25 Best Sega CD Games
Even though we're doing a list of the 25 Best Sega CD Games, the Sega CD was one of those sadly mis-marketed Genesis add-ons like the 32X that had a lot of interesting bits of software that were unfortunately ignored due to the failure of the peripheral itself. While simply stapling a CD drive to the side of your Genesis was pretty dumb, Sega CD games benefited from hugely increased game sizes and CD quality audio and video. The result? A lot of full-motion video games. But there were enough gems in its lifespan to warrant a list of the 25 Best Sega CD Games. SEGA!!
You’d think that Road Blaster was a racing game, but you’d be wrong. In fact, Road Blaster was a FMV game much like Dragon’s Lair. You play a rough and tumble vigilante in a sports car who is out to avenge your dead wife by bringing a biker gang to justice. How will you do this? Anime car chases, duh! The Sega CD was one of the few systems that did FMV games right, and that’s why Road Blaster gets on our list of the 25 Best Sega CD Games.
Robo Aleste was a top down shooter that inserted giant robots into the Japanese feudal era of lords and samurai. If your brain didn’t explode with awesome after reading that, there might be something wrong with you. Your weapons are all ninja themed, from kunai, to throwing stars, to shadow clones. Face off against other Feudal lords, travel to other dimensions, and take on the devil himself in this odd mish-mash of everything anime fans love.
Flashback was a strange sort of platform game. While the game was 2D and you did have to run, jump, and shoot enemies, it was far more cinematic than other games of the time. It was a lot like a cyberpunk version of Another World, and a fantastic play for any fan of adventure games.
Speaking of adventure games, Rise of the Dragon brought classic PC adventure gaming to the Sega CD. Once again set in a cyberpunk future somewhat inspired by Blade runner, protagonist Blade Hunter (yes, really), is an officer turned private investigator who has to stop an insidious Chinese drug ring fencing a drug that just so happens to turn you into a dragon.
And speaking of Another World, Heart of the Alien is basically a direct sequel to Another World. So if you like the cinematic adventure type platforming of the original, you’ll love this. It actually takes place immediately after Another World ends. Many people say it might be better than the original itself.
Vay is one of those great JRPGs that you probably never played. It’s a lot like Star Ocean, with a giant mecha from a sci-fi civilization crashing down on an underdeveloped world and wreaking havoc on the magic-using population. The game was notable for being one of the first RPGs to utilize friendly A.I., and is one of the most obscure RPGs of the Sega CD era.
The Sega CD was really an amazing platform for RPGs. Lots of data can be stored on a disc, and that allowed games like Dark Wizard, which literally had four completely different scenarios depending on what main character you selected, to be created. Dark Wizard was a tactical RPG that took obvious cues from Shining Force, but is still an amazing game in its own right, and a great addition to our list of the 25 Best Sega CD Games.
B.C. Racers was a simple game that let you race in prehistoric bike races. It’s like the Flinstones meets the extreme attitude of the nineties. The game was straight forward, relying on nothing more than good handling and skilled use of the turbo button to get you ahead. It was incredibly addicting and competitive, and is one of the better racers for the console.
Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin was actually originally released for the Sega Genesis. The later released Sega CD version made many, many improvements to the original formula, including animated cutscenes, voice acting, new levels and moves. It even included full scans of classic Spider-Man comics!
Woo, more Laserdisc games! Sure, Revenge of the Ninja was just one gigantic quicktime event, but this was the game you played if you were a hardcore Laserdisc fan. Dragon’s Lair was cool and all, but Hayate’s Ninja antics introduced a whole new generation of gamers to anime.
This sequel to Eternal Champions was released at a time when fighting games had absolutely flooded the videogame market. It was one of the first console only fighting games, which also means it was sadly looked over. It’s a shame because there were tons of different finishing moves in this game, enough to make Mortal Kombat jealous.
It’s hard to pin down what made Popful Mail so enjoyable. It might have been the RPG elements added to this otherwise traditional 2D platformer. It might have been the anime cutscenes. It might have been the bizarre Japanese story that otherwise made little sense. Either way, it easily deserves a slot here on the 25 Best Sega CD Games list.
