The Top 40 Genesis Games EVER!
The countdown FINALLY concludes!
Genesis Does. . .FN Rule!
At long last, the countdown of the console's 100 most memorable titles concludes!
At long last, the countdown of the console's 100 most memorable titles concludes!
Hey, I decided to finish the countdown after all!
Anyway, sorry about the delay. I have been using the last couple of months to work on my second book, and if you have not picked up a copy of my debut novel, How I Survived Three Years at a Two Year Community College, I certainly advise you to do so. Hey, the more money I make off of it, the more time I have to write really, really long and thorough articles here, so I am just saying. . .
OK, so where were we in the countdown? You know, my list of the 100 most memorable Sega Genesis games? Eh, this site has a search box for a reason. I f you want to see numbers 100 through 41, type Genesis Does into the article finder, and they should pop up.
Anyway, you must be sick of my superfluous spouting of the countdown rules by now, so I will simply eschew that nonsense and hop straight into the counting of down. Let the 16 bit reminiscing begin!
#040 Crue Ball
When you think of the band Motley Crue, you think about a lot of things: guys in eyeliner, heroin overdoses, crappy eighties music. One thing, however, you probably would not think of is pinball, which is why Crue Ball is such an incredibly weird little title.
For what it is worth, Crue Ball is actually a pretty fun, well done pinball game. Sure, there are better video pinball titles out there, but this one makes up for its structural shortcomings by providing the surreal experience of turning your Genesis into a machine that is part Pinball Wizard and part Shout at the Devil. Trust me, you have not really lived until you have heard Home Sweet Home in chip tune. In Europe, the game was known as Twisted Flipper, which trudges up the notion of what could've been if Twisted Sister had been featured in the game instead. No Matter how you slice it though, Crue Ball is an intriguing, oddball relic of yesteryear, and in all honesty, not a bad way to kill a couple of boring, Saturday afternoon hours, either.
Sparkster is one of those games that makes me weep for the 1990s. Assuredly, they do not make them like this anymore, and any self respecting retro gamer would be wise to add this criminally underappreciated masterpiece to his or her library.
The sequel to Rocket Knight Adventures, which is, in and of itself, one of the greatest action games of the 16 bit era, Sparkster more than lives up to the lofty standards set by its forerunner, providing gamers with another top notch action platforming experience. I suppose the best way to describe Sparkster is a combination fo Sonic the Hedgehog and Gunstar Heroes. If that does not sound tantalizing enough, take note that the game provides a healthy array of exploration sequences, as well, giving the title an almost Metroid-like vibe at times. Fundamentally, this game is everything that was exceptional about the 16 bit era of gaming in one cartridge. You need to play this game, plain and simple.
#038 Ex Mutants
Ex Mutants is a game based on an obscure Malibu comic, which itself is based on an even more obscure indie comic from the 80s. Granted, similarities between this title and a certain Marvel gaggle of superheroes are TOTALLY coincidental, right?
Well, believe it or not, Ex Mutants had about as much in common with the two X Men titles on the system as Halle Berry shares similarities with Delta Burke. Despite the almost blatantly infringing title, Ex Mutants is more or less a hardcore action game, more in the vein of something like Earnest Evans or Rolling Thunder than those OTHER mutant themed titles on the system. In addition to being one of the most brutally difficult games in the genre, Ex Mutants has the bonus of featuring some of the absolute WORST voice digitization in video game history. This is a game that will make you groan, for many, MANY reasons. Indubitably, this is not a game for all tastes, but for those of you that like the fiercest of challenges, this is one forgotten title well worth hunting down.
#037 The Ooze
The Ooze is one of those games that pretty much epitomizes why Sega was such a beloved developer by hardcore gamers AND why they were often overlooked by the casual crowd. The Ooze is a pretty hard game to describe, and quit honestly, I do not believe that I have played anything else on the market quite like it. I suppose the best way to describe it is sort of a top down, real time strategy , puzzle action game. The Ooze is a different kind of game, all right, as you control what is, fundamentally, a living toxic waste spill. The object of the game is to travel from one portion of the map to the exit, which of course, is littered with rocket launcher equipped bad guys, subterranean alien worms, and enough robotic adversaries to stock three or four James Cameron movies.
The game was unique, without question, and thoroughly rewarding, although some of the game mechanics were just flat out frustrating. That intense difficulty curve, coupled with such an unorthodox style of game play, meant that The Ooze was pretty much destined to be disregarded by a majority of gamers when it was released in the dying days of the Genesis. Although initially shunned, the game has become something of a miniature cult hit over the last couple of years, and is an indelible testament to the creativity, and willingness to experiment, of Sega.
#036 Eternal Champions
Eternal Champions is viewed by some as simply another Street Fighter II clone. Although Eternal Champions is clearly a game that attempts to ape the success of the fighting genre progenitor, it actually does stand out on a few of its own merits. For starters, the game has a decisively clever little hook, that being that each character is plucked from a different chronological point in history. If you ever wanted to see a caveman throwing down with a Green Lantern knockoff, or watch a Puritan era warlock go toe to toe with a Prohibitionist detective during the Vietnam War, then pal, Eternal Champions is a game for you.
