Now, There Are No Limits. The Sega Mark III was Sega's second video game console in Japan, and their entry into The 8 Bit Era. Their first one was known as the SG-1000, which had an updated model called the SG-1000 II (which is where the "III" in "Mark III" comes from). Realizing the SG-1000 was not competitive enough with Nintendo's Family Computer, Sega significantly upgraded its hardware, which had been largely similar to the MSX computer platform, giving the Mark III graphical capabilities superior to both the MSX2 and the Famicom. The restyled international version of the Sega Mark III was initially sold in different bundles, each carrying its own name. The "Sega Base System" consisted of the core console (or "Power Base") plus two controllers. The "Sega Master System" included the contents of the Base System package, plus the Light Phaser gun controller and pack-in games. The "SegaScope 3-D System" added a pair of active-shutter glasses and additional game to the Master System package. Eventually, though, the console itself became known simply as the Master System, to the point where the redesigned version released in 1990 was branded the Master System II. All things considered, the Master System was probably the most powerful of the 8-bit systemsnote , although the NES was able to catch up somewhat with the help of add-on chips. The Mark III was rereleased in Japan with the Master System name and styling, and also with an FM synth card (never included in the international version) to enhance the quality of chiptunes. However, the console was discontinued early in Japan, soon after Sega introduced the 16-bit Mega Drive. It lasted only a year or two longer in the United States, where it lost out not only to the NES but the Atari 7800 as well, although its failure to gain ground was largely due to Nintendo trying to monopolize the market. However, it did gain a lot of ground in Europe and South America. Heck, games were still being developed for the Master System in Brazil by the mid-to-late 90s (such as a port of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition). The SMS' popularity in the UK in particular was helped by a bungled distribution campaign from Nintendo which meant that the NES was so rare in Britain as to be practically mythical. Although Sega's own series didn't really gain ground until the Genesis, their popular Phantasy Star series got its start here. Their handheld, the Game Gear, uses hardware quite compatible with the Master System, and converters exist to run games on each other. The Master System was the first console to put full game programs on small "cards", in addition to traditional cartridges. Due to the cards' limited memory, though, the format was limited to "budget" games (though HudsonSoft and NEC would improve on the card format with their PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 platform). The SegaScope 3-D glasses were powered by the card port as well. The Power Base Converter, an add-on for the Genesis, allowed full backward compatibility with all Master System games (including the card and SegaScope games). However, the redesigned Master System II would drop the card slot, as game card production had already ceased, and Sega had already stopped supporting the SegaScope.