As a result of Nintendo saving the gaming market in the 1980’s, it spawned rivalries during the 1990’s and there was no bigger competitor than Sega. Sega offered a more hip and cooler side of video game providing great variety of 16-bit fun, blast-processing (adding so much speed than any Nintendo console), peripherals that extended game experience, and even targeted to all sorts of demographics that has reached new audiences that Nintendo never provided. The Sega Genesis is so much of an importance to gaming history that Sega still to this day re-release the many of these games from this very console, so there’s no excuse for missing any of these games out. It started out as a brand new direction with video games and managing to have equal graphics seen in the arcades in the early 1990s that made it a must own at the time. This was the peak of Sega’s years, but at the same time the company damaged its reputation with their third-party developers and consumers with their add-ons and poor business decisions that greatly effected their future as a console manufacturer. I admit that I grew up with the Super Nintendo more, but I never had any grudge with the competition for Nintendo. In fact, I had best friends who had this console where I played at their house whenever I wanted to play the Sega Genesis and they play at my place when they wanted to play the Super Nintendo. Though my European friends still refer it as a Sega Mega Drive, I still like calling it the Genesis because it was a huge step up from the Sega Master System that didn’t get enough popularity. We still talk about “Sega Genesis does what Nintendon’t” because it left that much of a big impression on all of us. Now it’s time for me to name the Sega Genesis games that I love playing the most!
Number 10. – ToeJam & Earl
Now who says video games without action or destroying enemies is boring? No doubt that mixing space aliens and hip-hop is a bizarre concept, but that’s what made this series so fun! The series started out as the creator’s tribute to his favorite game Rogue. This is a cartoony game that defied traditional video games and added so much personality aspect to it. It promoted a decently paced cooperative 2-Player gameplay that focused on dungeon-crawling experience in outer-space. Though thee sequel, Panic in Funkotron went in a different direction with cooperative 2D side-scrolling platforming, I still prefer the original over all because it really was a different game about all the rest. I really was a huge fan of just exploring all sorts of locations in each level and the fact that this is perhaps one of the first games that innovated split-screen, it make it a lot easier for both players to venture into different directions rather than follow the same path. It’s least likely that the series would continue after the awfulness of ToeJam and Earl III, but the original will always leave an impression on all of us who grew up with this title.
Number 9. – Strider
I’ll tell you what Sega does what Nintendon’t; have a good console port of Strider. This beloved classic from the arcades was a major leap from 8-Bit and when Genesis was capable to handle such technology, the gates were opened to a brand new era of gaming. Outside of the impact on video game history, its still fun to play. The fact that you’re a cybernetic future ninja who uses his gigantic sword to slash his way through robots and other creatures in a cyberpunk universe was unbelievable at the time. Plus the animation quality like whenever we see jump or leap into the air, it was more qualitative than seeing your sprites make the same frame when they jump, fall, and land. It’s really that style that shows what 16-bit graphics were capable of and it got all of us excited for future games using this technology. Really, outside of what you can normally do in other action-platformers, there really isn’t much to talk about that other breeds of its kind already does. All that needs to be done is to be played and have fun with it.
Number 8. – Castlevania: Bloodlines
This is a Castlevania game like no other; it had a twisted storyline, multiple characters to play as that has different fighting styles, and it was more violent than your traditional Castlevania game, at this point in time. Seriously, this was a huge installment of the series and it got anyone engaged with sidescrolling action that hasn’t been seen before up until its release. It really does suck to have a censored version of the game in PAL countries as they called it “The New Generation”, but Bloodlines still prevail. This was a segnificant entry as it has elements that is brought back in later Castlevania games like the score, the signature weapons of the Castlevania series: holy water, a cross-shaped boomerang, throwing axes and daggers. Of course, it wouldn’t be Castlevania without a whip. It’s titles like this one shows that an old school gaming franchise can still be relevant to gaming culture and come up with new ideas and not be accused as being betrayal to its fans. And that’s why Castlevania still makes great triple-A titles today!
