The 100 Best Sega Genesis Games…Ever (60-41)!

evolveteam August 13, 2014 0
Best Sega Genesis Games ever
Words by Anthony Barbetta, Collin Hughes, Ian Freeman, Jager Robinson, Ryan Scott, and Alex Bracetti

Continuing the countdown, we encounter some familiar faces from the Sega universe, along with a variety of arcade ports, platformers, and puzzlers. Take a look at what’s locked in from 60 – 41.

The 100 Best Sega Genesis Games…Ever (100-81)
The 100 Best Sega Genesis Games…Ever (80-61)

60. Mega Turrican

Developer/Publisher: Factor 5/Data East
Year: 1994
Another shooter in the vein of the Metroidvania form, Mega Turrican goes further than most in aping Metroid, even including a “wheel-mode” curiously similar to Samus Aran’s morphball ability. All lack of originality aside, the game is an enjoyable run-and-gun shooter. Where Mega Turrican does innovate is in its “Plasma Rope” weapon, which brings Bionic Commando swinging into the mix. Though the game was criticized for having level designs far more linear than previous titles in the series, this installment made up for it, somewhat, by scattering power-ups in hidden places throughout the levels. The game is also notable for its many references to classic sci-fi films: the ED-209 from the Robocop franchise appears as a boss (unnamed, of course, so as to avoid copyright laws), as do lawyer-friendly stand-ins for the Xenomorphs of Alien and a giant Terminator. —Scott

59. Warsong

Developer/Publisher: Career Soft/Treco
Year: 1991
One of the first game projects from renowned character designer Satoshi Urushihara (Bubblegum Crisis, Plastic Little), Warsong was a tactical role-player that was part of the beloved Langrisser series and the only one that made it to the states. It blended tactical warfare with RPG elements to create a game that was engaging and highly entertaining. The way it handled the strategy mechanics first off was very innovative. Once a player reached level 10 you could change the class of a character. Some were good, others not so good, so it gave a component of newness to when you played again. Also the AI, particularly for the enemies was a nice touch. Typically the computer hurls enemies at the screen, but here they rarely fall for traps, looking for beneficial positions to attack from and putting you in situations where sheer numbers can’t help your cause. That’s innovation right there. —Freeman

58. ToeJam & Earl

Developer/Publisher: Johnson Voorsanger Productions/Sega
Year: 1992
Viewed as cult classic by most Sega fanboys, Toe Jam & Earl sold miserably when it was first released, but rapidly gained a rabid following and ended up selling enough to justify the production of two sequels. Following two alien rappers who have crashed landed on Earth; the game is such a surreal experience that it makes Earthbound seem normal in comparison. Slow paced by modern standards, it had our two protagonists attack their enemies by throwing tomatoes, which only appeared as randomly generated temporary power-ups. However, its leisurely pace encouraged exploration and appreciation of the bizarrely engrossing vision of the world presented by the game. Though its follow-ups never quite matched the original’s quality, Toe Jam & Earl solidified its legacy through the first adventure. —Scott

57. The Lion King

Developer/Publisher: Westwood Studios/Virgin Interactive
Year: 1994
Nowadays, videogame tie-ins are always, and I repeat, always bad. The worst of them are probably the Disney games. For some reason, back in the day, that wasn’t so. The Lion King was so good that Gameplayers magazine actually gave it “Sega Genesis Game of the Year” over Sonic 3. Seriously? Yep. The game was beautifully designed with hand-drawn backgrounds made by actual Disney animators, plus had a soundtrack of comprised songs adapted from the film. Surprisingly, it has a reputation for being incredibly hard as well, even for experienced players. The wildebeest scene is especially infamous for being crazy difficult. “Run, Simba, run!” —Hughes

56. Maximum Carnage

Developer/Publisher: Software Creations/LJN
Year: 1994
From the pages of the mammoth 14-issue crossover series of the same name, Maximum Carnage let gamers choose between playing as either Spider-Man or Venom, plus featured a host of other Marvel superheroes who were summoned via power-up to aid in battle. The brawler also showcased cut-scenes done in the style of comic book panels, often copying material directly from the original Maximum Carnage series. As the first Spider-Man game to be rated Teen, it was surprisingly challenging, as both Spider-Man and Venom take massive amounts of damage from their enemies, forcing players to fight defensively. As a nice touch, the first run of cartridges was painted red rather than the standard Genesis black, to reflect the villain Carnage’s red color scheme. —Scott

55. Sonic the Hedgehog

Developer/Publisher: Sonic Team/Sega
Year: 1991
Arguably the most popular video game character next to Mario made his triumphant debut on the Sega Genesis, taking platform junkies by storm and giving Nintendo’s mascot a run for his money. Sonic the Hedgehog was fascinating on so many levels from the stunning animations to the speedy gameplay, which saw our favorite blue hedgehog zip across the TV to stop the evil Dr. Robitnik and save his forest friends. Where Super Mario Bros. had coins, Sonic had gamers collect rings as a way to add a bit of strategy to help prolong the character’s life when hit. The bonus levels were another highpoint, navigating through this pinball-esque world with obstacles as you chased after chaos emeralds. A completely unique story, great levels and sharp gameplay, it was a pretty cool game. —Freeman