The character design is where this game really shines. The developers really went out of their way to craft characters with personality, and each fighter seems more nuanced and fleshed out than the typical fighting game cast. The graphics are fairly well done, and the soundtrack is particularly memorable. One of the cool little aspects of the game is that each character can actually utilize the scenery of their respective stages as a fighting aid, fundamentally giving certain fighters a sort of home field advantage during battle. Ultimately, Eternal Champions is a bit lacking in its fighting system, and the Sega CD sequel was FAR superior, but it is still a largely enjoyable little title. Hey, speaking of fighting games with a time travel theme. . .
#035 Time Killers
I will be the first to state that Time Killers is NOT a very good game. In fact, it is not a good game by ANY stretch of the definition. The game play is slow, the controls are unresponsive, the sound is down right atrocious and the mechanics of the game are so clunky that it is comparable to playing the game with a cinder block instead of a control pad. So, why exactly is this game so memorable, you may wonder?
Dismemberment, Holmes. And LOTS of it. You see, Time Killers was a game with pretty much the EXACT same gimmick of Eternal Champions, but unlike that bloodless offering, Time Killers did not skimp out on the gore. In fact, Time Killers was a game that did not even have the patience to save the fatalities for the END of the fight; at any juncture, and with enough precision, you could pretty much decapitate an opponent and end the fight right then and there. Not only that, you could also knock off a limb or two, and the game gave you bonus points if you managed to defeat your adversary with less limbs remaining than your opponent. Ultimately, it was a bad game redeemed by an incredibly puerile gimmick, but at the end of the day. . .boy, was it a memorable rental, all right.
#034 True Lies
True Lies, the motion picture, sucked. Between the incredibly un-erotic Jamie Lee Curtis striptease, hokey one-liners, and the fact that Tom Arnold was in it, it pretty much signaled the end of James Cameron being a director of kick ass fare like Aliens and The Terminator and signified his transmogrification into the pretentious auteur that would one day give us hackneyed drivel like Titanic and Avatar. That being said, the video game version down right RULED.
I have a thing for top down shooters. Always have, always will. Without question, this is one of the better genre games of the 16 bit era, and there is even some sly, political humor mixed in the game to make it feel a little bit more, advanced, than most titles of the time frame. Really, it is the attention to detail, the really small things that make this game standout, like how bystanders will cower whenever a shootout begins. It does not matter if the bridge is out. . . this is one action game you need to experience.
#033 Greatest Heavyweights
Not a lot of people in this day and age are boxing fans, and for good reason. At one point, however, the sport was defined by world class pugilists, and this game is a celebration of the sweet science and its FORMER glory.
This may very well be my all time favorite boxing game. Sure, sure, Punch-Out was a great game and all, but to call it a boxing game, A REAL boxing game, is like comparing Mario Kart to Gran Turismo. One is a caricature of the sport, and the other is a simulation, and as far as 16 bit simulations go, Greatest Heavyweights might just be the best boxing game you will find in the 1990s. A word to the wise, though: it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that you use the six button pad for this game, and if you ever think about taking the instructions advice to plug this baby into the ill fated Activator pad, well. . .
#032 Michael Jackson Moon Walker
All right, all right, I will not make any jokes about this one. If you want someone to crack some antiquated wiseass comments about MJ, go back to 2002 and have at it. Instead of looking at Moon Walker as some sort of highly ironic 90s relic, I choose to look at this game as it really is: as being one of the first truly great console exclusive titles on the Genesis.
The music is, of course, great, the sprites look pretty damned good, the game controls wonderfully, and although many have stated that they found the mechanics of the game to be trying, I actually kind of enjoyed them. That, and if a smile does not stretch across your face as your character turns into Mecha Jackson, you simply do not have a pulse. Sigh, if only they would have followed this one up with an action platform game starring Prince, I would have been one ecstatic youngster. . .
#031 Mega Man: The Wily Wars
I played this game once, and ONLY once, and to this day, I thought it was some sort of reverie. You see, this flea market I oft visited had a Mega Drive set up, and the game in the unit was this title. Now, this was before the day and age of the Internet, so I had no idea that, technically, the Mega Drive WAS the same thing as the Genesis. I thought it was some sort of newfangled Sega console, and one of the titles was, at long last, Mega Man!
Sadly, Mega Man: The Wily Wars was never given a proper release in the States, because. . . I honestly have no freaking idea. Seriously, how could this game NOT make it to the U.S? It is the first three Mega Man games, plus a brand spanking new one, remade on the Genesis, and Capcom decides to NOT release it in North America? Now, I am not saying that I think Nintendo throw them some money hats to keep this one off their number one competing console, but. . .yeah, they probably did. You U.K. folks have no idea how much you lucked out HERE.
