I never had a SEGA Genesis growing up or any of the best SEGA Genesis games. I was always on team Nintendo, carrying my trusty grey GameBoy DMG everywhere with me wherever I went.
My friends all had SEGA Genesis Games in their houses (SEGA Mega Drive here in the UK), so I would play as much as I could when I went round to their homes to get my fill of what it was like to play a different console.
The controller was always the best part; it felt so different to the SNES, that magical A button making Sonic jump away from flying bees as we sped towards the goal ring, and blasting foes into space while running around as a certain underground-dwelling character.
I bought my own console as soon as I was old enough to start earning a bit of money and bought all of the SEGA Genesis Games that I knew and loved, and more besides.
I was hungry for some SEGA action, and I made sure that I tested out all of the games available to me (the ones that looked good at any rate).
I’ve made a list of 20 of my favourite titles for you to check out. Hopefully, you’ve played some of them, and if not, then you’ve got one hell of a weekend coming up!
20. Golden Axe II
First up on our list of the best Sega Genesis Games is Golden Axe II, a classic mythical beat-’em-up game with more muscle than Chuck Norris’s eyelids.
If you’re a fan of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy on the GameCube, then you’ll love the Golden Axe series.
Whether you play solo or team up with a friend, this title is ‘hack and slash’ gaming at it’s best, with so many enemies to slay that you’ll soon believe you’re a warrior in real life.
They did base that dude on the front cover on my physique, after all…
The three characters from the first Golden Axe title return for players to choose from. You can play as a battle-axe wielding Dwarf, a ferocious Amazonian warrior, or a brutal Barbarian,
Each player has a series of devastating moves that they can use to clear the field of opponents, and they also have magical abilities that they can call upon at any time.
I love games like Golden Axe II as they don’t require a massive amount of brain power.
Ok, so you’ve got to be on the ball if you don’t want to die, but there’s no intense puzzles to solve or sub-plots to navigate through.
Get from A to B without dying; now that’s a game mechanic I can work with!
I know some of you are probably thinking of that amazing creature from the Dark Crystal series, but that’s a Landstrider, not a Landstalker.
Landstalker is the next title in our list of the Best Sega Genesis Games, and in true Sega fashion, they have given their lead character a fearsome name that other characters would cower before…
Yep; you play as Nigel the Treasure Hunter as he travels through underground dungeons and open outdoor areas in search of clues that will lead him straight to the treasure of King Nole.
He’s probably called Nigel too… Nigel Nole.
The game is set in an isometric view, what I’d call 2.5D. It has an early Legend Of Zelda feel about it and has lots of mazes and fantasy elements that help to create a mysterious and engaging plotline.
I was just doing a bit of research for this article, and I found out that Nigel is 88-years-old!
Dude looks around 13 in the picture above, but I guess treasure hunting is one of those professions that keep you looking young!
The Japanese version was a lot more sultry than the European cart too, with references to brothels and a scene where you can share a bath with an attractive-pixelated lady being removed.
Turn’s out Nigel is a bit of a seedy-old devil!
18. Monster World IV
Monster World IV is the last game in the Monster World/Wonder Boy series, but what a way to end an epic franchise!
Looking a little bit like Shantae, one of the best Gameboy Color games ever made, the game’s protagonist, Asha, has to navigate her way through a monster-strewn world in a bid to aid a group of spirits in need.
On her journey, she becomes the maser of a genie in a lamp and adopts a pet Pepelogoo, a creature that looks a little like the Pokemon ‘Marill’.
While Asha has the ability to sense spirits, it’s Pepelogoo that is the real star of the show. He can reach areas that Asha cannot and can also protect her and allow her to glide to safety.
What a guy!
Still, Asha is a mean machine with her sword, and the monsters that she comes up against would make many characters run for the hills!
Armour and upgrades can be bought as you progress through the game, and you’ll have to make sure that you get every item in each stage before you leave it, otherwise, they will be lost forever!
This is a great game that players can sink their teeth into and play time and time again to improve on their previous performance.
Watch out for that centipede priestess woman; she’s brutal!
