Top 50 All-time Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) Games That You Must Play


In North America, Nintendo’s NES revived a stagnating video game market by popularizing the home console system. At one point in the 80s, a 3rd of all American households had an NES. It was an absolute juggernaut, demolishing all competition with killer titles such as Super Mario Bros.

However, there was a rival trying to compete against Nintendo’s ever-increasing market share. Sega released their answer to the NES in the form of an 8-bit console called the Sega Master System. But it was too late, as Nintendo had already captured the North American market with their massive catalog of established games.

And that’s when Sega decided there was no point trying to compete with Nintendo at their own game. Instead, Sega would create an entirely new generation of video game consoles. In August of 1989, they came up with the Sega Genesis- the first true 16-bit video game console.

Owning a Sega Genesis in the late 80s and early 90s meant you were one of the “cool” kids. You were different and weren’t scared of trying out edgier, more mature games. The battle between Sega’s Genesis and Nintendo’s SNES gave birth to the original console wars.

I consider Genesis to be one of the most important consoles ever. That’s why I have created a list of the top 50 all-time Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) games that you must play. Thanks to the competition from Sega, Nintendo improved themselves and gamers won in the end.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2

  • Developer: Sega Technical Institute
  • Release Date: November 24, 1992

Sega initially came up with the Sonic name just so they could have a rival to Nintendo’s Mario, a mascot that represents their brand of consoles. And this little blue hedgehog fulfilled that role perfectly, it was faster and edgier than Nintendo’s Mario. The framerate and graphics of Sonic were a step ahead of Nintendo’s 8-bit Mario games, illustrating the power of Genesis.

Sonic the Hedgehog was first released in 1991 and sold extremely well, but mostly because it was prepackaged with every Sega Genesis. However, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is where things started to ramp up. It’s the perfect sequel- more levels, more power-ups, more characters. 

Streets of Rage 2

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: December 20, 1992

An evolution of the beat-‘em-up arcade games, Streets of Rage 2 is a slight deviation from traditional side-scrollers. You have more room for movement, and the enemies aren’t generic punching bags. I feel Streets of Rage 2 is the best side-scrolling action game of its time, and Sega experts will agree with me on this opinion.

Just like the last Streets of Rage, in this game, your city has been taken over by evil thugs who are led by a man called Mr. X. You can choose from different heroes, and each hero has their unique move set. Apart from the usual kicks and punches, you also have access to weapons like steel pipes. 

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Super Street Fighter II

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: July 18, 1994

In a way, this is Sega’s answer to Contra on the NES and SNES. Much like Contra, Gunstar Heroes is a side-scrolling shoot-‘em-up in which you can select from several characters and unique weapons. Each level has multiple enemy types and an exciting boss battle at the end.

Gunstar Heroes has some unique characteristics not found in any other side-scrolling shooter from that era. Like the throw ability which lets your hero grab and toss enemies or the grapple system which lets you cling to walls. Oh, and bosses don’t necessarily have to be placed at the end of a level, they can surprise you anytime. 

Gunstar Heroes

  • Developer: Treasure
  • Release Date: September 1993

In a way, this is Sega’s answer to Contra on the NES and SNES. Much like Contra, Gunstar Heroes is a side-scrolling shoot-‘em-up in which you can select from several characters and unique weapons. Each level has multiple enemy types and an exciting boss battle at the end.

Gunstar Heroes has some unique characteristics not found in any other side-scrolling shooter from that era. Like the throw ability which lets your hero grab and toss enemies or the grapple system which lets you cling to walls. Oh, and bosses don’t necessarily have to be placed at the end of a level, they can surprise you anytime. 

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Phantasy Star IV

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: February 1995

A classic JRPG experience for the Sega Genesis, Phantasy Star IV is set between the timelines of II and III. You start on a deserted planet, which is mostly a barren wasteland after a cataclysmic event called the Great Collapse. And most of the people on this planet are struggling to simply survive.

The bio monsters are mutated creatures who have evolved from what was left of the planet’s ecosystem, and they are all over the place. You start with low levels of stats and engage in turn-based combat with various enemies to get skill points. All the while, you interact with NPCs and get new members for your party (or quests). 

