20 Best 32X Games For Sega’s Short-Lived Add-On

a selection of 32x games on the retro dodo background

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Choosing the best 32X games is a little like deciding which of the world’s deadliest diseases has the nicest personality. There’s not a lot of choice, and no one really wants to make that decision when they could be playing on the best SNES games with a smile on their face.

Still, that’s why you put your trust in Retro Dodo; we do the dirty work so you don’t have to, testing the games that make others cringe to bring you a definitive answer on these crucial issues.

Like the Sega CD, the Sega 32X was an add-on that could have gone on to bigger and better things but ended up being a great flop.

Flop is too nice a word; it was a commercial failure.

It’s probably the most boring console ever made, so much so that Sega even pretended some of its games didn’t exist.

Though, as my contract states that I have to be 100% impartial and treat all consoles fairly, we’ve decided to rate 20 of the available games for you below. I’ve even added a handy facts section at the bottom of the article for readers to learn more about this interesting add-on.

N.B – At the risk of being fired, I’ve disregarded impartiality completely. Buckle up, folks; this is going to be an informative but bumpy ride.

1. NBA Jam T.E (1995)

NBA Jam T.E case
Credit: Sega

NBA Jam T.E takes the gold medal as the best 32X game for this questionable add-on.

NBA Jam was a cracking game, and the Tournament Edition brought tonnes of new and exciting features to the court.

It’s not a case of NBA Jam T.E having the best visuals of the best storyline, but this title was one of the most talked about releases for a console that had hardly any games releasing on it.

It’s the most accurate port of the arcade version, something that the 32X seems to continually get right at any rate, and Midway nailed the gameplay.

NBA Jam T.E gameplay showing characters on a basketball court
Credit: Youtube

A firm favourite in our list of the best Atari Jaguar games, NBA Jam T.E is one heck of a sports game and the ultimate title for epic tournaments with your mates.

Not only does this title take first position in our list, but it’s also the ‘first’ in lots of other respects. It’s the first NBA Jam title in the series and the first to use licensed players. It also generated $ 1 billion in arcades, which is probably a first too!

The tournament edition had tonnes of new and exciting features including hidden Easter eggs, new rosters, better music, and other modes. It’s a tour-de-force and carried the 32X.

That must have been one hell of a heavyweight to have on its shoulders!

2. Knuckles’ Chaotix (1995)

Knuckles' Chaotix 32X case
Credit: Sega

Up next on our list is Knuckles Chaotix, a refreshing take on the usual Sonic the Hedgehog format.

Ok, I think Knuckles is awesome, so this game was always going to be one of my best 32X titles. The fact is that it provides a totally different dynamic to the other Sonic titles; it switches the gameplay style up and makes players think more rather than just zooming from a to b as fast as humanly possible.

Knuckles' Chaotix gameplay, with Knuckles battling an enemy
Credit: Youtube

Knuckles plays each level tethered to a different character. The five Chaotix include Vector the Croc, a firm favourite from Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games titles, and Mighty the Armadillo, another memorable Sonic character from the original arcade title.

Players must work together with their tethered character, controlled either by the computer or a friend. The aim, as with every Sonic game, is to stop Robotnik from wreaking havoc. This time, he’s after the Chaos Rings, and Metal Sonic has come along for the ride.

In the eyes of many, this game stinks. I disagree, however; I see this title as Sega trying something new, and I like the new teamwork dynamic. It feels very much like something that Nintendo would do, and it worked in the popular game ‘Brothers’.

Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad! (Unless we’re talking about the 32X as a whole, then it does).

3. Mortal Kombat II (1995)

Mortal Kombat II 32x Case
Credit: sega/Midway/Acclaim

Mortal Kombat II takes the bronze medal in this list. This list is slowly morphing into our list of the best 90s games right before our very eyes!

Ask anyone with a brain and eyes, and they’ll say that Mortal Kombat II is still one of the best fighting games of all time. It was way more brutal than Street Fighter, and although Sauron the T-Rex is pretty cool, Primal Rage can’t compete with the likes of Sub-Zero and Kung Lao!

Mortal Kombat II gameplay - Kung Lao and Shang Tsung prepare to fight in a temple setting
Credit: Sega/Midway/Acclaim/Youtube

While the SNES port reigns supreme in pretty much everyone’s eyes, the 32X version boasted vibrant levels and proved a must-have title for the add-on, especially for those who managed to pick one up for $19.95 (check out the facts at the bottom of the article when you’re done for more info!)

