I can still remember taking my pocket money down to the second-hand games store and buying a boxed Mega Drive and a bunch of the best Sega Mega Drive games.
My friends all had Mega Drives in their houses (Sega Genesis if you’re reading in the US), but I came to the game a little later.
It worked better for me as all of the games were much cheaper!
Like a crescent moon (just exercising my skills as a writer there), it felt so different to anything that I had used before.
It didn’t matter whether I was dispersing my own kind of button-mashing-rage while travelling through the streets in Number 6 on our list or saving helpless penguins in the third-best title for the console, the control pad sure took a beating and never failed me once.
And then, of course, there’s the main man himself…
… nah, I’m talking about Sonic, of course!
What follows is an attempt at pulling all of the memories I had as a kid and putting them onto digital paper.
Hopefully, you’ve played some of the best Sega Mega Drive games listed below before now.
If not, then you’ve got one hell of a month coming up!
Tetris might always come at the top of the list if you ask someone to name a puzzle-based computer game, but Columns will always reign supreme as one of the best Sega Mega Drive Games of all time.
Candy Crush, Dr Mario, that game Captain Holt’s obsessed with on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; they all take inspiration from the Grandfather of object-aligning puzzle games… a genre I just totally made up.
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 fall down in individual columns made up of three coloured stones (hence the name) and you can match up gems in any direction.
Controversially, you can even match them up diagonally, but not Nocturne Alley for any fellow Harry Potter-heads out there.
If you like games that require a little bit of thought but minimal button mashing, then this is the perfect title.
Let’s be honest; it’s the perfect game to have a few rounds of on the bog in a morning if you have the Super Retro Champ handheld console, or a TV in your bathroom if you’re swanky.
If you spend any amount of time playing these kinds of games on your mobile during your lunch break or during your morning commute, then you’ll have no problem picking up how to play Columns.
The multiplayer is fun too, with players battling against each other to clear their screens first!
14. ToeJam and Earl
If a game based on two funky alien rappers that crash land on earth sounds like it’s your kind of title, then ToeJam and Earl could well be one of the Best Sega Mega Drive Games to slide straight into your collection.
This game is funkadelic from start to finish, with a super cool soundtrack and regular boombox action to accompany our two unlikely heroes as they grove their way through the game.
Playing as either ToeJam (the one with all the legs) or Earl (the big dude with the shorts), you have to bust-a-move through the various stages collecting pieces of your crashed ship.
If you can’t picture what it’s like, then think of Silicon Valley but funkier and with no Dan Danger calling the shots.
Toejam and Earl is also the perfect title if you fancy yourself as a bit of an expert on urban culture in the ’80s and ’90s too. There are more sneaky references in here than in Gex: Enter the Gecko!
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 were a little hesitant about two outer-space rappers at first, but they quickly fell in love with the game and praised the fact that you could play as both characters in multiplayer mode.
The beats, the humour, the plotline, and the funky alien characters themselves cemented ToeJam and Earl as one of the Best Sega Mega Drive games of the 1990s.
They’ve also been back to earth as recently as 2019 thanks to a Kickstarter campaign; I guess we just can’t live without the groove!
13. Earthworm Jim 2
From the game to the cartoon series, I’ve loved everything about Earthworm Jim from the very first time that I turned on my Sega Mega Drive.
An earthworm in a robotic fighting suit with a mate called ‘snot’ that helps him fight and soar across huge caverns – it’s the stuff that dreams are made of!
How many of our readers can remember firing up the Barn Blaster for the first time and killing every enemy on the screen?
That’s one of those memories that will stick with you forever, especially if you called your child ‘Jim’ in honour of this game.
Earthworm Jim 2 just felt like a more solid game to me compared to the original, although they are still both two of the best Sega Mega Drive games ever made, without a doubt!
Breaking rocks with that machine gun is still great twenty-four years after it was released.
Do you have what it takes to rescue Princess Whats-Her-Name from the evil Psy-Crow? Time to dust the Barn Blaster off folks; we’ve got an adventure on our hands!
12. Mega Bomberman
THE MULTIPLAYER MODE ON THIS GAME!
Sorry, I just had a hard case of nostalgia there…
What a game though, and one of the best for kicking back with your mates on a Saturday afternoon after watching WWF on Sky 1.
To this day, Mega Bomberman remains the most addictive multiplayer mode on all of my Best Sega Mega Drive games.