#030 Contra: Hard-CORPS
Action, ACTION, dear lord, the ACTION! Contra: Hard CORPS is like having a suppository made out of pure adrenaline shoved up you rectum while attempting to punch your way out of a burning airplane. Seriously, this game gave me honest to goodness heart palpitations when I played it, and if I ever made it past the fourth level, god knows whether or not this game would have given me a heart attack at the age of ten.
Needless to say, this game is HARD. I am talking frozen, petrified wood on Viagra hard, folks. As with all of the Contra games before it, the game play, in theory, is fairly simple. You move left to right, shoot stuff before it shoots you, and at the end of the level, you throw down with a huge ass boss that takes up half the screen. Well, Hard CORPS ups the ante by throwing in a whole bunch of Blast Processing tricks, so not only is the game hard, it is also FAST, with explosions, crumbling buildings and a couple of high speed chases thrown in for good measure. This game is Contra, on a study diet of steroids, speed, and LSD, a game that you do not so much play as you EXPERIENCE.
#029 Castlevania Bloodlines
Dude, it is Castlevania, on the Genesis! Who cares if instead of playing Simon Belmont, you are playing as some dude with a mullet and a pitchfork, it is still the same experience as it was before.
Well, maybe not exactly. You see, Castlevania Bloodlines is fundamentally a reinterpretation of Super Castlevania IV, and while I do not think that this game is as good as its SNES counterpart, this game still, unquestionably, rules. The graphics are fantastic, the animation is nice and crisp, the bad guys look like something out of a Clive Barker movie, and the music, as with all Castlevania games, is positively sublime. This game is sheer joy, compressed into a single 16 bit cartridge. If you have not given it a try, its something you should DEFINITELY etch upon your to do list.
If you were a Reagan baby like me, you probably grew up with a healthy adulation for the Ghostbusters license. Also like me, unfortunately, you probably shared a great disdain for the god awful titles released on the NES starring Ray, Peter, Egon and Winston. Well, the franchise finally received a game worth a damn when the series made the jump to the Genesis, and to this day, it remains one of the better licensed platform games of the early 90s.
It's a pretty straightforward game, really, which pretty much polarizes opinions on the title. Some folks dig the funky, challenging, Metroid lite vibe of the game, and others seem to hate the super deformed character designs and oddball assortment of villains, including mutant snowmen, demonic coffee mugs, and the periodic slime creature. . .yeah, I know, real original, right? Regardless, this remains a fun, rewarding little throwback to yesteryear, and any self-respecting child of the 80s owes it to him or herself to play through this one at least once.
#027 Taz Mania
Now here is a game that makes me want a nice, cold glass of O.J. . .
There was just something about platform games and the Genesis. Sure, Nintendo fans like to believe that the SNES had the better assortment of genres games on their console, but all I think one has to do is take a look at this list to realize who really had the edge when it came to bopping on some virtual heads. Well, Taz Mania is basically great Genesis platform title number 8,381, and it is positively gorgeous to gawp at. This is one of those games were the graphics look like they could have been ripped straight from the animation cells of the television series. Sure, sure, it may be nothing more than Sonic imitator, but as far as Sonic imitators go, it is a damn good one. Hey, speaking of Sonic. . .
#026 Sonic the Hedgehog
Would you believe the first time, the very first time, I played Sonic the Hedgehog was at a Waffle House? Believe it or not, that is indeed the case, as I played the title at a Woolworth store that featured an in house restaurant. Well, for whatever reason, the video game section was situated directly adjacent to the restaurant, and I actually spun through the first three levels of the game will resting atop a barstool.
Really, what more can be said about this game? It was the Sega retort to Super Mario World, and it delivered the goods, and then some. I have played this game on at least half a dozen different systems now, on everything from the Dreamcast to the DS, and each time I play it, it still manages to impress me. Almost 20 years down the road, the graphics of the game still wow me, and for those of you that have never given the game a full run through, I think you may be surprised by the challenge, and fluctuating nature, of the game play. This game is the definition of classic, and a game very much worthy of its legendary status.
#025 Landstalker The Treasure of King Nole
Most people will never truly grasp why a game like Landstalker The Treasure of King Nole is so great. Of course, it is easy to look back on its multitude of faults and criticize the title as being archaic, but for those of us that actually played it when it was ORIGINALLY released, it symbolizes SO much more.
I guess the best way to describe the title is being a 2D version of Oblivion. There really were not that many in-depth, exploration driven RPGS on the NES, and those that were, more often than not, were games with INCREDIBLY simplified game play mechanics and graphics that bordered on being stationary pictures. Landstalker was the first dungeon crawler game I ever played that took the 2D action route instead of relegating the game play to an endless array of menu screens. Sure, the isometric view may seem a little kitschy now, but at the time, it was downright unheard of. This was a game that brought the role playing goodness of Ultima, mixed it with the adventuring elements of Zelda, and even threw in a little bit of QBERT for good measure. Incontestably, this game has aged over the years, but for those of us with fond recollections, it stands out as one of the most memorable titles of the early 16 bit days of gaming.
#024 Joe Montana II Sports Talk Football
"I don t believe it!"
