The Best Sega Genesis Games Of All Time

Highlights

  • SEGA’s timeline showcases extreme highs and lows, from their last console to the success of Sonic and Yakuza.
  • Ecco The Dolphin and Toe Jam And Earl were challenging yet memorable games with unique gameplay experiences.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures could have been SEGA’s mascot with its cute design and unique abilities, while Golden Axe offered a fun power fantasy for players.

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SEGA has had some extreme ups and downs within the last few decades. From making their last console in 1998 to the decline and resurrection of the Sonic the Hedgehog series and the long-standing success of the Yakuza franchise, Sega’s timeline could be considered an example of extreme highs and lows but still has the grit to survive throughout the years.

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In its heyday, however, Sega made and distributed many gems, both well-known and underrated. So many, in fact, that no list could do the system’s legacy justice. That doesn’t mean the list below won’t try!

8 Ecco The Dolphin

Some Tails Should Remain Under The Sea

Ecco alone inside after all his friends got taken in Ecco The Dolphin

There’s no logical explanation for anything that happens in the game once Ecco’s friends have been mysteriously kidnapped right out of the water. Ecco has to navigate all kinds of strange things and new, foreign waters to uncover what happened to his family and friends, as well as find who has thrown all this new technology into your waters.

Not only do you have to fight against aliensand the creatures that they’ve mutated, but you’re still only a Dolphin, meaning you’ll have to balance exploring the depths of the abyss with continuously coming up for air. It was a scarier game than it was meant to be when you were a child.

7 Toe Jam And Earl

Helping The Aliens Make Their Funky Ship Again

Earl searching for the parts to their ship in Toe Jam and Earl

Bad things happen when you let Earl drive the ship! Toe Jam and Earl came out in 1991 with a mixed bag of reviews. The visuals were unique and wonderfully bright, fitting for an alien planet, but man, was it difficult trying to figure out how to play it as a child.

The lack of save points and how slow the movement is without items were the biggest contributors to the high difficulty, but once you finally mastered the game, nothing felt better. At least until you play the next one.

6 Rocket Knight Adventures

Save The Kingdom From The Empire One Rocket Launch At A Time

Sparkster attacking and enemy in Rocket Knight Adventures

This might be a bit of a controversial take, but if Rocket Knight Adventures came out before the Sonic series, Sparkster could have easily been the mascot of the company with how cute his design is. In the first level, if you didn’t think about it, one could argue that Rocket Knight Adventures copy-pasted similar level design and gameplay.

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However, Sparkster has techniques that Sonic couldn’t do without the Chaos Emeralds, with the biggest one being flying. Yes, Sonic can technically do the same and in outer space to boot, but Sparkster can already fly without any power-ups or collectibles, as he’s truly built differently.

5 Golden Axe

Live Your Barbarian Fantasies!

Chasing a troll(?) in Golden Axe

If you were looking for a quick power fantasy game to play with your friends after school, Golden Axe was the game to scratch that itch. There’s some backstory of course: you are to save the King and Queen of the land from the big bad, Death Adder in this case, but you know you aren’t interested in the story, you just want to fight!

There’s a lot of fighting to be done as both common people and the thralls of Death Adder insist on attaching themselves to your blade. The ultimate attacks are fun to watch, and the combat is simple yet still satisfying, so you know you’re in for a short but fun ride.

4 Shinobi 3: Return Of The Ninja Master

You Have To Be A Badass Ninja To Wear All-White

Joe Hisashi fights the first boss in Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master

Ninja games have been around for a long time, and some have created a significant legacy behind their names, such as Ninja Gaiden or Tenchu, but honestly, the blueprint for modern ninja games started with OG Shinobi on the Genesis. Though Ninja Gaiden came out first, Shinobi was more accessible for less hardcore players.

Shinobi 3 pushes the system graphics to its limit with gorgeous visuals, and the gameplay segments feel both well-oiled and challenging enough to cause your hands to sweat. There’ve been other Shinobi games that were fun, but none quite hit the mark as this one did, so maybe with strong enough wishful thinking, Sega will reboot the series.

3 Phantasy Star 4: End Of The Millenium

Travel Across The Stars In 16-Bit

Fighting A Sandworm in Phantasy Star 4:The End of the Millennium

Do you know what type of JRPG doesn’t get enough love? Space Operas. There are plenty of High Fantasy-inspired RPGs and some that are set in the present and future, but they still don’t scratch that space-faring itch quite like the Phantasy Star series, at least before they fully leaned into becoming an online RPG with later games.

Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium takes thousands of years after the first game, and is the first one of the series to have a much larger and richer universe. It adds three extra planets, each with its own culture to immerse yourself in and find the clues you need to defeat Profound Darkness which threatens all creation.

2 Streets Of Rage 2

Time To Clean Up The Streets..Again

Axel about to deliver justice to and enemy's head with a pipe in Streets of Rage 2

After being framed for a crime they didn’t commit, Axel and Blaze left the police force and decided that they were better off. Not long after that decision, the streets were once again filled with the worst of the worst, and they, along with two other allies, vowed to take down Mr. X once again and return the streets to a better state.

This game is a masterclass of what a Sega Genesis game could be: Amazing music, great graphics for the times, and the combat made you feel like you were punching some bad guys in the face. Ah, good memories.

1 Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Because What Else Would It Have Been?

Sonic and Tails Jumping inside the Chemical Plant in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

There was no way there was going to be a Best of Sega list and *not* have Sonic show up! The Blue Blur did a lot of heavy lifting for the Genesis and assisted in launching the system into popularity like no other game on the system, even more than its predecessor, Sonic The Hedgehog.

Though the first game sold exponentially more than the sequel by millions, the tightened controls and the addition of being able to charge your speed at will instead of having to rely on momentum like in the first game pushed the game into iconic status quickly. That’s all without even talking about the soundtrack too, but that’s for another time.

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