Number 7. – Streets of Rage 2
I really can’t tell you the difference between the first or the second game outside of having more moves, more levels, and more characters that boiled-down to being a great side-scrollin’ beat-em-up, I can easily say that Streets of Rage II is the clear victor. Don’t ever get mixed up with Sega’s Streets of Rage and Capcom’s Final Fight. Sega basically took the Golden Axe formula and changed the whole look to gang-fight theme for a video game and the sequel is a refinement of what was left from the first. It’s pretty cool to see three ex-cops abandoning the force and decide to go fight dirty with the gangs of the city. I spent so many hours playing with my friends together fighting against wave after wave of over-the-top enemy variety. It’s really sad to see that such a big time franchise all of the sudden was wiped-out of the face of the Earth for just one mediocre sequel. I’ll still give the series a chance for another installment in 3D if Sega gives it another-go-round.
Number 6. – Mortal Kombat II
Though I like playing any version of Street Fighter II on the SNES, I always prefer playing any Mortal Kombat game on the Genesis. The fact the Nintendo had the nerve to heavily censor our blood and fatality in their ports (except for MK III), it’s another reason why it’s more in favor to pick the Genesis over the SNES. The Genesis port of MK II was a huge graphical improvement over the original Mortal Kombat which gave it more replay value than ever before. In the early 90’s, this was the closest we got as a near port of the Mortal Kombat II arcade version. Fatalities still prevail in this version and the personality still remains. I remember fondly on how many times my friends and I would play Mortal Kombat II for hours upon hours. The only thing that kept it from being any higher is the difficulty is unbearable. Other than that, Mortal Kombat II still remains my favorite fighting game on the Sega Genesis!
Number 5. – Rocket Knight Adventures
Just looking at this game’s cover makes me very sad. I mean, Konami really tried to make Sparkster the company’s mascot, but it’s just the fact that the general public didn’t give mascots like this one a chance, as a result it didn’t sell very well. Rocket Knight Adventures is in my opinion one of the best Platformers on the Sega Genesis. It’s for the fact that Sparkster can rocket boost when you charge-up his pack and is able to swift is sword and shoot out laser projectiles. Who doesn’t want to play as an amazing character? Really, this game gave us a bunch of surprises and unbelievable amount of platforming challenges that still to this day can’t be compared. I was very surprised to see how refreshing everything really is in this 2D platformer from the enemy sprite animation, to the boss & mini-bosses that appears unexpectedly, and even the platforming challenge that really took me by surprise, no doubt did this title left me an everlasting impression out of me!
Number 4. – Gunstar Heroes
I think the time that I really got obsessed in coming over at my friends house to play Sega Genesis was when my best friend showed me his copy of Gunstar Heroes. This was my frist time playing a run-and-gun, side-scroller platformer and immediately I was hooked. For being that this is Treature’s first game they developed, it shows how much of a great developer they really were. Gunstar Heroes was something special for the fact that it did better frame rates than any Nintendo console whenever the screen is cluttered with too many sprites moving. Oh, did I mention that this 2-player co-op just has more than enough things to destruct? What made this exclusive so memorable was the sheer madness to everything; there was a near-constant stream of explosions and gunfire going on at all times (and your ability to combine weapons made for some interesting gameplay), plenty of bonuses that creates high replay value, yet everything was always clear and comprehensible. Call me nuts if you want to, but I thought that this game was much better looking and playable than the likes of Contra! I can’t imagine making a Sega Genesis game list without including Gunstar Heroes!
