I have been doing a lot of research into getting the most out of my Master System console and figured I would compile a list with links here to share with everyone.
The video options are pretty scarce on the SMS, beyond the RF adapter you have the standard AV cables which offer a less noisy video signal but does not do much for those of us hoping for a little more. If you would like to take things a step further and are not afraid of soldering there is the modding route which you can find more about here, here, and here.
If soldering is not really your thing and you want to aim for a higher quality connection you can go the component route via a scart cable, the scart cable can easily be found on eBay and when combined with a scart to component converter box it can provide you with a near RGB quality signal. It will work almost identical to the video below which is showing the same process being done for the Genesis.
Another thing of note regarding scart cables, scart cables carry both the audio and video signals across the same cable so since American T.V’s do not accept scart connections and we will be using a converter to convert the video to component we will need a way to get audio out to our t.v or reciever. This can easily be accomplished by using a simple 2-4 port scart switch with audio outputs, this has the added benefit of allowing you to have multiple consoles connected via scart while using only one scart to component converter. Something like this would work nicely.
On the audio front there did not seem to be much room for improvement but after digging into things I did find that the Japanese Sega Master System has FM sound capability which is a big improvement over the PSG sound found on the consoles from other regions.
So how do you play with FM sound? Well there are a few catches and it is definitely not easy but if you are dedicated and willing to spend some time, money, can solder some things into place and have room for multiple setups it can be done. Ideally you will want both a Japanese Master System (not to be confused with the Mark III) and a U.S or Pal Master System.
With the Japanese console you will get FM sound without any modifications however you will need an adapter to play carts from other regions due to differences in cart design on the Japanese console, that said not all games will work such as the ones listed below.
- 4 Pak
- Lord of the Sword
- Maze Hunter 3D
- Rescue Mission
- Time Soldiers
Because not all games will work on the Japanese console the next step would be to modify a U.S or Pal system to add an FM board. The FM board is a fairly simple install, more information and ordering info can be found here. It seems that there are some issues with a couple games such as Time Soldiers and Wonder Boy III when using the FM board, a fix has been posted here. Hopefully a second run of the boards will be released which include the fix already applied for those afraid of soldering things.
This guide should be considered a work in progress and will be updated or edited as I find additional information. My hope is that this will serve as a collection of info regarding the various improvements that can be made to the SMS. If you find errors or have additional information that you feel should be added then please leave a comment or send me an email.
Most information was gathered from various forum threads at the following web sites.