17. Castlevania: Bloodlines
Castlevania is a great game no matter what console it’s on. Hunting vampires, wielding whips; it’s a goth’s dream come true!
It’s the 20th Century. Dracula is dead, but his legendary niece is the main antagonist in this game. She’s brought about World War 1 in another attempt to wipe out mankind once and for all.
What is it with these Vampires! Why don’t they want to just get along?
As in all of the previous classic Castlevania titles. players move through a series of 2D dungeons slaying monsters and beating bosses in a bid to rid the world of evil.
You start off with a trusty whip, the favoured weapon of the Belmont clan, but can upgrade to better weapons by collecting gems as you progress through the game.
It’s packed full of the action/RPG elements that make the rest of the Castlevania franchise so unique and loved by both gamers and critics the world over.
Some of you might even have played this title on the Sega Mega Drive Mini/Sega Genesis Mini in recent months!
16. Altered Beast
If beat-’em-up titles set in ancient Greece are your bag, then the next title in our list of the best Sega Genesis games should be on your wish list.
Altered Beast is one crazy game. You play as a fighter that has been resurrected by the God of Thunder himself. You have to rescue Athena from the underworld, battling weird creatures and demons as you progress.
It’s not often that you see games where you can change into more than one animal-fighter on consoles. I remember playing ‘Bloody Roar: Primal Fury for the GameCube, and this has a similar feel to it.
This arcade game title received high praise when it was ported to home consoles and quickly garnered a loyal following.
You have five levels to play through as you seek to destroy the minions of the underworld. You can change your form into different animals by obtaining power ups, and special items can temporarily increase your power and size.
It’s all easy when you have the Gods on your side!
Tetris might be the best known puzzle block game in the world, but Columns is the king of ‘match three’ games the world over.
If you spend hours playing Candy Crush or some other offshoot on your mobile, then you have Columns to thank for being the original colourful puzzler.
Columns differs to Tetris in that instead of slotting together coloured blocks, you have to match three or more gems of the same colour.
The gems drop down in columns of three (hence the name) and you can match up gems in any direction, including diagonally (not to be confused with the Harry Potter street).
If you like games that require a little bit of thought but minimal button mashing, then this is the perfect title. It’s the kind of thing you might stick on with a cup of coffee beside you in a morning, playing a few rounds to clear your head before the day.
Columns has been ported to more consoles than I can count, and thanks to addictive smartphone apps, you’ll have no problem picking up the concept.
The multiplayer is fun too, with players battling against each other to clear their screens first!
14. ToeJam and Earl
If a title based on alien rappers that crash land on earth sounds interesting to you, then ToeJam and Earl could well be one of the Best Sega Genesis Games to add to your collection.
This game is funkalicious, with a cool soundtrack and regular boombox action to accompany our two unlikely heroes.
Playing as either ToeJam or Earl, you must move through the various stages collecting pieces of your crashed ship (think Silicon Valley but with funkier characters).
The game itself has lots of ‘Gex: Enter The Gecko’ style references to urban culture in the ’80s and ’90s too.
It’s a super fun (and bizarre) game from start to finish. Sure, it looked a bit simple, but this was the ’90s, don’t forget.
Critics loved everything about this weird and wonderful duo, including the fact that you could play as both characters in a co-op mode.
The music, the comedy, the storyline, and the characters themselves cemented ToeJam and Earl as one of the Best Sega Genesis Games of the ’90s.
They’ve been in two sequels since and were revived in 2019 thanks to a Kickstarter campaign!
13. Earthworm Jim 2
I still remember the first time I put Earthworm Jim 2 into my Genesis and turned on the TV. I still don’t think I’ve played a game quite like it; it was weird, it was mad, but it was brilliant.
An earthworm in a robotic suit with a friend named ‘snot’ that helps him glide around and swing across caverns – it’s the stuff of legend.
I still remember cranking out the barn blaster for the first time and killing every enemy on the screen. I felt like a gaming god, though I suppose so did everyone else in the world.
To be honest, I prefer Earthworm Jim 2 to the original Earthworm Jim (both two of the Best SEGA Genesis Games), as the gameplay feels more fluid, and there’s a much better array of guns on hand too.
