10 Megadrive/Genesis games you must play

As the Megadrive hits its 30th anniversary in the USA, here’s the games you should be playing on it.

Yeah, OK, the USA got it as the Genesis. Once again (as with the horrid purple SNES), the USA lost out on the better console, in my not-so-humble opinion.

The Sega Megadrive Mini is due out in just a little bit over a month, so it misses that US 30 year anniversary date by just a shade.

Here in Australia, we had to wait until September 1990 for a formal launch of the Megadrive, a system that Sega has constantly revisited with countless terrible ATGames consoles and collections of the titles that it’s got the rights to.

There are some great games in those compilations, but they’re far from the only must-play Megadrive games. Here’s my pick, in no particular order, of 10 Megadrive games you must play.

Streets of Rage 2

Do I really have to spell out why you should play Streets of Rage 2? If I do, chances are good that you’ve never played the game that took on Capcom’s Final Fight and… won. Yeah, it totally did.

Aladdin

There are of course two different console versions of Aladdin, but the Megadrive one has a special place in my heart. The music is spot on, there’s nary a sign of Will Smith anywhere, and the difficulty curve spikes up in just the right way to keep you playing.

Dragon’s Fury/Devil Crash

OK, so this is technically cheating, what with it originally being a PC Engine game. But did you own a PC Engine? I thought not. Dragon’s Fury (as the copy I have is called) is an excellent hybrid of pinball and the kinds of things you could never actually do on a real pinball table. 

Ghouls N Ghosts

I will give the SNES credit that Super Ghouls N Ghosts is even better, but as a more or less direct arcade port of one of my favourite ultra-hard platforming series, Ghouls N Ghosts still stands up beautifully. Just remember not to fling the Megadrive pad into the wall too many times while playing. You’ll dent the wall.

Madden ’92

Nothing dates quite as badly as a sports game. So why should you play this particular game?

Mostly because, through a series of coincidences, it was while playing this rather obsessively with a bunch of my university friends that I met and fell in love with the lady that is my wife and mother of my children. Sure, later iterations had actual licences and realistic physics and all that. But I’ll stick with the game I love.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Up until Sonic Mania, Sonic was sadly all too much of a punchline to a rather strung-out joke about diminishing returns.

Back in 1992, however, there was nothing better than Sonic 2. Many would argue there still isn’t, and I think they’ve got a solid point. This is a very obvious pick, for sure — but it’s still a must-play game.

Plus, just by staring at the video above, you had the SEEEEEGA shout play in your head, didn’t you?

Desert Strike

Its politics haven’t aged well, but there was a time when EA produced some really challenging action games that had a deeper strategic basis in the Strike series.

You can go in guns blazing to be sure, and you’ll get a certain way along in Desert Strike — but you’ll only succeed by learning the maps, rationing your supplies and thinking your way around your problems.

Gunstar Heroes

The SNES had Contra III and it’s a great game in its own right. Treasure went just a little better, I think with Gunstar Heroes, a game that really pushes what the Megadrive is capable of.

Mutant League Football

Before my Vertical Hold co-host gets on my case, I’m still not a big sports fan.

At the same time, Mutant League Football is seriously satisfying, and totally nothing that EA would do these days. Which is why it’s so satisfying that we now have Mutant Football League for PC and consoles (I reviewed it here) with updated graphics for those that like that kind of thing.

Alien 3

Another game where there are huge differences between the Megadrive and SNES versions of the same property. I’ve written about my love of Alien 3 as a game (less so as a movie) before, but in summary: The Megadrive version isn’t as flashy as the SNES, and you don’t get the missions approach. Instead, you get a super-tense, rock hard fight in deep space that manages to be far more terrifying. Licence issues of course mean it’ll never turn up on any official compilations, and that’s a huge pity.

Also deserving of mention: Road Rash 2, X-Men, Flashback, Altered Beast (if only for the “Wise fwom your gwave” audio clip), Robocop Vs Terminator, NBA Jam.

What do you think? Got any games I’ve missed out on, or ones you totally disagree with? Let me know in the comments below!

Author: Alex

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