That might as well have been the most common utterance emanating from my living room from 1994 to 1995. Anybody that is well versed in Joe Montana II Sports Talk Football knows EXACTLY what I am talking about. THE FAKE PUNT. Worked like a charm, EVERY SINGLE TIME. First down, second down, third down, it did not matter, that play was pretty much money in the bank every time you ran it, and this game is far and away the BEST football title on the Genesis. For one, the graphics are downright amazing, with way more detail than a 16 bit game SHOULD have. The voice stitching on the play by play is better than most Wii games, and as far as the gameplay mechanics, take a look at the MULTITUDES of legendary football games that I have this game ranked higher than on this list. This is the kind of game that TRUE Sega fans still chatter back and forth about, and one of the reasons why the Genesis was, and always will be, the greatest console EVER made for sports gaming.
#023 Rambo 3
What a weird ass game.
For starters, the object of the game is to HELP the Afghani forces. You know, the same guys that went on to become Al Qaeda? Well, we were in the dying days of The Cold War, and we had to vilify someone for a third Rambo flick, so why not have him go after the Soviets? Hell, the Rambo character is pretty bizarre in and of himself. I mean, is this NOT the same guy that killed like thirty innocent cops in First Blood? How exactly did this guy become a national icon, again? Oh yeah, I forgot, it WAS THE 80s. Well, Rambo 3, the video game, is actually a pretty fun little top down shooter, complete with some Metal Gear like elements here and there. That, and it is WEIRD seeing Rutger Hauer, in digitized sprite form, pop up to give you sage advice on where to blow up stuff. Granted, I am still not 100 percent sure how your character can blow up tanks with a bow and arrow, but, like I said earlier, this is one WEIRD ASS game.
#022 Splatterhouse 3
If you look up the word awesome in the dictionary, the entry will consist of nothing more than the box art of Splatterhouse 3.
This game just out and out brought it, and was everything you could have hoped for in a Splatterhouse sequel and then even more awesomeness heaped upon it, you know, just for good measure. Unlike the first two games, this one actually allowed you to triangulate divergent paths around the game map. Each room pretty much branched out into two different paths, so there were actually several different ways to make it to the same objective. As with the first two game sin the series, this title is loaded with over the top monsters, insanely violent game play, and some downright spooky atmospheric elements. I really liked the fact that they used a real actress to represent Jennifer in the game, even if I always laughed on the first stage when the game warned me that a beast let out a horrible smell when he was beside her. Laugh out loud, monster farts! Thanks to the newfound rating board, the game was not as violent as its predecessor, but it is still fairly gruesome. The lack of bludgeoning devices makes the game feel sort of like Double Dragon clone 9,345 sometimes, but beyond that, it is still a tremendous action title, and not to rake the embers or nothing, it is something that you SNES kids know absolutely NOTHING about. Who cares about Kirby when we got a dude dressed up like Jason punching nine foot tall pod monsters to death with his bare fists?
#021 Mutant League Hockey
Finding out about this game was the fourth grade equivalent to winning the lottery AND the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes at the SAME TIME.
For starters, you had the NHL 94 system, which for anyone in the know, is pretty much the PERFECT hockey engine. Then, you had the Mutant League branding, which had already resulted in a pretty amusing little football title. Well, you mix those two together, and what do you get? If you said an awesome game, you would be right, and we call that awesomeness Mutant League Hockey. This game is more than just a one-joke premise. Although it definitely has some amusing gimmicks, the game is, first and foremost, a terrific little arcade title. That, and the attention to detail is simply astounding. Nothing says this is a hardcore game for hardcore gamers quite like listing the home arena of the Dead Wings as St Mucus Arena. Come on, if you cannot laugh at that, you most surely do not have a soul. . .
#020 Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park was one of those games that Sega Genesis owners were pretty much required by law to have in their collections. Along with Mortal Kombat 2 and some permutation of NBA Jam, every singe fellow Genesis owner I ran into had this game in his or her collection, and that is for very good reason.
For those of you with poor memories, this title was absolutely nothing like the atrocious Jurassic Park game that was released on the SNES. While that pastel colored abortion was a watered down top down shooter, the Sega version was actually a fairly inventive little action title that gave fans of the movie way more than their moneys worth. In addition to being able to play as Dr. Grant, which entails lots and lots of shooting overgrown reptiles in the ass with a tranquilizer darts, you can also play as a velociraptor, which yes, IS as cool as it sounds. For crying out loud, they even included the rafting scene from the book that did not make it into the movie!16 bit movie games are rarely as good as this title, and for that reason, alongside many, many, others, it remains one of the consoles most memorable experiences.
#019 The Haunting! Starring Polterguy
Nowadays, everybody likes to harp on EA for being an uncreative publisher. Now, that may be the case at the current, but back in the 90s, Electronic Arts was actually known for creating innovative, ORIGINAL intellectual properties. Surely, at least one or two of you remember James Pond, right?
