Mega love for Sega's 16-bit console
The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was a game changer. As a 16-bit system, it meant sharper resolution, bigger characters, more complex animations, and digitally-sampled audio. The graphics began to approach cartoon-like quality, allowing developers to design large casts of recognizable characters. Released in 1989 with the (awful) slogan 'Genesis does what Nintendont', it was consistently neck and neck with its biggest competitor, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. If you missed out on these classics, or just want an old-school nostalgia fest, you can grab them via Sega Forever (opens in new tab), a service that makes Sega games from all eras absolutely free, for mobile phones. Now, allow us to present our list of the 50 best Sega Genesis games of all time...
For more definitive rankings of SEGA games throughout the years:
50. Sensible Soccer
Before FIFA debuted on in late 1993, Sensi (as its known by acolytes) was the ruling king of console football. Even after EA's tour de force, there were many who preferred this more cosmetically-modest offering. Presenting a top-down view reminiscent of computer soccer titles like Imagineers Kick Off line, developer Sensible Software was open about forgoing flashy graphics in favor of 60fps movement and a persistent wide-angle perspective allowing for full-team tactical play.
Some versions included licensed teams, but all allow the player to input their own team and player names. It's something pretty much every sports game does these days, but there's still something special about seeing you and your mates running around the screen, representing Crapston Utd.
There are games you play for their evergreen appeal, and there are the ones you dig back up as time capsules of the era in which they were unleashed upon the world. It's the latter case with Skitchin, a radical blitz of x-treme 1990's with a color palette so downright tubular you'll need wraparound shades just to get past the title screen.
Srsly tho (as we say back here in the 21st century), this one-of-a-kind rollerblade racer can't be faulted for originality, nor for the challenge of racing down American freeways by slingshotting between the bumpers of hostile motorists, flannel shirts all a-billow. With a graded trick system, hidden warp boards, and the 16-bit console's best attempt at a grunge soundtrack, Skitchin is worth your attention, even now.
48. General Chaos
Future Medal of Honor stablemasters Electronic Arts were making forays into the fog of war long before Saving Private Ryan rendered senseless battlefield violence all respectable-like. Shot through with the sly anarchy that marked many a 90's console blockbuster, General Chaos is satire so thick you could cut it with a knife - or shoot it, blow it up, stab it with a bayonet, whatevs.
General Chaos and his arch-rival, General Havoc, engage in a series of territorial skirmishes that play like a cross between a PC-based point-and-click and a heavy-artillery version of sports titles such as EA's NHL series. Multitap-enabled four-way play lets the whole neighborhood get in on the slaughterisin' fun. For added fun, lob a grenade at your mate, pause the game and watch as the pause state doesn't affect the grenade. Priceless.
47. Bonanza Bros
Robo and Mobo Bonanza are 3D-rendered masters of infiltration whose innocent television-watching is suddenly interrupted by a shadowy deus ex machina offering some dubious rationale for why it's entirely reasonable to go on a roaring rampage of trespass, theft, and petty larceny. Oh, the lengths to which western publishers would go to establish that their games weren't about criminality!
Thus the stage is set for an exploration-heavy, stealth-centric series of heists whose gameplay would go on to underpin the likes of Metal Gear Solid. Persistent split-screen means two players can team up for shared bouts of treasure-stealing, guard-tranquilizing fun.
46. Mega-Lo-Mania / Tyrants: Fight Through Time
Tyrants: Fight Through Time (Mega-Lo-Mania in Europe) is Sensible Software's take on the god game genre pioneered by the likes of Peter Molyneux's Populous. Released the same year as Sid Meier's Civilization, the title places a stronger emphasis on combat and martial supremacy.
Making it from the dawn of time all the way through to the distant future of 2001 will require strategic resource-management skills, a watchful eye on the research tree, and the bloodthirsty will to slaughter unfortunate humans born into any civilization that worships a rival god. The game usually ends with someone developing and launching nuclear weapons, at which point amazing speech synthesis declares camply 'we've been nuked!'. Happy times.
Read more: The best Sega Master System games of all time (opens in new tab)
45. Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker
Archer MacLean (the 8-bit rockstar programmer responsible for the likes of Dropzone and International Karate +) was the mastermind behind this unprecedentedly realistic simulation of the second-best thing to do in an English pub. Players raised to believe that the Genesis was incapable of sophisticated 3D graphics must have pinched themselves at the sight of this fast-flowing, full-screen sim which mixes realistic physics with MacLeans trademark brand of offbeat humor.
Full games of snooker can be broken up by a showboating Trick Shot mode, mastery of which might just save you from having to buy the next round (but probably not).
44. Ghouls 'n' Ghosts
The sequel to Ghosts 'n' Goblins once again casts you as the knight Arthur, off to rescue the soul of his beloved Princess Prin Prin. Taking damage strips you of your armor, making you fight monsters in your underwear, just like in real life.
With its spooky setting and infamous difficulty (which often sees you trying to survive while transformed into a baby), you could call Ghouls 'n' Ghosts the Dark Souls of its day. As if to prove its brutal, unforgiving nature, you have to beat it twice in a row just to get a proper ending!
43. Comix Zone
Comix Zone is the classic tale of a creator trapped within his own work. Sketch Turner, comic-book artist and freelance rock musician (basically the man we all aspire to be), is pulled into the panels of his creation. The games comic-book aesthetic has dialogue bubbles and often lets you choose which panel you want to visit next.
The animation and sound effects are magnificent, pushing the hardware beyond its supposed limitations. It may imitate a 2D art form, but it's by no means flat. With the popularity of comic books these days, it's surprising no one has gotten around to remaking or knocking off this game.
Something of a touchstone of second-tier Sega properties, cutesy platformer Flicky's legacy is long: The titular baby blue birds make repeat appearances throughout the Sonic series, as well as sneaking into titles such as Super Monaco GP and Shenmue, and inspiring a level of the Game Boy Advance's Gunstar Super Heroes.
So what's so special about the flickies, or their confusingly-named mascot, Flicky herself? The title offers platform play of a more confined bent than the genre was tending toward at the time, pitting Flicky against a horde of bird-hungry housecats named Nyannyan. Yes, just like Nyan Cat. The cute setup and simplistic one-button control scheme mask a tight arcade challenge style of play, always good for revisiting amid excursions into more expansive platformers such as Sonic or the Illusion series.