The format is the same as every other fighting game in this list. Kick and punch your way to victory, using special moves along the way to relieve opponents of some of their valuable blood.

The main thing that sets Mortal Kombat II apart is that characters sometimes pulled off ‘fatality’ killing moves. These would involve anything from charring the skin off someone’s bones to freezing them solid and breaking them into 1,000 pieces.

That makes ‘HADOUKEN’ look a bit tame, doesn’t it!

4. Doom (1994)

Doom 32x Game Case
Credit: Sega/ID Software

I’m pretty sure that Doom features in every list that I write for Retro Dodo. So many people love this title, and it’s not hard to see why. It changed everything in the world of first-person shooters, and many of our favourite games simply wouldn’t exist without it.

Still, it wasn’t without its controversies. Doom for the 32X remains one of the first ever video titles to bear an M for Mature rating due to its gore and satanic references.

I would have thought that a game where players constantly fend off demons from another dimension should come with an M rating as standard, but what do I know?

Doom gameplay showing a gun pointing at three red demons
Credit: Sega/ID/Software/Youtube

The M rating didn’t stop kids all over the globe from getting their hands on this classic title, much to the worry of their mothers. Gamers control ‘Doomguy’, a fitting name given to this unknown space marine hero by the retro gaming world.

Take on hordes of monsters, terrors, ghouls, and ugly demons single-handedly while trying to stay alive in this chaotic title. It’s hardly Destiny or Metroid Prime, but we wouldn’t have either of those without it.

Sony still holds the title of having the best-looking Doom port, but the 32X certainly gives them a run for their money.

5. Virtua Fighter (1995)

Virtua Fighter game case
Credit: Sega

Virtua Fighter needs no real introduction, especially for any Sega gamers reading this article.

It’s an institution and a firm favourite for fans of the fighting genre. These games have gone on to span across multiple consoles, with Virtua Fighter 5 proving one of the most popular Xbox 360 games made for the console.

In a change from 2D fighters in the legendary Street Fighter II, Virtua Fighter sees 3D warriors battling it out in pixelated perfection.

Virtua Fighter gameplay - Jacky and Wolf preparing to fight at sunset.
Credit: Sega

So they look a little like the characters in the Dire Straits ‘Money For Nothing’ music video, but who cares? This was 3D fighting, and it looked good at the time.

The single-player mode used the same pre-determined battle order as Killer Instinct on the DMG, with gamers fighting eight characters (including themselves) before the final boss.

Like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, gamers battle in a ‘best of three’ format with a timer counting down the remaining seconds. Pressing buttons together in different combos brought up a whole host of moves for each character too to spice things up.

6. Blackthorne (1995)

Blackthorne game case
Credit: Sega

Blackthorne can best be described as a cross between Castlevania and Prince of Persia. It’s classed as a cinematic platform game and bypassed the Genesis entirely, heading straight to the 32X.

The 32X port boasts an extra area compared to the SNES and Mac ports of Blackthorne, taking the total number of worlds up to 5. The initial game had 17 levels and 4 worlds, giving Sega gamers more fantasy bang for their buck.

I’m starting to say much more positive things about the 32X; could this list be slowly converting me into a die-hard fan?

Let’s not go that far, eh?

Blackthorne gameplay - snow falling over a gargoyle statue
Credit: Sega/Youtube

Players control Kyle “Blackthorne” Vlaros in his battle against Sarlac. Set on the planet Tuul, Kyle runs and climbs along side-scrolling levels knocking back bad guys and dodging bullets in nicely textured levels.

The game was great on the SNES, but the 32X added a visual flair that turned it into a proper classic. It’s about as far from Cosmic Carnage as you could possibly get!

And for once, critics praised the 32X version as being the best of the bunch! Hallelujah, finally a game on this thing that reviewers liked!

7. Virtua Racing Deluxe (1994)

Virtua Racing Deluxe 32x game box
Credit: Sega

Virtua Racing Deluxe takes the 7th spot in our list. This game was a triumph as both an arcade cabinet and home console title, and the 32X really souped up the graphics.

It closely replicates the arcade title, though the enhanced visuals make the game much nicer to look at. The cars are clearly defined, the tracks resemble roads, and the textures in the backgrounds are much more pleasing.

Virtua Racing Deluxe gameplay, showing a red racing car driving down a road with trees at the side
Credit: Sega/classic Game Room Wiki

The Genesis version of Virtua Racing renders 9,000 polygons per second thanks to the Sega Virtua Processing chip inside the cartridge. That’s way more than a Genesis can handle, and the cartridge cost a bomb to make up for the new tech inside.