Altered Beast

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: August 14, 1989

Originally released for arcades in 1988, Altered Beast is a monster brawler. In this game, your character can transform into one of several gigantic creatures, and your goal is to smash your way through hordes of enemies. Zeus has chosen you to rescue his daughter Athena from the underworld, much like Mario who has to rescue his princess.

Unlike Mario, this game is violent. There’s tons of gore and grotesque-looking monsters, plus each transformation is violent. You have basic platforming controls like punching, kicking, and jumping.

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Castlevania: Bloodlines

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: March 17, 1994

This game is the only Castlevania title to be designed exclusively for the Sega Genesis/ Mega Drive. Not only that, but it also has a pretty unique plot. You have Dracula’s niece planning a sacrificial war to bring her dead uncle back into our world.

And somehow, she manages to bring about the start of World War 1. Like other Castlevania titles, you progress through a labyrinthian level, collecting items and upgrading your skills. There is a mini-boss in the middle and a proper boss at the end. 

Disney’s Aladdin

  • Developer: Virgin Games USA
  • Release Date: October 1993

Have you ever played the original Prince of Persia game for MS-DOS? Its standout feature was the rotoscoped character animation which made each movement feel real to life. Disney’s Aladdin for Sega Genesis doesn’t use rotoscoping, but it has the next best thing.

Actual Disney animators did the art for game sprites which were then digitized by Virgin Games. As a result, characters in this game look and move exactly like their animated movie counterparts. Plus, the plot is pretty much copy-pasted from the actual animated movie that was released in 1992.

Comix Zone

  • Developer: Sega Technical Institute
  • Release Date: August 2, 1995

One of those games that should have got a sequel but didn’t. Comix Zone is set within the panels of a comic book, so it feels like you’re playing as the superhero. The art style and dialogue boxes combined with the comic sound effects are amazing.

It’s a breath of fresh air compared to regular side scrollers/ platformers. Sketch Turner is a cartoonist, and he is drawing one of his new panels when a storm lands upon his town. The thunder and lightning give life to his comic book supervillain who pulls Sketch into the comic world. 

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

  • Developer: Compile
  • Release Date: November 26, 1993

Ah, Dr. Robotnik. What evil scheme is he hatching this time? Well, turns out he has created a machine to suck all the life and joy out of Mobius.

His machine takes the bean people and turns them into mindless robots who carry out his bidding. It’s your job to stop him, by playing a Tetris-style puzzle game in which you align beans of similar colors as they fall from the ceiling. This game is an Americanized version of the Japanese Puyo Puyo puzzle game. 

Mortal Kombat II

  • Developer: Midway
  • Release Date: September 9, 1994

The first Mortal Kombat along with DOOM is why we have the ESRB rating system today. That game was so violent it made politicians and parents fear that their children would grow up to be delinquents and killers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt like committing an act of violence after shooting someone in a video game.

Anyways, Mortal Kombat 2 ramps things up even further with more violence. You rip off people’s skulls and pull out their hearts. Tons of fatalities let you murder people in extremely twisted ways. 

The original game was a gorefest with mediocre gameplay, this one is a good fighting game with deep mechanics. Fighting is faster paced and audio effects have been improved so each kick and punch feels heavier. You get new moves and combo options alongside an expanded roster of fighters. 

Mickey Mania

  • Developer: Traveller’s Tales
  • Release Date: November 1994

In a way, Mickey Mania is a celebration of the mouse. It takes you through many of his cartoon appearances, portrayed in the form of a side-scrolling platformer game. It all starts with Steamboat Willie in which he made his first appearance, all the way up to The Prince and the Pauper.

The gameplay is standard platformer stuff, much like Mario. You run around collecting marbles which you can throw at enemies. If you run out of marbles, you can jump on enemies.

Virtua Racing

  • Developer: Sega AM R&D #2
  • Release Date: March 14, 1994

These days kids are hyped about the next Gran Turismo or Need for Speed game. But back in the early 90s, nothing could stand against Virtua Racing. It was the first truly 3D racing game and the best way to enjoy it was in the arcade.

