CD-Roms were the most important milestone for video games for it offered so many MegaBites to fit so much more room than what is offered from floopy-disc games and cartridge. And you know what? The Sega CD is an underrated add-on… There! I said it! I bet most of you guys can’t believe that statement but it’s true. People have absolutely no idea why they’re even bashing on the Sega CD as works perfectly, play any CD album to be played, and it has a built in memory system that you’re able to save or delete any save (unlike Atari Jaguar CD, Philips CD, and 3DO). It was one of the innovators of incorporating voice acting and play actual video footage in a video game. Oh sure, people like to hope and bitch about the FMV games that flooded the add-on and how much they were fed up from going to cartridge to CD and vice versa back-and-forth, but I don’t see anyone saying the same thing with the Xbox 360 and their stupid Kennect. I will admit that the FMV games ruined the Sega CD’s feature, but at least they actually got this system released unlike Nintendo’s SNES that screwed over Sony and we all know what happened (cough…cough Philips CD-i). It’s not so hard to find any good games for the Sega CD and that’s why I’m here to give you this very Top 10 list of the best games released just for this add-on! This is a list for all the skeptics who says the Sega CD is awful just to show them what they truly missed out!
Number 10. – Wirehead
Okay! Okay! I did say that FMV game were a huge problem for the Sega CD… but, damn it! This is probably the best worst game of all time; meaning that it’s so bad that its good! I mean, it’s hilarious how one man could be in some of the most ridiculous adventures and unbelievable stunts that no movie would even include. I never in my life laughed so hard in a single video game ever as you control Ned Hubbard and all you have to do is to click on a certain button to guess where he’s going to be at next; quick-time events. This is one of those games where you have to memorize everything to actually finish the game, but I don’t mind the slightest because the mistakes or the wrong choices actually puts you in ridiculous results. It jumps from place to place, to any random location and never stops being hilarious. I really can’t do it justice. Speaking as a person who hates FMV games, this is a huge exception to that rule (along with The Wing Commander series and Phantasmagoria)!
Number 9. – The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin
This is actually the very first Spider-Man game that was actually a good game. No doubt that the Sega CD version is the best version of The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin. This port actually gave us fully animated cinematics that actually gave players to know what’s going on and be aware that there’s a story, voice-acting that gave Spider-Man a lot of personality, and two new levels, extra combat moves, the ability to collect reproductions of famous Spider-Man comic books issues. If that’s not enough we have villains as boss fights with some of our favorite villains so many enemy varieties to face off and the lovable web-swinging & web shooting that we very present in the game. It’s crazy to believe that this very game was available for all the Sega systems, Genesis, Sega Master System, Game Gear, and yet it only took a forth Sega platform to actually get it right!
Number 8. – Heart of the Alien
I bet to you none of you guys would ever know that this is a sequel to the beloved cinematic platformer classic called Another World (or Out of This World in North America). It continues right off after the events from Another World and the main character Lester is captured. You play as Buddy this time around and you just have to rescue Lester. Though it was very impressive that Out of this World was created by a single developer, Eric Chahi, but he had no part take on this sequel. What’s most impressive that even though Chahi was not part of the development of this game, the very presentation and essence of Another World felt very present here; and it felt like a near true sequel. I would of been happy to see Another World to have a sequel, but the ending of this game left me very disappointed beyond belief. So why put it on the list? Well, if you got yourself a copy of this game, it also included the original Out of this World and the Sega CD version is the best console port in the 1990’s, considering that there were more than enough console ports of this PC classic.
Number 7. – Lunar: The Silver Star
If you lived in Japan around the time when the Sega CD was released, there was no way that you could missed this game out because it was included with the Sega CD, unfortunately the rest of us had to buy it separately. So what makes Lunar: The Silver Star special anyway? How about being that it is the very first RPG that has voice-acting (both Japanese and English) and a strategic turn-based combat system where you can place your characters anywhere in a battle field on your side of the fight? No doubt that it brought something brand new on the table and I hate the gaming industry for forgetting the impact that Lunar gave to the industry. It has a very memorable score, very detailed design throughout, a wonderful adventure of getting Alex to become a Dragon master, and dared to try to be anime inspired, which is a risk taker when being released to the world that wasn’t familiar with anime at the time. The only thing that’s holding the game back is that the game is too damn cheesy; it’s too light-hearted that it feels very one dimensional. Other than that, it’s a classic that’s worth visiting.
Number 6. – The Terminator
Why can’t there be more good Terminator games? I mean, they’re still making fantastic Star Wars games today and I think that Terminator deserves to be a great franchise for video games as they has so many horrible games using the Terminator license. Well, after only a few good Terminator games, this is one to find out of the garbage pile that’s worth keeping. It’s a 2D run n’ gun side scroller where you play as Kyle Reese where you start from the future battling Terminators and try to reach to time machine in Skynet. Terminator for the Sega CD plays very smoothly, but the highlight of the game, hands down, is the soundtrack. It really does felt like it belongs to the movie’s score, but it is so damn awesome that you can’t think of Terminator the same once you listen to it.
Number 5. – Sonic CD
I bet all of you guys reading this list are surprise to see that this game is not number one or at all higher in this list. Of course this was one of the biggest reasons to get a Sega CD in the first place, but this is far from being the best Sonic game of all time. If it wasn’t so damn hard to get all the chaos emeralds and jump shifting time-travel the future or past, I would consider calling it one of the best Sonic games. But on the plus side, this game utilized the Sega CD technology at it’s full potential; having full animated cutscenes, very clear audio, some of the best soundtracks ever in the whole franchise, and even fantastic animation sprite made it an awesome experience! Imagine if this game was a remake of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, then it would made perfect sense. It’s really cool to see that this game introduced Metal Sonic and Amy Rose as their debut and it was darker and more atmospheric than the Sonic games on the regular Sega Genesis.
