Sega Master System Reviews T-Z

Teddy Boy
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1986)
Reviewed: 2001/10/1

screenshotI wasn't expecting much out of this one, but before long I became addicted to it! If Sega had created a better lead character and changed the name, this could have been a big hit. You control a little boy with a green beanie on his head. He jumps around platforms trying to shoot all the creatures in each level. When shot, the creatures turn into eggs that can be collected (just like Joust). You can shoot rapid-fire, but if you stand in one spot for too long, the floor drops out beneath you. Each screen is a small, simple maze of platforms, although they tend to look larger because they wrap around on themselves. The stages are short but challenging, and there are bonus levels that let you rack up big points. Teddy Boy is undeniably fun. The games tend to be short, which makes you want to play over and over again. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 25810
1 or 2 players 

Thunder Blade
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Reviewed: 2000/11/14

screenshotYeah baby, we're talking about some hot arcade action now! But it looks like the Master System may have bitten off more than it could chew. Thunder Blade is a fast-action helicopter shooter with multiple stages. The first stage gives you an overhead view of the city. Large, detailed helicopters fly your way, and tanks approach on the ground. The action is fast and furious, and you'll need to keep moving to survive. Your two buttons let you shoot air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. Since you have unlimited ammo, you'll want to pound them for all they're worth.

I was feeling pretty good about this game until I reached the second stage and the view changed to a 3D perspective. This stage reminded me of Colecovision's Turbo. The choppy animation looks terrible. It's hard to tell what's going on, and you end up flying in circles while shooting ahead blindly. Ground forces appear out of nowhere. Eventually you'll go down in flames as a result of the unavoidable ground fire. It's not a total loss, but Thunder Blade is too ambitious for its own good. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 126000
1 player 

Time Soldiers
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Reviewed: 2004/3/13


screenshotThis disappointing shooter lets two players forge their way through stages set in various stages of history. It plays a lot like Ikari Warriors or Rambo, but Time Soldiers isn't nearly as fun as those games. The box cover shows two grizzled veterans, but on the title screen they look more like two frumpy housewives! The randomized stages include "primitive times" (dinosaurs and cavemen), ancient Rome, medieval Japan, World War II, and a future world.

If you're expecting to see some fantastic scenery, you're going to be disappointed by these plain-looking stages. I did find it amusing how the Roman stage is full of ruins. It seems to me that if you went back in time, they wouldn't be "ruined" yet, would they? There also seems to be an excessive number of marshes to slowly slosh through. Most of the time you move up the screen, but some stages are side-scrolling.

Your enemies are poorly rendered, and in fact, it's hard to tell what some of these things are supposed to be! Most of the dinosaurs look more cute than realistic. Occasionally you'll pick up a special weapon, which you'll probably want to save for the bosses. The programmers went crazy with the bosses - each stage has no less than FOUR. Most look pretty cool, like the hydra, minotaur, medusa, and Tyrannosaur Rex.

The sub-bosses die pretty quickly if you just whale away at them, but defeating the "big" bosses can take forever! Besides that major annoyance, the controls are not very good. My shots never seem to go where I want them to. I normally enjoy games like this, but the lousy controls, uninspired graphics, and emphasis on bosses turned me off. Note: You can "continue" repeatedly by tapping the fire button after using your last life. You'll lose your weapons but your score will not reset. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Transbot
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1986)
Reviewed: 2012/12/28

screenshotThis side-scrolling shooter is so simplistic that I started to wonder if it was designed specifically for young children. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it's just really boring. You guide a red ship over a colorful planet surface as generic orbs, saucers, and rockets approach in predictable patterns. Occasionally a truck will ride across the bottom of the screen and blasting it reveals a power-up icon. Upon grabbing the icon, letters begin to cycle on top of the screen, and pressing a button awards you with a special weapon.

It's hard to stop on a specific letter, but you should at least try to avoid "A", which is the default peashooter. The wide beams and spray weapons are effective, but they only last for a few seconds, and that's a shame. Certain weapons have the side effect of transforming you into a flying robot, but this serves no real purpose (except to justify the title). Transbot forces you to tap the fire button repeatedly, so if you have a rapid-fire attachment, don't hesitate to use it.