Well, The Haunting! Starring Polterguy is really one of the most unique games you will play from the 16 bit era. It really is something of a genre onto itself, as you play the titular specter, who is entrusted to spook the living daylights out of the tenants of several suburban homes. The object of the game is to possess as many household items as possible, thus getting the entire family to flee from the house. That means you can spook mom by taking over the blender, jumping out of a bowl of kibble to freak out the family dog, or even, yes, take control of the toilet right before dad takes a big, fat 16 bit shat in it. The game has actually been emulated by several fairly recent games, like Ghost Master and Geist, but the Genesis pioneer is unquestionably the best of the incredibly esoteric triple sub genre.
#018 Splatterhouse 2
In Splatterhouse 2, you control a Jason Voorhees doppelganger as he pummels demons in a haunted house with canoe oars. If you have not automatically opened up a secondary screen to scour video footage of this, you are certainly not fit to live in my society, pal.
There are so many reasons why this game rules that I literally do not know where to begin. The graphics in this game are astounding, and the animation is positively sublime. Watching a demon splatter against the background when you whack it with a two by four is simply 2D gaming bliss. The music in this game is not just some of the best music you will ever hear on the Genesis, it is more than likely the best chip tune music you will hear in just about any video game. Oh, and the game play? Dear lord, is it awesome. The game, fundamentally, is Final Fight with the character design of Castlevania, with the bosses of Ninja Gaiden, yet it still remains something wholly unique and its own. Oh, and if you are not sold yet, one of the power ups in the game is a chain saw. That's right, the ability to use a CHAIN SAW as a weapon in a 16 BIT game. This is the kind of game you simply HAVE to play come every Halloween. And Christmas. And Tax Day. And a couple of times in between, too.
#017 Herzog Zwei
A lot of video game snobs like to pretend that they played Herzog Zwei, the incredibly influential real time strategy game, when it was originally released. The fact of the matter is, video game journalists, and I use that term very loosely, did not give this game the time of day when it made its debut, and to retroactively not sound like choads, they have gone out of their way to praise it today.
Do you like Advance Wars? How about Starcraft? Well, Herzog Zwei was doing the real time action stuff WAY before any of those imitators came along and took the recognition for starting the genre. This game, although very difficult and saddled with a fairly clunky menu system, was a game that I was positively HOOKED on for a good couple of weeks back in the third grade. I was going through my little Napoleon phase where I wanted to be the controller of the world, and this game quenched my juvenile yearn for tyranny in a manner that Risk could simply no longer fulfill. This is actually one of the few games I KNOWINGLY keep after the rental due date. Ever the stickler to such video store law, you simply KNOW that a game has to be good to willingly incur a late fee for just one more day of gameplay.
#016 General Chaos
General Chaos was a flat-out AWESOME game that I would call something of an arcade-strategy title. . . You know, sort of like Stratego, but with WAY better graphics.
Anyway, this game is the more affable hearted compliment to Herzog Zwei. Now of course, you are still leading hundreds upon hundreds of virtual army men to their deaths, but this one is done in sort of a satirical style. No, its not the 16 bit version of Dr. Strangelove, but for those of you with astute eyes, you will definitely pick up on the NAFTA era comedic commentary of the title. And to think, all of that war waging over a simple, shredded up comic book!
Oh, and here is a trick I learned WAY back when. To maximize your offensive putsches, PAUSE the game whenever you throw a grenade. Even though your adversaries will stay frozen, the grenade lands and detonates anyway, so it makes battle about as difficult as slaying sleeping ants.
#015 Altered Beast
Some people love this game, and some people abhor it. Either way, it is one of the most memorable titles on the Genesis, and as far as I am concerned, one of the best pack in games ever (hell, it beats Wii Sports, that is for sure!)
In this port of the arcade hit, you play a zombie muscle man resurrected by Zeus, the God of Thunder (wait, that does not sound right...) to beat up some dude that shoots lightning at you and, for some inexplicable reason, finds much joy in launching blue orbs at you that, oddly, transform you into a animal warrior of some kind. Yeah, Altered Beast may not be the best scripted game of all time, but it MORE than makes up for it with its memorable graphics, system defining boss fights, and yes, that awesomely horrific soundtrack.
Kicking azure oxen in order to gain forty pounds of muscle. Kicking those yellow devil dudes in the ball sack while laying flat on your back. Just hitting the B button until the second boss, the one with all of the eyeballs, just explodes. This game rules, and anyone who says otherwise is a complete and utter choad. If you have not played this game, for whatever dumb ass reason, all I can say to you is, is it not time that you FINALLY Wised Fwom Yob Gwave?
#014 Zombies Ate My Neighbors!
This is a game in which you play a pizza delivery girl that throws soda cans at werewolves in order to save lost suburban poachers. Dude, how could Zombies Ate My Neighbors! NOT make the list?
I absolutely LOVE the top down shooter genre, and this is both one of the most unique and BEST titles within the domain. The graphics and music are appropriately kooky, and the stage design is downright exceptional. The gameplay, however, is where this game TRULY takes the 16 bit cake. Each level is meticulously crafted, making every stage the perfect balance of puzzle and exploration; throw in the terrific enemies, from an axe-wielding Chucky wannabe to a 50 foot tall toddler, and you have what is unquestionably one of the decades most enjoyable action adventure games.
