The Year in Sega – 1990


With Curse in the bag, 1989 comes to an end. Truly a mixed year for Sega on the console front.


Terrible arcade ports (Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Vigilante), needless 3D conversions (OutRun 3-D), and the worst Alex Kidd game in existence (Alex Kidd: High-Tech World) rounded out the Master System’s 1989. Outside of Wonder Boy III and maybe Cloud Master, there was little reason to engage with Sega’s beleaguered 8-bit system unless you were desperate.


The SG-1000 and the Master System may have had shaky launch lineups, but Sega was determined not to make the same mistake with the Mega Drive. In the console’s first full year, we saw: a sequel to Phantasy Star, top-notch sports titles (Super League, World Cup Soccer, Ozaki Naomichi), excellent console exclusives (Revenge of Shinobi, Mystic Defender, Herzog Zwei) and most importantly, arcade ports that resembled the arcades (Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Super Hang-On).



This little buddy made its debut in 1990.


With 1989 in the rear view, 1990 begins, as usual, with the Master System. While I strive for chronological order with my reviews, this is very difficult to do for later Master System titles. As I’ve stated before, the US and Europe did a terrible job in the 80s and 90s of keeping accurate month/day/year records for game releases on any system. And since any Master System titles I review from here on out will be US, European, or Brazilian releases only, I will be reviewing the titles in alphabetical order, due to lack of proper dating. Also, any Master System games that have a Mega Drive/Genesis counterpart (there are several in 1990) will be reviewed together.


1990 Master System games I’m looking forward to: Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, Castle of Illusion.



This ad wasn’t doing Sega any favors.


After I’ve finished with the Master System, I’ll bounce over to Mega Drive. The amount of games released for the MD in ’90 was considerably greater than ’89; about 74 games in total, if I’ve counted correctly. Europe would also see the MD launch there at the end of ’90, though I’m not sure if there were region-specific games released during the year. All in good time, I’m sure.


It will be a lot easier to proceed chronologically through the Mega Drive, thanks to the abundance of specific Japanese release dates. Any US-only Genesis releases with less concrete release dates will be reviewed at the end of 1990.


Mega Drive/Genesis games I’m looking forward to: Sorcerian, Phantasy Star III, Thunder Force III, Ghostbusters, Columns, Batman, Super Monaco GP, Rainbow Islands Extra, Castle of Illusion, Elemental Master, Darius II, M.U.S.H.A., Wonder Boy III: Monster’s Lair, Gaiares.



Columns on the go? And in color?! How do I sign?


The Game Gear would also make its Japanese debut in October 1990, though it would only see a handful of games before the end of the year. Expect a hardware write-up, along with Game Gear and Mega Drive game reviews interweaving seamlessly.


Game Gear games I’m looking forward to: Dragon Crystal, Shanghai II.



Dial-up gaming in 1990!


In addition to the game reviews, I’ll also be touching on the Master System II and the Sega Mega Modem in separate articles.


If there’s anything Sega console-related that released in 1990 that you think I should be covering, give me a heads-up in the comments below. Otherwise, 1990 begins with Alex Kidd in Shinobi World on Tuesday (Ultima IV is a lengthy RPG, so that will come later). Forward ho!


– DC

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17 thoughts on “The Year in Sega – 1990

  1. Sounds great !
    Looking forward (backward ?) to 1990 in Sega land.

    Want to take this opportunity to thank you once again for this great blog Dylan. I really look forward to each and every post and I’m now playing along (I’ve finally got my emulators set up and an EverDrive for MegaDrive). While I have a decent Sega collection I can now play the games I don’t own. Bring on 1990. Sega !

  2. Poor Game Gear. It really is nice hardware for its time, but the software library just wasn’t there (for me anyway).

    So many of its games are just ports of console games (specifically Master System games), which I suppose would be ok if you really wanted to play stuff on the road or didn’t have access to a console.

    It’s sort of similar to the Playstation Vita in a way; great hardware let down by a subpar game library that consists mostly of ports you can play on other (and since I prefer consoles over handhelds), better systems.

    1. Game Gear’s Japanese library was far more interesting than the US/EU library, in my opinion. Same with Saturn.

      But I’m with you, I prefer consoles over handhelds. It’s cool that Sega gave Game Gear a color screen, but the screen was blurry as hell and the battery life was awful.

  3. Ah back to the Master System, which you can’t seem to get away from:)

    I actually don’t know much about system’s 1990 games, other than the ones I’ve played: Mickey Mouse, Dick Tracy, and Ultima IV, so it will be an interesting read.

  4. Sounds like awesome stuff! Looking forward to it. If you want I can pull a rough release order for some SMS games that were reviewed in EGM. A magazine date that is sourced is better than alphabetical.

  5. Looked through all the issues of EGM and found release dates on some of the games.

    For the SMS, I’ll try not to duplicate games you already reviewed that came out in Japan first. Or Europe first. (A lot of SMS games you covered or covered with the Genesis didn’t come out till 90 in the US, in some cases 91 like SMS ghouls and ghosts.)

    Mar: Ultimate 4
    April: Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, Slap Shoot, Tennis Ace(Did you do this one already?) Golf-A-Mania
    May: Assault City
    Sept: Eswat, Super Monaco GP, Columns
    Oct: Gain Ground
    Dec: Joe Montana Football

    Early 91 games: Moon Walker,Dick Tracy, Castle of Illusion.

    For Genesis game your using the Japanese release dates so I’ll only list the US exclusive ones or that can out here first to my knowledge.

    Mar: Zoom(I think this was US only if not this is the US release date.)
    May: Tongue of the Fatman
    June:Paperboy, Hard Drivin
    July: Budokan, Populous
    August:Spideman (I think this came out US first, I’d use this or Jpanese release, whichever sooner)
    Oct:Atomic Robo Kid (not sure if this was a Japanese first or not)
    Nov: John Madden Football
    Dec: Lakers Vs. Celtics, Battle Squadron,Klax (Tengen version different than Japan version)

    All taken from EGM 1990 issues and first 2 91 issues.

    Technocop was listed as Jan 91 so just missed 90.

    1. This is great stuff! I will rearrange and play accordingly.

      I will likely keep Moonwalker, Dick Tracy, and Castle of Illusion in ’90 unless someone can find more concrete dates. Any dates I’ve found so far for those MS titles are either ’89 or ’90.

      1. I think I’ve said this in the past. Bu unlike say Golden Axe, some of the SMS versions of Genesis game are completely different. And released far apart. Usually a long time after the Genesis version. Although I’ll concede reviewing them together may be easier. I like when you reviewed one version and went back later to catch the other console version.

      1. Once you’ve played it you’ll wish you’ve never heard of it. Probably the worst game since the SG-1000 days and makes Master System Golden Axe look good. It’s also known as Slaughter Sport.

      2. Horrible game. Generation 16 has a lot of info on it in the episode containing it. He contacted the programmer for some of the info on it.

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