Transbot may be the most repetitive shooter I've ever played. You're approached by the same green and red orbs as the mountain and space station backgrounds keep cycling over and over. The only indication that you're making any progress is an occasional new enemy. In theory you'll eventually encounter a boss that resembles an AT-ST. The uptempo music is nice, but it loops until you're sick of it. Transbot is an outdated shooter that will leave you asking, "is that it?!" © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 73,400
1 player 

Vigilante
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Reviewed: 2014/4/22

screenshotThis side-scrolling beat-em-up has attractive visuals but absolutely wretched controls! The two buttons let you punch and kick, and hitting both causes you to jump straight up (whoopie!). In theory it's possible to perform a jump-kick, but I've only been able to execute that by accident! The first few low-lifes are easily dispatched by a well-timed kick or punch. Should an approaching thug get too close, he'll grab hold of you and rapidly drain your health, forcing you to wiggle frantically to escape.

The thing is, enemies soon begin approaching from both sides, and since you can't defeat both, one will always grab you and inflict mandatory damage. By stage two the controls become downright unresponsive as thugs just walk right up and grab you at will. If somebody designed this game specifically to piss me off, he did a great job! Your one saving grace is the nun-chucks weapon, which makes it considerably easier to dispatch these bullies.

One thing I do like about Vigilante is its vividly detailed graphics. In the first stage you walk down a street lined with interesting business establishments and billboard advertisements. The second stage takes place in a junkyard but boasts a gorgeous orange sunset. The third stage features a spectacular New York skyline in which the twin towers are visible.

The bosses are generally push-overs, and I was able to defeat the first one by punching him in the crotch about 30 times in a row (please kids, don't try this at home!). The music is standard Master System fare (toddler at a toy piano). Vigilante is a good-looking game rendered barely playable by poor controls. So if you need more frustration in your life, reach for Vigilante! © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 34,000
1 player 

Walter Payton Football
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Reviewed: 2005/12/13


screenshotIt's easy to laugh at Walter Payton Football, but you have to admit it's a step up from Great Football. This one offers an expanded playbook (including blitzes), multiple defensive schemes, the ability to "flip" plays, and a season mode made possible by a password feature. There are some nice options, like the ability to select the skill level and quarter length. Walter Payton Football is not much to look at, largely due to its overhead view.

The field looks fairly hideous with its alternating shades of green, and the players look like a bunch of flailing roaches. The center of the field is inscribed with an "FL" logo. I can only assume the programmer erased the "N" after the NFL license fell through. The kicking game incorporates a nice cut-scene and a two-press meter. The first press is for power, and the second is for "spin". Spin? Since when do football kickers apply english to the ball?

Voice synthesis is used for the quarterbacks and referees, but their high-pitched voices sound hilarious. The text displayed is also good for a laugh. Missed field goals are ruled "incomplete", breaks between quarters are referred to as "quarter time", and the game alerts you about the "two minutes warning". In the end, Walter Payton Football is just another amusing step in the evolution of football video games. . © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
1 or 2 players 

Wanted
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Reviewed: 2016/8/20

screenshotWanted is exactly what you would expect from a light gun shooter set in the wild west. The screen scrolls slowly to the right as outlaws appear in windows and peek around corners. If their gun is drawn you'll need to shoot them before they shoot you. Killing an unarmed fellow causes a "missed" message to be displayed (hardly!) and that costs you some life. It's kind of frustrating when you know a guy walking across the street is about to pull out his gun, but you still have to wait for it!

Distractions come in the form of dames in dresses and good guys who appear with their arms up. It's easy to shoot innocents, and often you feel relieved to have missed! Certain stages let you take aim at outlaws riding horses across the horizon. When you hit them it looks like there's blood splattering from their necks! Like Stampede (Atari 2600, 1981) there's an occasional stationary target that's really hard to hit.

Wanted also has challenge stages where you shoot bottles or coins for bonus points. The light gun controls are surprisingly accurate (especially if you crank up the brightness) but it's hard to hit targets along the left edge of the screen for some reason. The detail in the graphics is good. The saloons and hotels have posh furniture, textured surfaces, and pictures on the walls.

The game-over screen features a guy in a grave who looks digitized! Lively piano tunes do a nice job of setting the mood. I noticed enemies always appear in the same patterns, but three skill levels help make up for that. Wanted doesn't pack many surprises but makes perfectly good use of Sega's light gun accessory. Note: The light gun will only function on an old-style CRT TV. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: CJS 35,900
1 player 

Wonder Boy
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1987)
Reviewed: 2004/5/23

screenshotWonder Boy is a fairly entertaining Super Mario clone, but its cuteness factor is enough to turn your stomach. The main character is a smiling, blonde-haired kid in a grass skirt who jumps over snails and skips across clouds. With sugary-sweet games like this, is it any wonder that Sega got its butt kicked by Nintendo? And no, the fact that Wonder Boy sometimes rides a skateboard does not make him cool. Gameplay involves collecting fruit, jumping on platforms, and tossing hammers at monsters.

