SEGA Master System: A Visual Compendium Book Review.

The Sega Master System was probably the console of choice for all my friends back in the day. I was a late comer to the console but what an amazing system it is! The SEGA Master System: A Visual Compendium pays tribute to this iconic Sega console and some of its amazing games. One huge plus is this is an officially licensed book by SEGA and it is the first of this kind to be released for the Master System.

As with all previous Bitmap Book releases, you can see the attention to detail that went into the presentation of the book. Every book includes a lenticular heavy board slipcase and comes with a set of 3D Glasses! The printing technique is, once again, lithographical which provides some simply sublime results. Those that own previous editions from Bitmap Books will know what I mean here. The colours are really vibrant and the 424 pages have a high-quality feel to them. Finally for those of you who like to know the size of these books, it measures in at 170mm x 230mm.

Essentially the book represents a visual snapshot of some the best games from this iconic 8-Bit system. Overall, the book contains around 200 games, covering classics like Chase H.Q, Lemmings, Space Harrier and many more. Sadly, some classics never made into the book due to licensing issues; however, that does not spoil what is a wonderful tome of a book. Each game has a full in-game image, which has amazing clarity given how blown up they are for the book. Some of the games get a fold-out page treatment, which adds a lovely touch of quality to the book. Finally I should mention there is some imagery in the book for you to use the supplied 3D glasses on, which again shows the great level of detail Sam Dyer and his team have gone to. With each game there is a brief description or brief anecdotes from those involved in the making of the game, including coders, designers or famous names from the world of gaming press.

There are many other features throughout the book which offer a respite from just the visual aspects of the book. These are the meaty parts and, among others, include a feature on Arcade Conversions, Hardware, and The Master System in Brazil. These are just three of those features that offer a real insight to this wonderful console. I knew the Master System was a huge success around the world but is was fascinating to read about its Brazilian success story.

SEGA® Master System: a visual compendium also features a section dedicated to Box Art. These are often my favorite as discovering new art usually gives me the impulse to buy a certain game. The foreword is written by Mark Cerny (Sony) who also features in one of the interviews along with Nick Alexander and Takashi Shoji, to name a few. Sadly there are only seven interviews in total. These often form the best parts of any of the books I read but, to be fair and as I had mentioned earlier, this book is as all about the visual aspects and in that department, it oozes appeal.

Overall, if you are a Master System fan, you will probably already have this book. For those who are retroheads and are debating purchasing this, don’t. It is a must own celebration of one of gaming’s finest moments.

Review Score
  • 8/10
    RVG Rating - 8/10


Another awesome tome from Bitmap Books, the presentation is second to none, the interviews and the sublime art throughout the book make this and must own.


Retro head and key holder of RVG.

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