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A series of sports games created by Sega themselves to serve as a counterpart to Nintendo's own series of NES sports games. Intended to show off the system's superior graphical power, the actual gameplay tends to fall short in each case. Sega put out ten core entries - Basketball, Ice Hockey, Volleyball, Football, two Soccer, two Baseball and two Golf - as well as a special edition of Football and the second Soccer that used the system's Sports Pad peripheral. Great Ice Hockey also required the Sports Pad to play.
The first game in the series was the Japanese release of Great Soccer in 1985, which used the system's early card format. It was followed by the Japanese 1985 release of Great Baseball. The others would appear throughout 1987, both in Japan and in the West. The last game to be released with the Great label was the other Great Soccer; specifically a special version compatible with the Sports Pad peripheral called Sports Pad Soccer in Japan.
Due to Sega's odd naming habit, there exists two Great Soccers - one is the Japanese original, which did not receive a US release, and the second is called World Soccer in Japan and Europe and Great Soccer in the US. Similarly, the first Great Golf is a Japan-exclusive game and its sequel is called Great Golf in the US and Europe but Masters Golf in its home territory. This is also the case with Great Baseball - the first is Japan-exclusive, the sequel is the world version of Great Baseball that is named The Pro Yakyuu: Pennant Race in Japan. It is thought that Sega wanted to maintain the naming convention in other territories in order to strengthen the brand name.
The US received seven of the ten games - the exceptions being the first Great Golf, the first Great Baseball and the first Great Soccer. Europe also received seven - while they received the first Great Soccer, they did not receive Great Ice Hockey.
The Japanese release schedule of the ten games are as follows:
- 10/27/85 - Great Soccer
- 12/15/85 - Great Baseball
- 06/??/86 - Great Ice Hockey
- 12/20/86 - Great Golf
- 03/29/87 - Great Basketball
- 03/29/87 - Great Volleyball
- 03/29/87 - Great Football
- 07/19/87 - World Soccer - Great Soccer (US)
- 08/16/87 - The Pro Yakyuu: Pennant Race - Great Baseball (World)
- 10/10/87 - Masters Golf - Great Golf (World)