Breaking rocks with that machine gun is still great twenty-four years after it was released.
Can you and Jim save Princess Whats-Her-Name from the evil Psy-Crow, or will you and Snot just have a nap instead?
12. Mega Bomberman
Riding around on Kangaroos that can drop bombs, destroying creatures through Jammin’ Jungle, THE MULTIPLAYER MODE! Sorry, I just had a hard case of nostalgia there.
I spent hours on this game with my friends; it was the most addictive multiplayer mode on all of my Best SEGA Genesis games and still is today, with a whole host of playable characters from Planet Bomber that went on to star in another one of my favourite titles, Bomberman 64.
Up to 4 players can get involved in the explosive action (see what I did there), and it’s a classic that everyone should try and play once.
This was the first time we saw the white-headed Bomberman as the main star of the show, the character that would go on to be known as ‘Bomberman’ in future titles.
Apart from sounding like cool London nightclubs, Vexin’ Volcano and Crankin’ Castle are two of the best names for worlds on computer games, hands down.
Mega Bomberman is worth it just for the multiplayer action, but if you want to stick around and restore Planet Bomber I’m sure the residents would appreciate it.
11. Taz In Escape From Mars
I like games where the unlikeliest of heroes end up becoming the star of the show. Long before Crash Bandicoot was spinning around to defeat enemies, Taz the Tasmanian Devil was kicking ass and taking names with his own brand of crime fighting.
Taz was a bit of a dimwit, but he took revenge pretty seriously. After a trip to Earth, Marvin the Martian decides he wants our friend the Tasmanian Devil for his Martian Zoo.
After first escaping and then, for some reason, returning, Taz seeks out Marvin to exact his revenge.
It would have made sense just to have hidden out on Earth in my opinion, but I have a few more brain cells than ol’ Taz here (just a couple).
Spin, jump, dig, breathe fire, and spit rocks at enemies as you make your way through the different levels in search of the final boss or the much-loved exit sign, where you can breath a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back for surviving.
Just like Crash Bandicoot, if you spin into food you’ll destroy it, so you want to watch out for that when you’re running low on energy!
Taz can’t fly or use laser beams to destroy stuff, but he’s still a kick ass hero, and his second SEGA title wholly deserves a place in our Best SEGA Genesis Games list.
10. Contra: Hard Corps
Every console needs an iconic ‘Run n Gun’ title, and Contra: Hard Corps certainly filled that slot for the Sega Genesis.
You might know it as Probotector here in Europe, and this spin-off of the Contra series went on to become a classic title that is still played by gamers today.
You play as a task force called the Hard Corps, four badass soldiers who have replaced the original Contra heroes from previous titles.
Your task is to stop Colonel Bahamut and the terrorists he leads, recovering the alien cell he plans to use to improve his weapon arsenal in the process.
The concept is simple; shoot everything in sight until it disappears as you move through each level. Then, do the same thing to the massive boss at the very end. This can be anything from a giant robot to the weird snake thing above (I still don’t really get what it is!).
From invulnerable sliding moves to free shooting styles with gnarly weapons, this game is fast paced and oozing with firepower. It’s a perfect side-scrolling title with cool features that allow you to walk on certain walls and take different paths depending on in-game choices.
9. WWF RAW
I used to run back home to watch WWF Smackdown every Saturday morning after taking the dog for a walk, so I took wrestling pretty seriously. Seeing the undertaker riding in on a bike or Stone Cold running into the ring and smashing beer cans on his head; now that was something special.
WWF Raw was one of the Best SEGA Genesis Games for button mashing multiplayer action, and getting to play as some of my favourite characters was the icing on the barbed-wire cake.
In a similar way to playing Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, I had to try and remember the special moves, signature moves, and move sets for my favourite player.
Seeing a 16-bit character tombstone an opponent into the ring still makes me feel like the king of the nerds, and being able to use new moves like DDT’s for the first time was pretty damn exciting.
Games like this never grow old and they’re still fun to play with your mates. Sure, the PlayStation 4 WWE games have much better graphics, but the SEGA Genesis version is back from a time where endangered pandas and Bret Hart both came under the title of WWF, and that’s weird, funny, and wrong on so many levels!
