First released back in 1988 in Japan, the Sega Mega Drive, or Genesis, is one of the most popular home consoles of all time, thanks to a slew of great titles and iconic franchises leaving their mark. The Mega Drive also had an incredible controller when compared to it’s competition and even allowed backwards compatibility with the Sega Master System, something we still struggle with today. Here are our top 10 games for the Sega Mega Drive.
10 – Ecco The Dolphin
Look, there was no way I was making this list and not inlcuding Ecco The Dolphin, one of the most bizzare settings for a video game ever, but it’s actually fun? You play as a dolphin who utilises time travel to defeat aliens. I’m not lying. Atlantis even makes an appearance. The gameplay is a fun mix of action combat and various interactable objects, with one of the unique aspects being an air meter which requires you to surface for air every now and again to avoid drowning.
9 – Thunder Force IV
Thunder Force IV, or Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar was a classic shoot ’em up, but probably the pinnacle of what the genre can achieve. The game featured horizontal scrolling as you would come to expect but also vertical scrolling, which was a big deal. The game also makes use of parallax scrolling backgrounds, which is when parts of the world move at different speeds to evoke more depth. There are other great Thunder Force titles, but this one is the culmination.
8 – Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim is somewhat of an underdog in the world of platforming mascots, these days he rarely gets a mention, but back in the glory days of the Mega Drive, he was soaring. The game is a 2D sidescroller with plenty of platforming and run and gun elements. I pretty much included it on this list as it has a boss named ‘Evil The Cat’. Which is perfect.
7 – Comix Zone
One of the most visually unique games of all time, Comix Zone takes place within a comic book, with the signature art style made increasingly obvious. The game revolves around a comic book artist entering the world of his own comic book to defeat evil, and it’s a punishing action game that can really test your skills. The game can be repetitive at times but it’s worth a try for the art style alone.
6 – Desert Strike
Once the highest selling game in EA’s history, Desert Strike is another shoot ’em up with a focus on strategy and tactics as oppose to carnage and chaos. The player controls an Apache helicopter and their task is to destroy various enemy bases. You have to really think about the weapons you want to equip for the mission, as they all have their pro’s and con’s, as well as weight limits. The game is very open-ended in comparison to anything else on the Mega Drive and is thus worth picking up.
5 – Strider
Set in the now not so far away future of 2048, Strider is a platformer in which you play as Strider Hiryu, a now pretty famous video game ninja. Pair this with the fact you have a plasma sword and fight mecha enemies, and I was always going to be on board. The sprites are incredibly detailed for the time and still look great today. I forgot to mention you can also summon a mecha saber tooth tiger. How are you not sold by now?
4 – Streets of Rage 2
All of the Streets of Rage Genesis titles are great, but I’m giving Streets of Rage 2 the nod here. It improved upon the already excellent first installment and featured new characters for you to brawl through the game with, along with a friend. Characters were also blessed with awesome special attacks in this one, that make all the characters that bit more defined. At the time, many viewed this as the best beat ’em up to ever grace a home console.
3 – Golden Axe
Sorry Streets of Rage, I just prefer the premise of Golden Axe, especially the sequel. I think both games are interchangeable but I’ve placed Golden Axe 2 at number 3 because it felt slightly fresher for the period, and tried out some new things. You can play as a dwarf, a barbarian or an amazon. Featuring some great improvements on the first game, this is the beat ’em up to beat in my eyes, and you shouldn’t miss it.
2 – Shining Force 2
The thing about the Mega Drive is that every time a sequel was released, it was an improvement. Shining Force 2 is a great example of that. Including free roam elements and various paths in character development, Shining Force 2 is a fantastic RPG that has had a lot of influence throughout the years. This is basically a bigger version of the first game, and will clock up a lot more hours of playtime. If you want to get stuck in to a game on the Mega Drive, go for this one.
1 – Sonic The Hedgehog 2
I hope you enjoyed the rest of the list, well within the knowledge that this was coming. It was inevitable really. I find it hard to believe somebody could make a list of the best Mega Drive games and not have a Sonic game at number 1. The only hard part was choosing which one, but in the end I went for Sonic The Hedgehog 2 due to the incredible levels and increased variety when compared to the first game. This is a must play for any video game fan. Just play it.
So what did you think of our list? What have we missed? What would you swap around? Let us know!