Number 3. – Phantasy Star IV
This is one of those aspects where I really hate the gaming industry as a whole for being so damn forgetful because during the days of the Sega Master System, Phantasy Star was the biggest deal when talking about Sega. It doesn’t really help at the fact that Sega Genesis is suitable with all sort of genre except for Role-Playing Games. So what did Phantasy Star IV offer that no RPG at the time offer? How about being anime-inspired, dense story, told with manga-style panels? How about the character variety that had each had their own abilities? And how about an improved turn-based combat system that we can finally actually see our characters attacking the enemies? This was a serious step up from the disappointing Phantasy Star III that was developed by developers who weren’t into the Phantasy Star-lore to begin with. Remember what I said about “the Phantasy Star series taking the series is known for traditional fantasy RPG mixed with science fiction space opera.” Phantasy Star IV totally delivers that concept and just gave us some of the coolest enemy variety that we’ve never seen before in gaming. Imagining having better battle animations with such monsters, you got yourself a video game of a life time!
Number 2. – Sonic and Knuckles
The biggest highlight for me with playing the Sega Genesis was Sonic the Hedgehog. I mean he was the coolest character I’ve ever seen and even though I didn’t own a Sega Genesis, my brother and I were huge fanatics of the series so this was a passionate (yet hard) pick when choosing what is to be my favorite Sonic game on the Sega Genesis. I bet that you’re all wondering why out of all the Sonic games on the Sega Genesis, why pick this? You have to remember when Sonic the Hedgehog 3 came out, Knuckles made his debut and it was amazing to see a character who looked better than Sonic himself. Though they did cut out playing as Knuckles in the original Sonic the Hedgehog 3, in less than a year Sega gave us the second half of the game calling it Sonic and Knuckles. Though, you can choose either Sonic or Knuckles that each has different levels to go through, I always chose Knuckles. Playing as Knuckles was without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had playing a Sega Genesis. The fact that he’s reminiscent to Wolverine where he can climb on wall using his pointy claws, glide in a long distance, and even has the same moves as Sonic, Knuckles made himself a very lovable character and some of my favorite characters of the series. Not only that, you have this Lock-on add-on that came with the game. In addition to being a standalone game, through a system dubbed “lock-on technology,” Sonic & Knuckles acts as an expansion pack to both Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, where you can play as Knuckles or Tails alone in both of those games, so at least give me credit for at least mentioning Sonic 2 & 3. The lock-on add-on is one of the best decisions that Sega has ever made and not even the likes of Nintendo could do such a thing! Now, if I were to pick a co-op game with Sonic in it, I’ll always be in tie with Sonic 2 or 3 because the inclusion of Tails being able to fly and carry Sonic to new locations is a helpful strategy to get through these levels. But for a single player experience, Sonic & Knuckles was a fulfilling 2D Sonic experience for me!
Number 1. – Shining Force and Shining Force II
If you lived outside of Japan in the 1990’s, there was no way that you could even know what the hell Fire Emblem was, but Sega wan’t stupid enough to not let the whole world know their own Strategy-RPG. This was the first time that the general public got to play strategy-RPG’s as it was a fulfilling war-fantasy experience like we’ve never seen before. To show both of the game’s greatness, it has been very hard for me to choose one over the other. The original just had a very complete party of fighter as they all have their pro and cons, and the sequel just had a better story than the original. By the end of the day, I couldn’t pick which one did I like the most because Shining Force brought my fantasy adventure right into a video game. It really sucks that the Shining series was complete on the Sega Genesis because when Sega tried to bring back Shining Force outside of the Genesis, it only became a Japanese exclusive (I’m looking at you Shining Force III).
Nevertheless, the original two Shining Force games are the greatest tactical RPGs ever created, not that sounds too impressive when you realize how few tactical RPGs there really are out there. One of the reasons there are so few is because everyone saw this game come out and figured “who could possibly top this?” But Shining Force 1 & 2 was something more special than just that; it had unparalleled depth in both gameplay and story, and more characters ready to join your party than an episode of Game of Thrones or a Lord of the Rings film. I really understand that some would say that putting so much investment upon one game is already too much, but what other Sega Genesis game would give you this much time to play and invest, considering that many 16-bit games back then are shorter than your standard game today. Both games were so simple to play, but it takes a hardcore gamer to know how to beat it as it takes lot of strategy to even do it. By the end of the day, you can easily say that this has to be one of the best games that Sega has ever made!
The Top Listed Sega Genesis Games
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