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The 10 Best Mega Drive Masterpieces That Scream SEGA

David Rothwell

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SEGA

The Sega Mega Drive. The 16-Bit processing powerhouse that rivalled Nintendo. A system that caused two factions of kids across school playgrounds. You were either a Sega or Nintendo kid, you couldn’t possibly be both. We’ve scoured the archives and created a ranking of games based on their average review scores upon their release. Of course, we’ve added a dash of opinion into the mix as well, yours may vary. Here are the 10 best Sega Mega Drive games of all time.

10. Thunder Force IV

Release: 1992/93

Developer: Technosoft

Average release review score: 87%

The last in the Thunder Force trilogy on the Sega Mega Drive.

The ORN/OHN Empire is plotting the extermination of the human race (every game needs an evil empire right?) You decide that simply won’t do and pilot a ship to blast the ORN/OHN Empire to bits.

Mega Drive Advanced Gaming Magazine praised the game saying “With amazing graphics, superb sound and the most incredible use of parallax scrolling it’s definitely the best thing since sliced bread”.

The difficulty has been notched up from the previous game and the music is hard rocking as you fly through stages shooting every enemy in your way. Partway through your ship is upgraded to use the Thundersword attack.

Power-ups are gained from destroying certain enemies and one-shot you die, losing all your upgrades in true brutal shoot em up style.

9. Road Rash 2

Release: 1992

Developer: Electronic Arts

Average release review Score: 86%

Racing across five states on a bike. It sounds straight forward. Oh, and there are 14 other bikers armed with chains and clubs determined to claim first place. You race and brawl to finish in the top three of every stage to advance to the next level. The Cops, the worst car drivers in history and even the wildlife are out to stop you.

The money you win goes towards buying better, faster bikes. Be careful you’ll need some cash to make bail if you’re busted or to pay the repair bill after wrecking your bike.

Road Rash 2 is face-paced action where your bike can fly over bumps and skid off the road if you’re not careful. The bikers’ weapons can be stolen. But watch out for the chain wielding bloodthirsty racers who will take great pleasure in introducing your body to the tarmac.

8. Micro Machines Turbo Tournament 96

Release: 1995

Developer: Supersonic Software and Codemasters

Average release review score: 89%

Multiplayer race mayhem at its finest! Tables, sandboxes and ponds are your race tracks with a whole host of Micro Machines cars, boats and jets to race. Turbo Tournament 96 comes on a J-Cart cartridge, containing 2 controller ports. No multitap needed here.

Games Master Magazine proclaimed it “The most addictive game in the World” and “A must buy!”

This game is a blast in multiplayer mode supporting up to 8 players. Though you’re best sticking to 4 as 8 requires splitting controllers in half to control amongst everyone.

The tournament mode in multiplayer will make even the best of friends try to smash each other from the track.

The J-Cart also allows players to build and save their own custom race tracks for even more mayhem.

7. Earthworm Jim

Release: 1994

Develop: Shiny Entertainment

Average release review score: 86%

An earthworm in a super-suit on a mission to fight evil and save the princess. This 2D action-platformer mixed with a run and gun has humour throughout. In the first level, Jim launches a cow, battles a trash can and fights a belching fat guy suspended from a wire. The 90s were a weird time!

Mega Magazine gave Jim a 92% on release. Stating “Earthworm Jim is nothing short of fantastic with some graphics that you’d never have thought the Mega Drive was capable of. It may sound surprising but some of the ideas behind this are highly original (gasp) and great fun.”

Jim’s creator David Perry had previously directed Mega Drive games including the highly acclaimed platformer Aladdin. So with a great track record and a wacky imagination Earthworm Jim was born.

Jim uses his head as a whip to attack and to swing between platforms. He also has a plasma blaster for when things get dicey. This game is a laugh from start to finish and the sequel Earthworm Jim 2 is also one to look out for.

6. Revenge of Shinobi

Release: 1989/90

Developer: Sega

Average release review score: 87%

His master murdered and his bride kidnapped at the hands of the evil organisation Neo Zeed. Shinobi (Joe Musashi) is out for revenge against Neo Zeed in this sequel to Shinobi. There are 8 stages, each composed of two platforming levels and a boss fight.

