The original Master System requires no modification to get RGB output, but there are different cables for different models. The SMS 2 has no A/V Multi-out, so it requires a mod to get RGB. More info is below:
The Japanese MK-2000 looks like an SMS model 1, but requires a different cable that has no components inside. Here’s links to each:
Note: You can use an SMS cable on a Genesis 1 and vice versa, however I recommend a different solution altogether for the Genesis 1 consoles.
Sega Master System
The original Sega Master System (shown upper left picture) is the most common SMS console found outside of Japan and supports both cartridge and card games. Since it has the card slot, it’s also compatible with the 3D glasses adapter.
The MK-2000 was only released in Japan. Although it looks similar to the SMS 1, there are some significant differences: The MK-2000 has the 3D adapter built directly on the motherboard and has the FM Audio chip built-in as well (more FM audio info below). More importantly, it’s cartridge slot only accepts Sega Mark III cartridges. The Mark II and III were the predecessors to the SMS. You can use SMS games by purchasing a basic cartridge adapter:
Pro’s: Uses the top cartridge slot, so no modification needs to be made to the console; Just plug and play.
Con’s: The game cartridges look a little silly sticking that high up above the console.
If you’re using a Master Everdrive, it’s recommended you use OSv7 with this adapter. As an FYI, after flashing to OSv7,the SD card needs to be re-formatted to FAT32.
SMS Gender Adapter
Pro’s: Sits behind the unit, so your console always looks “clean”.
Con’s: A small bit of plastic needs to be cut for it to fit properly & if you’re using cartridges, it’s a pain to go behind the unit each time to switch it out. Also, there’s some compatibility issues with some games and ROM carts.
If you’re using a Master Everdrive, it’s recommended you use OSv6 with this adapter. As an FYI, after flashing to OSv6,the SD card needs to be re-formatted to FAT16.
SMS II consoles require a mod to output RGB. Depending on the video chip used on your motherboard, adding RGB might be as simple as adding an output connector, but in some cases an RGB bypass board is strongly recommended. More info on this soon!
SMS Games on a Sega Genesis / Mega Drive
Sega Genesis / Mega Drive consoles can play Master System games through a converter or roms. This is not emulation, the Genesis console actually has SMS hardware inside it and supports 99% of the SMS library; Some games require the original controller, but patches are available (see below).
All Genesis ROM carts will play SMS roms without any modification required. If you plan on using original cartridges, you can get Sega’s official cartridge adapter called the Power Base Converter, which supports cartridges and cards. In my opinion, a better solution for playing SMS cartridges on a Genesis is db Electronic’s Power Base FM, which also supports SMS games with FM sound! They also have a much cheaper, “basic” version available for just $20!: http://db-electronics.ca/shop/
Many Sega Master System games support a high-quality sound chip. Detailed information is available in the Sega Master System FM Audio section, but here’s a basic example
“Jailbars” are a common and annoying problem on all SMS consoles. In my opinion, the best way to fix the issue is by bypassing the SMS motherboard as much as possbile. I have a page with instructions and details on how to do this, however newer solutions will soon be available: http://www.retrorgb.com/smsrgbbypass.html
Play SMS Games with a Genesis Controller:
If you use a Genesis controller to play SMS games (via either the SMS or Genesis), some games won’t work correctly. If you’re using a ROM cart, you can actually patch those games to work with either controller. Here’s a link to instructions (free login required to download the patches): http://krikzz.com/forum/index.php?topic=1203.0
If you love the SMS, buy the original and get the cable linked above. If you only plan on playing a few SMS games or have limited space, just get a Genesis and one of db Electronics’ Power Base Converters. It’ll give you almost the same experience (SMS on Genesis isn’t emulation), the SMS controllers work in the Genesis and even the 3D glasses work fine.