Battling against the residents of Planet Bomber in the Jammin Jungle while riding around on the back of bomb-slinging Kangaroo…
… you can keep Call of Duty and the Best PS5 games; I’ll stick with Bomberman!
Up to 4 players can dive right into the midst of the explosive action (see what I did there), and it’s a genuine classic title that you need to have in your Mega Drive collection.
This was the first time we saw the white-headed Bomberman as the main star of the show, the character that would later be referred to as Bomberman and go onto star in one of the best N64 games of all time, Bomberman 64.
And Sega really knew what they were doing when it came to naming the levels on Mega Bomberman too. Vexin’ Volcano, Crankin’ Castle; they sound like swanky New York nightclubs!
This game does have a single-player mode too, but I’m all about the multiplayer mode.
If you don’t have any friends, then I suggest you pay some actors to sit next to you and feign enjoyment.
11. Taz In Escape From Mars
Next up on our list of the best Sega Mega Drive games is a title that sees the most unlikeliest of heroes taking centre stage.
Commonly referred to as the Grandaddy of Spin (by no-one else other than me), Taz the Tasmanian Devil was sending enemies into a whirlwind frenzy long before Crash Bandicoot came onto the scene.
This is another game based on a cartoon character that I grew up with, and the plot was almost as mad as Taz himself!
After a trip to Earth, Marvin the Martian decides he wants our friend the Tasmanian Devil for his new attraction; a Martian Zoo.
Taz isn’t exactly bright, even if he is fearless. After first escaping and then, for some reason, returning, he decides to get his own back on Marvin.
Spin, breathe fire, and spit rocks at the various enemies on both Earth and Mars as you make your way through the different levels in search of the final boss or that much-sought-after exit sign.
If you can get to the end without dying, then you deserve a good rest and a pat on the back!
Remember; if you spin into food you’ll destroy it. Don’t do what I do every time I play Crash Bandicoot, especially when you’re running low on energy!
Taz might not be as well equipped as the characters in the Number 10 spot on our list of the best Sega Mega Drive games, but he doesn’t know when to stop and isn’t afraid of anything…
… a bit like me, really… ahem… let’s carry on.
Is a Sega console really a Sega console without an iconic ‘Run n Gun’ title? Probotector is up next in our list of the best Sega Mega Drive games, and what a title it is!
You might know it as Contra: Hard Corps in the US, and this spin-off of the Contra series went on to become a classic stand-alone title that is still played by gamers all over the world today.
You play as part of an elite task force called the ‘Hard Corps’, a team of four ‘hard-as-nails ‘soldiers who have temporarily replaced the original Contra heroes that you may have played as in the official timeline.
Your task, should you chose to accept it, is to put an end to Colonel Bahamut and the terrorists in his army, recovering the alien cell he plans to use to improve his weapon arsenal in the process.
If you haven’t played Probotector before, then the concept is one that you won’t have trouble getting your head around.
Shoot stuff, find a boss, and then shoot said boss until it’s very, very dead.
Got it? Good; let’s continue.
If you’re looking for a game that is fast-paced and filled to the brim with firepower, then Probotector will be one of the best Sega Mega Drive games for you.
It’s side-scrolling action at its finest, with multiple in-game choices and the ability to walk on walls. This is some Neo-style action right here!
9. WWF RAW
Remember when I said that I used to watch wrestling every Saturday afternoon with my mates?
Well, once we’d got tired of playing Mega Bomberman, we’d carry on the wrestling party with our own WWF Raw matches.
WWF Raw was one of the Best SEGA Mega Drive Games for button-mashing, multiplayer madness, and having the ability to control some of my all-time-favourite wrestlers was the icing on the steel-cage cake.
In a similar vein to playing Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, you had to have the brain of a mathematician to remember all of the special moves, signature moves, and move sets for your favourite players.
Games would often be interrupted every so often as we referred to the manual or begged our mates to teach us the moves we didn’t know.
Seeing a 16-bit character tombstone an opponent into the floor of the ring still makes me feel like the ultimate fighter, and being able to use moves that were new to the franchise like the show-stopping DDT for the first time was something else entirely
It doesn’t matter how much time passes, games like this are always fun to play with your mates (as long as you have the HDMI cable from our best Mega Drive accessories list, that is).
Sure, the Xbox One WWE games might look a lot more realistic, but the SEGA Mega Drive version hails from a time where endangered pandas and Bret Hart both came under the title of WWF…
… and that’s both weird and incredible in equal measure!