Night Trap is an FMV game that is so bad it’s good. Together with schlocky actors, horrible delivery, and a hokey slasher movie premise, Night Trap’s gameplay was second to its absolutely hilarious B-Movie performances. You can still find this game being played ironically at gaming cons today.
The Terminator was another one of those games that was originally designed for other platforms but had a much better version on the Sega CD. The CD version came with entirely new levels, high definition music, and updated graphics. It still paled in comparison to other platformers, but was a pretty good showing for the Sega CD.
Final Fight CD was perhaps the best console version of Final Fight to ever be produced. It reintroduced all the elements of the game that had to be taken out due to space limitations on the SNES and other platforms at the time. This meant that all three characters, Cody, Haggar, and Guy, were available to play, and two player co-op was available as well. It also introduced stages that couldn’t be ported over to the SNES version.
Earthworm Jim was another game that benefitted from the Sega CD’s… CD Drive. It contained new extended levels, a brand new level made from scratch, a CD audio soundtrack, and smoothed animations and backgrounds. It also included different endings that you could get on both easy and hard modes.
The Lunar series was one of the most highly acclaimed JRPG series in existence, and it got its start on the Sega CD. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue was a worthy sequel to the original Lunar, continuing the story several years after the original took place. Even though the game was little more than sprites on sprite background, the story of Lunar 2 was enough to make even hardcore gamers cry.
The Secret of Monkey Island was released on tons of platforms (mostly PC platforms). However, the Sega CD version is one of the only ways player were able to experience it on consoles. The graphics weren’t much better than already established PC versions, but regardless, it still stands on its own merits as an amazing adventure game.
Before God of War’s PSP titles were ported to the PS3, Shining Force’s Game Gear titles were brought to the Sega CD. Shining Force CD allowed you to play both Shining Force Gaiden games with a face-lift to graphics and music. It also included two new chapters of content not playable in any other version.
The Sega CD gave this blast processing nature mascot a huge bonus in CD quality audio and a totally new soundtrack. If you ever played the windows version of Ecco the Dolphin, you’ve played the Sega CD version, and you know how amazing this new soundtrack is. You can actually hear the soundtrack being played at chill-out rooms in cons across America, and worked into dance remixes by creative DJs.
As amazing as Lunar 2 was, its predecessor Lunar: The Silver Star, was even better. The story was just so incredibly moving, and the way it was told through CD quality audio and cutscenes only increased its production value. Lunar was considered one of the great lost games until it was ported to the PlayStation 1, but even then few fans knew of its Sega CD roots.
We talked about the cyberpunk dystopian game Snatcher in our TurboGrafx 16 list. Well, it’s just as good on the Sega CD. In fact, it’s almost identical, though the music could be considered to be a little better. If you are a fan of dystopian cyperpunk horrors, Snatcher is the game for you.
Everyone knows the story of Dirk the Daring. This Laserdisc game practically created the genre. While we were only able to get disappointing platformer facsimile’s of the real thing on the NES, the Sega CD was one of the first platforms that actually let us see the original Don Bluth animated arcade version.
Silpheed was a flight sim/rail shooter, much in the vein of Star Fox. The only difference is that Silpheed figured out a way to cheat a consoles graphical rendering capabilities. Instead of actually rendering environments in engine, Silpheed featured a full-motion video background with Polygonal ships super-imposed over it. That way, the game looked way more modern than it actually was. Shooters like this are rare, and Silpheed for the Sega CD was easily one of the best.
The strange thing about Sega CD games is that they are all pretty obscure. You will be hard pressed to find a group of people that has unanimously played any one of the titles on this list of 25 Best Sega CD Games except for this one. Every Sonic fan has played Sonic CD. Perhaps they emulated it, or perhaps they played it at a friend's house or on iOS, but Sonic CD was largely regarded as one of the greatest Sonic titles of all time, perhaps even better than Sonic & Knuckles.