The bright, tropical graphics are inviting enough, but the repetitive "happy" tunes will really get on your nerves. The controls are poorly designed. There's a jump button and a throw button, and pressing both lets you jump extra high. Unfortunately, the "normal" jump is totally useless, so you're forced to spend the whole game mashing both buttons at the same time - pretty lame. On the bright side, the skateboard sequences do pick up the pace of the game, and there are frequent checkpoints and unlimited continues. But let's face it - there's nothing here that distinguishes Wonder Boy from any other generic side-scroller. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 10586
1 player 

Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Reviewed: 2004/5/23

screenshotPicking up where Wonder Boy in Monster Land left off, Dragon's Trap features better graphics, more involved gameplay, and expansive levels. To be honest, I didn't have a good first impression of Wonder Boy III. It begins by dropping you into a confusing first dungeon with little explanation. Only when you emerge does the title screen appear and the storyline is revealed. But the more you play Wonder Boy III, the more you appreciate it. I grew to love it.

Like the Wonder Boy in Monster Land, you control a knight who battles monsters, navigates platforms, and can purchase items to make his life easier. The gameplay is not completely linear, but it's usually pretty evident where you need to go next. What really makes Wonder Boy III unusual is how the main character transforms into various creatures after facing each boss (similar to Megaman). You'll assume the form of a fire-breathing lizard-man, a wall-crawling mouse-man, a swimming piranha-man, a powerful lion-man, and a flying hawk-man. Each stage is tailored to the specific character, and the gameplay is dramatically altered in each case.

The graphics are first rate, with beautiful, varied stages and interesting creatures. You'll encounter headless skeletons, cyclops, genies, crabs, ninjas, goblins, cobras, and dragon bosses. The only creature I do NOT like is the pesky "cloud" that always drops fire on you - he's a real pain in the butt. Defeated enemies drop items, and I like how the number of coins they drop has a random element.

I also appreciate the wide selection of items you can purchase, including some expensive "mystery" items. The problem is, you can only access the item screen via the pause button on the console, which is a pain. Wonder Boy III is far deeper and more challenging than other Wonder Boy games, and it provides unlimited continues and a password feature. This may be the best game I've ever played on the Sega Master System. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
1 player 

Wonder Boy in Monster Land
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Reviewed: 2004/5/23

screenshotA radical departure from the first Wonder Boy game, this enjoyable sequel puts Wonder Boy in a suit of armor in a game that's more Zelda than Mario Brothers. Wonder Boy can move left or right as he carefully explores each stage. There are items to collect, doors to open, and small creatures to slash with your sword. The small, cartoonish monsters take the form of snakes, goblins, rats, and ghosts. Your health is represented by hearts across the top of the screen, and defeating enemies yields gold coins. You can purchase armor, weapons, or health in shops at the beginning of each stage.

Besides slashing with your sword, you can unleash secondary weapons (like bombs) by pushing down on the control pad. Magical doors lead to bosses or bonus levels. Monster Land features bright, medieval scenery and a superb soundtrack. My only complaint is that some of the platform jumping is more difficult than it needs to be. There's no continue or password feature, but you do get a score at the end of each game. Simple and innocent, Wonder Boy in Monster Island is pleasant and entertaining to play. Note: The "art" on the box of this game has got to be the worst I've ever seen. The chubby lead character looks like somebody's mom for Pete's sake! © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 66690
1 player 

World Grand Prix
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1986)
Reviewed: 2002/6/4


screenshotIt would be easy to call this game Pole Position for the Sega Master System, but World Grand Prix deserves a little more credit than that. The graphics themselves aren't very impressive. The cars all look the same, and except for the distant skylines, there's no scenery to speak of. But the game has it where it counts - it's fun to play. The car handles beautifully, and it's great fun to weave through cars (which usually appear two at a time).

There are only two gears, so shifting is a no-brainer. The game is tough, and you need to run a near-flawless race to advance to the next course. The game encourages you to be aggressive. There's a track map in the corner of the screen so you can see how far you have to go (each race is one lap). Unfortunately, your rank is never revealed until after the race, and if you don't rank near the top, the game ends abruptly (no score or anything). There were a few races where I thought I did pretty well, only to be greeted with that black "game over" screen.