Shurikens are Shinobi’s main weapon and eight can be fired in a spread when performing a somersault (double jump and attack). There’s ninjutsu that varies from four magic abilities. The abilities consist of a higher jump, a shield, a fire attack, and mijin which sacrifices a life for a powerful attack (causing a respawn).

A reviewer for Mean Machines Magazine said “It’s challenging and amazingly addictive and keeps you glued to the machine for hours at a time – I just didn’t want to stop playing”

The game gets challenging in later levels with jumps and enemies placed to knock you to your doom (how convenient).

The soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro is an early Mega Drive masterpiece, a standout track being China Town. (Sega even put Yuzo’s name on the games title screen).

In some stages the double jump transitions between the foreground and background of certain areas to either attack or dodge enemies. Revenge of Shinobi is a must-play and its direct sequel Shinobi 3 is excellent too.

5. Golden Axe

Release: 1989/90

Developer: Sega

Average release review score: 86%

The homeport of Sega’s arcade Medieval beat ’em up Golden Axe, while the sound takes a bit of a hit, the gameplay certainly doesn’t! They even added an entirely new extra level. You play as one of three heroes on a quest to save the King and rid the world of the evil Death Adder. Dwarf Gilius Thunderhead, Ax Battler, a man (ironically armed with a sword) and Amazon warrior Tyris Flare.

Game Director Makoto Uchida who created Altered Beast was heavily inspired by Conan the Barbarian and the inspiration is ever visible in Golden Axe.

You’re aided by the ability to cast magic, the more potions, the stronger the spell. Tyris is able to call upon a screen-filling fire breathing dragon when her magic meter is full.

There are monsters such as Chicken Legs and Dragons to ride as you fight off Death Adder’s minions. The Skeleton’s coming out of the ground in Jason and the Argonauts style, make for formidable foes!

4. Castlevania Bloodlines (The New Generation)

Release: 1993/94

Developer: Konami

Average release review score: 84%

The first Castlevania developed for a Sega platform happened with the Mega Drive. Bloodlines is set in WW1 Europe. The two playable characters are whip-wielding John Morris and spear bearing Eric Lecarde. The pair chase across Europe to try and prevent the resurrection of Dracula.

The levels contain different paths for John and Eric, each uses their weapons to access different areas.

The wait for Castlevania on a Sega platform was met with enthusiasm. One reviewer from Die Hard Game Fan Magazine gave the game a 98% saying “Castlevania has finally arrived on the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and, of course, it is a masterpiece. From the opening animation to the last lash of the whip, this is action platform gaming at its finest. The game design is among the best in the series, as are the bosses, music and play mechanics.”

It’s the first Castlevania game to have a soundtrack scored by Michiru Yamane. She would go on to score the PlayStation 1 classic Symphony of The Night.

The graphics featured stunning set pieces where levels, rotated and a water reflection effect that was well ahead of its time.

The classic horror movie-inspired enemies return, it wouldn’t be Castlevania without them. The level design and gameplay make for an awesome experience.

3. Sonic 3 and Knuckles

Release: 1994

Developer: Sega Technical Institute

Average release review score: 91%

Ok, so Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are two games on two cartridges. Yet, when connected together form the massive 14 Zone Sonic 3 and Knuckles. The games were planned as one but time constraints in development split the game in two.

This time around choose from Sonic, Sonic and Tails, Tails, or Knuckles to play as. Knuckles fists break through blocks to access new areas and he can climb walls (he glides too).

Sega Magazine gave a score of 95% saying “Playability wise this is probably the greatest platform game ever written”.

Sonic once again must stop the evil plans of Dr Robotnik and save Angel Island. The variety of zones is huge, Hydrocity, Flying Battery, Lava Reef, and Robotnik’s battle station the infamous Death Egg to name only a few.

This is the only game in the series to feature Hyper Sonic unlocked by obtaining all 7 super emeralds.

It was a tough choice; Sonic 2 is an excellent outing for the blue blur. But these two carts with Sega’s lock on technology pip it on to the list.

