There’s a few of us here at Stealth that grew up with SEGA, either by consoles or through a few games we would play with our siblings.
But there’s a good chance that you will have heard of Sonic, or Streets of Rage, or even Comix Zone, but not really played through certain entries properly.
SEGA have recently been on a roll of late, reviving and remastering their IP’s to the latest consoles and PC distribution apps, but due to certain rights issues, there’s a chance that you may be missing out on some that will never be fated to occur on these systems.
With that, here’s a look at seven games that are classics on the Sega Mega Drive, and why you should play them immediately.
Released in 1995 at the tail-end of the Mega Drive, it was a platforming beat-em-up that gave you control of Sketch, a character that has created this comic in the first place. An enemy from this comic uses some magic to swap places with Sketch, so now the enemy, ‘Mortus’ is now the artist, drawing enemies while Sketch is now around, trying to kick and punch his way through the comic of six levels.
The graphics and the music is something to behold here, even for a 16bit title. Every button press is satisfying when punching and kicking an enemy between the pages, and even though it’s a very short game, you can’t help but go back and see how fast you can finish the game again.
This is a game in this list that should be on every Mega Drive article of ‘Greatest Games’. Released in the fall of 1989, you control one of three characters; Ax, Tyris or Gilius, where you must go through eight levels where you can throw, kick, or lunge at many enemies, while collecting magic to annihilate anyone close to you.
There’s even a two-player co-op function, so the replayability is high here. It’s a game that’s a classic, mainly due to the gameplay, but also thanks to the music, the design of each level, and just the fun of it.
Two other sequels were spawned in the early nineties, but this entry is the best of them all.
Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition
A game that you may not have heard of, but this was a platformer where you controlled the character of Alan Grant; who starred in the earlier Jurassic Park movies, and it due to start in the upcoming Jurassic World 3. There's also a set of levels where you can control a T-REX, but it's Alan's time where the game really shines.
Spread across seven levels, you need to jump, dodge, shoot, and drive through enemies that range to army soldiers, scientists, and many dinosaurs to get off the island. What makes this realy fun is that you can pick and choose which levels to take on, and they all have their own unique differentiators.
Even the weapons, such as electrocuting a T-Rex to dust, or firing rockets at a helicopter, or just throwing grenades at scientists; it’s all a satisfying time, and you’ll be surprised just how fun this game is.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles
There can’t be a best-of list without Sonic. The pinnacle of the Mega Drive Sonic games, where you could go through fourteen levels, collect 14 Emeralds, with a choice of playing three different characters with different routes in many levels as well.
Because of the sheer amount of Sonic 3, the game was split into two entries; Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, both released in 1994. It was never done before, where you could lock-on two games and have the full-experience. It’s an all-time favourite of this writer, and coupled with the rumours of Michael Jackson being involved with the music, while cut-scenes being aplenty here it’s a game that wasn’t rivalled until the 2017 release of Sonic Mania.
Due to rights issues, the game hasn’t been re-released for modern systems, but one hopes that SEGA can work through these and have Sonic 3 Complete on the Switch and other systems soon.
It was tough to decide whether it was ‘Revenge of Shinobi’ or this entry, but the third game won out. This is mainly because it improves on everything that made the previous entry so good. The art-style, the music, and the control across the seven rounds set it apart from other entries.
Controlling Joe once again, you can summon four ninjitsu techniques again where you can have fire surround the screen, or enable you to jump higher, or just protect you when things get intense, there’s so much that you can do to make sure that not even one shuriken is thrown.
It was released in 1994 where it was critically-acclaimed, outlets praising it for its varied art-style and gameplay, while the challenge across the bosses and levels made it one to replay over and over again.
Power Rangers: The Movie
One that you probably didn’t expect to see here, but think Streets of Rage with the Power Rangers, coupled with the music from the TV Show, and you’ve got a surprisingly fun game here that makes it unique for the Mega Drive.
Set during the 1995 movie featuring Ivan Ooze and the TV show, you go across six stages fighting against the putty patrol, bosses and even the stages itself at times. You can control one of the six rangers, each with their own special attacks, and the megazords when the stages need them.
You can also go into two-player co-op, fighting across the same amount of stages again, but with some help.
The controls here are a mirror of Streets of Rage, by holding down ‘B’ for a special attack, while ‘C’ is jump and ‘A’ is another gymnastic attack.
You can collect coins for health and extra credits too, and it makes the whole game just an enjoyable ride. The movie had their own versions across the consoles and handheld of 1995, but it's the Mega Drive where it really shines, especially with the music. The sound-chip of the console is the star here, and you’ll find yourself wanting to go to the ‘Sound Test’ menu to play the tracks while you do some work in the office.
Streets of Rage 2
We finish with the best entry of the ‘Streets of Rage’ series, with its incredible soundtrack, the multitude of characters to choose from, and the varied levels; a Mega Drive classic.
The music by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima really shines here, with the first level setting the scene for the rest of the game thanks to the ‘Goin’ Straight’ track.
Across eight stages you fight your way through amusement parks, a ship, a jungle, and many more until you face Mr X once again.
If you came across the fourth entry and unlocked the characters from this game, you will feel right at home here, especially when some tracks in 2 are also in 4 thanks to the ‘Retro Soundtrack’ option.
You will want to play this entry again and again, even before you go into ‘Duel’ and ‘2 Player’ mode, it’s an example of what the Mega Drive can do best.
There we have it; seven games that you should definitely check out if you haven’t already. It would have been simple to have listed off games that you will most probably have played, but there’s some gems here that you will have most likely never heard of.
But if you can, go to your nearest independent store, or even ask a few friends and see if you can be a Power Ranger again on a Mega Drive, or just Alan Grant, fighting away dinosaurs with a flamethrower.