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The Sega Mega Drive games that rocked!

By Alex Wiggan

Last week I posted the nostalgia-inducing blog entry, ‘The NES games that made your childhood awesome!’ Taking a look back at some of the best Nintendo games from the late ’80s and early ’90s the post highlighted such titles as Super Mario Bros 3, DuckTales and Punch Out!

So today I’m going one better by picking out some of the best games for the Sega Mega Drive, the 16-bit successor to Sega’s Master System. Released across Europe in 1990 (1988 in Japan and 1989 in America) the Mega Drive was a huge success during the ’90s, selling an estimated 40 million units before it was discontinued in 1997.

During the Mega Drive’s lifetime, the console supported around 900 games, with many titles becoming cold hard classics of the gaming genre. Cold hard classics which have made this list!

So sit back and prepare to be taken on a journey through your youth as I unveil the Sega Mega Drive games that rocked!

Which of these do you remember playing?

 

 

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic

OK, so first up is a game that practically every kid of the ’80s and ’90s played at some point, whether they owned a Mega Drive or not.

Regarded as Sega’s alternative to Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog was a fast-paced platform game designed around a simple concept: Sonic runs from one side of the screen to the other, collecting gold rings and avoiding bad guys. The game may have been incredibly simple, but it was brilliant and a heck of a lot of fun to play.

Although Sonic has had a rocky career since his early days on the Mega Drive, his debut adventure remains one of his best outings ever; only bettered by his first follow-up…

 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic 2

No list of great Mega Drive games would be complete without a massive shout-out for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the console’s best-selling game. And why was it the best-selling game? Well it was quite simple really; Sonic the Hedgehog 2 did everything that Sonic the Hedgehog did, only it did it just a little bit better.

Whilst Sonic the Hedgehog was a slick platformer with a colourful lead character, Sonic 2 was a bigger and bolder adventure, which offered up a two-player option alongside the standard one-player story. The game introduced Tails – Sonic’s faithful sidekick – and was simply a superb game all-round.

 

Aladdin

Aladdin Sega

Another big seller on the Mega Drive and another great platform game, only this time based on Disney’s animated movie, Aladdin.

Released in 1993, Aladdin was a huge hit on the Mega Drive and it wasn’t surprising really considering it was an awesome game which took all of the best bits of the film (the character designs, the music, the comedy) and mixed them up to create an adventure that provided hours of entertainment. Highlights included the magic carpet ride through the Cave of Wonders, the Genie level and the final showdown with Jafar.

If you loved Aladdin then the Mega Drive game was a must-have. The fact that it was even better than Nintendo’s version (for the Super Nintendo) was just icing on the cake for Sega lovers.

 

Road Rash

Road Rash Sega

There are nice light, fluffy games and then there are downright mean and nasty games, and Road Rash definitely fell into the latter category.

The premise of the Road Rash was simple; players participated in illegal street races in order to win cash. The cash could then be used to purchase better bikes, which in turn resulted in players winning more races. It sounds straight forward and it was, yet what gave Road Rash the edge over regular racing games was the fact that players could punch other racers off their bikes!

Now of course, it would be wrong to condone highway violence in any form, but when it came to Road Rash an exception had to be made.

 

Streets of Rage 2

Streets of Rage 2

If you liked side-scrolling beat-em-ups then Streets of Rage 2 delivered everything that you could wish for, with action a-plenty. The game introduced new characters – Max Thunder and Eddie ‘Skate’ Hunter – and improved upon the gameplay of the original Streets of Rage to provide a better experience.

Streets of Rage was awesome. Streets of Rage 2 was even better.

 

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat

Sticking with the action theme, only this time ramping up the level of gore, Mortal Kombat was the ultimate fighting game and perhaps one of the best remembered games on the Mega Drive. Released in 1992 by Midway Games, Mortal Kombat was a brutal, yet incredibly addictive game which pitted a series of fighters against each other for the ultimate combat adventure.

Along with Capcom’s Street Fighter games (specifically Street Fighter II), Mortal Kombat defined the fighting genre for the ’90s, creating a legacy which still remains today.

 

Spider-man/Venom: Maximum Carnage

Maximum Carnage Sega

A bit of a left-field choice here and one which was perhaps not the best remembered game on the Mega Drive, but still a fun one nonetheless.

Released in 1994 and based around the Marvel Comics storyline, Maximum Carnage, Spider-man/Venom: Maximum Carnage was a side-scrolling beat-em-up game released on both the Mega Drive and the Super Nintendo (SNES). The game featured two playable characters, Spider-man and Venom, as well as a number of guest characters including Captain America, Morbius, Iron Fist and Firestar.

Although the game received mixed reviews it was still a fun Spider-man game and one which at least tried to incorporate as much of the original Maximum Carnage storyline as possible. The added bonus was the fact that when the game was originally released it was packaged up inside a red cartridge, allowing it to stand out from all the other games in the pile.

 

Golden Axe

Golden Axe

I’m going to put this out there – Golden Axe was a childhood defining game if ever there was one. Sure it might not have been the best game on the Mega Drive, but it sure was a great one and a game that was played repeatedly, either solo or with friends and siblings.

Golden Axe featured three playable characters – Gilius Thunderhead, Ax Battler and Tyris Flare – and took place in the fictional land of Yuria. The premise of the fantasy adventure was to battle a range of weird and wonderful creatures in order to defeat the villainous Death Adder.

 

Altered Beast

Altered Beast

Another Mega Drive classic, which could sit comfortably amongst the ranks of Golden Axe was Altered Beast, a beat-em-up game set in ancient Greece. The game featured a Roman centurion who could transform into a number of beasts and who was tasked with fighting monsters in order to rescue Athena, daughter of Zeus.

As well as being a hit on the Mega Drive, Altered Beast also appeared on the Master System, whilst more recently it has cropped up on the Nintendo 3DS, on the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade and iOS. Oh and it was an arcade hit too!

 

Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse

Castle of Illusion

And finally, a firm favourite which featured Disney’s most iconic character, Mickey Mouse.

Released in 1990, Castle of Illusion was a platform game which saw Mickey on a quest to rescue Minnie Mouse from the evil witch Mizrabel. During the game, Mickey was tasked with collecting a series of gems, whilst faced with a variety of enemies, from toy soldiers to book worms.

By today’s standards Castle of Illusion is a very simple platform game, but twenty-five years on from its release it still stands up as a fun, imaginative and enjoyable game to play. If ever there was a reason to re-visit the glory days of the Mega Drive then Castle of Illusion is it. Go on, fire up your Mega Drive one more time!

 

So what other games did you play? James Pond? Toy Story? Alien Storm? Zool? How about Quackshot, Toejam & Earl or Ecco the Dolphin? Let us know which games pushed your buttons.

 

 
About Alex Wiggan: Alex is playing far too many classic console games right now. Soon he won’t even have time to finish writing this sen…

 
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