The 5 Best Sega Genesis Games Of All Time

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The Sega Genesis was home to deep RPGs, action-packed platformers, and brutal fighting games. Here’s a look at 15 standout titles from the Genesis library.

The 1990s were a seismic shift for video games, as Sega’s Genesis console took the world by storm just as it was starting. In contrast to Nintendo’s NES and SNES hardware, the Genesis was the cool system. It had a consistent stream of quality titles and its digitally-sampled audio made for sublime soundtracks, even if some of its hardware components were inferior to Nintendo’s SNES. Backed by the infamous ‘Genesis does what Nintendont’ advertising campaign, the Genesis cemented itself as a bold new brand for game developers to release their titles on.

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And what a selection of games there were! From Sonic the Hedgehog‘s domination of mainstream culture to the finger-blisters you’d proudly show after enduring a weekend of action with Contra: Hard Corps, the Genesis had something for everyone. Here’s a look at the 15 best Sega Genesis games that defined the era of blast-processing and 16-bit goodness.

Beyond Oasis

Nintendo‘s Legend of Zelda may have spent the 1990s establishing itself as a definitive action-adventure series, but Sega‘s Beyond Oasis was a fine attempt to muscle in on that Hyrule territory. Also titled Story of Thor in other regions, the top-down perspective, gorgeous visuals, and engrossing action made Prince Ali‘s quest both charming and exciting. It’s one of the forgotten games of its time, but this beautifully-animated epic became a cult-classic after it landed on store shelves.

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Castlevania: Bloodlines

By 1994, Castlevania had firmly established itself as one of Konami‘s biggest franchises. For its Genesis arrival, Konami went back to the drawing board so that a Castlevania experience could be designed exclusively for that system, resulting in a game that’s seen as one of the best in the series before Symphony of the Night came along and set a new status quo. Taking full advantage of the 16-bit Sega hardware, Bloodlines goes all in on the classic-vania approach, delivering an onslaught of enemies across a selection of varied stages. It’s beautiful, the action requires you to be quicker than the crack of the whip, and the experimental approach to gameplay elevated above its predecessors.

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Contra: Hard Corps

A testosterone-loaded gauntlet of guns, bullets, and merciless action, Contra: Hard Corps is Konami’s run-and-gun formula at its very best. A fresh break from the past, Contra: Hard Corps dialed the action up even more, amped up the difficulty, and added new selectable characters. The boss fights are ludicrously over the top, the soundtrack will make you tap a hole in your floor with its catchy beats, and your thumbs will grow abs from all the unceasing action that you’ll need to endure.

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Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

Some of the best puzzle games of the Genesis generation could be found sandwiched between some of Sega’s most popular titles, and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine definitely counts as a prime example of this idea. Essentially the riveting action of Puyo Puyo given an Eggman makeover so that it could find traction in the West, it’s a fine alternative for anyone who had gotten bored of Tetris and hadn’t yet discovered the magic of Bust-a-Move. This Sonic-branded game merged colorful combos with multiplayer bean-stacking that couldn’t be topped at the time.

Ecco the Dolphin

Even though it had you taking control of the remorseless oceanic killing machine that is a dolphin, Ecco was a surprisingly calm and atmospheric game. That didn’t mean that some nasty difficulty spikes didn’t pop up from time to time, but for the most part, playing Ecco meant that you were in for an experience. It was a beautiful dip in the deep blue of the ocean, with Ecco’s sonar abilities unlocking fascinating new areas in a game that never held your hand. All that, and a final boss which is still pure nightmare fuel after more than two decades.


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