With one of those car-shaped enclosures that had a wheel and pedals, Virtua Racing’s arcade version is the best. But if you don’t want to go outside and spend money, the Genesis port is pretty good too. Textures look flat but aren’t blurry, plus the framerate is decent.

Road Rash 2

  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Release Date: December 1992

The Sega Genesis had a reputation for playing more mature and edgy games compared to Nintendo’s NES. And that holds true if you take a look at Road Rash 2. Instead of the usual driving, you also get to kick and punch your rivals as you drive past them.

It’s like hockey/ football mixed with motorbike racing, full contact beatdowns at 160mph. Oh, and your fellow racers aren’t the only problem. You also have a bunch of cops chasing you, so whoever gets knocked off will be busted and lose the race. 

NHL 94

  • Developer: High Score Productions
  • Release Date: October 1993

Even if you aren’t a hockey fan or Canadian, this game is sure to keep you thrilled. It’s best experienced with a buddy at your side on the couch, as both of you battle it out to score points. NHL 94 is a throwback to the golden days of hockey, with legends such as Gretzky and Lemieux being playable characters.

Framerate is pretty good for a 16-bit sports game, and the gameplay itself is fast-paced. Yeah, the AI is pathetic compare to modern NHL games and graphics are what you’d expect from a game of this era. But it’s still a ton of fun, even after all these years. 

John Madden Football

  • Developer: Park Place Productions
  • Release Date: December 1990

Before Madden became the sports game juggernaut of today, it had really humble beginnings on Sega’s 16-bit console. Back then, Sega was doing everything it could to draw customers away from the NES/ SNES and towards their Genesis console. This included celebrity endorsements and partnerships like Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker.

Sega also used John Madden to promote their football game, by naming the game after him and featuring him on the cover. There was no NFL license, so actual team and player names couldn’t be used. Instead, you’ve got unofficial copycat names based on real teams.

Jungle Strike

  • Developer: High Score Productions, Granite Bay Software
  • Release Date: December 16, 1993

This game is essentially a low-budget 80s action movie with cliched villains and one-man-army hero types. It is a direct sequel to Desert Strike and has two villains, one who is the son of Desert Strike’s main bad guy. The other is a South American cartel leader who wants to deal with US interference in his drug trade.

You are a lone operator, piloting a special attack helicopter. The engine for this game was repurposed from a failed flight sim, so there’s a lot of flying. You occasionally pilot other military vehicles, including a hovercraft and F-117 stealth fighter. 

Earthworm Jim

  • Developer: Shiny Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 1994

Yes, there’s a SNES version of this game too. But it sounds better on Sega Genesis thanks to Yamaha’s audio chip. And since you’ve got a soundtrack by Tommy Tallarico in the game, I say go for the Genesis version.

Unlike regular platformers, Earthworm Jim is extremely zany and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The name of the person you’re rescuing is literally “Princess What’s-Her-Name!”, a satirical jab at Mario. And you do all kinds of weird stuff in each level that has no connection to the other levels.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Release Date: November 1993

There are zombies on the loose in your neighborhood, they are eating people. And it’s your job to rescue as many people as you can, using a diverse arsenal of weapons. You’ve got flamethrowers, fire extinguishers, bazookas, and Uzi submachine guns.

Sometimes, you can even throw tomatoes and explosive soda cans at your enemies which is pretty cool. And the variety in environments is really large. You fight in creepy supervillain castles, shopping malls, pyramids, backyards, streets, etc. 

F1

  • Developer: Lankhor, Domark
  • Release Date: 1993

Another racing game for the Sega Genesis, but this time it’s the pinnacle of motorsport- Formula One. This game was simply called F1 in Europe, and it was developed by Lankhor. Unlike some other sport/ motor racing games, this one is fully licensed by the FIA so you have actual F1 tracks and teams.

It’s based on the 1993 F1 season and has 12 tracks. Some of those are Interlagos, Imola, Silverstone, and Spa. F1 has 4 difficulty levels and supports split-screen 2 player mode. 

