We’re celebrating a whopping twenty-five years with the Sega Mega Drive this year. The unforgotten console has made a huge impact to modern gaming and quite frankly, nothing would be the same without it. Originally released in Japan in 1988, the Sega Mega Drive took two whole years to come to the UK. In this time, it was released in the US under the name Sega Genesis in 1989. We’ve taken a trip down memory lane and composed a list of the 10 Best Mega Drive games that may be gone but will never be forgotten.
This game may be overlooked by most players, but it was certainly not one to be set aside. Not many games have an actual worm as the protagonist but Jim became a hero by wearing a robotic suit and the game itself looked exactly like a Saturday-morning cartoon (it later became one – it was awesome). This classic free-form shooter that -still now- can be played with ease saw Earthworm Jim working alongside characters with names as eccentric as his own (Evil the Cat, Psy-cow and Queen Slug to name a few). Thank you Sega for this 16-bit platformer that undeniably made us see that anyone can become a hero and thank you Doug TenNapel for animating this utterly humorous game, which kept us playing for years.
Now, some may argue our choice of Sonic the hedgehog 2 but then again, it’s like trying to argue which Resident Evil is the best (it’s definitely 4, by the way), but lets just appreciate what Sonic had done for Sega in general, he propelled the franchise into success and quickly became the face of the brand. Sonic 2 showed us Sonic’s trusty sidekick and often overlooked character, Tails for the first time, who later on, players would be able to become Tails in Sonic Adventure Two, which was released on Dreamcast.
This game is one of the best movie tie-ins of its time. Big and bold with fluid animation, this adaptation gave the ultimate suitable-for-all experience and provided hours of fun to everyone (even those over 18 who thought they’d grown out of Disney). The game even holds the original soundtrack in fabulous 8-bit, that for some reason, is now coming back into fashion. It’s been given a casual difficulty too, which means that the whole family could play with no arguments and no anger, much like the film itself – sometimes you have to immerse yourself in Disney (it’s okay, it’s one of our guilty pleasures too).
Oh Street fighter, where do we even start? Still coined as one of the purest and best fighting games ever made (quite rightly too), Super Street Fighter II was one of the games that came straight from the arcades to our living rooms – although you would have to try to keep your cool and refrain from throwing the controller across the room in frustration when you lost. Super Street Fighter II upped its graphics and also upped on gaming experience, it even eventually had several sub-series games (like The New Challengers, which was released in 1994). Even though fighting games have come a very long way since the 6-button pad experience, we still get tingles when we see Ryu throw a hadouken fireball at the screen in the intro sequence. Long. Live. Street Fighter.
Gunstar Heroes wasn’t for the faint hearted. Although the principle was simple – you run, you gun, you die, there were many things that made this side-scrolling shooter absolutely glorious. First of all, we have to talk about the graphics; we have absolutely no idea how they managed it, but this group of ex-Konami animators actually managed to make the game look 3D for the first time ever on the Mega Drive, absolutely stunning visuals and high octane gameplay to go with it.
When we think of zombie games that were made past the 90s we think of games for thrill-seekers such as Deadrising, Left4Dead and Dead Island but this game was far, far from that. This action-puzzler made the players wait for the dead rather than have the players constantly running from them. Don’t be fooled however, there weren’t just zombies in this game, you also had vampires, werewolves, aliens and dwarves with axes to fend off as well.
There hasn’t been a game quite like Toejam and Earl since its release on Mega Drive in 1991. Although the release didn’t have the immediate booming success of Street Fighter or Sonic, this slow burner slowly became one of the classics for the Mega Drive. Perhaps one that you don’t think of straight away but once reminded, it sets off all kinds of nostalgia for these two aliens. The idea of the game is simple, work your way through the randomly generated levels and find all of the missing parts to Toejam an Earl’s spaceship. This game was best when played with a friend; it revealed all new dialogue that you couldn’t get when you played solo, one for a rainy Saturday with your mate indeed.
It was argued that the original Streets Of Rage was riddled with imperfections but was still an exhilarating game nonetheless. So when Streets Of Rage II was released using pretty much the same recipe for an amazing game but somehow managed to iron out all of the things that may have perhaps put players off previously, it certainly would have drawn them in this time. This is definitely one that couldn’t go unnoticed in the top 10.
Strider is another arcade to home-system conversion and Capcom’s Strider provided hours of fun for players. Although it was one of the older released on the Mega Drive and sported the 8-bit gaming experience, some of the 24-bit competitors had absolutely nothing on this classic. Players saw themselves playing as a futuristic ninja going against the clock in every level to fight off all different kinds of villains from killing pseudo-Russians to fending off cyborgs.
We nearly lost an absolutely classic here. Phantasy Star IV was originally meant to be released on the forgotten Sega CD. Luckily, the whole thing was scrapped, meaning it was forgotten about until the release of the Mega Drive and the game was re-mastered and became one of the best RPGs of all-time. The game was an anime-inspired RPG with a deep storyline, which made it stand out amongst other games of its kind. Unfortunately, this was the last game in the original series but what a beautiful send off it was.