Sega Week

How to build the ultimate Sega Master System

The Sega Master System is under-appreciated for two reasons: the Genesis and the NES. It never really rose to a place of true competition for the NES, despite having many incredible games on offer. And, since the Genesis was such a massive hit, it became synonymous with Sega. Today, let’s change that.

Models

We’re going to go with the original American Master System (SMS) model, since it is the easiest to mod and most common to find in the wild. Its iconic design is also nothing to sneeze at.

HDTV

This model of SMS requires no modding to achieve RGB output. Just hook a SCART cable up to an OSSC and, voila, you’ve got HDMI video.

Jailbars

The SMS was forever plagued by visible jailbars, which are quite difficult to remove. Using an RGB bypass board will significantly relieve, but not entirely eliminate, the issue. It’s a little tricky but absolutely worth the time and effort.

Region

The SMS only had region locking in the form of frequency differences: 50Hz in PAL regions and 60Hz in NTSC regions. If you’d like to play games from other regions (you do), you can do a switchless region mod.

Accessories

The SMS had many accessories in its time but the two we’d recommend tracking down are the Segascope 3-D glasses, which work surprisingly well, and the Rapid Fire Unit which can give you an advantage in games where mashing one button repeatedly is prone to causing carpal tunnel.

Audio

The audio for the SMS sounded different between the US and Japan, with the American model being significantly harder on your ears. To fix this issue, you’ll need to perform a fairly straightforward mod to enable FM sound. This is possibly the most popular mod for the console (the unmodified sound really is that bad), so there are plenty of resources available to guide you.

Flash Cart

The Master Everdrive X7 allows you to put the entire library of Master System and SG-1000 game files onto an SD card. This unit supports in-game menus, instant loading, and low power consumption.

Controller

Obviously the SMS didn’t come with a wireless controller — but the good news is that it is compatible with all Genesis controllers which means you can pick up one of 8BitDo’s snazzy M30 2.4Ghz Wireless Gamepads. There will be buttons you can’t use but that’s a small price to pay for a significantly better D-Pad.

Games

It would be completely illegal for us to tell you where to procure ROM files. Anyway, the other day my friend and I logged on to Archive.org, which is a great website, and later played some SMS games.

We’d recommend: Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Master System), Phantasy Star, Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, Castle of Illusion, After Burner, Fantasy Zone, Psycho Fox, Golvellius, Bubble Bobble, and Action Fighter.

Enjoy your Sega Master System. Now, there are no limits.

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