2. Gunstar Heroes

Release: 1993

Developer: Treasure

Average release review score: 86%

Take a team of Ex-Konami employees and you hit gold with developer Treasure. Gunstar Heroes is fast-paced run and gun action. The graphics and visual effects pushed the Mega Drive hardware to its limits.

What sets Gunstar apart is its ability to allow players to combine weapons to create different combos. The boss battles and level design is some of the best the Sega Mega Drive had to offer. You fight a boss that has 7 different forms to defeat and a level that’s set out like a boardgame.

Electronic Gaming Monthly featured it as their game of the month, with one reviewer being ecstatic over the boss battles exclaiming “Once you fight these beauties, you’ll wonder why game companies never did this before!”

Did I mention there’s an empire once again invading? The leader looks a lot like M Bison from Street Fighter 2.

Treasure even developed a fun licensed Mega Drive game for McDonald’s for crying out loud. If you see Treasure’s logo on the box, grab it (almost a seal of awesomeness).

Gunstar Heroes is incredibly creative and fantastic with one or two players.

1. Streets of Rage 2

Release: 1992/93

Developer: Ancient and Sega

Average release review score: 91%

16-bit beat ’em up perfection is the best way to describe Streets of Rage 2. Fight streets, thugs, over 8 levels and rid the city of the criminal mastermind Mr-X. Streets of Rage 2 improves on the original in every way possible. The characters are more detailed, the stages more varied and a list of new foes to punch your way through.

Fight your way through the streets, bars, ships and three of the world’s longest elevators. (One of the elevators is in the middle of baseball stadium (all baseball stadiums must have hidden elevators on the pitcher’s mound).

Mega Play Magazine reviewers raved about Streets of Rage 2 “This is definitely one of the best games in this genre for the Genesis. The graphics are very good and the animation superb. The music is complex and upbeat, and the sound effects are great. The moves are simple and there are enough techniques to keep it from getting repetitive. A solid cart.”

It’s one of the best co-op games ever made, need help? A second player can press start, dropping from the sky to your rescue. The music is a club and dance-infused masterpiece from Yuzo Kushiro and Motohiro Kawashima.

Summary

Narrowing down the games for this list was no easy feat. There were many worthy contenders for this list, M.U.S.H.A, Sonic 2, Strider, Shinobi 3 and Rocket Knight Adventures to name only a few. Many of these series continue today.

This year due to enduring fan support, The Streets of Rage series finally received the stellar Streets of Rage 4 after a 26-year wait.

Gunstar Heroes broke Treasurer’s policy of almost never producing sequels. Gunstar Future (Super) Heroes would be made for the Game Boy Advance.

The average release review scores for some games on this list are lower due to some publications, like Famitsu, known for their tough scoring. Which is why some games with lower scores are placed higher. To date, Famitsu has only ever awarded a perfect score to 27 games.

All these games have an enduring appeal and have seen ports to system upon system over the console generations. Their developers and publishers still draw revenue from applying these games into compilations, quite an achievement considering the scope and depth of current generation games.


And that’s our list of the greatest Sega Mega Drive Games, did we miss any? Do you agree with the order? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.


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7 Xbox Games To Be Excited About

Polly Drumm

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Xbox Game Studios

Here’s your guide to 2021’s most anticipated Xbox games. Games ranging from horror to survival and first-person shooters to be excited about on Xbox.

With the PlayStation 5 hitting stores in November 2020, Xbox released their advanced console, Series X and there are plenty of games to get excited about. With its updated, sleek new design, the X console allows high definition experiences. Having the ability to produce up to 120 frames ps, 8K HDR and Velocity architecture. It’s faster, superior and more powerful than any previous design. Alongside word of series X, Xbox has announced exciting, challenging and captivating games. But new releases are worth your time and money? We take a look.

1. 12 minutes

Featuring the voices of Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe, 12 minutes is set in the apartment of a married couple. We focus on the husband and his ability to overcome a range of different obstacles.

Publisher Annapurna Interactive has gone with a retro click-to-step player mode. All to simulate organic transitions throughout the emotionally difficult yet enticing distortion of time. This unique and underrated style of gameplay allows for an encompassing experience. One that radiates emotional and practical outcomes over combat style games. And permits for an enjoyable break from more well-known survival and RPG games. With the release date yet to be announced, 12 Minutes, has the potential to become one of 2021’s most waited on games yet.

