Master of Darkness, Sega Master System

Also known as “Vampire: Master of Darkness” in some regions, this overt Castlevania clone was developed by SIMS and published by Sega for the Master System and Game Gear in 1992. Some consider it to be the best of its kind on the Master System.

You play as Dr. Ferdinand Social who is investigating a series of grisly murders in London. These are linked to a number of unsavoury characters who are performing some kind of dark ritual in order to resurrect the legendary vampire, Dracula. Who of course you must face, and defeat.

Master of Darkness is divided into five ’rounds’, each split into three stages, and at the end of each round there is a boss battle with one of the characters involved in the dark ritual. Gameplay is as close as you can get to a 2D Castlevania game without invoking a lawsuit. Dr. Social is very responsive and can do pretty much what any Belmont is capable of: jump, climb stairs, duck, and use a set of primary and secondary weapons (thankfully no whip, though). Power-ups can be obtained by hitting masks that are scattered around the levels. Picking up a new weapon will replace the last one held, so you can swap them out just like you can in a Castlevania game.

Each stage has a time limit to hurry you along and monsters re-spawn zonally. At the end of each stage you get a points bonus depending on how much time and life you have left.

The graphics in Master of Darkness are excellent, evoking an eerie pseudo Victorian atmosphere, and the music is… well, Castlevania-like. The controls are sharp and the gameplay is challenging, without being too difficult. Overall, this is a very good game, if a bit repetitive, and is still well worth playing today – especially if you’ve never seen it before and like Castlevania-type games.

More: Master of Darkness on Wikipedia

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