Sega Master System/Boot ROM

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The original North American and European Master System boot ROM, version 1.3.

All variants of the Sega Master System come preinstalled with a boot ROM - an interface which appears when the console is given power. Almost all of Sega's hardware systems had some form of startup sequence that graphically told the end user that a game was loaded and ready to play. The original Japanese version of the Master System, the Sega Mark III, did not have a BIOS and instead would boot straight to the inserted game.

The first known BIOS released featured an animated blue SEGA logo, along with MASTER SYSTEM written underneath. This version of the BIOS was only used with the prototype Master System and is designated as "Prototype M404" among emulation communities[1]. (See here for video demonstration)

When the Master System was released in the fall of 1986, it introduced a different startup sequence from that used by the prototype. The animation sequence this time was the SEGA logo sliding from the left side in the center of the screen, followed by MASTER SYSTEM and its copyright information shown underneath. The trademark SEGA sound as later heard in many of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, is also played in the background using melodic system tones (See here). If no cartridge or card was inserted, the user would be presented with a screen that tells them how to start a game.

The Japanese release of the SMS BIOS offered graphical enhancements along with music from Space Harrier, which utilized both the YM2413 FM audio and standard PSG audio. (See here).

Built-in games

Screen shown when no cartridge is inserted in a v1.3 Master System.

What was unique about the Sega Master System at the time was that Sega had included built-in games that could be played without any cartridges or cards inserted. While original releases of the system did not have any retail games built-in, there was an extra hidden game that could played upon startup. By pressing 1+2+Up on the first Control Pad on the instructions screen, the user could play the hidden Snail Maze game.

Sega would later package other games with the system built-in similar to the Snail Maze game, but was no longer hidden to the end user. Rather, the boot ROM would automatically boot into the built-in game after displaying the Sega startup sequence. Depending on the console build and BIOS included with the system, users could choose to play either Hang-On / Safari Hunt, Hang-On, Missile Defense 3-D, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, and Sonic the Hedgehog.


Software error

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Master System
CRC32 0072ed54
MD5 840481177270d5642a14ca71ee72844c
SHA-1 c315672807d8ddb8d91443729405c766dd95cae7
8kB 1986 Sega Master System (US/EU) v1.3
Sega Master System
CRC32 b3d854f8
MD5 bdb34f2c471e5d0c358eeec621f9d029
SHA-1 fc7eb9141f38c92bf98d9134816f64b45e811112
8kB 1987 Sega Master System (EU) v2.0
Sega Master System
CRC32 48d44a13
MD5 24a519c53f67b00640d0048ef7089105
SHA-1 a8c1b39a2e41137835eda6a5de6d46dd9fadbaf2
8kB 1987 Sega Master System (JP) v2.1
Sega Master System
CRC32 91e93385
MD5 02cbb2e348945c9ac41e37502a58ca76
SHA-1 9e179392cd416af14024d8f31c981d9ee9a64517
128kB 1988 Sega Master System (US/EU) v2.4; Hang-On / Safari Hunt built-in
Sega Master System
CRC32 8edf7ac6
MD5 5cd8f62cd8786af0226e6d2248279338
SHA-1 51fd6d7990f62cd9d18c9ecfc62ed7936169107e
128kB 1988 Sega Master System (US/EU) v3.4; Hang-On built-in
Sega Master System
CRC32 e79bb689
MD5 08b81aa6be18b92daef1b875deecf824
SHA-1 aa92ae576ca670b00855e278378d89e9f85e0351
128kB 1988 Sega Master System (US/EU) v4.4; Missile Defense 3-D built-in
Sega Master System
CRC32 cf4a09ea
MD5 e8b26871629b938887757a64798df6dc
SHA-1 3af7b66248d34eb26da40c92bf2fa4c73a46a051
128kB 1990 Sega Master System (US/EU) Alex Kidd in Miracle World built-in
Sega Master System
CRC32 81c3476b
MD5 4187d96beaf36385e681a3cf3bd1663d
SHA-1 6aca0e3dffe461ba1cb11a86cd4caf5b97e1b8df
256kB 1991 Sega Master System II (EU) Sonic the Hedgehog built-in
Sega Master System
CRC32 9c5bad91
MD5 e49e63328c78fe3d24ae32bf903583e0
SHA-1 2feafd8f1c40fdf1bd5668f8c5c02e5560945b17
128kB Samsung Gam*Boy (KR) Alex Kidd in Miracle World built-in
Sega Master System
CRC32 72bec693
MD5 626b3453613e43d5a47908a8944ba583
SHA-1 29091ff60ef4c22b1ee17aa21e0e75bac6b36474
8kB 1986 Prototype Master System (US)[2] v1.0 prototype Page
Sega Master System
CRC32 1a15dfcc
MD5 3153447d155fb8bfc66a4d1c41e399b9
SHA-1 4a06c8e66261611dce0305217c42138b71331701
8kB 1986 Prototype Master System (US)[2] M404 prototype Page


Sega Master System
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