2. Psychonauts 2

The long-awaited sequel of the 2005 original game Psychonauts is finally launching. But is looking as if it will be closer to the end of 2021. With its obscure character style, humorous scripting, and easily playable combat and navigational skills. It’s understandable why fans have donated $3.8 billion to its development. Picking up from the original plotline, the sequel will follow Raz on his journey with the Titular team, overcoming new styles of combat, dangers and threats.

Set in the 1980s, Raz achieves his dream of reaching Psychonauts headquarter, helping the psychic spies with their missions. This multiplatform game has been long-awaited. It has the potential to not only bring you back to a childhood classic but launch you into a world of thrilling new adventures.

3. Hitman 3

With the official tagline for the release of Hitman 3 being ” A dramatic conclusion to the world of assignation trilogy” there are high expectations of the game.

But with both previous Hitman games being the quality and experience they are, there’s little doubt that the third game will be anything less than an amazing and surreal escapade.

This multiplatform game incorporates all the best locations and characters from the previous two games (as long as you already own them). As well as exotic new locations from around the world.

With the ability to play with VR headsets, this advanced version of the Hitman trilogy has the prospective to be the best of the three. With IO interactive releasing a limited description of the plotline, there is lots to hope for with this stealth game launched in late January 2021.

4. Chernobylite

With no official release date, Chernobylite looks like one of 2021’s most gripping survival games to come. Playing as a scientist from the 1986 catastrophe, this science-fiction game follows the conspiracy’s surrounding the danger zone of the aftermath of the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl.

The multiplatform game allows for free exploration of the map, challenging combat situations with various villains and an intertwining plotline. With the developer being that of “Get even” and “NecroVisioN” Farm 51 is known for the enticing, sombre visual graphics that enhance gameplay.

Delving into a profound personal story, with intense character and graphics, Chernobylite is a game that, by the seems of it, will keep you interested for hours on end.

5. Chorus

Benefiting from the impressive power the Xbox series X can be seen to have, the adventure game Chorus utilises amazing graphics, with 60 frames per second, as well as acute detail to lighting and terrain.

Optimised for the new console, this game follows cult member Nora and her mission to defeat her evil creators.

Despite sounding like a game set in ancient times with cults, Chorus focuses on a futuristic world with AI technology, space battles and a thrilling next-level plotline. aiming to send this style of game into the future, Chorus is rumoured to experiment with the powers of mental abilities as well as physical skills.

Developed for the new series X, Chorus can be found on multiple platforms. With such a strong and alluring plot, we can only hope that the release date is sometime soon.

6. Resident Evil: Village

With the eighth game in the series being announced, Resident Evil: Village, follows suit from game 7, Biohazard. Using reliable old characters as well as introducing new villains, heroes and locations.

With ultra-realistic graphics powered by the RE engine, we get a more advanced class of weaponry, combat styles and resources to use throughout the rescue and side missions. This classic style of jump-scare horror embodies the original games whilst allows adapting to modern technologies and demands.

Launching in May, this game can be found on nearly all platforms. But will be enhanced with the usage of Xbox’s new powerful console, ideal for such horror games.

7. Halo Infinite

Creative Director Joseph Staten stated, “this was the Halo we imagined back in 2000, finally coming to life, after 20 years of technical and creative innovation”.

Exclusive to Xbox consoles and other Microsoft devices this is one of the biggest games to be excited about. Halo Infinite has been adapted especially for the new Xbox series X for the best playable experience, flawless visuals and rapid load times.

Reusing original artwork to simulate older versions of the game and the reappearance of a more humanistic Master Chief, Halo Infinite will be a throwback of nostalgia for many fans.

But, graphics should be better than ever. With improved illustrations on global illumination, ambient occlusion and shadowing. All for better atmospheric quality and advancement in craftsmanship of lighting, weaponry and adjustments to terrain visibility.

Halo Infinite should be a next-level, first-person shooter game, with immense and microscopic detail throughout the playable world.


And that’s our list of seven Xbox games to be excited about this year. Which one are you looking forward to most of all? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments section below.


Read about the worst console launches of all time HERE.

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