Can the RG351P Play Sega Master System Games

Can RG351P Play Master System Games

The RG351P has emerged as one of the go to retro gaming emulators powered by the Retropie system.

Unlike a Raspberry Pi with installed Retropie, the RG351P has been installed with all emulators, controllers and all code settings and options usually requiring configuration.

The RG351P can play almost any game on any home computer or console from the 1970s like the Atari 2600 until the mid 2000’s with the PSP.

If you love retro gaming you’ll know exactly how incredible a console this is.

We know older systems such as Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Game Boy and even up to Atari Lynx play well on the RG351P – but what about the Sega Master System?

The RG351P has the ability to play Master System games using the built-in lr-picodrive emulator. All Master System ROMs play well on the RG351P which is capable of performing well on more memory hungry games. It is possible to reconfigure the lr-picodrive emulator settings to enhance overall performance and controls.

The Master System was launched by Sega back in 1986, almost 40 years ago now.

For those who had a Sega Master System it was one of the only released consoles with a game pre-installed.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World was bundled with the Master System to help promote the console, and sales, and could be played by turning on the system without loading any other cartridge.

The Master System controller today feels more like a prototype of current controllers.

It’s very small, designed for child hands, has just two buttons and a rounded square shaped ‘d-pad’ to navigate your character around the screen.

Despite its apparent misgivings it’s a 8-bit delight which helped cement Sonic the Hedgehog in to Sega stardom as not only the key mascot for the brand, but the original Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Master System was it’s best selling title of 6 million sales, which in comparison to the next highest selling title, Phantasy Star with 1.7 million sales.

It shows how dominant and popular this game was back in the day.

Playability of Master System Games on the RG351P

The 8-bit Master System was a beast at the time of launch in comparison to the home computer and pixel based games of the Atari 2600.

It really was the start of the home console legacy we still see operating today on the PS5 and Xbox series.

Graphics on games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex Kidd started to come to life, giving characters real shape and real recognizable form.

This though is a console released around 40 years ago now.

Technology has moved on at a rapid pace and as a result emulators can manage the demands of 8-bit consoles like the Master System with ease.

In order to put the RG351P through its paces we tried and tested Master System ports of our own games which were not only incredibly popular back in the day but quick, fast and utilized a of the Master System’s capabilities.

If the RG351P can handle these games, it can handle any Master System ROM anyone cares to throw at it – and it could probably handle defragging its own hard drive at the same time!

Sega Master System Games on RG351P

What better way to test how well the RG351P manages Sega Master System games than to play them together on both consoles!

We chose a selection of games which were very popular back in the day, with Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex Kidd in Miracle World being the two most played games on this 8-bit console – and a personal choice of ours, After Burner!

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog Master System ROM on RG351P
Copyright: Retro Secret – Sonic the Hedgehog Master System ROM playing on RG351P

Sonic is the ultimate character in the Sega world, so no Sega console would be complete with a Mario game or seven!

The original is probably the best, although some argue Sonic the Hedgehog 2 just about takes that title, but it depends on who you speak to.

The original is the best selling game on the Master System by a long way.

The most noticeable comparison is how bright and colorful the screen is, compared to playing on an old non-HD CRT TV.

The sprites literally jump out at you.

It plays fast and well, the controls are also excellent.

I really felt as if I were playing the Mega Drive port of the game, and considering the Mega Drive is 16-bit and the Master System, its predecessor, only an 8-bit, it shows just how much of a difference playing retro games using the latest display graphics can make.

The Master System ROM version of Sonic the Hedgehog was a real treat to play!

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd Master System ROM playing on RG351P
Copyright: Retro Secret – Alex Kidd in Miracle World Master System ROM on our RG351P

Alex Kidd in Miracle World, for those who don’t remember, came pre-bundled on the Sega Master System as a built in game.

To play Alex Kidd the player simply turned on the Master System without a cartridge, and it loaded straight away.

