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

evolveteam August 12, 2014 0
Best Sega Genesis Games
Words by Anthony Barbetta, Collin Hughes, Ian Freeman, Jager Robinson, Ryan Scott, and Alex Bracetti

Evolve ENT is continuing its celebration of the Sega Genesis 25th Anniversary by ranking the console’s 100 best games throughout the week. Having already ranked 100 – 81, we jump into the next set of titles that defined the 16-bit console. See where your favorites land.

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

80. Castle of Illusion

Developer/Publisher: Sega AM7/Sega
Year: 1990
Disney platformers remained a staple on the NES with Ducktales and Rescue Rangers leading by example. Granted Mickey Mouse’s outing on the Genesis was never hailed at such a high degree, Castle of Illusion resonated with people courtesy of its cutesy presentation, easy-to-pick-up controls, and simple difficulty. Guess the fact that it was so easy to breeze though helped players breathe a sigh of relief after playing some of the Genesis’ earlier and harder titles. Nonetheless, the level design and platform action were impressive to say the least. —Bracetti

79. Sonic Spinball

Developer/Publisher: Polygames and Sega Technical Institute/Sega
Year: 1993
Taking its biggest franchise into a more creative direction, Sega transformed Sonic into an action-pinball title that gained props on originality alone. Having more control over the character made playing Sonic Spinball far more exciting than the standard arcade machines society was accustomed to. The platforming elements and dynamic backgrounds were executed well, where as the between-stage mini-games proved to be rewarding at times. Getting through all four stages was a welcoming challenge. —Bracetti

78. Vectorman 2

Developer/Publisher: BlueSky Software/Sega
Year: 1996
The thing about Vectorman is it’s pretty much a visual spectacle. It delivered awesome graphics for the 16-bit era, but even by today’s standards, the game looks pretty cool. Plus the setting and background music is both funky and stimulating. The sequel pushed the Genesis to its limits with amazing pre-rendered environments and smooth animations. This game worked hard to stand out, and it really had to, as the PlayStation had just come out and the SNES dominated households across the nation. It was the Genesis final stand and a strong way that brought gamers back to the machine, even if for a slight bit.

77. Lemmings

Developer/Publisher: DMA Design/Psygnosis
Year: 1991
This zany little puzzler has been described as “second only to Tetris” as the most addictive game of all time. The simple joy of bringing these Lemmings to the exit of each level was brought about only by well-thought strategy and use of limited power-ups. Not the easiest of tasks. The game was just hard at times, and it was painful and disappointing to watch those little guys plummet to their deaths or get caught in traps. While these days it might become more and more forgotten, there is no question that Lemmings played a major influence on all other puzzlers that followed, even shaping some modern RTS games. —Hughes

76. Rolling Thunder 2

Developer/Publisher: Namco
Year: 1991
With some nice features like opening cutscenes and fluid jump-and-crouch mechanics, Rolling Thunder 2 was a welcoming departure from the standard run-and-gunners of the time period. The game added unique features to the gameplay such as hiding behind doors to dodge gunfire or gain special power ups. Multi-layered levels also increased the action with the ability to ride elevators and access different areas, along with the co-op play and a harder difficulty level when beating the normal game. —Robinson

75. Sensible Soccer

Developer/Publisher: Sensible Software
Year: 1992
Soccer games were certainly a rarity in the early ‘90s due to its low appeal from the gaming community. Sensible Soccer is an association based soccer title, which means it uses the teams from the Euroleague rather than a worldwide style of team choices. The game used a bird’s-eye and zoomed-out perspective that allows a player to see all the action on the field at any given point—a unique approach, as most games of the time used side views. Customizable teams were also an option to give player’s more control that could be applied to a club or even national teams. It sparked a trend in the popularity of soccer games, and till this day, garners a bit of a cult following. —Barbetta

74. Sub-Terrania

Developer/Publisher: Zyrinx, Scavenger, Inc.
Year: 1993
You may have heard the argument that retro games were a lot harder than today’s offerings. If true, then there are a handful of Genesis games that contributed to that fact, and no doubt Sub-Terrania was one of them. Created by a team of designers that went on to create the Hitman series, the multi-directional shooter was also one of the precursors to many of the physics-based smartphone games played today. Except much harder. The game revolves around a single pilot and his trusty spaceship attempting to rescue POWs in the midst of an alien attack on a mining colony. Limited ammo and limited fuel—once the latter runs out—your ship just plummets straight downward and crashes in flames. In fact, gravity is continually dragging your ship down, every second you aren’t using up your limited fuel to project it through the air, even when dodging and firing at enemy aliens, ships, or auto-turrets. With spot-on collision detection and tight controls at the helm, Sub-Terrania remains one of the generation’s more underrated shooters. —Hughes