Back in the day, US gamers paid $100 for this bad boy, with a £70 price tag slapping English gamers around the face.

I know I’ve slated this console within an inch of its life throughout this article, but the 32X is my favourite way to play Virtua racing. It’s crisp, smooth, and clear, and the extra cars and tracks on the 32X port are a nice touch.

8. Star Wars Arcade (1994)

Star Wars Arcade game box
Credit: Sega

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars Arcade dropped into our lives and changed them forever.

The game looks incredible on the 32X, proving that the console add-on can get it right sometimes.

Fans of Rogue Squadron won’t need any persuading to buy this title. It’s the first in a long line of Star Wars arcade games and follows the events of A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars Arcade gameplay viewed from inside an Xwing travelling down a channel in the Death Star
Credit: Sega

There are only three levels, a factor that accounts for why so many critics said this game had poor replay value. But in the moment, behind the controls of a rebel fighter shooting down Tie Fighters, it’s the greatest game in the world.

Whether gunning down a Star Destroyer or completing the famous run down the Death Star to blow the station into smithereens, this game is a Star Wars fan’s dream come true.

In all honesty, I think the critics got it wrong with this one. Star Wars Arcade is a cracking game, much better than Shadow Squadron, and a joy to play.

9. Space Harrier (1994)

Space Harrier game case
Credit: Sega

Space Harrier is up next, a space-shooter boasting a flying human rather than a spaceship.

Yeah, you heard that right!

‘The NeverEnding Story’ and ‘Gundam’ play big parts in Space Harrier’s creation, and that can only ever be a good thing. Sega certainly knew how to create gnarly rail-shooters, and this fantasy sci-fi world sets the scene for one of the best.

Space Harrier gameplay - character floating through the sky over a gridded green ground while holding a gun
Credit: Sega/YouTube

The 32X port is closer to the original arcade game than any other port, with updated graphics that make it even more enjoyable to play.

Space Harrier uses a clever homing system where the player cannot miss their intended target. If players remain in range, then they’ll score a direct hit.

Some levels see the main character flying on the back of a dragon too. It’s one of our favourite and best Master System games and a title that every 32X fan should own.

10. Primal Rage (1995)

Primal Rage 32X
Credit: Sega

Imagine, if you will, Mortal Kombat featuring animals battling to secure the fate of an apocalyptic earth. Then imagine those animals at the hands of a player wielding a 6-button Sega remote, with gamers pulling off brutal finisher moves and gory attacks.

That’s Primal Rage in a nutshell. Finally, a game I’m properly excited to write about!

Primal Rage gameplay - Two T-Rexs named Sauron fighting each other
Credit: Sega

Yes, that is a Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sauron. He stays immortal by eating human flesh, and he fights on the side of the good guys!

Two factions of monsters fight to control the fate of ‘Urth’, the new name for the post-apocalyptic planet Earth.

I’m from the North of England; that’s how everyone says Earth in my accent!

Good apes and dinos fighting bad apes and dinos in a fight to the death; what’s not to love? Get this game; you won’t be disappointed.

11. Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (1995)

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure 32x box
Credit: Sega

Next up on our list is Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure. Everyone loves a Pitfall game, and finally, Harry looks like a real person instead of a bald pipe cleaner with legs.

That’s how I’m often described, come to think of it…

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure was hugely successful on the Genesis and Mega Drive. It basically earned its place in this list long before we even thought about writing it, but there are some things that I need to get off my chest about it.

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure gameplay - a man sliding down a green vine
Credit: Sega/Youtube

Before I start, let’s clarify that the gameplay is solid. Agreed? Good.

Now, the Sega 32X was meant to be this super amazing add-on, and the Sega 32X port of Mayan Adventure looked most like the Windows 95 version of the time. The 32X port, however, played at 30fps, half of what Windows could conjure up.

This meant that gameplay was laggy, making a fast-paced running game slow and frustrating. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I would recommend getting the Sega CD version over the 32X port.

I know, I must be feeling ill!

Still, if you have a 32X and want to buy decent titles for it, then this is one of the best of the bunch. Just don’t compare it side-by-side with the other Sega ports.

12. Metal Head (1995)

Metal Head game case 32x
Credit: Sega/TecToy

Pacific Rim-style warriors battling through city streets; it has to be Metal Head!