#013 The Amazing Spider Man
Anyone that knows me even MARGINALLY knows that I share a peculiar fondness of old Web head. As it just so happens to be, this game was my first exposure to the iconic character, outside of occasionally catching the tail end of one of his 60s cartoons on one of the local UHF channels. Understandably, this game holds a special place in my heart for MANY reasons.
First off, this game STILL holds up today. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent playing this one on emulators, and I have basically mapped out every nook and cranny of the title in my gray matter by now. I know all of the sprite movements, all of the timing mechanisms, which pixels to stand on, everything. And you know what? Every time I boot up the game, it still makes me feel like I am an eight year old kid again. That, assuredly, is something remarkable for ANY game from any point in time to achieve.
The graphics still wow me, the music still captivates me, and my, the awesome memories of in taking the Spider mythos for the first time: Venom, The Sandman, Electro, the gorilla that hangs out in Central Park. Well, maybe NOT the gorilla, but everything else, yeah, it was flipping awesome. There are a lot of games I like, and a lot of games that I fondly recollect. This, on the other hand, is a game that I love and positively cherish; beyond nostalgia, this game just feels like its a part of my culture, and it is something that will always, ALWAYS make me smile.
#012 Aryton Senna's Super Monaco GP 2
While everyone else was dilly-dallying around on Mario Kart, I was at home playing A TRUE racing game, Super Monaco GP 2. Much like its revolutionary predecessor, Super Monaco GP 2 was about as close as console games would get to authentic "sim racing" in the 16 bit era. Whereas pretty much every other racing game from the time frame emphasized balls out speed and cartoon-like gimmicks (cough-bananas-cough) to enhance the game play, SM GP 2 was a title that prided itself on realism and genuine racing technique. For example, the Super Monaco GP titles were among the first console racing games to implement actual turning and braking physics into the overall experience: once you add in all of the engine and gear tuning options, you quickly come to the realization that this game was WAY ahead of its time.
If you are a F1 fan, then you will really dig this title, since it actually implements a number of real life racers circa 1992 into the mix. Of course, they all have fictitious names, but you know who they are SUPPOSED to be.
Perhaps the most memorable thing about the game, for me, anyway, were the explosions: since people could not die in Nintendo releases, you never saw fireballs in stuff like F-Zero or Top Gear. However, since Sega devalues human life (I kid, I kid!), if you crashed in this game, you crashed AND BURNED. It was awesome, and on more than one occasion, me and my chums would just take turns crashing into pilasters. Huh, not only was this game the forerunner to Gran Turismo, it was the forerunner to Burnout, too!
#011 Shining Force
There were a lot of role playing games on the Genesis geared towards game players that really were not into the traditional genre game play. As such, Shining Force is something of a pioneer in the field, as it is a game more in tuned to something like Settlers of Cattan and Risk than it is Dungeons and Dragons.
Sure, all of the rudimentary RPG stuff is here; hit points, XP, turned based battles, so on and so forth. However, Shining Force ups the ante by doing away with the superfluous "fetch questing" and plops your ass down RIGHT IN THE THICK OF BATTLE, and to utilize a most overused term, the battles in this game were truly epic. Hell, the first battle in this game was more hellacious than most SNES RPG final bosses, and as the game progressed, you got into some AWESOME, AWESOME battles that were less Dragon Warrior skirmishes than they were the Battle of the Marne with magic spells and giant ass swords.
This was a game that DEMANDED dedication, as the battles within were absolutely grueling. On more than one occasion, I found myself war waging for UPWARDS of two hours in a single siege; there's no doubt about it, Shining Force was one hardcore game, and to this day, it remains one of the console s most memorable titles.
#010 Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
Outside of owning one of those huge-assed 32 player arcade cabinets that I think CAPCOM released in like two or three arcades in Japan, this is the absolute BEST version of SSF II that you will find ANYWHERE. Sure, some like to say that the 3DO version was the best home console version, but those people are just trying to sound elite. Besides, who did you know growing up that actually owned one of those machines, anyway?
Platform bitching aside, this may very well be the greatest fighting game EVER released. Oh, the memories I have of Psycho Crushing the shit out of my schoolyard compatriots over and over. Sure, you could say that I was kind of cheating since I had the 6 button arcade pad (an absolute necessity, I say), but I prefer to chalk up my third grade dominance due to skill and dedication, Holmes.
Yeah, the New Challengers were not as memorable as the original brawlers (well, outside of that one chick that showed her butt cheeks to you after you lost), but this is still a must-own title for all self-respecting Genesis fans. Oh, and Zangief and Dhalsim ARE still off limits in tournament play. Jeez, talk about unbalanced characters!
#009 Phantasy Star III
Much to my surprise, people seem to hate this game, even though it was the first RPG I ever truly fell in love with.
