Sega Mega Drive is one of the most acclaimed and least fortunate consoles ever, the penultimate of the Japanese house. Here’s what you should play with it.
The Sega Mega Drive – known as Genesis in the US – pushed Sega into its golden age in terms of both games and hardware. It boldly stated “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” in a hugely popular American promotional campaign, and while that’s technically a glaring grammar error, it’s a catchy slogan that has proven true for much of the life of the Mega Drive.
Where the NES and SNES were full of platformers and JRPGs, the Mega Drive focused on games with action, combat and drama. At the end of the day, the console has had as many beloved titles as there are Nintendo platforms and, though Sega is no longer in the console markettheir impact cannot be denied.
Thunder Force IV –
This is a range of the scrolling action game landscape and is one of the best examples of how much more detail the Mega Drive could handle in comparison to the SNES. In the United States, the game was known as Lightening Force, and we have no idea if the typo is still wanted today. Technically it’s not a platformer, but it certainly gives Sonic the Hedgehog vibe during gameplay, only much more intense.
Castlevania: Bloodlines –
It wouldn’t be a Sega console without the great Castlevanias. Bloodlines isn’t as beloved as the other games in the series, but if you go back to playing it now, you’d be surprised at how well it has aged. The open exploration that Symphony of the Night led to the series not yet in the game here, but there is great level design along with some fun fighting.
NHL ’94 –
Sport! There are several sports games to choose from in this console generation, but none have captured the real sport feel it represents quite like this one. EA Sports started it all with games like NHL ’94 – if you prefer the era of more arcade sports games, then this will be a fun “Blast from the past”.
Before movie-based tie-in games took on the stigma they still have today, 16-bit consoles brought out some great platformers. You can choose the one you prefer among the many available still today, The Lion King and Duck Tales they were magnificent, just to name a couple. However, Aladdin remains head and shoulders above everyone. The animations were exquisite thanks to the fact that the animators of the film had also worked on the game, something that very few video games can boast.
Phantasy Star IV –
If you liked JRPGs in the 90s, then Nintendo consoles were probably the best choice for you. However, this does not mean that Sega was completely dry in this respect and the Phantasy Star series is proof of that. The fourth chapter is undoubtedly the best RPG on Mega Drive, and any longtime Nintendo fan might want to see what was missing at the time.
Streets of Rage 2 –
Moves, combos, action, spectacular animations – whatever you say, Streets of Rage had it. It would have taken entire generations for i side scrolling brawler only approached the level of this game. It fully centers all the sensations of power that this genre should convey.
Mortal Kombat 2 –
After the many allegations that video games cause violence, which have popped up in the mainstream media every now and then since those times, many companies wanted to avoid the bloody look by Mortal Kombat. Not Sega, however, and the red liquid flowed all over the screen in one of the best fighting games of the time, conquering the players thanks to the most beginner-friendly controls.
In an era of fairly rubbish console-to-console ports, Strider broke the curse by reaching arcade-like levels of quality on Sega platforms. All the hack and slash action it has captured audiences of all genres and backgrounds, but has never allowed it to take hold as an enduring franchise. Capcom has tried to bring it back to life several times over the years, but perhaps it’s best to let only the memories speak.
Gunstar Heroes –
Despite the bright and colorful look, Gunstar Heroes is a pretty chaotic and violent experience, in a fun way. You can play this side scrolling shooter in co-op, and you will be delighted to do so as you wipe out waves of enemies with all kinds of weird and magnificent power-ups. It could be the first game to come to mind when someone says “Mega Drive”, but it’s worth checking out.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles –
All the chapters of Sonic the Hedgehog for Mega Drive are the best the console has to offer but, if we were to pick our favorite, the enormous nature of Sonic 3 & Knuckles would win hands down. The three classic titles were the perfect example of how to iterate and nurture a concept from one game to the next without having to change too much each time. Sonic is sadly a bit of a laughing stock in the world of video games these days, which may explain why he has tried the Hollywood way lately, but it will always be fun to remember the good ol ‘days.
Written by Dave Aubrey for GLHF
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