When Sega released the Sega Genesis Mini in 2018 it served to whet the collective appetites of many Sega fans who wanted to explore the company’s vast back catalog. The Selection for that device was solid, but any who knows the Genesis know that it really only scratched the surface of the system’s vast and varied library. Therefore, it was with bated breath that Sega fans greeted the announcement of a Mega Drive Mini 2 which was to be brought over to the US as the Genesis Mini 2. Excitement grew greater still when it was learned that this new mini console would include Sega CD games and would focus on more obscure gems from the Genesis library.
This list will cover many of the must-play games that have been announced for the Sega Genesis. Some of these are common games that are easily available elsewhere. Other games have never been rereleased after their original run and can demand absurd prices on the second-hand market. Either way, these are games that need to be played in one form or another.
10 Sonic CD
Sonic CD is an absolute bona fide classic, even if it often doesn’t get as much love as other classic sonic games. This title introduced the characters of Amy Rose and Metal Sonic. It made fantastic use of a unique time travel mechanic that allowed players the ability to move between different versions of the same level set in either the past, present, and good or bad futures.
The game also featured unique take on 2D Sonic level design and some of the most distinctive boss fights in the series. Combine this with a killer soundtrack, and you have one of the best titles for the Sega CD.
9 Shining Force CD
A criminally overlooked game, Shining Force CD was largely an enhanced remake of the first two Shining Force Gaiden titles for the Sega Game Gear, though with the addition of unlockable third and fourth campaigns that are exclusive to this release.
These games received a massive graphical boost over the original Game Gear titles and the new CD soundtrack is excellent. But the best part of these games is the deep tactical combat combined with a diverse cast of characters. If you are a fan of tactical RPGs like Fire Emblemor Triangle Strategy you shouldn’t sleep on this gem.
8 Crusader Of Centy
One of the most expensive games on the Sega Genesis, Crusader of Centy can be thought of as the Genesis equivalent of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The games both have very similar gameplay and visual design, however, this game sets itself separately with its lighter tone and greater emphasis on story. The game is also somewhat more linear than most Zelda titles.
Despite being somewhat derivative Crusader of Centy manages to stand on its own with solid core gameplay, an original story, and some of the best graphics on the Genesis. An absolute must play for any who enjoys a good action adventure. It’s great that more people will finally have a chance to play this classic.
7 Alien Soldier
This game can be thought of as something of a spiritual predecessor to cuphead, in that both are run-and-gun boss rush games. This game is everything you could want or expect from an old school Treasure game; blazing fast and action-packed gameplay, graphics that push the console they are for to the absolute limit, somewhat experimental game design within an established genre, and a short but sweet campaign.
All of these are present and accounted for. Is it any wonder then why Alien Soldier is considered one of the best games of the 16-bit era?
6 Lightening Force
Easily the peak of the Thunder Force series, Lightening Force (yes that is how it is spelled) pushed the Sega Genesis to its absolute limits and delivered one of the best side-scrolling shooters of the era. As far as shoot em ups are concerned, this game is the total package, featuring 10 expansive and expertly designed stages, a rocking soundtrack, plenty of great power-ups, and a hearty challenge.
Everything about this game is refined and polished to a mirror shine. An absolute joy to experience, this is an absolute must-play for any shooter fans.
Yet another great tactical RPG that is sure to appeal to fans of the genre, warsong (also known as Langrissier) is an oft-forgotten classic of the Sega Genesis library.
Gameplay is something of a cross between Fire Emblem and advance wars, offering plenty of tactical depth that will satisfy even the most hardcore strategy buff. The game features a diverse and memorable cast of characters, which of course makes it all the more brutal when they die. Just like in Fire Emblemdeath is permanent.
4 The Revenge Of Shinobi
An early game in the life of the Genesis, Revenge of Shinobi set a high bar for action games on the system. An evolution over previous entries in the series, this game introduced several new moves to Joe Musashi’s arsenal, making him more versatile than ever.
The game’s level design makes excellent use of these abilities and overall this title is just a joy to play. Of special note is the musical score by famed musician Yuzo Koshiro, who is able to make the absolute most out of the Genesis sound chip.
3 Earthworm Jim 2
After smashing it out of the park with the first Earthworm Jim, Shiny Entertainment was able to follow it up with an even better and more refined sequel.
This is a game that absolutely screams 90s, from its wacky sense of humor to its use of light gross-out Earthworm Jim 2 looks and feels like something straight out of Nickelodeon circa 1993. This also carries through to gameplay which can have the player performing any one of a number of zany tasks. In spite of its varied modes of gameplay this title feels remarkably cohesive, tied together with rock-solid action-platforming gameplay. A great game overall, especially a must-play for those who have nostalgia for the cartoons of that era.
2 Ecco: The Tides Of Time
the eco games have never really gotten the respect they deserve. Most people dismiss them as failed experiments. This sells these games short, especially the second entry which greatly improved upon the level design and gameplay of the original.
But while the Genesis version of Ecco: the Tides of Time was solid, the game didn’t realize its full potential until it was ported to the Sega CD. This version left the gameplay untouched but added an amazing atmospheric soundtrack that greatly elevated the overall experience, creating a game that was more akin to an avant garde art piece, it was unlike anything else from the time.
Released late in the Genesis’ life span, Ristar never really got the chance to shine. Which is a shame because this is easily one of the most polished 2D platformers of the era.
The game is largely built around a single mechanic, the main character can stretch his arms to grab things. While this might sound fairly simple the game uses it in a variety of interesting and clever ways. This is supported with fantastic level design that often encourages players to use their abilities creatively to reach the goal. To top it off the game looks and sounds great, It’s easy to see that the designers had really mastered getting the most out of the Genesis’ hardware by this point.
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