Number 4. – Lunar: Eternal Blue
Lunar: The Silver Star had a lot of things that were new and good: vocalized lines, decent music, complex visuals and a great story. It set the standard just so that Lunar 2: Eternal Blue could blow it away. Lunar: Eternal Blue is the embodiment of the promise that CD technology held. It is a long game that builds on everything the original did. There was CD quality sound for the game’s theme songs and fluid (for the time) animation for character introductions and important scenes. I like the fact that that the sequel matured much more than the first game for the fact that the romance between Hiro and Lucia were more engaging, character dialog was more believable & less cringe-worthy, and the stakes were even higher than the lighthearted Lunar: The Silver Star. Everything else was more of an refinement from the original as the battle mechanics were bigger & more intense and the adventure was more grand and epic. I also love how cinematic almost every aspect of the game really is as you can hear characters talk as they do battle and a lot of personality pops out to the audience. It’s a no brainer to say that this is one of the best RPG sequels of all time!
Number 3. – Snatcher
It’s amazing to see Hideo Kojima has worked on something else outside of Metal Gear and it’s too bad that Snatcher doesn’t have the same reputation as that series. Not to say that this is any better than any Metal Gear game, but Snatcher was one of the last breeds of adventure games before the popularity of adventure games died out. I was really amazed to see that this is not just another game inspired by Blade Runner, it really shows what video games can really do for storytelling. It was very mature for the fact that there are so many violent imagery, suggestive themes, and other mature content that was thinking out of the box from your traditional 1990s video game. In Japan, they call this style of adventure games, “visual novels” and it’s one of the few visual novel games (along with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) that was at all successful outside of Japan. That shouldn’t be a surprise considering that visual novels are date-simulators or poor anime adaptations. Nevertheless, Snatcher deserves a playthrough for everyone because of its amazing story line, superb character development, the twists and turns in the plot, and the game’s ending! Oh my god, the ending… This game will leave you a huge impression and it’s another proof that Hideo Kojima is a mad genius!
Number 2. – Shining Force CD
Oh man, I was so ready to put this game at number one in my list, really I was! I mean, the two Shining Force games on the Genesis was one of the pioneering console games in the strategy RPG and my personal favorite Genesis games. But for the fact that Shining Force CD looked exactly like the one on the Genesis kept it from being the top on the list. The fact that they’re on a CD platform and not use voice acting, dynamic visuals, or any big improvements that would differentiate the games on the Genesis is inexcusable. I mean, you can put this on the Sega Genesis and just call it Shining Force 3! Aside from the fantastic orchestral soundtrack and a brief period of speech in the game’s introduction, there is absolutely nothing beyond the Genesis’ capabilities. But even despite the total hours of gameplay I had with Shining Force 1 & 2, I didn’t get enough and want to get my hands on more! For the fact that Shning Force CD was much longer than any Shining Force game on a Sega console, it deserves to be this high on the list. This game is divided into four different books and each book is a remake of one of the Shining Force Gaiden games (Shining Force Gaiden and Shining Force Gaiden 2: Sword of Hajya) from the Sega Game Gear with improved graphics and sound. These two books actually help connect the dots between the stories of the original Shining Force and Shining Force 2 for the Genesis. After finishing both books, a third book can be accessed. Unfortunately, it is necessary to back-up the game saves with a Back-up RAM cart (which are a bit pricey these days), since the Sega CD’s internal memory isn’t enough to save both games data. Despite all of the complaints I have, Shining Force CD is the type of game that will keep any fan of strategy and role-playing games occupied for hours!
Number 1. – Popful Mail: Magical Fantasy Adventure
One of the downfalls about side-scrolling platformers is that they don’t really have a good narrative or a story. Along comes Popful Mail that defies that stereotype on platformers that gave us balls to the walls action and a really good story! Imagine if the Zelda games on the Philips CD-i was actually good; you got yourself Popful Mail! This obscure gem is essentially a 2D platformer with some RPG elements. The controls allow the player to jump, attack, open doors or treasure chests, and speak to another character. Additionally, the player can summon a menu to change some of the game’s attributes, the current character, the current character’s equipment, use or activate an item, read the game’s status, save, load and quit, considering that this game is way longer than your traditional platformer the save system is needed. It’s really cool to switch characters (Mail, Tatt and Gaw who will be later in the game) at anytime, equip to any weapon, special, and healing items, and it has a really cool narrative where characters speaks throughout! You’re able to talk to NPCs and upgrade your character. It’s really weird for me to put this game at my number 1 pick of the best game on the Sega CD, but this is the side-scrolling platformer that I was long looking for. Graphically, it could be played on a regular Genesis, but the sound quality, animations, and voice acting, it not only pushed the Sega CD to its limits, but it can even be up-par with the audio technology used in the Sega Saturn! Popful Mail is another great example of Working Designs (Lunar) using the Sega CD to their advantage. It’s an RPG with some unique 2D action and platforming segments and is filled with great cutscenes, voice acting, and music that only the Sega CD could utilize. In the end, Popful Mail is one of the best and most unique games for the system and worth checking out for any fan of RPG’s or platformers!