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While they had produced several very popular arcade and home video games over the years (Frogger, Buck Rogers, Congo Bongo) the Sega Master System was the first system that Sega had released in America. Unlike the other systems during this era, the Sega Master System (SMS) had two cartridge ports. One had the standard cartridge configuration, while the other accepted small credit card shaped cartridges. These card games were limited by their size and memory, however, they were typically much cheaper than the normal size carts, and sold reasonably well for the system. The system was capable of utilizing both ports at any given time, and Sega used this feature to produce 3-D glasses for use with certain games. These glasses used little LCD screens that would alternately flash opaque and clear. When choreographed with similar flashings on the screen, it turned some games into an early "virtual-reality" experience. Speaking from personal experience, the 3-D glasses worked quite well. My only problem with them was that my skull was a bit large for the small and brittle frames. Eventually, my 3-D glasses simply broke.

In a side-by-side comparison of the SMS and NES, it is obvious that the SMS had more potential than the NES. This opinion was shared by video game magazines as well14. However, with a mere fraction of the games that the NES had, the SMS would never be able to attain any significant popularity in America. In Europe, on the other hand, the SMS would sell so well that Nintendo of Europe would have to license some of their games to them to stay afloat.

The Sega Master System would be raised from the dead in 1990 in the form of a portable system known as the Game Gear.