Sega Mark III

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The Japanese Mark III.

The Sega マークIII [Maku III], Mark III, is a third-generation 8-bit video game console developed by Sega and first released in Japan on 1985-10-20. Although it is based on the SG-1000 II, Sega redesigned the system to compete with the Famicom, which had been outselling them in Japan. It was given a better video chip which could handle smooth scrolling, more RAM, and a faster CPU, and a better audio chip. However, although it was technically superior to the Famicom, it was still unable to give Sega a competitive edge. There were several reasons for their inability to dominate the market, including an already saturated market, lack of decent games, and Nintendo designing better in-cart chips which allowed more impressive games in the Famicom. The platform's hardware also served as a template for what would eventually become the handheld Game Gear.

The system uses an 8-bit Zilog Z80A CPU clocked at 4 MHz, 8 kB of ROM, 8 kB of RAM, and 16 kB of video RAM. Video uses an RF switch and displays at a resolution of 256 × 192 pixels and up to 32 colors at one time (though few games took advantage of this) from a total palette of 64 colors. Games used cartridges or Sega Cards. For audio the system used a Texas Instruments SN76489 PSG chip, and allowed for an optional Yamaha YM2413 FM synthesis chip.

The Mark III was given a slight redesign before being released in the USA in 1986 as the Master System, but, it too was unable to catch up with Nintendo's lead with their Nintendo Entertainment System. However, the Master System did sell well in Europe and Brazil where the Nintendo still hadn't dominated the market. The led to the Mega Drive becoming the dominant 16-bit console in Europe.


Growing up, I never even knew the Mark III existed, and only knew of a single person who owned a Master System, and only played games on it once.

I've never owned or even seen a Mark III.


See all Master System Games.

Most video game sites group Mark III and Master System games together since they're mostly interchangeable. The only noticeable difference is that those Japanese releases which support the superior Yamaha chip can't play their higher quality music outside of Japan because the Master System did not allow for the optional audio. As it is, there aren't any Mark III games which are important to me.


I don't know enough about the system to write a review.


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