NBA Jam

  • Developer: Midway, Acclaim, EA
  • Release Date: 1993

One of the most fun times you’ll ever have with a 90s basketball game. NBA Jam isn’t realistic, but the ridiculous commentary and solid roster of players make this a game every basketball fan should play. To top it off, the 2v2 game mode is lots of fun because there’s so much space on the court to move around.

Gameplay is fast-paced, and there are some cool little gimmicks. Like when you put the ball in the hoop 3 times in a row, it catches fire. During this period your shots will have a higher chance of scoring. 

World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck

  • Developer: Sega AM7
  • Release Date: March 1993

A fun platformer with two of Disney’s most famous characters- Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Both of them are preparing for a magic show, however, they accidentally open a magic box that beams them into a fantasy universe. Here they must clear various platforming challenges to make it back into their own world, and you can choose from either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. 

Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: September 1992

It’s an evolution of the first Super Monaco GP game, and this time it carries an endorsement from Ayrton Senna himself. You expect a lot from a game like this, particularly because it carries the name of an all-time great F1 driver. What differentiates this from other racing games?

For starters, Ayrton offered advice to the developers on how each of the tracks handles. These are actual GP tracks from the 1992 F1 season. Senna even recorded voiceovers for the game and designed one of the tracks.

Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole

  • Developer: Climax Entertainment
  • Release Date: 1993

Landstalker is one of the earliest isometric action RPGs, and it defined many of the gameplay elements found in modern isometric RPGs. In this game, an elf and his tiny companion embark on an adventure to find the lost treasure of King Nole. Along the way, they run into enemies, allies, and monsters of all kinds.

If you’re looking for a classic JRPG experience with a slight twist, nothing beats Landstalker. It has a mix of tough and easy areas for you to explore, so you’ll never get hung up in certain sections of the map. Not just that, but all the characters are really well written which makes you want to keep on progressing the story. 

Desert Strike

  • Developer: EA
  • Release Date: March 1992

 A game inspired by the Gulf War; Desert Strike gets its name from Operation Desert Storm. In this game, you have a crazy dictator committing all sorts of war crimes which forces the US military to intervene. However, if you expected epic large-scale battles involving armies this isn’t the game.

There is no strategy involved, it’s a simple shoot ‘em up in which you pilot an Apache helicopter. You view the battlefield from an isometric perspective, outside the helicopter. Missions range from hostage rescue to bombing enemy bases.

Mortal Kombat

  • Developer: Midway
  • Release Date: September 13, 1993

Back when this game was released, 2D fighting games were at the height of their popularity. And Mortal Kombat lagged behind competitors in many fields. It had few playable characters, and the move set wasn’t exactly deep.

However, it had a unique and engaging backstory for each character which meant you had a quality over quantity. And the gore was beyond anything else of that time. You had fighters ripping each other’s hearts out and cutting off heads, each character had their own unique “fatality”. 

Outrun

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: 1991

Unlike F1 and Super Monaco GP, Outrun isn’t a game about racing even though it has races and fast cars. Instead, it’s about driving and exotic sceneries. Every single backdrop in this game is gorgeous, and all the while you’re driving a Ferrari Testarossa.

Cruising around in style at high speeds is at the core of this game. And you’re doing all of it on populated roads instead of race tracks. The game is single-player only, and instead of racing against others, you try to beat timers on checkpoints.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! Gold

  • Developer: MicroProse
  • Release Date: 1993

Originally developed for home computers, Pirates! Gold is an open-world pirate simulator. You sail the high seas plundering merchant ships, escaping the navy as you make port at various scenic locations. You can hire new crew members and let go of existing members.

Ship combat is extremely fun, and you have plenty of areas to explore on the map. There are sea battles, sea-to-land battles, and land-only battles. You get a mix of turn-based and real-time combat in this game.

Sonic & Knuckles

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: October 18, 1994

When Sonic 3 was initially released, players weren’t getting the full content pack. It was supposed to have a lot more levels, an extra character, and new storylines. But Sega wanted to meet deadlines so they shipped a half-done product to store shelves.

