing a completely different experience from the Genesis and SNES editions. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 65,700
1 player 

Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Posted: 2010/3/2

screenshotHere's a colorful samurai title that lets you jump and slash your way through an ancient Japanese kingdom. The vibrant graphics feature sharp, high-resolution characters and rich scenery. An engaging soundtrack plays complex melodies with ominous undertones. I typically enjoy games like this, but Kenseiden goes out of its way to make you miserable. In the first stage you approach a temple at night while being accosted by giant beetles, rickety skeletons, swooping birds, and monkeys that hop all over the place. They're freaking me out man!!

Upon arriving at the temple you'll contend with giant spiders, flying skulls, and mace-swinging guards. Your movements are stiff, which makes it hard to properly position yourself to slash these creeps. It's bad enough the way creatures materialize out of nowhere and knock you off ledges, but after defeating them, they regenerate! Cheap, mandatory hits are the order of the day. What's a young samurai to do? Run! Run like the wind! If you're lucky you'll find a "safe zone" where you can catch your breath.

The first boss is a flaming wheel, and it's insanely hard to beat. Collectible scrolls augment your abilities, but there's no magic or special moves to give the game depth. I wish I could say the later stages are worth the effort to reach, but the nondescript caves and mountain sides are pretty unexciting. Kenseiden's visual and audio quality is beyond reproach, but its stiff controls and unforgiving gameplay will drive gamers over the edge. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 12,200
1 player 

Kung Fu Kid
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1987)
Posted: 2011/3/5

screenshotThis primitive side-scroller is extremely Japanese, which is a nice way of saying it's super weird. Its colorful graphics feature temples, bamboo forests, and a lot of traditional Japanese artwork (read: bright red). The soundtrack also has an appealing Japanese twang to it. As you move forward you're accosted by an endless parade of mindless henchmen, hopping vampires, and creepy dolls. The characters in this game are tiny and seem to constantly regenerate. In addition to unleashing flying kicks, our diminutive hero can toss playing cards at his enemies (I'm told it's a Japanese thing).

The fighting can get tiresome, but there's a trick to this game. It didn't take me long to figure out that jumping forward is faster than walking. This led me to hop continuously through each stage in an attempt to avoid confrontations altogether. I had so much luck with this strategy that I actually felt a little guilty about using it! Just be sure to avoid that dripping water! As anyone familiar with classic games will tell you, water was deadly to the touch back in the 1980's!

Equally dangerous are the hodge-podge of bosses who include a flying witch, a giant orange frog, and an acrobatic duo. Dying at the hands of a boss sends you all the way back to the beginning of the stage, and I don't like that. Kung Fu Kid is simplistic and doesn't make any sense. I'd like to call it "so bad it's good", but in this case it leans more towards "bad". © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 118,900
1 player 

Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Europe)
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Posted: 2018/1/31

screenshotThis sequel to Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Sega, 1990) has the same look and feel, except with fresh stages, new enemies, and less memorable music. In Land of Illusion Mickey hops between spider webs, climbs a hollow tree, swims in a lake, and explores a castle. Unlike the first game there's no stage select (*sad face*). Equally disappointing is how you begin with only two stars (of life) instead of four! Considering how easy it is to take two hits in a row that's pretty harsh!

The first stage has these irritating whirlwinds that carry you through the air. You'll grab a vine when you don't want to and not grab one when you do want to. But for every annoyance there's a charming scene, like feeding an apple to a giant snake so he'll let you pass. The lake stage is my least favorite, with water rising and falling over a spiked sea bed. If that's not bad enough, there are prickly green things floating on the surface! I felt as if I needed to collect every health icon just to compensate for all the mandatory hits!

The game gets back on track in the blacksmith's castle stage, where you're forced to keep moving as spreading flames nip at your heels! Land of Illusion has a better flow than the first game, with shorter stages and less tedious puzzles. That helps make up for some of the more frustrating aspects of the game. I was expecting this sequel to be better than Castle of Illusion, but I'm thinking it's a wash. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 8,050
1 player 

Line of Fire (Europe)
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Posted: 2011/10/18

screenshotThis is an underrated vertical shooter that lets you blast through enemy territory in a jeep, boat, and helicopter. Line of Fire plays a lot like Rambo except you're constantly moving forward. Even the music sounds similar. Line of Fire's six relatively short stages take you through a variety of environments including a jungle, river valley, and a rocky gorge. You can rapidly fire a machine gun (forward only) to mow down enemy soldiers which look more like orcs from Lord of the Rings. You also have a limited supply of missiles you can guide through the air to take out helicopters and jet planes.