PS III is not the best game in the series, but it had a really inventive hook, not to mention the fact that it took FOREVER to finish. I honestly have no idea how many hours I logged on this title, but it took me THREE complete summers of play to actually see the final boss in the damn thing.
PS III is kind of like a poor man s Chrono Trigger, in a way. Throughout the game, your characters age, reproduce and die; due to your party arrangement, you can have a pretty vast array of potential play through s before you exhaust EVERY single option the game throws at you. No lie, you could play this game until you are eighty and STILL have a couple of permutations left, so if you want a SUPER in-depth RPG, than this is one criminally underappreciated gem worth playing.
#008 Rocket Knight Adventures
Explaining why this game rules is like explaining why water is wet; if you cannot look at this game and tell that it is incomparably awesome, than you are just plain out of luck, amigo.
This game is sort of like a combination of Sonic the Hedgehog, Gunstar Heroes, Super Metroid, and even a little bit of Beyond Oasis and 1942. It is not the fact that this game exists as a mish mash of all of these genres that it is noteworthy, but the fact that it is one of the best games within ALL of these genres. This game contains some of the best run and gun, plat forming AND action adventure game play I have ever experienced, and it takes place all within the same cartridge.
The graphics are amazing, the sound is top notch and the game play kicks more ass than a mule punter. This is not just a game that you enjoy, this is the kind of game that makes you glad to be a gamer; 20 years later, and this game STILL makes my eyes light up and my veins quake whenever I hear its hallowed name spoken.
#007 Shining Force II
Forget your Chrono Triggers and your Secretive Manas, THIS game contains what is unquestionably THE single most memorable turn based battle in all of 16 bit gaming. The final throw down in this game, an absolutely cartridge breaking hundred enemy plus melee, is reason enough to adore the title: then, you factor in the graphics, the music, the tight game play, the awesome character design, the battle mechanics and the stronger than usual storyline, and you get what may very well be the greatest 16 bit strategy game EVER designed. Granted, it is a hard title to track down, and a pathetically small percentage of the gaming public actually got a chance to play it when it first came out, but it is WELL worth the time and the effort in finding it today. Simply put, this is the game Fire Emblem and Golden Sun WISHES it could be, and incontrovertibly Camelot s best title.
#006 Super Monaco GP
This is one of the most revolutionary home console games ever made, and a title that has been sickeningly undervalued by the mainstream gaming press.
For starters, Super Monaco is perhaps the first home title truly worthy of the moniker of arcade perfect. Not only did this game have all of the features of the arcade original, it actually improved upon the mechanics of the already outstanding racing and turned it into what is, for all intents and purposes, the first technical, sim racing game on home system.
This is a game that requires more intellect than twitchy fingers: braking is an essential component of game play, and an understanding of gear tuning is vital to your success in races. Almost twenty years later, this game is STILL one of the most rewarding and nuanced titles of the 16 bit era, and one that feels, more so than any other racing game of the era, timeless. This game is a watershed achievement in gaming, and one that you need to experience before you even think about calling yourself a true gamer.
#005 Sonic the Hedgehog 3
It's the definitive title in the console s definitive franchise, and for my money, the single best platform game of the 16 bit era. Unless you receive a check from Nintendo every two weeks, I doubt I will be able to find anyone that claims otherwise.
This game took the template set by the already awesome franchise and cranked it to critical mass: the colors were brighter, the visuals more vibrant, and the puzzle elements required more cranial juice than most full fledged Tetris imposters. The boss fights went from being stellar to heart pounding exercises in adrenaline secretion: hell, in the very FIRST stage you get assailed by a napalm attack that s more intense than a two year infantryman stint in Ho Chi Minh circa 1967.
The game is fast, unbelievably fast, and downright gorgeous to boot. Simply put, this game has EVERYTHING you could want in a platform title, and the memorable elements of the game are almost impossible to address in a single article. Knuckles, the 3D bonus stages, the music that was allegedly arranged by Michael Jackson. . . This game freaking rules.
#004 Phantasy Star IV
In the Sega vs. Nintendo war, I think it is pretty much a given that the Genesis trumps the SNES in pretty much every genre. I mean, come on, there is no denying which system had the better assortment of sport, racing, shoot em up, action, platform beat em up, strategy AND fighting games. That being said, the one area in which you can say that Nintendo beat Sega was in the RPG department. Go ahead, start spewing out the names of like a hundred Square games now.
That being said, Phantasy Star IV is STILL my favorite RPG on any console ever. PS IV is oft called the RPG for people that do no like RPGS, and that is a pretty fitting description of the title. The game is more of a comic book style adventure than it is a Shakespearean anime, and the streamlined game play is accessible without sacrificing mechanical depth. This is the first RPG I ever played through in a single campaign, and while it somewhat short compared to its genre cohorts, it is still an undeniably enjoyable experience, and undeniably one of the systems greatest contributions to gaming.
#003 NHLPA Hockey 93
This is the game that started my love affair with the sport of hockey. Oddly, I knew almost nothing of the sport when I first played this game. I suppose that is to be expected when the nearest NHL team at the time played 400 miles away from me.
