Welcom to the Next Level
If you lived through it, your life was never the same. The 16-bit Wars scarred those involved. Turned friend against friend, brother against brother.

I enlisted early on as a soldier in the Sega Genesis Army and for two good years we were running things. No one could compete – the NES? Please. TurboGrafx-16? Bonk and Splatterhouse – who cares? Then Nintendo dropped their Super bomb and those of us whose parent’s weren’t willing to shell out another $200 on a video game console were left in the trenches of a bloody feud. We had superior EA Sports games and the Mortal Kombat blood code, they had superior RPG’s and Contra’s Konami code. Sonic versus Mario, blast-processing versus mode 7.

It was a loss of innocence, a burden that we have all carried with us into each successive generation of video game consoles. It’s an eternal struggle and it is still tearing friendships asunder. Each side had exclusive titles they’d cling to; heroic champions they’d rally behind in the heat of battle. These are some of those champions. These are the Sega Genesis games that the Super NES fanboys will never admit they were jealous of.

General Chaos

General Chaos Cover
General Chaos Gameplay

An early attempt at a console RTS, you could pick your squad of different characters with different capabilities and battle against the computer in a series of fights to gain control of a military map until you wipe them off the board. However, I’ve never been a big fan of RTS games and luckily this game allows for you and a friend to control two commando characters instead of a 4-person RTS-style squad. As commandos, you control your character and can move freely around the arena. Humorous animations and simply fun game mechanics make this a classic that is looked over all too easily.

Kid Chameleon

Kid Chameleon Title Screen
Kid Chameleon Title Screen

This is basically Mario with cooler power-ups. Knight, Samurai, hover-board guy, masked murderer hurling axes, skeleton wearing a Prussian spiked helmet driving a tank that shoots skulls? Come on, that’s bad-ass.

Gunstar Heroes

Gunstar Heroes Title Screen
Gunstar Heroes Screenshot

Take Contra, throw in the ability to combine your weapon powers, add in a health meter, sprinkle in some melee attacks and you have Gunstar Heroes. The art style is obviously not as hard or severe as Contra, but it controls every bit as well and lightens things up with a little humor every now and then.


Strider cover art
Strider: Robo-Monket Fight!

8 MEGA MEMORY! You can’t handle that! Cartwheel jump-kicks, a sword that takes up about half the screen, huge bosses (like the punch happy, robo-monkey above) and Altered Beast cart-swapping trick for infinite lives made this one of my favorite Genesis games ever.

Toejam and Earl

Toejam and Earl Genesis Cover
Toejam and Earl Genesis Gameplay

Pure co-op gold. One of the weirdest, best games ever released during the 16-bit generation. I’ve heard the sequel is just as good, however I was turned off by the switch from top-down to 2D side-scroller and never gave it its due.

Streets of Rage 2

Streets of Rage 2 Genesis Cover
Streets of Rage 2 Gameplay

Streets of Rage was the Sega Genesis answer to Final Fight and the many other side-scrolling beat ’em ups on the SNES. It was decent, but Streets of Rage 2 got it right. A better mix of characters to choose from, co-op attacks, more special attacks, tons of enemies and you get to fight the Ultimate Warrior (above, right).

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic Genesis Cover
Sonic Title Screen

Sonic kept the Genesis relevant when everyone was making the move to SNES for Super Mario World. One thing that always sticks out about Sonic is the bright and vibrant color, not many Genesis games had such a bright look. The animation is smooth and the controls are spot on. There’s a reason Sonic is included in pretty much every top ten Genesis game list ever. It’s just a very solid game.

Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse

Castle of Illusion Cover
Castle of Illusion Title

Castle of Illusion Gameplay

All the Disney games were better on the Genesis (or at least Aladdin and The Lion King) for some reason. There were also a couple of early Genesis exclusives: Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion. I don’t have much (any) experience with the latter, but the former was a beautiful side-scroller that had excellent level design and was a hell of a lot of fun, even if it was a little on the easy side.

Revenge of Shinobi

Revenge of Shinobi Cover
Revenge of Shinobi Title Screen

Revenge of Shinobi is nothing special as far as gameplay and graphics. It’s not terrible, although you do control possibly the slowest moving ninja of all time. Your main attack is throwing ninja daggers around instead of the more common ninja approach of flipping out and killing people. You do have ninja magic, but it’s not all that impressive. Where this game really shines though, is its blatant theft of intellectual property. There is no other game in existence wherein you will battle against…

Mother Brain:

Revenge of Shinobi: Mother Brain

Spider-Man and Batman:
Revenge of Shinobi: Spider-Man, Batman

The Terminator and The Hulk:
Revenge of Shinobi: Terminator, Hulk
And… Godzilla!:

Revenge of Shinobi: Godzilla

Golden Axe

Golden Axe Genesis Cover
Golden Axe Genesis Title Screen

I was hooked on this arcade game as a kid and when I found out it was coming out on the Genesis I was blown away. The game looks almost arcade perfect (the colors aren’t quite there) but they threw in a few extra levels and my brother and I were happy campers. Oh, and you could also use the Golden Axe cart-swap trick to get infinite lives in Altered Beast. Sega Genesis games were incestuous like that. Good times.

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