The Sega Master System (SMS). While many have fond memories of all the hours of their childhood spent gaming away at the altar of the Nintendo Entertainment System, a few lucky got to throw down with the SMS. This often forgotten system was a real gem, full of fun games and unique experiences. Of course, any great system has great box art for the games right? You bet your sweet Light Phaser they did. In no particular order, here are the top 5 most awesome SMS game covers ever!
5. Time Solders
I know Time Soldiers has been mentioned in the Retroist forums already but really, a cover this great needs to get the proper attention it deserves. We have our two heroes in matching purple and orange jump suits and a pair of sweet mullet/afros atop their heroic heads. Only one weapon is manly enough for these hair care masters, friggin’ bazookas! And what are those bazooka blasting? A giant technicolor worm hole bursting with tanks and T-Rexes. Everything on this cover makes me want to play this game from the moment I laid eyes on it. I do have one very important question though. What is coming in the other direction that is so terrible that dinosaurs and Panzers don’t deserve a double zook salute? An armored locomotive manned by an elite unit of Roman centurions armed with tommy guns? Maybe a flight of F-14s armed with missiles tipped with poison arrows that are being ridden by space suit wearing viking warriors? I don’t know but it must be something crazy serious.
4. Phantasy Star
That’s right retro fans, this is the game that started the Phantasy Star series. Phantasy Star 2 had the 2 for a reason. This is one sweet cover. A lot is going on in this cover. I may have to revisit it with it’s own Cart Art in the future. This cover has everything a RPG cover should have. You have a woman wielding a flaming sword and shield. You have a brown robbed wizard with lightning bolt shooting out of his staff. You have a beefy wrestler guy with a steel breast plate about to military press slam a skeleton. Wait, what? Ok, this cover does have some weird stuff on it. An eye ball with metal wings? A weird dog/cat with a set of giant boomerang fangs? And I may be looking at it too much but I swear the thing in the purple robe is the Ghostface killer. The one from the Scream movies, not the Wu-tang clan.
3. Master of Darkness
I like covers that tell a story. Master of Darkness tells the story of Frank Johnston, mild mannered accounts payable manager by day, super fantastic sword wielding vampire slayer by night. Seriously, who wears a full suit when they are hunting the undead? Not just any undead mind you, some sort of ultra vampire with a golden body made of demons and skeletons and screaming heads and some sort of giant hand zombie thing. How much better would the Twilight movies be if instead of sparkling in the sun like a 3rd graders home made get well card covered in glitter, Edward could summon an army of the golden un-living and shoot lighting bolt out of his hands. That is a team Edward I can get behind.
2. Zillion 2
Holy Crap! Three wheeled motorcycles! Steel face plate wearing tic-tac headed minions wielding red hand guns. Explosions!!!! This cover pops with action and adventure. We have our hero Few Face Features Fred wearing some sort of strange folded cape shouldered red-orange shirt. It’s like his shirt has ears. Those familiar with the Sega Master System would recognize that the gun used by our hero is the none other then the Light Phaser itself. That’s good marketing. Let’s take a good look at the bad guy. Where is his left hand? Is it behind his 14 inch waist? Maybe he left it at home since if you take a really good look at his wait you will see that his top half is NOT CONNECTED TO THE BOTTOM HALF. I guess these bad guys can just disconnect body parts all willy-nilly. In retrospect, if I ever run an evil empire, how cool would it be to have bag guys with anatomical separation?
1. Golden Axe Warrior
Any cover to a video game that would also look fantastic on the side of a 1972 Ford Econline van is a winner in my book. In the background we have a large picture of the blond hair viking warrior with one of those pointy horn helmets. I guess the guy was taking a break from hassling the two heroes from Time Soldiers. In the foreground the viking, who is wearing what looks like some very flowey tan shorts, is locked in mortal combat with an armored skeleton who is wearing a dress. That skeleton is having a bad day. Not only is he forced to wear a jaunty skirt, some pin headed nordic steroid freak come sauntering by intent on caving in his skull. No wonder the undead hate us so much.
Well that is it for this edition of Cart Art. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of our solute to the Master System as we dive deep and review the 5 worst covers. I must warn you, next week will include, in my humble opinion, the single worst video game cover of all time. Hide the children and put away the sword because it going to get crazy in here. Crazy terrible.