If you race well, you can earn extra parts to upgrade your vehicle, which is a nice touch. There's even a track editor on the main menu. To be honest, the editor isn't too exciting since the tracks are just a series of curves and straight-aways. Still, World Grand Prix is a very cool racer that's worth playing. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
1 player 

Zaxxon 3D
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Reviewed: 2011/5/17

screenshotZaxxon is back, and the 3D effect is no joke! Unlike the original arcade hit which had an isometric viewing angle, Zaxxon 3D displays the action straight on - much like the Atari 2600 version. The third dimension adds a new level of excitement as you drop down into trenches while blowing up fuel depots.

The deep space stages that were so mediocre in the original game are impressive as hell here. It's no longer hard to determine if you're "lined up" with enemies, as you can clearly see your shots whizzing over or under ships on the horizon. Zaxxon 3D has the added feature of being able to toggle your weapon. At first I couldn't tell the difference, but eventually I realized my second weapon fired more rapidly at the cost of faster fuel consumption. It's a neat wrinkle that adds a little strategy.

As usual I found a few flaws. Objects in the foreground (including your ship) lend themselves to double vision, although objects scaling in from the distance look fantastic. The bosses are dull, the music is annoying, and platform stages could have benefitted from a little more detail. Still, the game is a blast to play. If you're lucky enough to own the Sega 3D glasses, this game belongs in your collection. And yes, you do look like a complete dork wearing those things! © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: SLN 20,600
1 player 

Zillion
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1987)
Reviewed: 2001/8/27


screenshotZillion is an exceptional action/adventure title that reminds me of Metroid (NES) and Flashback (Genesis). Your goal is to penetrate an underground base, save your friends, and blow the whole thing up. Fortunately the main base computer has a "self destruct" code. Who programs these things anyway? Anyway, in order to infiltrate the hidden reaches of the base, you'll need to utilize computers, cards, and pass codes.

Each room is like a little puzzle, with a set of platforms, a computer system, traps, and cylinders that contain secrets and bonuses. You'll need to enter the correct codes to turn off traps and access hidden areas. At first this isn't too hard (some codes are provided up front), but as you progress, you'll need to use more complex combinations. In addition, guards are shooting at you at every turn. Luckily, you're well armed with your "Zillion" laser, which can be powered-up. Your character is easy to control, and can jump and duck to avoid enemy fire. This guy is so agile that he can crawl faster than the guards can run! Zillion is a pretty elaborate game.

As you progress, you'll meet other characters, increase levels, and gain dexterity. The graphics are good, and the music isn't bad either. Zillion does have a few flaws. First, you'll often need to remember a series of odd symbols, and the manual recommends writing them down. I don't like games where you need to take notes. Secondly, there's no save feature, so you'll have to complete your mission in one sitting. You do get three continues though. Overall, this is a fine title that does a good job of combining action and puzzle solving. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Zillion II: The Tri Formation
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Reviewed: 2016/11/17


screenshotYou gotta love the title of this futuristic platform shooter. My friend Brent pointed out that Zillion II: The Tri Formation manages to reference no less than three different numbers that have absolutely nothing to do with each other! Amazing! This futuristic platformer begins with a high speed, side-scrolling "turbo cycle" sequence through a remarkably long spaceship corridor. It takes quick reflexes to blast enemy robots while jumping over spikes and pits. The developer must have been really proud of this stage because it recurs constantly throughout the course of the game.

Unfortunately the shoot and jump buttons are reversed from every other game you've ever played. Frustration sets in quickly as you shoot when you mean to jump and vice versa. I prefer the on-foot stages where you leap between platforms, save hostages, and fry robots that look a lot like the ones from the Will Smith movie "I, Robot". I really love the high-tech scenery with all the fancy electronics, blinking lights, and occasional views to deep space. Once again however, the controls could be better.

You can't move and shoot at the same time, and it's hard to quickly duck or jump. That's a problem because enemies can appear on platforms just as you're landing on them! Using a turbo attachment goes a long way to compensate for the substandard controls. The game seems to offer no continues, but the manual provides a continue code. Wait what?! Why not just put that in the game? Zillion II is hampered by its lackluster controls and questionable design, but I still find this game very exciting. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Copy link to this review
Our high score: 167,700
1 player 


Select new range: [Previous] [A-B] [C-E] [F-G] [H-L] [M-O] [P-R] [S] T-Z

[Sega Master System index]  [Back to Top]
 

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