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The 10 Best Mega Drive Masterpieces That Scream SEGA

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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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Animal Crossing 2.0 – Review

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On November 5th, Animal Crossing 2.0 alongside the DLC Happy Home Paradise was released. It was the last major free update to hit the latest game in the franchise and added a host of new features to the game. After almost a month of playing it, here’s our review and everything new in Animal Crossing 2.0 from Nintendo.

Background

Animal Crossing has been around for 20 years, with its first release on 14th April 2001. Since then it’s released several versions of the game for the DS, Wii, and so on.

The latest version, New Horizons, came to the Nintendo Switch at just the right time; at the very beginning of Quarantine. It was easily the most popular Nintendo game last year. But it had a fatal flaw; rather than including everything upfront, Nintendo would release periodic updates where they would add to the game. The goal was to keep the game feeling fresh, but the result was that New Horizons felt unfinished. The game was bare-bones compared to past versions of Animal Crossing and didn’t have half as much to do. With the release of the last free update, New Horizons finally feels like a complete game. So what’s new? While there were a lot of things added and small things fixed, we’re just going to focus on the major gameplay changes and additions.

Brewster

The beloved pigeon, Brewster, has been in Animal Crossing since 2005. He runs a cosy coffee shop, The Roost, usually located in the Museum. But he has been missing from New Horizons. A fan favourite, his absence has definitely been felt. Brewster is one of the most demanded additions to New Horizons. With the update, you can find him gyroid hunting on one of Kapp’n’s Islands and invite him to your island, where he will set up the Roost once more. You will also find some of your residents and NPCs there and can invite current and past Animal Crossing characters to the Roost via Amiibo card.

Kapp’n

Speaking of Kapp’n, the turtle is back. In past versions of the game, Kapp’n is usually the one taking you to your new village at the start of every game. Whether it be by taxi, bus, or train, Animal Crossing typically kicks off with the retired seafarer. But New Horizons didn’t feature Kapp’n at all; until now. Now you can have him take you on island tours via his little boat off your dock. Some of these islands are extremely rare and feature exclusive items. He also sings you a little song while you make the journey..

Gyroids

Gyroids have, once again, been a part of every Animal Crossing game until New Horizons. They are little singing things that can be placed like furniture. In New Horizons, you can find a fragment on Kapp’n’s islands, bury it, water it, and a gyroid will grow the next day. Or some may be buried on your island after a rainy day. While past versions of gyroids have been annoying, the New Horizon’s gyroids are adorable and delightful. In New Horizons, Brewster is an avid collector. You’ll even get a Brewster gyroid after drinking enough coffee.

Cooking / Farming

Cooking has also been added to the game, something entirely unique to New Horizons. You can purchase crop starts from Leif, start a farm, and then cook the produce you grow. This opens up a whole host of fun recipes, and you can gift your creations to your residents. Eating a meal will make your villager stronger for longer, the same effect eating fruit previously had.

Group Stretching

You can also host a group stretching event in the plaza. Random villagers and NPCs will join you. You can use your controllers to actually stretch with them, or use the joysticks if you’re stuck with a Lite or don’t feel like standing up.

Harv’s Island

Harv’s Island was previously… pretty useless. There was really nothing to do there aside from taking pictures, which is fun once. Now you can help him build an open-air Farmers Market/Commune. For 100,000 bells each, you can invite NPCs to set up a permanent shop. Among these are Leif, Redd, Kicks, Saharah, Reese, and Cyrus, who have all been seen in New Horizons. But it also introduces the return of Tortimer, the mayor from past games. (Who some fans theorized was dead until now). Harriet, a hairdresser who introduces a ton of new hairstyles to the game. And the fortune-teller Katrina. This expansion to Harv’s island is a huge resource.

You no longer have to wait for these NPCs to come to your island to purchase goods from them. It also opens up more customization for previously uncustomisable items. And it’s another goal to work towards after you pay off your home loans.

Ordinances

You can now issue Ordinances through Isabelle in the town hall. These include things like adding a Bell Boom so that you find more bells and goods are worth more, but things also cost more. Or the Beautiful Island ordinance, which will have your villagers pick up weeds and trash and will cause your flowers to grow faster. You can also issue that your villagers wake up earlier or go to bed later.

Happy Home Paradise

In addition to 2.0, a DLC was added to the Nintendo Store. Happy Home Paradise allows you to “get a job” building vacation homes. You report to your boss Lottie for work, alongside your coworkers Niko and Wardell. From there, you choose a character and build a home for them. They will give you a theme and some items they want to see in their home. You can also design facilities, like a cafe or school and assign characters to work in them. Using an amiibo card, you can also design homes for NPCs like Isabelle or Tom Nook, where you will have free reign over the design.

Happy Home Paradise also introduces partition walls which allow for more design options in your house. It also includes a lot of new furniture. When you’ve designed enough vacation homes, you are able to then redesign the houses on your island.

HHP adds a lot to the game. Animal Crossing’s flaw has always been that it gets too repetitive. HHP adds some flavour and a lot more to do. So even long after you’ve paid off your home loan and made your island pretty, you can still really engage with the game. It adds to and boosts life on the island, but also extends the world a bit. You can interact with more characters beyond just your residents and have more interaction with NPCs beyond purchasing goods from them.

Overall

All in all, the 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise have elevated New Horizons. It makes the game feel new and adds what many fans have been asking for. While they are both great, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this all should have been included from the get-go like past versions of the game. After playing a skeleton of a game for a year, we now truly have a new Animal Crossing game.


Do you like Animal Crossing 2.0? Do you agree with our Animal Crossing review? Let us know in the comments below.


We compare Animal Crossing with Stardew Valley HERE.

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