- First released in Japan in 1988, the Sega Genesis is one of the most beloved video game consoles ever made.
- The Sega Genesis was one of the definitive video game consoles of the 1990s, and the primary competitor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
- While battling with Nintendo for exclusive games, the Sega Genesis produced some of the most memorable titles of the decade.
- Boasting a superior soundcard and a miniture version of Sega’s System 16 arcade board, Sega proudly touted the Genesis with the slogan "Genesis does what Nintendon’t."
Now that the Sega Genesis is coming back in September with an $80 mini version, I’m happy for the chance to take a moment and recognize the console that helped make video games a household commodity and gave us some of the most memorable characters in gaming today.
First released in Japan in October 1988 before arriving in North America in August 1989, the Genesis was one of the definitive video game consoles of the 1990s and the primary competitor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Though Sega would follow up with new consoles like the Saturn and the Dreamcast, the Genesis is easily the company’s most celebrated piece of hardware.
Boasting a superior soundcard and a miniture version of Sega’s System 16 arcade board, Sega proudly touted the console with the slogan "Genesis does what Nintendon’t." Nintendo had already earned the prime position in the home console market, forcing Sega to come up with new original characters and concepts to gain a foothold.
The company managed to break through with hit games like "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Ecco the Dolphin," and continued to invest in wacky new franchises like "Earthworm Jim and "ToeJam and Earl." By the end of its six-year lifespan, the Genesis had a strong enough library to fuel debates between Sega and Nintendo fans for days.
In 2001, Sega stopped making its own video game consoles and shifted to making new games for other platforms. Thankfully, many of the best games for the Sega Genesis have been released in special collections or remastered for modern video game consoles and smartphones. When the Genesis Mini comes out, it’ll be the perfect chance to revisit many of these timeless classics, though Sega hasn’t announced the full lineup.
Without further ado, here are the 20 best Sega Genesis games.
"Sonic 3 & Knuckles" (1994)
Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t just Sega’s mascot; his early games helped define a generation of platforming games for both the Genesis and Super Nintendo with their focus on fast gameplay, memorable level design, and iconic music.
"Sonic 3 & Knuckles" was also a pretty impressive work of technology at the time. The game allowed players to stack two existing games, "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" and "Sonic & Knuckles." This made Knuckles a playable character in "Sonic 3," a game that was released eight months before he debuted. Players could also stack "Sonic 2" & "Sonic & Knuckles" to make Knuckles playable in "Sonic 2." It was groundbreaking for the time.
"Gunstar Heroes" (1993)
This arcade-style run-and-gun shooter game had vibrant graphics, a great soundtrack, and tight controls. One or two players can fire their way through seven levels using four different weapons, each of which could be combined with another for a special effect.
"Streets of Rage 2" (1992)
"Streets of Rage 2" is the best entry in a legendary series of beat ’em up games. The game’s four playable characters, Blaze Fielding, Axel Stone, Max Thunder, and Eddie "Skate" Hunter fight to overthrow a criminal syndicate that has taken over their city. The "Streets of Rage 2" soundtrack is so popular that some tracks have ended up on the radio.
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