I'm sure like many other people back in the 80's our first experience of video games was at the arcade, I personally remember playing games such as Space Invaders, Galaga, Alien Syndrome, Shinobi, Space Harrier etc, and this was my motivation for asking for a Sega Master System over a Nintendo NES. Choosing a video game console back then was not an easy decision, there was so many different games systems available, and pretty much all of them claimed to be able to deliver an "Arcade experience at home" - as the first ever article here at Sega8bit.com I thought this might be fun to investigate these claims and find out how true to the arcade version those classic Sega games we all have come to love resemble their arcade counterparts. Such comparisons were not possible back in the 80's but today thanks to the emulation community and powerful PCs we are able to play these arcade games at home.

Deciding what games to start of comparing here is not an easy task; the Master System has such a big games library, so many of which were conversions of arcade games. Letís start with the "big" Sega games that everyone knows from the arcades:

  • Space Harrier
  • Outrun
  • Hang-On

Space Harrier

Sega's classic shoot 'em up was released into the arcades in 1985, the Master System came along in 1986. The arcade version of the game used Sega's System 16 arcade board, clearly the graphical appearance of the Master System version was going to have to be downgraded. Saying that if you put the two games side-by-side you notice that Sega have made every effort to try and make the home version as similar to the arcade game as possible, the sprites are smaller on the Master System, but the basic design of the enemies and characters remains the same, the arcade game plays much smoother.

Arcade Title Screen

Master System Title Screen

Arcade 1st level

Master System 1st level


Sounds wise the arcade version is head and shoulders above the Master System, It features an awesome sounding 16-bit track & digitised voice samples, and the Master System version also has very similar sounding voice samples, from the scream of death to the "get ready!" Although some people say this game is not very good on the Master System, I think Sega did a great job here of converting the game to the Master System.

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