Given Sega’s track record of frequently releasing their old 16-bit games as well as licensing retro consoles, it’s no surprise they’ve decided to jump on the mini retro console bandwagon. The Sega Genesis Mini is coming this Fall, and includes a digital library of 40 classic Genesis games. But the initial reveal included only 10 of the 40 games.
The confirmed games so far:
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Castlevania Bloodlines
- Space Harrier 2
- Shining Force
- Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
- Toejam & Earl
- Comix Zone
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Altered Beast
- Gunstar Heroes
As we’ve done with the SNES and PlayStation mini retro consoles, we’ve compiled a list of games we’d like to see fill out the library. We have a lot of confidence on most of this list, as Sega has released previous compilation packs of Genesis games as recently as last December on the Nintendo Switch.
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Fun fact: Before Sonic, the closest thing Sega had to a mascot was Alex Kidd. The weird platformer was already on its fifth game by the time Sega released the 16-bit Genesis, and it’s more of a quirky novelty than anything resembling a good game. But it’s worth checking out to see how much gameplay improved from the early days of the Genesis in a pre-Sonic era.
The original Legend of Zelda and especially its 16-bit sequel, A Link to the Past, has inspired countless games throughout the decades. Sega’s response in 1995 was Beyond Oasis, a colorful Zelda-like action-adventure with an Arabian Nights theme. Like most games that infuse Zelda DNA, it still plays great today.
Sega’s answer to the mega-popular Tetris was Columns. The falling block, er, jewel puzzle game is structured the same. But instead of rotating shapes, you can swap out the colored symbols in order to create matches. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is largely the same game with Sonic window dressing.
The 16-bit Aladdin is often the focus of old school controversy, due to the differences between the SNES and Genesis versions. No matter where you fall on the 90s console wars, Aladdin on the Genesis is one of the best, most gorgeous looking side-scrolling action games on the system.
With goofy characters and gross-out humor, Earthworm Jim (and the sequel) is the perfect embodiment of 90s cheese. Comic-like hand-drawn art and animations meet fluid controls and tough-as-nails level design. There was a brief period in the mid-90s where Earthworm Jim became a bigger media franchise, with action figures and even a Saturday Morning Cartoon, which ran for two seasons.
Fighting games were huge in the 90s thanks to the explosive popularity of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. We’d love to see those games on the Sega Genesis Classic, but the Sega-published Eternal Champions has the best chance of appearing. It draws heavily from Street Fighter and draws together warriors and mythological figures throughout human history.
The roguelike dungeon crawler Fatal Labyrinth isn’t the most attractive game, but it’s notable as taking a very PC-centric genre and successfully translating it to a console. The randomized dungeon is shockingly huge, featuring 30 total levels.
Flashback is an action-adventure game most notable for its focus on storytelling and (for the time) impressive motion capture technology for animations. It was remastered and released on the Nintendo Switch last year, which also marked its 25th anniversary.
Like Sonic, it’s impossible to mention Sega games without bringing up Golden Axe. The side-scrolling beat ’em up series was originally born on Arcades and ported to consoles. The art and theme are heavily based on the Conan style fantasy series of half-naked, muscle-bound protagonists. The sequel was largely the same, while the third game added in new abilities and features.
Jewel Master is a side-scrolling action-adventure where you gain elemental rings. Each ring provides a different elemental attack, and two rings can be equipped at a time to create different attacks and playstyles. That may not sound terribly impressive now, but in 1991 it was mind-blowing.
The sequel to Desert Strike continued the solid isometric shoot ’em up gameplay where you piloted a helicopter through hostile territory, rescuing allies and chasing down convoys. The Strike series was successful enough to spawn several more sequels on the next console generation.
Odds are we probably won’t see it due to licensing, but Jurassic Park on the Genesis was a fantastic side-scrolling action game with impressive 3D models, and levels drawn from the Michael Crichton novel. It also had every early 90s kid’s dream: playing as a velociraptor! The sequel, Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition, was equally awesome.
Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat’s brutal violence and bloody gore sparked a well-documented gaming controversy in the 90s (along with other games like Doom) that eventually lead to the formation of the ESRB and ratings system. Mortal Kombat, and especially its sequel, are less a history lesson and more a lesson in great game design, featuring tight controls and a diverse roster of fosters. The fighting game series continues to find success to this day, with Mortal Kombat 11 launching on April 23.
Like many great games of the era, NBA Jam was originally released as an arcade game. It was notable for featuring real licensed NBA teams and players, though the actual rules and physics were loosened significantly in favor of, well, awesome plays.