8. Shinobi III: Return Of The Dragon Ninja
I don’t know about you guys, but I found the first two Shinobi Games pretty damn difficult when they first came out.
I’ve chosen Shinobi III to feature in this Best SEGA Genesis Games list because it was more about speed and agility than skill, which is how I tackle most objects in life today come to think of it!
The moves were cooler too, and the overall gameplay was smoother and flowed better. Oh, and the weapons were more badass too.
Sometimes sequels end up being better because the developers have learnt from their mistakes, and sometimes they create a classic that takes years to match; just look at Ocarina of Time!
Anyway, back to Shinobi. Joe Musashi must once again face the evil Neo Zeed in this
It’s an absolute classic (I’ve said that multiple times now, but that’s why these games are in this list!) and a game that is notoriously hard to put down.
Take a week off work for this one, you’re going to need it!
7. Comix Zone
Sega certainly knew how to do a good ‘beat ’em up’ game, and while many might consider Number 6 in this list to be the best on the console, Comix Zone certainly caught my attention back in the day.
Unlike other side-scrollers, this game is set out exactly like a comic book. It has everything from the small labels telling you specific city names through to speech bubbles for the various characters. Sega actually patented a ‘Videogame system for creating a simulated comic book game’ for Comix Zone.
They took this gimmick seriously!
The game itself is based on an old C-64 demo. An artist, Sketch, gets trapped in his comic by an evil villain that he has drawn after a lightening bolt hits one of his pages. The villain, desiring to become flesh and blood, tries to kill the artist by drawing in enemies as you move through the levels.
I love the idea of the maker being trapped in his creation in this game. The characters Sketch created now think that he’s part of the storyline, when all he wants to do is escape and get back to his crummy New York flat.
There are two possible endings to the game, and health comes in the form of iced tea which makes a change from mushrooms or rings. If you’re a comic book nerd, then this should definitely be in your collection.
6. Streets Of Rage II
Bigger, badder, more rage.
If you like Streets of Rage, then Streets of Rage 2 will be right up your alley. The camera is closer to the action, the players all have better moves, and the game itself just feels a lot more polished.
I know we all liked calling the police car in to defeat all of the enemies on the original version, but working together to pull off special moves to defeat bad guys is far more exciting than just calling in the boys in blue!
As punch em’ ups go, this was one of the Best SEGA Genesis Games for blowing off some steam.
It also made you feel like you were doing a bit of good in the community too; just look at those denim wearing thugs getting up to no good in your neighbourhood!
Blaze and Axel are back again, though this time they have to defeat MR X and save their friend and original fighter Adam from his clutches.
Joined by Blaze’s brother Skate and a wrestler named Max Thunder, they take to the streets once more to send the bad guys packing.
5. Quackshot starring Donald Duck
Heading back to the topic of ‘unlikely heroes’, Donald Duck is much more suited to getting angry at everything in sight rather than trying to save the day, but he gives it a good go in his debut title and one of the Best SEGA Genesis Games out there to boot.
Walking in Scrooge McDuck’s footsteps, Donald goes in search of hidden treasure with his nephews Huey, Luey, and Duey heading along for support.
Big Bad Pete is the antagonist in the game and tries to stop Donald at every turn.
But, armed with a gun that can shoot plungers, bubble gum, and popcorn, Donald attempts to reach the Maharajah’s treasure first and claim the prize for himself.
It might not seem like it, but these graphics were incredible for when they were first released.
The clouds, the mountains, the bricks on which Donald and Pete are standing in the picture above; they were all heralded by gamers and critics far and wide.
Sure, the controls are a little bit fiddly, but the storyline itself is amazing and our favourite duck has some ace tricks up his sleeve.
Use your plunger to attach onto birds to fly around, or eat chilli peppers to get enraged and become invincible.
Play your way, just remember to give you Daisy a call once in a while.
4. James Pond II: Codename: Robocod
Hailed as one of the Best SEGA Genesis Games on the platform, James Pond: Codename: Robocod was as brilliant as it was humerous, and featured some amazing gameplay that I can still remember to this day.
