Master System - Media Input

Media Input

One of the most unusual features of the Master System is its dual media inputs: one cartridge slot and one card slot. The card slot accepted small cards about the size of a credit card, much like the later PC Engine/TurboGrafx.

The cards and cartridges both serve the purpose of holding software. However, the cartridges had a much higher capacity, while the cards were much smaller (holding a maximum of 32k). Sega used the cards for budget games, priced lower than the typical game.

Almost all cards are games, but the 3-D glasses card served an entirely different purpose. The 3-D glasses plug into the console via the card slot, and allow 3-D visual effects for specially designed cartridge games. In this fashion, both media inputs worked in tandem.

The card slot was removed in the redesigned Master System II, providing support for only cartridges. This helped to reduce the cost of manufacturing the console since the cards were unpopular and few card-based games were made. Most of the card games were later re-released as cartridges.

A floppy disk drive add-on for the original Master System was developed but was never released.

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