8. Shinobi III: Return Of The Dragon Ninja
Ok, own up; who else found the first two Shinobi Games pretty damn difficult when they first came out?
I’ve chosen Shinobi III as the next title in our list of the Best Sega Mega Drive Games list because it was more about speed and agility than skill.
Coincidentally, that is how I tackle most of the Retro Dodo requests that Brandon throws at me…
The moves were a lot more sophisticated too (in a Ninja sort-of-way), and the overall gameplay was smoother.
The whole thing was just more enjoyable to play.
Oh, and the weapons were supercharged too!
Joe Musashi must once again face the evil Neo Zeed (awesome name) in this
If you’ve been enjoying Ghosts of Tsushima, then you’ll love this 1993 classic!
Using Ninjitsu techniques to work his way through the different levels, Joe must mentally and physically prepare himself for a showdown with the Shadow Master at the end of the game.
Take a month off work for this one; you’re going to find it seriously hard to put down!
7. Comix Zone
Sega certainly knew how to produce an exciting ‘beat ’em up’ game, and while many might consider Number 6 in this list to be the best title in the genre, Comix Zone certainly grabbed my imagination back in the day.
We all know how side-scrolling games work, but Comix Zone had one distinct difference.
The 2D gameplay really worked in this title as it is set out exactly like a comic book. You get everything from the small labels telling you specific city names through to the individual speech bubbles for the various characters.
A little like Viewtiful Joe for the GameCube.
Sega actually went as far as patenting a ‘Videogame system for creating a simulated comic book game’ for Comix Zone.
They don’t do things by halves, do they!
The game itself is based on an old C-64 demo, so you might have come across something similar if you’ve been working on your collection of the best Commodore 64 games.
You play as an artist named Sketch who finds himself trapped in his own comic by an evil villain. The villain is one of Sketch’s hand-drawn characters that comes to life after a lightning bolt hits one of his sketchbook pages.
The idea of the artist being trapped in his own creation by something he drew is one that I still can’t get enough of.
The characters that Sketch created from his own imagination now think that he’s part of the storyline, and he’ll need all the help that he can get if he wants to make it back to his crummy New York flat alive.
If you’re a bonafide comic book nerd, then you owe it to yourself to add Comix Zone into your best Sega Mega Drive games collection.
6. Streets Of Rage II
Same streets, twice as much rage!
Everything you loved about Streets of Rage but bigger, badder, and bolder. The camera is closer to the action, the players all have much better moves, and the game feels like an updated, polished version of the original.
So, calling the police car in to defeat all of the cronies around you was fun on the original version, but working together to pull off special moves is far more exciting than just calling in the boys in blue!
We could have done with Earthworm Jim’s Barn Blaster on some of those levels, come to think of it!
As punch em’ ups go, this was one of the Best Sega Mega Drive games ever, if not of all time, for blowing off some steam after a stressful day of doing homework and eating greens…
… things that are totally still comparable to adult problems like a tough boss at work or bills.
It also made you feel as though you were giving something back to your neighbourhood too.
Just look at those denim wearing thugs causing trouble in your town! The neighbourhood watch can’t stop them, so it’s up to you to do something about it!
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.
Join Blaze’s brother Skate and a wrestler named Max Thunder as you return to the mean streets and send some douchebag thugs back into the shadows!
5. Quackshot starring Donald Duck
We’re heading back into the realm of ‘unlikely heroes’, in the next title on our list of the best Sega Mega Drive games!
Donald Duck is a character that is much more at home feeling angry about everything rather than trying to save the day, but he sure knows how to put up a good fight in his debut Mega Drive title.
Following in his Uncle Scrooge McDuck’s footsteps, Donald heads off to find some hidden treasure with his nephews Huey, Luey, and Duey.
Big Bad Pete is the antagonist in the game and tries to stop Donald at every turn.
Still, he’s no match for Donald’s arsenal of plungers, bubble gum, and popcorn, items that our feathered crusader can wield as he attempts to reach the Maharajah’s treasure.
I know that this might be hard to believe in a world filled with 4K TVs and next-gen gaming, but these graphics were incredible for the time.
The clouds, the mountains, the brick column on which Donald and Pete are about to do battle on in the picture above; they were all heralded by gamers and critics far and wide as being superb and a fine example of 16-bit gaming.
Sure, the controls are a little bit fiddly, but the storyline itself is fantastic and filled with the kind of capers that make Donald Duck such a funny and energetic character.
Good luck finding the treasure, and don’t forget to give Daisy a call once in a while, ok?