Metal Head is one of the first titles for the 32X where we see those fully texture-mapped polygons coming into their own. The street scenes look great and corners no longer felt super pixelated.

It’s a great-looking game visually and a sure-fire winner for any fans of the Zion robot scene in The Matrix.

Metal Head gameplay, showing a green and silver robot standing by a brick wall
Credit: Sega/HonestGamers

Metal Head is basically Crazy Taxi with robots. Ok, so players don’t take soldiers to specified locations in robots to earn a wage, but they do have a time limit to destroy a certain number of mecha-warriors on each mission.

A commander from the character’s Armed Forces Unit appears at the beginning of each level to explain what’s what, setting the scene for the level and pumping gamers up for what’s to come.

Metal Heads is one of many first-person-cockpit-view games on the Sega 32X. It bears a lot of similarities in gameplay style to Sewer Shark, though thankfully that annoying dude from the FMV clips doesn’t show up in this title!

13. WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game (1995)

WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game box
Credit: Sega

Midway knew how to make amazing games back in the day. Take Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam that you’ve already seen in this list. They used the same formula to make the original Wrestlemania arcade cabinet game, creating an instant winner.

Acclaim took the title and turned it into one of the best, and most unique wrestling games on any home console.

WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game 32x gameplay - Doink Vs Lex Luger in the ring
Credit: Sega/Gamefabrique

Why is it so unique? Well, for starters, it’s more like a fighting game and less like a wrestling game. It’s basically Mortal Kombat with famous wrestling faces, which is the equivalent of seeing all of your favourite Nintendo characters battling against each other for the first time in Smash Bros.

Eight characters appeared in this brutal but cartoony fighting title including Shawn Michaels, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, and The Undertaker.

Oh, and Doink the Clown too, but I never really cared about him.

WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game boasts multiple single-player modes to keep gameplay interesting and a multiplayer mode for pulling off gnarly moves against mates. Seriously, this and the next title in our list are two titles you should definitely have in your list.

14. The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire (1996)

The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire box 32x
Credit: Sega

The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire released exclusively on the Sega 32X back in the day, making the add-on a must-have for Marvel fans.

This game is far better than people make it out to be, though sadly most of the world had already stopped caring about the 32X at this point. The game released after Sega announced the discontinuation of the 32X, so there’s no real surprise.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire 32x, with Spiderman standing near some electricity pylons at night
Credit: Sega/Youtube

What might surprise you is that Spider-Man isn’t the only Marvel hero to feature in this game. Spidey teams up with Daredevil to push back the forces of H.Y.D.R.A and other villains from the Marvel universe in this wall-crawling, side-scrolling title.

Spidey can kick, punch, and shoot webs at enemies as he makes his way across New York City. The levels don’t look as good as Kolibri, but the gameplay more than makes up for it.

Comix Zone fans will love the way the game plot is told through newspaper cuttings, and Marvel fans won’t be able to stop shooting enemies with Spidey’s trademark web attack.

It’s a shame this game didn’t get the credit it deserved at the time. Perhaps we can change that!

15. Shadow Squadron (1995)

Shadow Squadron game case
Credit: Sega

Continuing the run of slightly disappointing games that have clawed their way into this list through sheer tenacity, our next title is Shadow Squadron.

Imagine Star Fox crossed with Rogue Squadron; that’s basically Shadow Squadron in a nutshell. Unfortunately, it’s also very much like a watered-down version of another great title that features further down this list, which ultimately knocks marks off the game’s score.

Shadow Squadron gameplay, showing a ship firing green lasers at a larger space station
CrEdit: Sega/segabits

Something else that knocks marks off is the fact that it’s a little flat. The free-roaming gameplay is nice and the control panel adds that futuristic vibe, but it’s not a game that you’d come back to time and time again.

Still, in the overall list of 40 Sega 32X games ever released, it’s one of the best, mainly because it has such a strong Star Wars feel about it.

Defend Outpost 51 from alien invasion. Fire lasers and missiles, destroy enemy craft, raise energy shields, and fly through the depths of space. Shadow Squadron remains a great idea that was almost executed perfectly. It just lacked the extra ‘oomph’ to make it great.

16. Kolibri (1995)

Kolibri game box 32x
Credit: sega

Kolibri is another stunning-looking title with graphics that remind me of a revamped version of the Lion King game.

In a move away from controlling sea creatures such as James Pond and Ecco the Dolphin, gamers control a Hummingbird through various puzzles and tricky situations.