It’s a bit sad that NHL ’94 remains one of the best hockey games ever made. Even non-hockey fans enjoyed the intuitive gameplay and character models. NHL ’94 includes four different game modes, including Best of Seven matches and shootout mini-games.
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
When it came to 16-bit Japanese RPGs, Nintendo had Final Fantasy, Sega had Phantasy Star. Sadly the Phantasy Star series didn’t end up nearly as popular or long-lived as Final Fantasy, but Sega fans know it was one of the best RPG series around at the time. The fourth and final game (at least until Phantasy Star Online released in 2000) is largely considered the best.
Road Rash 2
Long before The Fast and the Furious, there was Road Rash. Road Rash was a motorcycle racing game. The motorcycles alone set it apart from other racing games, as well as the ability to attack your fellow bikers using a variety of melee weapons. Road Rash 2 added split-screen multiplayer.
The cyberpunk tabletop RPG was adapted into two wildly different games on SNES and Genesis, though both were still solid RPGs. The Genesis version featured a top-down camera and a more open RPG world to recruit fellow runners and go on missions.
Shining Force 2
Yes we’re aware that the original Shining Force has already been confirmed. We’re also hear to tell you that the vastly superior sequel should also be included. Before Fire Emblem finally made it to the west in the early 2000s, the Shining Force series brilliantly combined JRPG story-telling and characters with tactical combat. Shining Force 2 is widely considered one of the best games on the Genesis, and one of the best RPGs of all time.
Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master
Ninjas were hot in the 80s and 90s, and the Shinobi series took full advantage with its fast-paced shuriken-throwing action. The third game is far less brutally difficult and adds new ninja moves like wall-jumping and a jump kick.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
This is such an obvious inclusion that it’s almost insulting it wasn’t confirmed along with the original Sonic. The first Sonic is a fine game but the sequel amped up the series’s signature speed, improved the colorful level designs, and added a second playable character with Tails. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remains a phenomenal side-scrolling experience to this day.
Sega quickly saturated the market with their popular blue mascot throughout the 90s, including multiple genre spin-offs. A pinball game is both a weird and wonderful choice, given Sonic’s ability to curl up into a ball and zip through areas.
Sonic 3D Blast
The 16-bit era began experimenting with rudimentary 3D game designs, for better and for worse. Sonic 3D Blast was the final Sonic game to release on the Genesis in 1996. The transition to 3D proved a mixed bag. Sonic’s normally speedy gameplay slowed way down, and controlling the hedgehog in the 3D world proved troublesome. It’s an interesting and flawed look into how game designers attempted to translate 2D gameplay into 3D.
Streets of Rage 2
Golden Axe is there for its historical legacy but if you want an actually awesome co-op beat ’em up, you want the Streets of Rage series. The series boasted satisfying attack animations and colorful levels and enemies dripping with 80s/90s cheese. The sequel is considered the most superior (with an amazing soundtrack), though the third game is solid as well.
We didn’t get Sunset Riders on the SNES Classic but we’re holding out hope for Sega to come through. The old west beat ’em up exchanged punches for revolvers and shotguns, and translated very well from arcades to consoles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltes: The Hyperstone Heist
The Hyperstone Heist is essentially a remixed version of Turtles in Time, and that’s a good thing. The arcade beat ’em up is a fantastic co-op adventure featuring the then mega-popular ninja turtles.
Toejam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron
We’re happy the original quirky roguelike adventure has already been confirmed in the lineup. But the sequel is definitely worth including as well, especially as it’s an entirely different genre. Panic on Funkotron is a more standard side-scrolling action-platformer filled with secrets as the funky aliens work to capture all the earthlings loose on their home planet.
Vectorman’s 3D model character designs aren’t quite as impressive today as they were in the mid-90s, though it did impressively stretch what the Genesis was capable of. But the fast-paced running and gunning, large level designs, and transformable main character make it, and the sequel, some of the best action games on the system.
Virtua Fighter 2
Virtua Fighter 2 has an odd development history, first appearing on arcades, then the 32-bit Sega Saturn, before being ported to the 16-bit Sega Genesis. The fighting series was notable for featuring 3D models and real-world fighting styles, though the Genesis version is a 2D remake.
Wonder Boy in Monster World
The Wonder Boy series has gone through several different iterations, but Monster World is the most memorable. Gameplay is like a side-scrolling Legend of Zelda as our spiky-haired hero uses magic and weapons to defeat monsters, gain new equipment, and unlock new monster-filled regions to explore.