For this very reason it was one of the most played games on the Master System back in the 1980s, so I was very excited about playing this today on a handheld retro emulator.

Again, like Sonic the Hedgehog, the first thing I noticed was how bright and colorful the screen was compared to my old analogue TV as a child.

The sprites jump out at you.

The gameplay is wonderful, and dare I say, better controls than the original Master System with the original controller!

It, perhaps, isn’t a surprise.

Technology has changed dramatically, and so playing retro games on new HD screens with controllers ergonomically designed to fit better in the hands of older players are sure to play better.

This isn’t to say anything will beat the feeling of the old cartridges slotting in to the top after rolling down the lid, or the petit two button controller, but the RG351P does an amazing job with Master System ports.

After Burner

After Burner Master System ROM on RG351P
Copyright: Retro Secret – After Burner Master System ROM playing on our RG351P

After Burner is a game that on arcade was a beast but it struggled on many home ports because of how difficult the game can be.

Trying to cram in the brilliance of gameplay on the arcade version into a 16-bit was a challenge enough, but on an 8-bit Master System things become even more difficult.

Like the other games featured here, the graphics literally pop.

The gameplay is amazing, and dare I say, this is a better experience of the game than the original Master System port itself!

Even playing on a small 3.5 inch screen rather than a 24 inch TV, the game becomes faster, easier and more manageable to control.

I played the actual Master System version too, and although it’s still an absolute classic, there is just something about the RG351P version I really like by comparison.

If you were a fan of After Burner on the Master System back in the day, you will absolutely love the new emulator versions.

How to Install Sega Master System ROMs on the RG351P

Ambernic managed to pre-install everything a player could need into the RG351P, as well as configure all the confusing settings which often hold players back from buying a Raspberry Pi and creating a Retropie gaming system.

The RG351P comes pre-configured with the Master System emulator (lr-picodrive) already installed.

This means new users can simply download and add the ROMs for Master System games onto the ‘mastersystem’ folder within the FileManager of the SD card.

This can be done in a couple of ways but the easiest is to simply remove the micro SD card from the RG351P, insert it into a PC through either a built in SD card reader or USB media card, and then copy the Master System ROM from your PC to the SD Card using the MasterSystem folder within the ROM parent folder.

Once the game is copied across to the micro SD card simply eject the SD card from the PC, remove the SD card and slot it back into your RG351P.

If your laptop or Mac do not have an SD card slot, there are USB card readers that can be purchased cheaply on Amazon that do the job well.

Then, with the new Master System ROM transferred to the SD card, switch on your device, scroll to the Master System category and your newly installed game should be ready to play.

Limitations of the RG351P Playing Sega Master System Games

Any time one device attempts to clone another there is usually always a work around and exception to take into account.

Nothing can be better than the real thing, can it?

If the RG351P isn’t better at playing Master System games than the original Master System, it makes an incredibly good substitute.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our Sega Master System.

The retro memories of throwing in a cartridge, flicking the switch, grabbing the, what seem like now, tiny controllers, and playing Sonic or Alex Kidd can never be matched, but in terms of pure gameplay the RG351P has some really good qualities.

Mainly in the display and graphics.

Displays have come a long way in the past 40 years or so.

Ultra HD flat screens displaying more pixels than the TVs 40 years ago could dare to have dreamed about.

The way the graphics pop out of the screen, and the way the game play is thick and fast, it really feels as if playing Master System games on the RG351P is an upgrade.

I almost feel as if I am playing the Mega Drive port of these 8-bit classics rather than the Master System port.

The Master System will forever live as a classic retro gaming console, but playing them on the RG351P is a real treat.

There are though two main limitations.

First, there is no HDMI output on the RG351P, which means it can in no way be connected to a TV for large screen play.

Second, the RG351P simply isn’t the Master System with its cartridges, controller and nostalgic joy.

If you can overlook these two small limitations then you are in for a Master System playing treat!

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