Today I am going to look at an emulator called OSMoSe which emulates the Sega 8-bit family of machines on our AmigaOS 4 machines..
The most well-known of the range, The Sega Master System was largely ignored in Sega’s home territory of Japan and this console actually started life back in 1983 as the Sega SG-1000 Mark I. The console went through a number of revisions up to version Mark III before being updated with the a FM chip revision and in 1986 was then released in the United States as The Master System, with Europe and Australia/New Zealand following a year later. However the Master System was also largely ignored in the United States partly down to Nintendo’s complete dominance of the US retail market and the fact that everyone was playing a game involving a certain plumber from Brooklyn who captured everyone’s attention. European gamer’s were far more receptive to the Sega machine and this was down to the rather good marketing of Virgin Mastertronic who took on the promotion of the system and marketed this as an arcade style machine in the home with lots of excellent posters showing off the colourful graphics of games like Afterburner and Outrun.
The Sega Master System enjoyed a good run in Europe and Australia/New Zealand from 1987 up until around 1994, spawning a revision from the original red breeze block which could handle cartridges and PC-Engine style game cards, to a smaller Mark II version which was by far the best-selling version although this did not feature an RGB port or card slot found on the first model. There were light guns released for the system and some weird 3D glasses and games released for the system too. A handheld version of the machine appeared in about 1990 which many of you may know as the Sega Game Gear and many games were later only released for the Game Gear such was its own popularity. Later on in the machine’s life the Master System became a big hit in Brazil where 8-bit conversions of games continued into the mid to late 90’s.
In all there are over 330 games available for the system and a large proportion of these are coin-op conversions from Sega, Capcom and Taito, to franchise games like Alex Kidd, Wonderboy and Phantasy Star which first appeared on the platform. I haven’t mentioned Sonic which of course appeared first on the Sega Megadrive, however I think it is fair to say Sonic can be considered a Master System Icon too as the Sonic games which were released for the Master System platform were really distinctive to the Mega Drive version and were adapted to the less powerful hardware of the Master System to great effect. Sadly for game players in the United States, the first version of Sonic the Hedgehog was also the last official release for the Master System. So for US-based games players, playing on the Sega Master System, albeit under emulation is a good opportunity to check out many of the later PAL only releases which graced both Europe and Brazil.
Setting up OSMoSE is quite easy once we have downloaded the program from OS4 Depot and saved this to a partition of our choosing. In order to run this, you will also need a joy pad which is recognised upon starting up and also a number of ROM files which you can keep in a separate folder which you will need to label as ROMs and then place this in the same folder as the emulator executable. It is possible to run games in the following file formats .sms .gg or .zip
Now there are a number of websites where it is possible to download a complete rom set of all games which were released for the platform however I will leave you to work out exactly where you can find these. This emulator is quite easy to set up and run as all you will need to do is just click on the nice looking graphic featuring Sonic and some coloured graffiti spelling OSMoSe, select the rom and away we go.
Your joy pad is recognised from the start-up menu, although you do have the option of using a keyboard. Master System controllers only ever came with two buttons and a round D-Pad so trying to re-create this is probably better suited to one of the analog sticks rather than the D-pad found on my 8-Bitdo SFC30 Pro controlller.
Thankfully there is nothing to configure when running this emulator, nor is there is the option to re-configure any of the settings with the end result being that, as far as the display side of things are concerned, we are only offered a bi-linear display in full-screen. This may appear as a letdown especially when you are all running outputting your Amiga on to a High Definition LED screen, however for me this recreates the slightly washed out displays of the original Sega Master System when played through an RF lead on an old CRT television. Mark I models of the Master System did have a useful RGB Scart output for a much better display, however this is not supported in this emulation so we are pretty much stuck with a good re-creation of the RF output found on both Mark I and Mark II models.
As for the emulation itself, I’d say it is pretty accurate. I tested out this with a large number of games from Sonic, to Dynamite Dux and The Ottifants. Both the sound and graphical emulation was pretty much spot on compared to using the actual hardware. It ran quite well in a 640×480 resolution with many games hitting a full 60 fps. Games which required a lot of scrolling moved pretty well without any lag.
Whilst being graphically and sonically superior to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Master System is sadly not on the same level at the legendary PC Engine, however one of the Master System’s most overlooked plus points is its fantastic and varied game library which is stuffed full of many great games such as:
Ghouls’N Ghosts which plays really well and looks really colourful. For me it is definitely the best 8-bit version out there.
R-Type which is a pretty good conversion surpassed only by the PC Engine version on the 8-bit consoles and computers.
Bubble Bobble is one of the best 8-bit ports out there
Cool Spot looks amazing and was the only 8-bit console version to be released
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is another classic Sega Master System game
Sonic The Hedgehog is stunning considering the hardware it is running on, it moves really quickly and the bonus levels look really colourful.
Another Megadrive game which was ported across and looks amazing is Streets of Rage with some nice tunes coming out of the Master System.
As the Master System became popular in Brazil it was time for them to experience games which never saw the light of day in Europe like Street Fighter 2 which was released by TecToy in 1997 in Brazil. You can see on this game the limitations of the Master System become apparent with the lack of characters so we don’t get the chance to see E-Honda and his 1,000 hand slap. Shame really as I think it would have been possible.
Lastly to round off the showcase of titles, we have FIFA International Soccer which was a Brazil only release. I wonder why given the popularity of the FIFA series this was not released in Europe?
In conclusion, OSMoSE gives you the opportunity to explore the very under-appreciated Master System and its game library. Unlike so many other emulators, it is incredibly easy to set up and gives an authentic representation of the actual hardware and for this it comes highly recommended that you check it out also.
Until next time have fun with your Amigas!