Anyway, the game play in this title is absolutely perfect. I mean, literally, incontestably, impossible to improve upon. The mechanics of the game are so spot on and undiluted that this is a game that you could play pretty much forever and never get bored with the core mechanics. In that, this game is more like Chess or Othello than anything else of the timeframe.
There are no official NHL teams in the game, but to make up for the lack of logos somewhat, the fighting is fantastic. That, and as long as you refrain from using the left deke, the game remains pretty challenging. Go ahead, try and beat the Canadiens with the Senators. Just try.
This, ultimately, is what 16 bit gamin, and gamin in general, is all about. This is a title that is anchored by a truly solid game play template, and one that, twenty years later, is still incredibly engaging. Sigh, every time I hear that opening theme, I get a little misty eyed...
#002 Gunstar Heroes
This game, fundamentally, is why the Genesis ruled: awesome, original, action packed, innovative, genre melding games that made for truly amazing co op experiences.
Say what you will about your Super Metroids and your Links to the Past, those games are flawed immeasurably by the fact that, hey, they are single player games. No matter how well you know a game, the variable of having another person affect your game play is something that makes eacha nd every play through something different. In that, I have never played two games of Gunstar Heroes that have ever felt the same, and I cannot think of a more enjoyable co op experience in ALL of my years as a gamer.
How do I describe Gunstar Heroes? Well, imagine Sonic, Contra, Metal Slug, Halo, Mega Man and Super Mario World in one kick ass title and light it on fire and you have Gunstar Heroes. This game positively BRINGS it in all categories, providing an awesome soundtrack, eye pleasing graphics and game play that is so nuanced and fine tuned that it almost produces an orgasmic reaction whenever you pick up the controller.
Treasure has made so many great games over the years that it is astounding. Without question, this is the absolute BEST game made by one of the absolute BEST developers on one of the absolute BEST consoles of all time. More than one of the best Genesis games of all time, this is one of the best games released on ANY console, and game you simply MUST play.
. . . And at long last, the most memorable Genesis game EVER is. . .
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#001 NHL 94
NHL 94 is not my favorite video game. Hell, it is not even my favorite iteration of the game on a Sega console (if you ever get a chance to play this on the Sega CD, you best take it). That being said, this is without a doubt my most cherished Genesis title, and the one game on the console I would put up against the best of any purported killer apps.
What makes NHL 94 the most memorable Genesis title ever? This can be explained fairly easily, and that is the fact that it is a game that never gets old. Twenty years later, and I have never had two games of NHL 94 unfurl in the same manner. Every time you play Final Fantasy or Mario, the goombas and elves are positioned in the SAME placement each time. Thanks to some truly impressive AI and the attribute of human err, EACH game of NHL 94 is something new and unpredictable, just like the real life sport it emulates.
We all lamented the excision of fighting, but making your opponents heads explode on a cheap shot more than made up for the censored fisticuffing. That, and we finally got some official logos and unis, which was a huge deal at the time.
The game play is, in a word, perfect. With the addendum of the one timer, this game perfectly emulated the NHL product, and resulted in a title that was more true to life than most people are willing to credit it for.
Long story short, there is not a single other game on the console that has created so many wonderful gaming memories for so many players, and if you ever get a gang of NHL 94 enthusiasts together, they will begin exchanging tales of when THEY came back from a four point deficit with just 5 minutes to go, OR the time thy scored on Patrick Roy on hard mode with a second tier Tampa Bay defenseman, OR that impossible right handed deke shot they made with Gretzky from damn near the end of the blue line.
This is a game that so perfectly nails it that to this day, thousands upon thousands of fans play ROMS of the game using hand updated rosters and teams. Even with all of the graphical and technological updates modern gaming can provide, hardcore gamers the world over STILL consider this game to be the zenith of video hockey.
This game is pure bliss in a Genesis cartridge. Every time I play it, I feel an unusual mishmash of both nostalgia and complacency: not only is this a game a reminder of my past, it in some peculiar way, reassures me of the present.
There are a lot more accolades I could throw at this game. God knows, I could spend all day labeling the excellent points of the games design. That stated, I think the following notion best exemplifies why this game is, in a word, great: I once saw a guy walk into a mom and pop video game store, plop this title and Genesis on the desk, and tell the cashier that he wanted his kid to experience what he felt when he was his age.
There are not many games that evoke such a pure emotion from gamers. NHL 94 is one of those rare games that does, and for that, it is unquestionably the most memorable Sega Genesis game of all time.
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Well, that is the list. Certainly, yours is sure to differ, and looking back on it, there are probably two or three changes I would have made to the countdown in hindsight. Seriously, I left out Kid Chameleon?
Anyway, this was a fun little project, and I hope you enjoyed reveling in the bliss of nostalgia as much as I did while writing it. Well, now that it is over, I guess I really do not have any long term video game articles in the works, but hey, you never know what I could be writing about shortly. . .
. . .hmm. .