Sega Master System :: RGB201 / MY LIFE IN GAMING


– Getting into RGB on your retro consoles can be a very daunting task. If you’ve checked out the 100 level of our RGB master class, congratulations, you have all the basic knowledge to dive in. But some people had questions that were console specific. So we decided that it would be helpful to create an extension to the RGB series, where we can address specific platforms head on. We’ll be covering each system, their major revisions, and what kind of video signals they support natively or via modification to ultimately get the best picture possible from them. Welcome back to the RGB Master Class and this time we’re checking out the Sega Master System. (theme music) Sega released the Mark III in Japan in 1985, and then brought it to the US in 1986 as the Master System. It was an 8-bit console that was designed to play cartridge and card based media, and it can display its games at a resolution of 256×192. The SMS can also produce up to 32 colors on screen at once from a palette of 64. There were two major versions of the Master System released in the US. The first model, the Master System Power Base is the one that’s most commonly seen. There were four different variations of that one, with the easiest way tell the difference being the games will appear when turn on the system without a cartridge in it. For such an early console, it’s surprising that the Master System is capable of outputting several different formats of video without any kind of mod to the system. In the 1980’s and the early 90’s the most common sound and video output was via the use of a connector called a RF Modulator. If you had a console before the PlayStation One, there is a good chance that it was hooked up using one of these. An RF signal, which stands for Radio Frequency, outputs through a port on the back of the system that actually looks kinda like a RCA jack. This signal passes through the modulator and emits from a coaxial cable that you screw into an input on your television and your audio and video will show up on Channel 3 or 4. Now, I know we’ve been very hard on composite having to squeeze all that audio and video through three RCA cables, but imagine squeezing those through one of these! Yeah, it’s a noticeable step down. If you’re ready for something a bit higher grade, then check out the other main port on the back of the Master System that’s labelled A/V. This rather large, 8-pin DIN is capable of outputting Composite if you have the correct cable. This cable was not included with the system and had to be purchased separately. Most of Sega’s consoles are known for having a particularly inferior looking Composite image, and the Master System fits in nicely with that description. For my money, it doesn’t look all that bad on a decent CRT. But plug into a LCD and suddenly everything looks smeared and dark, even going into the XRGB Framemeister it looks especially awful. Thankfully, your options don’t stop there because out of this same port, if you have a SCART or JP21 cable, you can get RGB directly without any need for modification to the hardware. While Sega systems have fairly bad looking composite, they are generally known to have the absolute best RGB quality in the business. The Master System delivers on this standard with flying colors and it simply looks fantastic! As you can see here, the CSYNC RGB image looks razor sharp. If you are looking for a nice bump up from composite, but don’t have any way to take advantage of RGB, the Master System’s RGB signal can be modulated into a slightly substandard S-Video signal. But it is, regardless, a step up from the composite. One thing to consider: if you’re planning on using some of the Master System’s unique peripherals like the Light Phaser or the 3D Sega Scope Glasses, these will not work at all on an LCD television at due to the way they use a CRT television’s electron beam to sync with the TV. Lets check out some examples of the Master System’s Composite vs RGB when upscaled via the XRGB Framemeister. (fantasy exploration music) Shortly after the release of the Genesis, Sega released a remodeled, streamlined version of the SMS called the Master System II. When I say streamlined, I really mean it. Major features were removed to fit into a more compact package that that might not have made a difference then, but they certainly do today. For our purposes, the biggest change comes in the form of the complete removal of the A/V output leaving with only a dismal looking RF signal. Fortunately, with some heavy modifications you can get composite, s-video, and RGB out of it, so not all is lost.. It’s just going to take significantly more work. Another option is a Sega Genesis using the Power Base Converter add on. This peripheral is a is superior option to the Master System II in that it supports the Sega card games and 3D glasses. The Genesis actually contains the Master System’s hardware in it’s own hardware, so you can expect an accurate backwards compatibility experience. In some ways, it’s even superior to the original hardware The colors are much brighter and vivid. I wasn’t expecting that. What’s interesting is that the first version of the Genesis used the exact same cables as the Master System! So there you go, that’s all you need to know about getting the best possible video out of your sega master system. Thankfully, it’s one of the easier systems to get into when it comes to RGB. I’d absolutely go with the first version of the console if you’re looking to get the most out of the system visually, and you don’t even have to mod it! (theme music)

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