I couldn’t sleep once and stayed up all night playing this game, so believe me when I say that I’m talking from experience here.
How many games can you play as a special agent fish that’s been given a RoboCop style suit?
Add to the fact that you have to infiltrate Santa’s grotto to free penguin elves and defeat the infamous Dr Maybe, and you’ve got an instant hit on your hands.
Jame Pond is one
James can jump on enemies and use his super suit to extend vertically to grab onto things way up above. There’s no guns, so it’s family friendly for any small Retro Dodo fans out there too.
FUN FACT (depending on your definition of fun) – the penguins in the UK version of the game were one of the very first examples of product placement in a computer game. There were designed to advertise the popular biscuit ‘Penguin Biscuits’ from McVitie’s.
There you go; tell that to your friends or partner and thank us later.
3. Combat Cars
Finally; a chance to destroy Sunday Drivers once and for all!
Combat Cars was everything that players who were sick of only using shells and bananas needed in their lives.
Chain chomps are one thing, but being able to wield landmines, shotguns, glue spots, and more really takes driving to a whole new level!
This is another one of the Best SEGA Genesis Games for fast-paced multiplayer action, and one that you need in your collection.
Win money in races, get a high score, and then use that money to upgrade your vehicle for the next race.
Combat Cars has a heavy arcade theme about it in the sense that when your time is up, you have to input your name on a scoreboard and start all over again.
Games don’t have the same thrill factor now that you can save and turn off whenever you want.
You don’t get that sense of achievement of getting to level 20 after blowing your last opponent to smithereens, or the tension when you’re almost out of time but manage to scrape into level 21 by the skin of your teeth.
Those were the days!
2. Rocket Knight Adventures
Next up on our list of the Best Sega Genesis Games is one that I came across by chance when I was a teenager and have been going back to ever since.
Sonic might be the lord of Sega side-scrollers, but Rocket Knight Adventures more than held its own in the vast catalogue of games for the console.
Konami just seem to have a knack of creating incredible games; maybe they have a secret formula that has yet to be discovered?
The main protagonist, Sparkster, is an opossum in armour who wields a sword and can fly using a jet pack.
If that doesn’t ‘spark’ any interest, then maybe you should give up gaming all-together!
Sparkster gets into sticky combat situations with pig and robot enemies. While the game is made by the same people behind Hard Corps, the gameplay is much more cartoony and easier on the eyes.
The graphics are pretty swish too, with Sparkster making his way through lots of scenic areas akin to the Mushroom Kingdom and the Emerald Zone.
If Sonic is Sega’s main animal mascot, then Sparkster could well be their second most popular furry main character. I realise that is quite a specific title to acquire, but I still stand by it.
Our furry Rocket Knight has appeared in lots of different games and platforms over the years, including a couple of comics.
He even appeared on the DS and on a couple of mobile games!
1. Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Everyone’s favourite hedgehog is a gaming legend, and there’s no denying it.
Link, Sonic, Spyro, Mario, Solid Snake; they represent more to gaming than any of the other characters put together, and I think it’s fair to say that SEGA made the right choice when creating their console mascot.
Sonic 2 could be one of the Best SEGA Genesis Games on the planet; I’m surprised my cartridge still works after all of the times I slammed it into the console, blowing the dust out when I’d not played for a couple of days after being defeated by Robotnik yet again.
From Westside Island to the all-mighty Death Egg, Sonic must once again travel through his side-scrolling world to defeat Doctor Robotnik and retrieve the Chaos Emeralds.
I never got to see Sonic flying alongside Tails as Super Sonic at the very end as I was never a thorough gamer as a kid.
Who else remembers the special zone where you run through that 3d halfpipe too? That just blew my mind.
Getting to play as Tails for the first time was great too, and the ability to play as Knuckles with the slot-in cartridge set-up was the cherry on top of the golden ring.
This was a perfect game and a great one to end our Best SEGA Genesis Games list. Can you believe that the Genesis/Megadrive is 30 years old!
I guess time flies when you’re having fun (or you’re a super-fast hedgehog!).