Sega Master System
The 8-bit Master System, manufactured by Sega, first released in Japan as the Sega Mark III in 1985. Nicknamed the SMS (Sega Master System), the console was later released in North America in 1986, Europe in 1987, and Brazil in 1989. The SMS came with the built-in games Snail Maze and Hang On/Safari Hunt, and was designed as a competitor for Nintendo’s NES/Famicom console.
The SMS was technically superior to the NES; the SMS had larger main and video RAM capabilities, and also included dual media inputs for cartridge games as well as for cheaper data card games. However, the console failed to take away much of Nintendo’s dominant market share in North America and Japan. Nintendo’s licensing policy deprived Sega of many arcade games and the vastly popular titles for the NES. In other countries, however, the console was very successful, with Brazil serving as its most successful market.
Sega redesigned the console in 1989, creating the Master System II, which they hoped would open up more marketing opportunities. This new version of the console did away with some original features, such as the game card slot, and came with the built-in game Alex Kidd in Miracle World in an attempt to compete with Super Mario Bros. However, the Master System II still didn’t gain much foothold in North America.
The last game released in North America by Sega was Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. The SMS and the Master System II never took much market share away from Nintendo in Japan, falling out around 1989. In spite of these failed markets, Sega maintained strong market competition in Europe and Brazil well into the 1990s.