The SEGA Genesis will forever be remembered as the loser of the 4th generation console war between SEGA and Nintendo. Despite some truly amazing games and occasionally superior graphics, the system simply didn’t have the same library of amazing hits. History, though, has been generous to this system, and almost two decades later, the Genesis is usually remembered for producing a slew of classic games. While these games may be classic, many of them, especially the role playing games, don’t have the same luster now as when they were first published. A few gems have stood the test of time, though. The following Genesis games are just as fun to play today as they were when first released.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 / Sonic & Knuckles – These two games are listed as a pair because they are, quite literally, two parts of a single whole. The game was originally designed to be produced on one cartridge, but technical limitations forced them to be released on two. Sonic & Knuckles plugged into Sonic the Hedgehog 3 recreating that single game experience. The high speed play and surprisingly crisp graphics compare favorably to modern versions of the series like Sonic Heroes and the two games together create one of the most in-depth and extended play experiences of the series.
Where to Find – You can get digital downloads on Xbox Live, Wii Virtual Console, and Steam. All three combine the games allowing you to experience the games as they were played when plugged together on a Genesis.
Master of Monsters – This game is essentially the older brother of the old Commodore 64 game Archon. It features tactical game play through monster summoning, battling, and leveling. While not technically a tactical role playing game, it has features similar to one and is one of the games that contributed to the genre. Because it is a tactical game, the graphics and game play hold up remarkably well to current generation games of the same type like Disgaea 4.
Where to Find – The only recent version is a PS1 version called Master of Monsters: Disciples of Gaia. Finding a copy probably won’t be cheap, but it should cost less than an original Genesis version and will play on a PS1, PS2, or PS3.
Gunstar Heroes – This game is pretty much the culmination of side scrolling shooters like Contra. Widely considered one of the best of its genre, the slick cartoon-like graphics, similar to the Metal Slug series, makes this a gorgeous game even 20 years after it was first released. Game play is a touch more advanced than similar games, which only adds to the value, without making it more complicated. Side scrolling games pretty much aren’t even made any more, making this classic all the better compared to modern games.
Where to Find – This game is so popular it is available as a digital download on all three consoles, tablets, smart phones, and for the PC.
Golden Axe / Golden Axe 2 / Golden Axe 3 – SEGA pretty much just ported this game directly from the arcade and unlike games like Double Dragon or Gauntlet, the port was nearly perfect. The Golden Axe series is the blueprint from which nearly all other side scrolling beat ’em-up games are designed. As the 2013 game Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara shows, this genre pretty much hasn’t changed either visually or technically in 20 years.
Where to Find – All three of these games are available on the Wii Virtual Console. The first game is available in both the Genesis version and the original arcade version.
Shadowrun – While the SNES version of this game was the more popular, this version was much both more true to the original tabletop game and the better game. It depicted a starkly dystopian world in a way that rang true. The graphics are a touch dated, but when compared to the 2013 game Shadowrun Returns, only look slightly worse. The real key is the game play. With the exception of the 2013 Shadowrun Returns, no game is even similar and the story is pretty much entirely unique.
Where to Find – Unless you own an original Genesis and can get your hands on the original cartridge, you simply can’t play this game. The 2013 game is ideologically and technically similar enough to be a worthy substitute if you aren’t interested is scouring eBay or Amazon.