An unusual conversion arrived for the SEGA Master System in 1992. This was the following year to its sibling MegaDrive release. It was dubbed "MASTERMIX '92" by the developers at Tecmagik.
It seems the developers wanted to make changes to the original design in an attempt to improve gameplay. Reviews at the time welcomed some of these differences, as they introduced a level of complexity that felt lacking in other versions.
The title screen features the familiar graphic of the main character Aarbron with his fist, appearing behind the large written "Beast".
On starting the game it greets the player with the message "Thy Fate Awaits". Continuing after a button press with Aarbron standing in the overland plains "Eerie Forest", facing to the right as the others.
After traveling to the left—as is necessary—and encountering some enemies, you will come to the tree door entrance that leads to the next zone. The caverns. This entrance is usually free to enter but locked here. Further beyond to the left is the required key, in an area that would normally lead to a dead end with no items. This is one of the first key—pun—differences, perhaps as a tutorial.
The overland sections are more spaced out like a sparse gauntlet that can seem endless. The interior levels while less labyrinthine, have a few secret areas.
Jumping is—for some unknown reason—mapped to 'up' on the directional pad. Because of this and the demand for accurate platform traversal, it is all too common to fall to an instant death. This is the only console-based release known to control this way and is often cited as a frustrating and baffling design decision.
An inventory system is introduced in this conversion as far more emphasis is placed on items, and most are exceptionally vague. Only giving cryptic hints as to their purpose after they have been used. These include keys, potions, and occasional special items.
Potions are especially varied. Some are restorative or ability boosts as expected, but some are debilitating or outright lethal, with only a clue to their effect in their colour.
Yet, due to the overabundance of item pick-ups versus limited inventory space, it can create problems. It often forces you to intentionally skip or sacrifice some items to make room for others.
To complicate further, if you select an item from the inventory it is removed and cannot be found again. This makes it possible to use items at the wrong time or wrong order. Doing this can make the game impossible since some items are vital for progression. In the manual, the developers explicitely acknowledge this.
Enemy variety and frequency are minimal owing to technical considerations. With rare exceptions, no more than one single enemy or item will appear at a time.
On the plains, it appears that Aarbron moves quicker than usual. This can make response time seem exceptionally short, as enemies often spring out of nowhere. Some continue to spawn infinitely if you don't keep moving. Additionally, it is possible to fail to defeat a single enemy and avoid taking damage, by punching at the right moment. This is fortunate since some enemies are impossible to kill or avoid. It is not known if these are bugs, or as intended.
Boss-type enemy contacts are introduced by name—some invented—with a message before the fight begins.
The first large creature to be faced is one that grants a power-up necessary to defeat the first boss. While not typically thought to be a boss itself, it is presented here in a way that implies that it is, in fact, the first boss "Keeper of the Orb".
There are several familiar bosses, and some that are unique to this port of the game, such as "Skarios the Slayer". Its appearance is based on a creature seen in the original Amiga background art.
Skarıos the Slayer.
Boss encounters have less environment art around them. The last is especially noticeable as it occurs against complete black, presumably due to hardware limitations.
After defeating the final boss, there are no credits. Aarbron transforms back into his human form as he continues running the plains without end.
This conversion was praised for its visual fidelity given the Master System's capabilities. The sprites are large and detailed, though occasional inconsistent art styles between them. Some appear to be converted from original Amiga or existing assets, where others seem redrawn. An often positively cited addition is the animation of Aarbron's beating chest.
It boasts an impressive 8 layers of parallax scrolling in the overland sections, yet appear to move faster than they should. This is the only version where clouds in the sky move independently.
Simple patterns provide background texture in other areas.
The use of the limited palette opts for a more natural—if stark—approach to the graphics. This may have been intentional, to avoid being more visually interesting for the sake of it. There is a clear logic to the art direction, though bland at times. But the choice to make Aarbron appear green on the title screen seems a little odd.
Audio suffers the most with this release, with minimal sound effects. The music is well-produced but limited to only two tracks, with wearying repetition.
This release is also notable for being the only one to not feature the incredible cover artwork by Roger Dean.
1992 — Tecmagik, licensed by SEGA. Development: Bob Pape / Ed Hickman / Maureen Hands / Simon Freeman