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Posted on May 26th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Sega, Hang On, Astro Warrior, Sega Master System, review, combo

This article was authored and submitted by RF Generation's own SirPsycho.
Our seasoned writer has been having computer issues as of late. Best of luck on a full recovery good sir.
Boy are my hands getting tired....

For my return to reviewing, I wanted to talk about something special. You will get a review of two games for the price of one!  We will journey to the dark lands of Sega's Master System and look at the Hang-On/Astro Warrior combo cartridge for a dual review.   


When a gamer thinks about the arcade, there are many designs and images that they conjure up in their head.  Few games can say that they have as long of a lasting legacy as Sega's 1985 arcade classic, Hang-On.  I was at the arcade fairly recently and saw one of the newer Fast and Furious games, one of the ones you sit down on and lean to steer.  This type of game would not exist if not for the visionary design of Yu Suzuki and his team at AM2.  Hang-On also had the benefit of being an early 16-bit game.  The arcade crowd of the mid-80's had to feel spoiled by Sega.

So how does one of the great, early 16-bit arcade classics translate to merely one half of an 8-bit cartridge?  Fairly well actually.  The Master System's fast CPU helps the game retain it's feeling of speed.  The scaling is fairly smooth, but obviously cut back from the arcade original.  The music is cut from the actual gameplay, and instead, you are only left with the roar of your engine and those of your rivals.  You should have little or no problem getting use to the controls, since they are fast and smooth.

**video courtesy of World of Longplays**

The gameplay design is as simple as it is fun.  Scoring is easy, with a ticker the goes up to represent distance covered.  Every time you pass your rival, Sizzler 7, you get a boost of 300 points, and finishing the entire circuit will net you a nice, even 1000 points per second remaining on the clock.  Each circuit has five checkpoints, with a complete run being the completion of eight total circuits.  Before starting your run, you will have three different difficulties to choose from.  Once you start a circuit, there are also three gears to manually shift through while speeding up.

If you are looking to start or expand your Sega Master System collection, there are few better games to look for than Hang-On.  Some Master Systems even come with the game built in!  If yours does not, or if you are using the great Power Base Converter with your Genesis/Mega Drive, then you will need the actual cartridge.  Make sure to hang on tight!!

**video courtesy of NinjitsuEvolved**



Astro Warrior is a game designed by Sega specifically for the Master System.  As such, there is no downscaling or audio omissions.  It is a vertical scrolling shooter that allows two players to play together.  The game was well-received in its time and was marketed as a premier, arcade-style shooter for the home console.  This game exemplifies Sega's strategy during the Master System era, in trying to bring the arcade experience into the home.

The gameplay of Astro Warrior is extremely simple.  The design is one of the easiest to grasp that I have ever experienced in a scrolling shooter.  As usual, you shoot enemies and dodge their fire.  Power-ups are earned by shooting a plethora of ground targets.  There is no choice in the game, merely a set cascade of progression.  A few nice details are added, such as your ship changing shape when you pick up the double shot.  The game is comprised of only three levels, and unfortunately, one death is pretty much your game over, since power-ups are crucial in keeping the game manageable in the 2nd and 3rd stages.

**video courtesy of World of Longplays**

The graphics of Astro Warrior are fairly simple.  The background is comprised of mainly black space.  Most enemies are simple shapes, but there are a few that are more complex (mostly the few bosses and your ship).  The controls in the game are smooth with the Master System's powerful CPU avoiding much of the slowdown sometimes experienced with the much weaker CPU in the NES.  The music in the game is nice, but I find the title music a bit too high pitched for my enjoyment.

Like Hang-On, Astro Warrior comes built into some later Master Systems.  Since you will likely never own two Master Systems, you will likely want to own this game in cartridge format.  There's not better way to play Astro Warrior than on the combo cartridge (though it can also be purchased as a solo game), so keep your eyes peeled for a copy, and spend the pittance of pocket change.  The combo cartridge will cost you somewhere between $5-$15 at retail, so it's very light on the wallet.   

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Nice write-up!  I dig this combo cart, and it was one of the first SMS games I picked up after getting the Power Base Converter.  I haven't spent a ton of time with it, but I enjoy what I've played.  I need to hook my Model 1 up again, and maybe give these 2 games another go...
Even though Astro Warrior is basic, I've enjoyed what I've played. A simple shooter, but still fun.
@MetalFRO: I keep my model 1 hooked up for easy Power Base conversion. The audio quality is a bonus.

@Duke.Togo: Astro Warrior is the most basic shooter that can come to mind now that I've played it.
Great write up!

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