Eventually, all of the cut content was repackaged and polished into its own game. That became Sonic & Knuckles, which shipped with a unique cartridge that let you plug another cartridge on top. If you plugged the Sonic 3 cartridge on top, you got a new game called Sonic 3 & Knuckles. 

Dune: The Battle for Arakis

  • Developer: Westwood Studios
  • Release Date: 1993

Known everywhere else as Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty, but in NA it’s called Dune: The Battle for Arakis. This is one of the earliest real-time strategy games and is based on a science fiction movie called Dune (released in 1984). The movie itself is based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name.

The game is set in a somewhat dystopian future, where an emperor is mining a super expensive drug on a faraway planet called Arakis. He offers control over the planet to whoever delivers the most drugs for him. Hence, the title- “battle for Arakis”.

Ghouls ’n Ghosts

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: September 1989

A sequel to Ghosts ‘n Goblins, this is a  port of the original arcade game. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts has gathered a reputation for being unnecessarily difficult. And that’s because the arcade developers wanted to extract as much money as possible from their players.

However, the Genesis version of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts tuned the difficulty setting down a tad. You’ll still find yourself fuming in anger as you die dozens of times at the exact same spot. But thanks to the new weapons and armor upgrades over the previous game, your time spent dying will be slightly more enjoyable. 

Shadowrun

  • Developer: BlueSky Software
  • Release Date: 1994

The original cyberpunk role-playing game, Shadowrun is filled with interesting characters and memorable locations. You have an open map to explore and quests can be completed in any order. This is a massive departure from the much more linear JRPG style.

Combat is real-time as opposed to turn-based which makes this game feel very immersive. The game gets its name from the illegal quests your main character is tasked with to gain XP. These “Shadowrun” have you assassinating, stealing, and smuggling stuff within the game world. 

Ristar

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: February 16, 1995

Funnily enough when Sega was developing their mascot Sonic wasn’t the only choice. Ristar and Sonic were being developed side-by-side, and Sonic was even supposed to have grappling powers. Eventually, the focus went to speed and Sonic became the blue blur.

Ristar is basically Sonic, but with more deliberate and strategic movements instead of raw speed. The result is a slower-paced but equally fun platforming experience. Since your arm can reach out and grab in 8 different directions there are different ways to cross the various obstacles in each Ristar level.

Mega Turrican

  • Developer: Factor 5
  • Release Date: June 7, 1994

A side-scrolling shooter with a simplistic sci-fi plot, Mega Turrican is an evolution of Super Turrican for the SNES. It has more of everything- action, levels, bosses, etc. The techno soundtrack music sets a nice mood for shooting up a bunch of alien invaders.

Mega Turrican has worse visuals and sound compared to Super Turrican on the SNES, but that doesn’t take away from its gameplay or fun factor. While the levels are mostly linear, you’ll occasionally stumble upon an alternate path or secret area. Your gun can be modified to fire spread shot, single-target lasers, or ricocheting bullets that bounce between the floor and ceiling. 

Strider

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: November 5, 1990

Both an artistic and technological masterpiece, Strider allowed the Genesis to showcase its 16-bit prowess. Compared to 8-bit games with extremely limited color pallets, Strider had a vibrant and beautifully animated world. Your main character fights against giant robots in Soviet Russia while doing backflips and with his laser sword.

Strider has a sense of verticality to it since there’s so much climbing and hanging. However, the enemies themselves aren’t anything special and boss fights can be won easily. Plus, there are only 5 levels in total. 

Beyond Oasis

  • Developer: Ancient
  • Release Date: March 15, 1995

 Another one of those games that formed the basis for what we call “action RPG” today. Beyond Oasis has a simple yet interesting plot combined with an open world that’s filled with little trinkets and secrets. You play Ali, who has just discovered a gold armlet that once belonged to a great hero.

This armlet was used to beat a silver armlet-wielding villain. The power of this gold armlet lets you control 4 spirits- water, fire, shadow, and plant. As you make your way across the game world you unlock your ability to control all 4 elements.