54. Ghouls ‘N Ghosts

Developer/Publisher: Capcom
Year: 1989
The successor to the ridiculously impossible arcade game, Ghouls N’ Ghosts finds King Arthur back fighting his way through hordes of the undead to save the souls taken by Loki: including that of his lover Princess Prin Prin. Capcom’s port to the Genesis brought minor changes, mainly the dramatic upgrade from the NES version, along with a more tolerable difficulty setting that made playing the game less stressful. Checkpoints and unlimited continues also kept players engaged, feeding them hope of possibly beating the game. It wasn’t going to happen, as the title only encouraged fits of rage that saw our three-button controller fly across the room one too many times. —Freeman

53. NBA Jam TE

Developer/Publisher: Midway
Year: 1994
After EA’s flagship basketball series extended its off-season, NBA Jam became the go-to b-ball game for sports fans. So easy to pick up, yet so insane, there was just something about Tournament Edition that made it a real joy to play with friends. You had to love the basic lack of penalties (throwing elbows is totally okay), hotspots that added score boosts, special slam dunks, and the half-court buzzer beaters that sent you home crying in agony. There was a reason why we kept this locked into our system, not worrying about the late fees that came with returning the rental copy. Boom-shaka-laka! —Hughes

52. General Chaos

Developer/Publisher: Game Refuge Inc./EA
Year: 1994
This satirical strategy game proved to be one of the console’s more intriguing titles, bringing together the simple concept of two generals duking it out on the battlefield to capture the enemy city. Blending cartoony and wonderful gameplay, General Chaos did require a great deal of strategy to progress. You watch the assigned squad run around beating up other soldiers to gain supremacy. One of the game’s best features came in the form of on-screen medics, who would hit the field to revive other teammates—standing out as one of the earlier games in its genre to utilize such a method. In 2013, Brian F. Colin launched a Kickstarter for General Chaos II: Sons of Chaos, but ultimately failed to achieve its funding goal. Meaning all we have is the original to forever tie us over. —Robinson

51. Dynamite Headdy

Developer/Publisher: Treasure/Sega
Year: 1994
Toy lovers learned to appreciate Treasure’s whacky puzzler. Dynamite Headdy tapped into our inner child by giving us control of a puppet named Headdy who, as the name implies, uses his head as a weapon. A truly insane concept, the level design revolved around using Headdy’s ability to shoot and switch his head(s) to great effect in not only eliminating enemies, but solve puzzles along the way. The game’s cast stretched far beyond the hero and main villain King Dark Demo, and includes an anti-hero known as Trouble Burin, who seeks nothing more than to take on the role of a hero by eliminating Headdy. Anybody else see the Mega Man influences here? It all made for great fun. —Barbetta

50. Golden Axe

Developer/Publisher: Sega MA7/Sega
Year: 1989
Sega’s console was the perfect platform to port the arcade hack ‘n’ slasher—bringing the same action, co-op play, and vibrant graphics most of us experienced when dropping quarters like crazy at the local candy store. Golden Axe was pretty much a Gauntlet clone, only more advanced in terms of gameplay and presentation. Choosing and swapping between characters during continues was a component that added to the multiplayer, where as the ability to ride different creatures like dragons and utilize potion for casting magic spells gave it a different feel from the other side-scrollers being played. —Bracetti

49. Splatterhouse 2

Developer/Publisher: Now Production/Namco
Year: 1992
The original Splatterhouse game made waves on the Turbografx-16 not just because it was a knockoff of Friday the 13th meets Poltergeist, but mostly for its blood-spilled and disturbing visuals. While moderately toned down from its predecessor, the sequel transitioned well to the Genesis—expanding on the weapon selection, while maintaining its intensely graphic animations and wild boss battles. The hard difficulty left us resorting to the password system to skip levels for the sake of us experiencing the end. And it’s open-ended conclusion pulled one over on us, suggesting the story wasn’t over, which it was far from. Splatterhouse 2 brought some much-needed shock value to the Genesis until the Mortal Kombat series made its way onto home consoles. —Bracetti

48. Road Rash 2

Developer/Publisher: EA
Year: 1993
Illegal road racing is a part of EA’s DNA, with the Road Rash playing trendsetter to the movement. The sequel, like its predecessor, was a pretty straightforward racing game that let players advance to the next race by placing in 3rd or 4th place. What gave it some edge was its advanced mechanics and brawler approach—introducing nitro boosts for bikes and maintaining its signature on-road combat. Things would always get intense when engaging in a bat vs. chain clash to try and grab that last qualifying spot in the race, until a vehicle comes out of nowhere on the opposite lane to wipe you out of the competition. Those are the memories that fueled the Road Rash frenzy in the ‘90s. —Robinson

