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Cloud Master

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Released: 1989

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Taito

Developer: Hot-B

Growing up with the Master System could be a strange experience at times. On one hand, the system’s sustained European success saw some decidedly Western games arrive on the system via third party publishers – the likes of Fantastic Dizzy, Robocop Versus The Terminator and Sensible Soccer were typical of the console’s Nineties line-up. On the other hand, the lack of third-party releases in the system’s early years meant that some very Japanese games were selected for international release. Sega’s low budget back then meant that a lot of them received very little localisation, which sometimes resulted in releases that didn’t make a whole lot of sense when viewed through the eyes of a young British kid.

Cloud Master definitely falls into the category of very Japanese games. This slightly tough conversion of Taito’s arcade shoot-’em-up is standard fare for the genre, but the Eastern influence shows up heavily in the game’s visual design. Cloud Master’s characters and setting are loosely drawn from the classical Chinese novel Journey To The West – a monkey-like character riding a cloud, the presence of pig enemies and the ancient Chinese setting all point to this origin, but that’s knowledge I acquired as an adult. As a kid, this didn’t make a lick of sense. I just resigned myself to the fact that sometimes I played as Robocop and needed to blow up the Terminator, and other times I played as the cloud-riding Michael Chen, shooting at bowls of noodles and floating tiger heads. Such was life as a Master System owner.