The Revenge of Shinobi

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: December 2, 1989

Ninjas were extremely popular back during the late 80s and 90s. You had tons of action movies and comic books based on ninja characters. The Revenge of Shinobi is a side scroller in which you hack and slash your way through waves of enemies.

There is no stealth-like you would expect from a modern ninja game (but you can use ninjutsu spells). There are multiple districts, with each one being divided into 3 levels. The first two levels are regular platforming, and the last level of each district is a boss fight. 

Flashback: The Quest for Identity

  • Developer: Delphine Software
  • Release Date: 1992

This is cinematic gaming from the 1990s. Flashback tells the tale of Conrad Hart, a man who we see fleeing some shadowy figures at the start of the game. Eventually, he gets gunned down but comes to his senses in a jungle.

Right away, you can tell this game is different. No health bars, glowing lights, or highlighted items to pick up. Having no HUD means you can see things better and plan your approach to each situation quicker.

You do have enemies, and the pistol you’re wielding has unlimited ammo. Eventually, the game gives you a force field to use as a shield. But until that point, you rely on ducking and rolling to dodge incoming attacks. 

Out of This World

  • Developer: Delphine Software, Interplay
  • Release Date: 1992

Most games of this time weren’t too focused on telling stories from a cinematic perspective. You would just run around jumping from platform to platform, shooting or kicking enemies along the way. Out of This World is a masterpiece in terms of storytelling and has excellent pacing to keep you immersed until the end.

You’re a particle physicist, doing some experiments with a particle accelerator when lighting strikes and transports you to another dimension. Here you see some of the strangest monsters ever to be designed for a video game. They immediately turn you into a prisoner, and you must escape back to Earth.

The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy

  • Developer: The Oliver Twins
  • Release Date: April 1991

Released during a time when studios were trying to one-up each other in graphics, this game went in the opposite direction. It cast aside detailed character design in favor of rich backgrounds and streamlined gameplay. The game is set in a fantasy universe with wizards, elves, and talking utensils.

You play as Dizzy, trying to rescue your girlfriend Daisy who’s been kidnapped by an evil wizard called Zaks. To get to her, you have to reach a castle located high up in the clouds. Gameplay contains a mix of platforming and puzzle elements. 

Columns

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: June 29, 1990

Many 8 and 16-bit falling block puzzle games were released in the 80s and 90s. This is yet another one of them, but it has its own unique challenge that differentiates it from the rest. Instead of tiles or blocks, you’ve got colorful jewels that you must align in specific patterns.

While other falling block puzzle games asked you to stack 4 of a kind, Columns only needs you to stack 3 in a row. This speeds up the gameplay. In addition, there’s a gravity system that lets you chain combos and create larger stacks.

Castle of Illusion

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: December 1990

At first, this might seem to be a copy of the game “World of Illusion” which also stars Mickey Mouse. However, this is the first Illusion game to star Mickey Mouse. He is on a quest to rescue his girlfriend Minnie who has been captured by an evil witch called Mizrabel.

To defeat this witch you must collect 7 gems, and each gem is located within a separate world or level. The gems are guarded by Mizrabel’s thugs. You can beat these enemies by bouncing on them or throwing apples/ marbles at them.  

Golden Axe II

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: January 26, 1992

This game didn’t sell very well upon release. Mainly because the graphics and sound were a downgrade compared to what was initially promised. The disappointing sales figures for Golden Axe 2 ensured that Golden Axe 3 would be released only in Japan.

In terms of story and gameplay, it didn’t innovate much upon the original. You must once again defeat an evil lord who is seeking to control the Golden Axe. The same 3 characters from the first game return, but magic can now be cast in bursts instead of emptying the entire bar at once.  

Bonanza Bros

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: May 16, 1991

One of the earliest stealth video games, Bonanza Bros rewards you for avoiding conflict and staying undetected. Your objective in each level is to sneak around guards and grab key items before making it to the rooftop where a blimp will extract you to safety. Of course, if you have no other choice there is a shooting system to take out enemies.