4. James Pond II: Codename: Robocod
Hailed as one of the Best Sega Mega Drive games on the platform, James Pond: Codename: Robocod was as brilliant as it was rib-ticklingly funny.
I once stayed awake all night while playing this game, so believe me when I say that I’m kind of an expert on it…
How many games can you play as a special agent fish that’s been given a RoboCop style suit?
Twin the Robo-fish with a plot that involves sneaking into Santa’s grotto to liberate penguin elves and defeat the terrible scoundrel ‘Dr Maybe’, and you’ve got yourself one of the greatest games in history!
I can’t believe I’m going to write these words down, but James Pond is one badass mo-fo-fish.
He might not be as famous as Sonic, but he has still appeared in multiple games on Sega’s different consoles.
Maybe he’ll appear as a fighter in Smash Bros Ultimate one of these days?
FUN FACT – the penguins in the UK version of the game were one of the very first examples of product placement in a video game. There were used to promote the popular biscuit ‘Penguin Biscuits’ from McVitie’s.
Stick that fact on your Tinder profile and thank us later.
3. Combat Cars
Combat Cars was everything that players who were sick of only using shells and bananas needed in their lives.
It’s one thing using a Chain Chomp or Bullet Bill to get the upper hand against your opponents, but being able to wield landmines, shotguns, glue spots, and more really ups the stakes!
This is another one of the Best Sega Mega Drive Games for fast-paced, seat-of-your-pants multiplayer action, and you’ll enjoy wiping the smiles off your cocky mate’s faces as you beat them time and time again.
Win money as you race, aim for a high score, and then use the money that you’ve earned to upgrade your chosen car for the next race.
Combat Cars plays and feels just like a classic arcade game. There’s no going back once the clock reaches zero; input your name, be proud or ashamed of your score, and start all over again!
People forget how hard computer games used to be before automatic save functions and invulnerability cheats!
They forget what it felt like to be almost out of time, the seconds ticking ever faster as you just managed to scrape into level 21 by the skin of your teeth and avoided having to redo the previous 20 levels.
Those were the days!
2. Rocket Knight Adventures
Next up on our list of the Best Sega Mega Drive Games is one that I came across by chance when I picked up my Mega Drive from that second hand store.
It’s been one of my favourite titles ever since; what a great accident!
Sonic might be Sega’s go-to-guy (or hedgehog) when it comes to side-scrolling action, but Rocket Knight Adventures more than held its own in the impressive collection of games for the console.
The main protagonist, Sparkster, is a fearless opossum clad in armour who wields a sword and can fly through the air with his jet pack.
If that doesn’t ‘spark’ any interest in you, then maybe you should quit while you’re ahead!
Rocket Knight Adventures is made by the same people behind Probotector, though the gameplay is much friendlier and less about destroying giant zombie pythons.
Sparkster mostly has to contend with pig and robot enemies, so nothing that will give you too many nightmares.
The graphics are also pretty darn nice for the time too, with our intrepid Knight making his way through lots of well-designed areas that wouldn’t look out of place in a Sonic title.
We all know that Sega’s main animal mascot is Sonic, but I think that Sparkster is definitely their second most popular furry main character.
I realise that is quite a specific accolade to acquire, but I stand by my decision to put it into print.
1. Sonic The Hedgehog 2
You knew it was going to be Sonic up in the top spot, and there’s no denying that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the best of the best Sega Mega Drive games ever made.
Sonic, Mario, Link, Crash Bandicoot, the Master Chief; they represent more to the world of gaming than any of the other characters out there put together.
Sega certainly made the right choice when choosing their console mascot, and with news of a new Sonic game on the horizon, fans are getting ready to run fast and bounce their way to victory all over again!
Can you believe that the Sonic 30th Anniversary celebrations kick off next year in 2021? It doesn’t seem two minutes ago since I was leaving my Mega Drive on all night so I could carry on with my progress when I woke up in the morning
From the Emerald Hill Zone to the showdown with Robotnik on the all-mighty Death Egg, Sonic must once again retrieve the Chaos Emeralds, watch out for spikes, and collect as many rings as hedgehog-ly possible as he speeds through the game.
Can you remember that special zone with the 3D halfpipe too? What a level!
Getting to play as Tails for the first time was also a great touch, and finding out that you could play as Knuckles with the slot-in cartridge set-up blew my mind!
I hope you’ll agree with me when I say that Sonic deserves to take the top spot in our list of the best Sega Mega Drive games of all time.