Line of Fire is a little slow but very challenging and fun. Enemy mortars have a wide blast radius so even if you avoid a direct hit you'll need to keep your distance from the ensuing explosion. Stay alert for enemy trucks that sneak up from behind in the jungle stage. The explosion effects are tame but I love the way bridges collapse into the water in the river stage (a la River Raid). Line of Fire is a decent 2D shooter, but it really shines in 3D.

Although the 3D feature is not advertised, it's activated if you hold in both buttons on the controller while turning on the system. Fortress walls rise up high, trees loom, and the canyons appear to be perilously deep. Since enemies attack from air and ground, the 3D effect makes it easier to tell which enemies you're "lined up" with. Certain projectiles seem to be on the wrong plane (they can always hit you), but in general the visual effect is fantastic. Line of Fire is worthwhile in 2D but it's a must-have title if you own the Sega 3D glasses. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 502,150
1 player 

Lord of the Sword
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Posted: 2022/6/1

screenshotI know it's a suggestive name, but I'm going to ask you all to please keep the snickering to a minimum! Lord of the Sword is more sophisticated than your garden variety side-scroller. You venture through a world of branching paths and villages to explore. Its rich, diverse scenery includes forests, mountains, bridges, and castles. Each area is relatively small, and that's good because you'll be backtracking quite a bit!

The graphics are better than average, especially those hovering demons with glowing red eyes. Other enemies include leaping white wolves, levitating eyeballs, and scurrying scorpions. Fish are literally jumping out the water to kill you! What in the hell did you do piss off fish?! A friend of mine asked why Indians were falling from the sky. Most disturbing of all are the Ronald McDonald clowns (shudder) and banjo-playing skeletons (gasp).

The controls take some getting used to. You push up to jump, which is very easy to forget. This scheme frees up the second button to shoot arrows, which adds strategy. You'll definitely want to take out certain enemies from a distance, like those spore-flinging flies. Your overhead slash makes it easy to dispatch flying creatures.

The whole branching path element has its drawbacks. It's easy to get lost. Too many areas look exactly the same, making you wonder if you're backtracking. Sometimes you'll enter an area from the left edge, only to find yourself headed to the right. There are dead ends as well. When in villages, keep in mind you can continuously re-enter a hut to reconstitute your life bar.

Lord of the Sword is slow and methodical but for the patient gamer there certainly is a lot of ground to cover. And thanks to unlimited continues, you can thrash your sword to your heart's content. Alright that's enough from you in the back! If you can't behave like an adult I'm not going to treat you like one! © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 126,000
1 player 

Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck, The
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Posted: 2024/3/15

screenshotDisney produced some legendary titles in the late 80's/early 90's but this adventure comes off flat. If you're expecting another Duck Tales (NES, 1989) or Quackshot (Genesis, 1991), you need to dial down your expectations.

The Lucky Dime Caper lets you select between three stages to begin. There's the obligatory forest stage with tree branches to hop between. The waterfall stage has leaping fish and turtles to ride on. South America offers some bizarre scenery that makes it looks like you're running across a plaid tablecloth. The vibrant graphics boast a level of granularity you'd expect from a 16-bit system. If you look closely at Donald, he actually blinks his eyes!

The controls however feel a bit off. Donald can pounce on enemies but must land directly on top of them. Though well-animated, his small size leaves precious little room for error. This game takes perverse pleasure in putting you into a lot of tight situations with little room to maneuver. I hate it when you find yourself on a narrow branch next to a high-jumping snake.

This game has a lot of arbitrary rules. Bees can hurt you unless you're swinging on a vine or fighting a boss. Sometimes icons you find fall onto your branch, but more often they fall through the branch to the ground. Pressing down to duck is rarely useful, but diagonal-down also ducks, so you'll often trigger it accidentally. The mushy Sega Master System control pad doesn't help; use a Genesis controller for best results.

You can collect stars and diamonds but their purpose is never readily apparent. The hammer weapon has minimal range but seems to make you invincible as you swing it. Unfortunately you can only take two hits, and that first hit causes you to lose any weapons.

Checkpoints are erratic and sometimes you'll restart all the way back at the beginning of the stage - even if you reached the boss. The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck has that alluring Disney glow but don't be fooled. This game will make your life miserable. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 28,750
1 player 

[Previous]    [Sega Master System index]   [Next]

 [A-B]   [C-E]   [F-G]  H-L  [M-O]   [P-R]   [S]   [T-Z

Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, GameSpot, Digital Press, Moby Games