Bonanza Bros has you controlling one of two characters- Robo and Mobo. In 2-player mode, you and a friend can each control one of the two characters with a split-screen view. You rob all sorts of places- banks, mansions, casinos, etc. 

Mega-Lo-Mania

  • Developer: Sensible Software
  • Release Date: January 1, 1992

A real-time strategy that appeared one year before Dune II, Mega-Lo-Mania revolutionized the RTS genre. In each match, you control one of 4 “gods”. And you are placed on an island with anywhere from 2 to 16 sectors.

When the game begins, you get to decide where you’ll place your home base and how many men you want to deploy. Initially, you only control unarmed troops. Eventually, you assign people to research new weapons technology.

Advancing your tech lets you create new types of buildings. One of the other 3 gods will send their forces every now and then to destroy your sectors. Whoever gains control of all sectors on an island wins. 

Jimmy White’s ‘Whirlwind’ Snooker

  • Developer: Archer Maclean
  • Release Date: May 21, 1991

A game for people who fantasize about playing snooker in British pubs. Jimmy White’s ‘Whirlwind’ Snooker is one of the best snooker sims of the 90s. More importantly, it uses actual 3D models for the balls and cue sticks.

You can turn the cue and table to any angle, plus shot strength and ball spin can be adjusted. The game also lets you do “trick shots” which is a fun addition to an otherwise serious simulation game. 

General Chaos

  • Developer: Game Refuge Inc.
  • Release Date: August 15, 1993

Filled with references to other entertainment media and satirical jabs at the strategy war game genre, this is a game you must play. General Chaos tells the story of two brothers with differing personalities who grew up playing war games. Over the years, they become rivals and leaders of two separate nations.

To settle their childhood rivalry, these brothers engage in wars. You can have quick battles or a campaign in which you fight a series of battles over various maps. You pick your teams at the start, and each team has multiple warrior classes (gunner, launcher, blaster, scorcher).

Skitchin

  • Developer: EA Canada
  • Release Date: March 1, 1994

Essentially Road Rash with roller skates. The game took its name from skitching, which refers to the art of using a vehicle’s power while roller skating/ biking to gain momentum. In the game, you’ll have plenty of cars to cling to and engage in races with fellow skitchers.

Just like Road Rash, you can hit your rivals to knock them off-course and gain precious time. You can crouch, jump, accelerate, and hit other racers. The game even drops weapons like pipes and nunchakus which you can use to deal some serious damage. 

Flicky

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: May 1, 1991

In Flicky you play a flightless bluebird who must gather little chicks scattered across the level and take them to the exit. Since you can’t fly, you only move from side to side. This is a maze game, and the “Chirps” or little birdies will follow you around in a chain until they are confronted by an enemy.

If an enemy breaks the chain, you must gather the Chirps once again. Some Chirps wear sunglasses which indicates they have an unpredictable personality and will not go with the crowd. Two types of enemies can be found- house cats and iguanas. 

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: August 24, 1990

Oh boy, you’re in for a treat with this one. The King of Pop himself is your player character and he is trying to rescue little children who have been kidnapped by a gang of thugs. Obviously, this game was released before all the controversy surrounding MJ.

In terms of clothing, MJ is wearing his signature Smooth Criminal outfit with white everything. It’s a platformer, but with MJ dance moves. Instead of throwing apples or marbles at the enemies, MJ can spin and release his hat at them. 

Conclusion

It wasn’t just the Genesis that brought Sega back into the limelight, it was also their aggressive marketing. While Nintendo was the choice of kids with their family-friendly games, Sega went for the teenagers and adults in their 20s. Sega’s first-party games were edgier with higher framerates and better graphics compared to the 8-bit NES.

Eventually, Nintendo delivered a 16-bit counterpunch of their own with the SNES. I’ve already made a list of the 50-best SNES games, so check that out if you wish to learn more about Nintendo’s ecosystem. But today, it’s all about the Sega Genesis (also called the Mega drive in regions outside NA).

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Jacob

As long as I can remember myself I always enjoyed video games. I had amazing moments playing them and that's why I became a game developer, to create amazing experiences for the players. Read More About Me

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