73. Kid Chameleon

Developer/Publisher: Sega Technical Institute/Sega
Year: 1992
One of the more frustratingly addictive games of the Genesis era, Kid Chameleon provided a wondrous amount of content and replay value just to reach its conclusion. The narrative sees our young hero Casey step into a new virtual reality game to save kids who have been abducted by the game’s boss Heady Metal. With over 100 different levels that can be traversed by reaching the level’s goal flag or through teleporters that not only transport the player through the current level, but also different worlds leading to varying paths, the experience was different every time out. The player could also collect masks that transformed Kid Chameleon into several amazing characters such as the Iron Knight or Juggernaut, each with their unique abilities that use up ‘Diamonds’. —Barbetta

72. Pirates Gold!

Developer/Publisher: Microprose
Year: 1993
An enhanced and graphically upgraded port of the popular PC simulation game, Pirates! Gold delivered perhaps the best version of the open-world masterpiece. Compared to the relatively clunky look of the original game, Gold was visually stunning and capitalized on improved graphics, along with an entirely new opening and closing sequences that were created for the home console front. It also showcased a new interface, making it less clunky than in the Commodore 64 original. The sword fights were also sped up significantly, and sun sighting was deleted—a development that was kept for the game’s 2004 remake. Gold did, of course, retain all the elements that made the original Pirates monumental: the variety of time periods, nationalities, and expeditions that make each replay a new experience. —Scott

71. Adventures of Batman and Robin

Developer/Publisher: Clockwork Tortoise/Sega
Year: 1994
Even though there were a few versions floating around for different systems, the Genesis’s version was notably the better of the bunch. All of the games were created to bank off the success of Batman. The action-adventure title excelled because it not only played like a run-n-gunner, but allowed for co-op play with a secondary player. For some stages, the game even turned into a side-scrolling shooter that placed you inside the Batwing. The animations and graphics were done so well, it made us feel like we actually watching the animated series. If only it wasn’t so damn difficult to get through. —Freeman

70. Light Crusader

Developer/Publisher: Treasure/Sega
Year: 1995
In this action-heavy RPG, you play Sir David, a knight who has been summoned to the town of Green Row to investigate a rash of disappearances. Upon learning of the evil wizard taking and using them to resurrect an evil demon, the time came to earn that armor and weaponry. Light Crusader’s success came from blending several genres together–action, puzzle, and RPG–into a format that made it both interestingly challenging and fun. The game strayed away from the standard hack-n-slash format by focusing more on puzzle solving than battles. Graphics also enhanced the gameplay with Treasure bringing a European-esque presence such as amazing detail to the both characters and settings. Not the typical RPG experience you would expect, but worth the spin for puzzles conformists. —Freeman

69. X-Men

Developer/Publisher: Western Technologies Inc/Sega
Year: 1993
Following the unique plot of the X-Men test chamber being hacked and the safety precautions being turned off, players had the opportunity to control four playable characters; Wolverine, Gambit, Cyclops and Nightcrawler, to reset the computer and restore balance. X-Men utilized the support team mechanic to call in Storm, Rogue, Iceman and Archangel, one of the cooler features introduced in a platformer. The advanced graphics and dynamic gameplay balanced well, though the game’s absurd difficulty resulted in many rage quits. X-Men also had one of the best puzzle-solving moments in video game history, as Sega broke the fourth wall by tasking players into resetting their consoles in order to reset the game’s computer and access the final level in the game after getting past Mojo’s world…IF you got past it. —Robinson

68. Ecco: The Tides of Time

Developer/Publisher: Novotrade International/Sega
Year: 1994
A video game based on dolphins and aliens is normally something that wouldn’t make for a good fit. But in the case of Ecco: The Tides of Time, it had a profound impact on the gaming community. Following up on its predecessor, this sequel maintains all the difficulty of handling the lead character, as well as the ability to traverse the terrain to complete each level. Adding in two new power-ups of multi-direction sonar attack and shape shifting, the changes in gameplay made some parts easier and others harder. The story is also rather intriguing as the events of the first Ecco game created an alternate timeline and Ecco must seek to fix it to keep dolphins and the Earth safe from the Vortex aliens. Design-wise, the oceanic view made your TV look like a virtual fish tank. Bring all those elements together, along with a tough-as-nails control scheme, you can see how Tides of Time set its name in stone on the console. —Barbetta

67. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Developer/Publisher: Konami/ LucasArts
Year: 1993
While LucasArts isn’t entirely known for their humorous gameplay, Zombies Ate My Neighbors certainly was entertaining. Following the perspective of Zeke and Julie, you are to save your neighbors from the evil monsters Dr. Tongue created. While following a simple plot, ZAMN was able to entertain and delight its relatively small fan base on a consistent basis. One of the coolest parts of the game was the level of detail that LucasArts utilized. For example, werewolves in the game were killed easiest by silverware and vampires died easier with a crucifix. What ultimately came down to a money grab, a spiritual successor was created named Ghoul Patrol, but it was no where near the success of ZAMN. —Robinson

66. Herzog Zwei

Developer/Publisher: Technosoft/Sega
Year: 1989
Herzog Zwei wasn’t received well in the US, but was a hit internationally due impart to its mech-centric appeal and RTS gameplay. A successor to Herzog, which was only released in Japan, served as an RTS that had you controlling military units and transporting them via mech-fighter to take control of various levels. Where the sequel stood out was in its two-player experience, combining arcade and strategy action simultaneously. Consequently, there were no pauses, and you needed fast reflexes to counterattack what a rival had up its sleeves. Its use of a central command vehicle controlling other units also influenced future titles. —Freeman

65. Ghostbusters

Developer/Publisher: Sega
Year: 1990
One of many video games based on the ‘80s sci-fi comedy, Sega’s interpretation put the player in control of three of the four Ghostbusters, with the odd absence of Ernie Hudson’s character: Winston Zeddemore. Ghostbusters is nominally a sequel to the original film, depicting events taking place after the close of the big screen cinematic. But the fact that one of the bosses is none other than the infamous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man seems to indicate that this was originally conceived as a straight adaptation before being converted into a psuedo-sequel. The gameplay took several cues from the Metroidvania style popular at the time, with large, non-linear levels designed to encourage exploration. If anything, it had us clamor for a threequel more than ever. —Scott

64. Pulseman

Developer/Publisher: Game Freak/Sega
Year: 1994
A cross of Mega Man and Vectorman, Pulseman slid in under the Genesis radar with its addictive action-platformer style and solid story line. The character’s move set played in favor of the fast-paced action by combining dope ground and jump attacks, which are executed with finesse. It found a home and more exposure once ported onto the Virtual Console. —Robinson

63. NBA Live ‘96

Developer/Publisher:Hitmen Productions/EA
Year: 1995
Rebranding its basketball series, NBA Live was a huge step up from the slow-paced Bulls vs. and NBA Showdown series—speeding up the action by tackling an isometric on-court perspective that made every play seem like a fast break. Players were given temporary bursts of speed, along with special moves like crossovers, signature shot formations, and vicious dunks that made playing the game just as fun as watching the playoffs. The create-a-player feature was considered groundbreaking, as it not only generated that year’s rookie class, along with their respective stats, but also offered access to play as various legends: including the great Michael Jordan, who was retired at the time. That was enough to have you playing it for at least five more years. —Bracetti

62. Dick Tracy

Developer/Publisher: Sega
Year: 1991
Another action shooter based on the popular film adaptation, Dick Tracy was part of Sega’s push to fill their library with licensed games based off established franchises. The game is a fairly standard side-scroller with Dick Tracy offing baddies in front of him with his trusty pistol. However, the game adds in a unique angle by allowing Tracy to use his tommy gun to attack enemies in the background, who otherwise could not be reached or harmed. But the real fun came from the car chase levels, where players would engage in vehicle shootouts with Big Boy’s goons. Sega also went the extra mile in regards to music, crafting an original soundtrack for the title rather than simply falling back on a 16-bit version of the film score like other games of that console generation. —Scott

61. Eternal Champions

Developer/Publisher: Sega Interactive and Development Division/Sega
Year: 1993
Looking to take on Capcom and Midway with its own edgier fighting game, Sega launched Eternal Champions to moderate fanfare at first. The game garnered more attention once it hit the Sega CD, though nothing should be taken away from the Genesis version. Definitely not your ordinary fighter, it featured characters that boasted weapons, along with “the most fighting moves” of any fighting game at the time. There was definitely a sense of technical fighting prowess one felt, especially when trying to execute “overkills,” which saw the losing character killed via background death trap. It was basically King of the Fighters meets Mortal Kombat with a wilder selection of characters. —Bracetti