47. World of Illusion

Developer/Publisher: Sega AM7/Sega
Year: 1992
Most people don’t know that Mickey Mouse has been traveling between worlds long before Kingdom Hearts. World of Illusion, the sequel to the massively successful Castle of Illusion, gave the mouse a partner-in-crime for the first time: Donald Duck. The two are trapped together in a magic box, and must travel through strange worlds using magic to get home. It’s a simple plot, but the fantasy theme allowed for a unique approach to level design in the form of multiple worlds that were clearly hybrids of different Disney universes. As a creation of Disney, this game is overflowing with magic carpet rides, underwater castles, trips through the galaxy, and cloud-jumping sessions–all set to amazingly colorful landscapes and, of course, an awesome soundtrack. The real magic was playing in co-op mode (which is the longest route of the three), where both players must pull each other through holes and lowering ropes to help one another climb up to progress. It was just plain fun. —Hughes

46. Mortal Kombat II

Developer/Publisher: Midway
Year: 1994
Does “Mortal Friday” bring back memories? It should. That was when everyone lined up at the local Funcoland to purchase MKII. Arguably the biggest fighting game release of any console generation, Midway’s sequel went even more extreme with its brutal fighter by adding more characters, new fatalities, and other bizarre finishers we never expected to see in a Mortal Kombat game. Gameplay moved more fluidly than the arcade version and support of the six-button controller only made executing moves much easier. Some of the port’s more unique extras include several exclusive Easter eggs, different victory pose animations for some of the characters, and compatibility with the motion-controlled Sega Activator device. It was worth the $65 every game store charged. —Bracetti

45. Thunder Force II

Developer/Publisher: Technosoft/Sega
Year: 1989
One of the Genesis’ original six launch titles, this scrolling shooter exceeded expectations on the visual end, which was a marvel considering its early release on the console. Putting players in control of a futuristic aircraft through nine levels divided between a side-scrolling, overhead perspective, Thunder Force II showcased phenomenal arcade-style action that was only matched by arcade standards. Technosoft’s sequel was success at capturing the fast-paced, non-stop excitement found on most arcade shooters. —Scott

44. Streets of Rage III

Developer/Publisher: Sega AM7/Sega
Year: 1994
Despite replicating the same formula a third time around, Streets of Rage 3 remained fresh thanks impart to the lead-in cutscenes, tighter controls, and the evolved combat system, which was the best of any beat’em up in the 16-bit era. It was most notorious for its hard difficulty, leaving most players frustrated over their failures to disarm the bombs in Level 6 with only 60 seconds—a one-shot deal that led players back to the beginning if unsuccessful. How’s that for perfection. Though the addition of unlockable characters such as Mr. X’s right-hand man, Shiva, and kickboxing kangaroo Roo added to its coolness. Well, that and the multiple endings, extending its replay value. Bare Knuckle! —Bracetti

43. Earthworm Jim 2

Developer/Publisher: Shiny Entertainment/Playmates Interactive Entertainment
Year: 1995
The sequel to the insanely popular action platform pretty much embodied the weirdness of the ‘90s, while capturing the difficulty of most titles from the 16-bit era. Jim’s second adventure follows the first, as the life-sized worm travels to a distant planet to save Princess Whats-Her-Name to stop the evil Psy-Crow, along with his new sidekick Snott. Earthworm Jim 2 advanced from the original with the addition of new abilities, weapons, and styles of play that was rejuvenating. The level design also took an innovative leap with some kooky aesthetics, where as graphics receiving a minor, yet notable touch-up. There’s a reason why the slimy space captain was a household name amongst children. —Barbetta

42. Lost Vikings

Developer/Publisher: Silicon & Synapse/Interplay
Year: 1992
Three Vikings kidnapped by an alien race for their intergalactic zoo who must escape and find a way back home by traveling through various time periods. No it’s not the next big SyFy movie, just one of the coolest games to ever pop up on the Genesis. Lost Vikings gained notoriety for its comical animations, crazy stages, and whacky premise. But it was in the team-based controls where the game differed from most strategy titles, switching between the three playable characters, each carrying different skills to progress further. It was all about mastering the levels through numerous attempts and executing game plans to make sure all three survived, or else it was back to the drawing board. The process only encouraged players to keep trying. —Freeman

41. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

Developer/Publisher: Megasoft/Sega
Year: 1993
The development of Shinobi III was a unique, yet tumultuous period for Sega, as it delayed the sequel a year, which was normally unheard of at the time. As the previous title, The Revenge of Shinobi, relied more on difficulty, The Ninja Master focused on the overall agility of the character and gameplay. Shinobi III is often praised for its wonderful advancements in character movement, while using a myriad of standard fighting moves and special “ninjutsu” powers that worked great alongside the high-paced action. —Robinson