Kolibri gameplay - a hummingbird and other winfed creatures flying in front of a picturesque forest setting.
Credit: Sega

Here’s a quick lowdown of what’s going on in Kolibri. One space-age crystal gives birth to life, and then another one falls down and starts to take it away. A brave little Hummingbird soaks up the last of the good crystals’ power and has to save the world.

Talk about a big task to have resting on your shoulders… wings… you get the idea.

Like Tempo, Kolibri makes this list of the best 32X games due to its looks and not its gameplay. It’s a tough cookie to crack, but it’s not going to replace Ocarina of Time or Metal Gear Solid from your favourite game pedestal.

17. Motocross Championship (1995)

Motocross Championship 32x case
Credit: Sega

Motocross Championship takes the 17th spot on this list, and it could well be the sporting title title that you’ve been waiting for.

Though it’s highly unlikely.

The whole thing feels like a rushed attempt to mimic the success of Road Rash. The graphics are a little rough-and-ready, but the gameplay itself isn’t that bad. Let’s face it, it’s hard to get the concept of racing laps wrong.

Motocross Championship gameplay, with three bikers jostling on a dirt road and one laid on the ground
Credit: Sega/GameFabrique

12 riders, 12 courses, 1 mission; get first position by any means necessary. Players punch and kick opponents while avoiding obstacles and jumping over hills. If you want to get really fancy, then players can pull off swish moves and tricks like wheelies and sitting on handlebars.

The multiplayer was pretty fun, but it couldn’t live up to some of the two-player racing titles in our best Sega Genesis Games list.

Still, those looking for alternative racing titles who refuse to believe that Mario Kart is the best racing game ever should definitely give it a whirl.

18. Tempo (1995)

Tempo game case
Credit: Sega

Next up in our list is Tempo, one of the best-looking games on the console.

The gameplay wasn’t incredibly hard, but that’s not what made this game so exciting. Visually, it was stunning, crossing a side-scroller with a cartoon using hand-drawn backgrounds that never failed to catch the eye.

Tempo is one of those titles that you don’t play to win eternal glory after defeating a boss; it’s a title that you sit back with and enjoy the ride.

Tempo 32x gameplay, with characters moving down a pink sloped street with bent lampposts
Credit: Sega/YouTube

The plot is fairly simple if a little uninspiring. Tempo and his mate Katy star on a show and have to defeat a boss at the top of a tower.

Think of it as a cartoon-style Running Man with all of the good parts of Running Man removed.

Listen, it’s another flop, but it’s a good-looking one. It might only take a couple of hours to finish, but it’ll be a couple of hours that you’ll cherish and enjoy forever…

…probably.

19. Cosmic Carnage (1995)

Cosmic Carnage game case
Credit: Sega

Cosmic Carnage is one of those titles that is so atrociously bad that it is actually fun to play. It wouldn’t be on our list otherwise!

How many other games can gamers see an anthropomorphic ant battling a woman whose only claim to fame is that her head is always on fire?

And if that doesn’t sound like the best combination, how about a female snake siren going up against an alien with a scorpion stinger?

Cosmic Carnage 32x gameplay - Naja Zena-Lan fighting on a platform in space
Credit: Sega

Cosmic Carnage is essentially Mortal Kombat in space. It follows the same button-mashing style and match rules as every fighting game that you’ve ever played, but this one has the weirdest characters ever thought up by humankind.

This game came out as a launch title, and man was it a failure. Even Sega pretended it didn’t exist at the time.

But you know what? It’s made me laugh a lot over the years, and that’s got to be worth something. The characters might be weird, and it’ll never be mentioned in the same sentence as Super Mario Bros. Ultimate (apart from now), but it’s great to poke fun at.

20. Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples (1995)

Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples game box
Credit: Sega/Tectoy

Last up on our list is Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes starring Fred Couples. Not only does this win the prize for the longest game name ever, but it also tells you everything you need to know about the game from the off.

36 great holes, one superstar golfer in the form of Fred Couples, and an official sponsorship from Golf Magazine. What more could a person want in life?

Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples gameplay 32x - Golfer preparing to putt on the green
Credit: Sega/Tectoy/Youtube

Players searching for a more realistic golfing experience than Mario Golf Open Tournament could use real people on real-looking courses.

And let’s be honest, they didn’t look half bad (the courses, that is).

Change player outfits and clubs, choose a shot style and position, and then ride that power meter all the way to the clubhouse. The game received mixed reviews, but it’s hardly going to break records is it?

What does it think it is, Wii Sports Golf or something?


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