Sega does what Nintendon't. In an era where Generation-X rebelliousness reigned supreme, nothing was safe from the desire to fight the system ... not even video game systems. We've assembled the 25 Best Sega Genesis games as a tribute to the 16-bit era's edgiest console. Playing a Super Nintendo often felt like a clean, safe experience, but with a Sega Genesis it felt like you were playing something underground, like you might get in trouble if your parents found out. The Genesis and SNES caused faction wars, of sorts, in cafeterias all across the world. You play Super Nintendo? Sit over there, preppy. You play Sega? Go hang with the scrubs, you scrub. You have both? Come hang with us, because your parents are probably loaded. So, without further adieu, let's take a look at some of those blistering, beloved, and often bizarre games that made up the Sega Genesis library with this list of the 25 Best Sega Genesis games!
Want to play as a futuristic ninja who, along with his slew of cybernetic companions and signature Cipher blade, fights mechanical gorillas, mutants, and aliens in Russia? Of course you do! Strider is fast-paced, often bordering on out of control, and is pretty much an endless stream of memorable moments. Like many of Capcom's games, high levels of skill are rewarded (and often required). While the multi-platform Strider would achieve moderate success, it wasn't until he was reintroduced to the public in Marvel Vs. Capcom that he became a fan favorite. Fans enjoyed his appearance in MvC so much that Capcom moved forward with a sequel to his original game and gave us Strider 2 in 1999.
Walking right and shooting bad guys with a friend. Does it get much better than that? Contra: Hard Corps is a game that's truthful in its advertising: it's freaking hard. Whereas, in Japan, you could take three hits before dying (and had unlimited continues), in the U.S. version it was one hit, one life, no continues. Yikes! In addition to the brutally hard run and gun gameplay the Contra series is known for, this installment has multiple pathways for players to choose, increasing replayability, and players can carry multiple weapons and switch between them.
Wise fwom your gwave! If you tried to describe the story of Altered Beast, you'd sound like a raving ten-year-old lunatic. A Roman centurion gets brought back from the dead and faces off against zombies and mythological beasts, using his powers of transformation to turn into a werewolf, weredragon, or weretoaster. The fisticuffs are a little sloppy, but mutliplayer brawling with a friend is a blast, and you get to kick zombies in the balls, which is pretty much awesome.
You may have been too young for your mom to let you watch those dreadful Friday the 13th films, but there's no way she'd object to a video game, right? Not even one called Splatterhouse, starring a dude who looks an awful lot like Jason? The Splatterhouse series stars Rick, a poor shmuck who gets repeatedly called back to action and forced to put on the Terror Mask to fight darkness with darkness. During the game you'll fight some truly screwed up enemies, too. Massive, meaty parasites, zombies, and evil fetuses you can smack into the foreground with your baseball bat.
At the opposite end of the splatter spectrum, we have World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. This game is built around cooperative multiplayer— while it can be beaten alone, you're not really experiencing the whole game unless playing with a friend. The World of Illusion is a beautiful place, even by today's standards. The characters are all well-animated, the worlds distinct, and the music appropriate. Plus the game features some of the simplest bosses in video game history, and defeating them can be a great way to make any nubile gamer feel like he or she has accomplished something awesome.
Get ready for one groovy ride! Few games can match the sheer weirdness of Earthworm Jim without devolving into piles of gibbering insanity. Sure, at its core, it's a tough platformer with some light run and gun elements, but you're playing as a freaking earthworm! Your foes include a psychotic crow, a fish-belching junkyard owner, and a bungee-jumping pile of mucus. Some of the levels can get frustratingly tough (I'm looking at you, Down the Tubes), but the game's bizarre sense of humor will keep you laughing even as Jim's lives are being whittled away.
The 16-bit era saw a boom in role-playing games. The genre provided tons of gameplay, and could vary things up even within the relatively constrained hardware limits of the current systems. Case in point: there weren't many tactical RPGs when Shining Force II hit the scene, but it was a niche that gaming fans didn't know just how much they wanted to see. The Shining series had already achieved some success, but most fans look back on Shining Force II as one of the best, if not the best, of the Shining games.
Beyond Oasis is, at its core, a Legend of Zelda game with a Genesis flair, all wrapped up in Middle Eastern mythology. The locales were a bit limited, leaning towards dank caverns more than anything, but the developers made up for this lack of environmental variety by providing the player with tons of weapon options. You'll find crossbows, swords, bombs, and more, and use them as temporary powerups before defaulting back to your infinite knife. Plus, there are several types of magic, which will probably make SNES players think of another 16-bit classic: Secret of Mana.
One of the reasons that the Sega Genesis felt edgier than the Super Nintendo is that its games weren't afraid to get weird on you. In Revenge of Shinobi, one boss fight pits you against Spider-Man and Batman knockoffs. In Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, you fight Mechagodzilla. Seeing such blatant copyright violations made you feel like you were playing something you shouldn't, but couldn't help it. Shinobi III's blisteringly fast gameplay ramped down the difficulty compared to previous entries in the series, but upped the game's overall speed to compensate.
There's something charmingly expressive about 2D animation. Aladdin's characters emote with the kind of comedically cartoonishness that modern polygons just can't seem to emulate. But, when you're not laughing at Iago getting the feathers knocked off of him, or the bug-eyed spitting camels, you'll be testing your reflexes dodging falling rocks in the Cave of Wonders, or fighting off guards in the markets of Agrabah. Aladdin's balanced difficulty, responsive controls, and charming audio/visual presentation easily secured it a place as one of the 25 Best Sega Genesis Games.