Top 100 games for the Sega Megadrive / Genesis
With over 900 released games, the Megadrive has quite the library of games. Whether you like platform games, sports games, run'n'gun, shoot'em'up, beat'em'up, strategy, RPG or even some unique and/or bizarre games, you're sure to find some games you'll love on the system. Check this selection of the top 100 best games for a quick lookup at what the console was capable of.
100-90 / 90-80 / 80-70 / 70-60 / 60-50 / 50-40 / 40-30 / 30-20 / 20-10 / 10-1
by Visual Concepts (1995)
We'll start this top 100 with a violent and gory fighting, not Mortal Kombat but WeaponLord. Released in 1995, this title is sadly overlooked because of the late release and also the difficulty but it has some really cool features, such as a blocking system, deflect moves, a counterattack, takedowns and combos. There are "death combos" similar to the "Finish Him" moves from Mortal Kombat. It's highly enjoyable if you put in the time to understand the way it plays.
WeaponLord Megadrive top 100
Mystic Defender
aka Kujakuō 2: Geneijō by Sega (1989)
Very solid run'n'gun from the early days of the console, Mystic Defender is enjoyable to play. You are some kind of ninja wizard trying to defeat some evil sorcerer from waking up an old god and rescuing a young woman...yeah, you probably won't be playing this one for the storyline but the gameplay is good. It is the sequel to SpellCaster on the Master System.
WeaponLord Megadrive top 100
Gain Ground
by Sega (1991)
Gain Ground is kind of unique. It is an action / strategy / shooter in which you start as one of three different characters: a spearman and 2 commanders, that have different abilities such as firing over walls for the spearman, better range or grenades for the commanders. Your goal is to rescue captives (escorting them to the exit to unlock new characters) and either kill all enemies or get to the exit point with at least one character. As i said, it's pretty unique and you will probably either love it or hate it but it's a must-try.
Gain Ground Megadrive top 100
The Next Possession aka Bad Omen by Opera House (1992)
Unique game mixing Arkanoid-like gameplay with scrolling and exploration. You have 2 boards at your disposal and need to advance through the levels and destroy bricks and monsters...It's a refreshing take on the block-breaking genre but be warned that the game is hard. Still, an enjoyable genre mash-up that everyone should play at least once.
Bad Omen Megadrive top 100
Sunset Riders
by Konami (1992)
While this version pales in comparison to the Arcade (or even the SNES port), the game is still very fun to play especially in co-op. There's no other game like it on the system so if you're itching to play a western themed game, this is your best bet. It's a fast paced run'n'gun full of enemies, powerups and has a real arcade feel along with the rarely used Western theme.
Sunset Riders Megadrive top 100
Decap Attack
aka Magical Hat no Buttobi Turbo! Daibouken by Vic Tokai (1990)
This game has inexpicably been altered (not into a beast) a lot for the NA/Europe versions but the japanese original is really entertaining and has much better graphics (especially vs the horrid colors from Decap Attack). The main character was changed to some kind of skeleton mummy, there are more enemies, you have a lifebar, etc. Avoid that version and play the japanese one !
Decap Attack Megadrive top 100
High Seas Havoc
aka Capt'n Havoc by Data East (1993)
Great looking platformer that's very underrated, High Seas Havoc almost looks like a Sonic game. Gameplay is classic but the game is enjoyable. There are some issues though, notably the fact that you get knocked back when hit which can lead to some frustration and the high level of challenge from later levels...hence the "low" ranking in this top.
High Seas Havoc Megadrive top 100
by Microprose (1993)
Really cool platformer with graphics that look they came straight from an Amiga! You're a robot that can throw small tin balls out of his head and you have 3 directions for that. The bottom one lets the balls rebound on the ground, there's good physics on the balls which allows some strategies, there are slopes and the levels are well designed and force you to stay on your toes, while having a good pace. It's a good game, try it!
Tinhead Megadrive top 100
Mega Bomberman
by Westone Bit Entertainment (1994)
It's Bomberman, on the Megadrive. I'm going to assume you don't know this game or else i wouldn't have much to say. It's a puzzle game in which you use bombs to blast blocks and kill your enemies, unveiling powerups and freeing the paths. It's simple, everyone can play it and it's a blast in multiplayer.
Mega Bomberman Megadrive top 100
by Zyrinx (1993)
Another unique game that combines shoot'em'up and exploration, Sub-Terrania allows you to move freely toward any direction but you must watch out not to hit the walls as you slowly fall down. You can land to rescue those tiny ant people (they're human but it's funnier to say that way lol). It's enjoyable but a bit confusing as you're not always sure where to go...
Sub Terrania Megadrive top 100
by The Bitmap Brothers (1992)
First game in this top by the inimitable super star indie devs of the 90s, the Bitmap Brothers, Gods is a pretty complex action platformer with shops in which you can spend your resources, a lot of different powerups, keys, treasure chests and puzzles scattered throughout the levels. It's fairly difficult, as usual with computer games (this one was released on Amiga first) but the visuals are pretty darn good and its depth will keep you busy for some time...
Gods Megadrive top 100
Arcus Odyssey
by Wolf Team (1991)
Enjoyable isometric hack'n'slash, Arcus Odyssey has some RPG elements such as leveling, power ups and healing items. Fans of Gauntlet-like games will feel right at home even though there's a bit more exploration and a bit less action here but with more gameplay options and weapons. Overall, it's pretty smooth, has nice graphics and atmosphere and gameplay is great, especially in 2 player co-op.
Arcus Odyssey Megadrive top 100
Super Baseball 2020
by NuFX (1993)
If you like Baseball, you'll probably like this game. It's basically regular baseball but with upgradable cyborgs and robots instead of human players. You gain money for completing objectives (such as getting to a base, hitting a home run, striking out opponents) and use that money to upgrade your players which boosts their stats resulting in better efficiency on the field. Overall, it's pretty fun once you've understood how it works and there are enough game modes and teams to keep you playing for some time.
Super Baseball 2020 Megadrive top 100
by Sunsoft (1992)
One of the best puzzle games of all time finds its way to the sega 16bit machine! The game was a huge international hit and has sold more than 20 million copies in the world since its initial release. You control a bunch of tiny lemmings by giving them orders such as "stop", "climb", "dig", etc. If you don't give them orders, they just walk forward, very often to their death. Simple concept, brilliant execution, this game is really good. Definitely a must-have for puzzle fans.
Lemmings Megadrive top 100
Sensible Software (1993)
Mega-Lo-Mania is a unique strategy game in which you must develop new tech to upgrade your humans. They can design new weapons, shields, buildings and form armies. You move through eras as your tech advances which allows you to develop newer goes from 9500BC to 2001 AD. The game has a lot of elements found in much more recent games and probably inspired the birth and evolution of the Real Time Strategy genre. While the view is similar to Populous', the 2 games don't have much in common and Mega-Lo-Mania is way better.
Mega-Lo-Mania Megadrive top 100
by Capcom (1990)
Strider is an action platformer that made quite an impression when it was released in the arcades in 1989 and this 1990 port contributed to the early success of the Megadrive. I know it's pretty low on this list (or early) but as fun as Strider is, the game does have slowdowns and the background graphics are nearly non-existent. Still, a good, playable port of the arcade game and another early arcade conversion that helped Sega claim that the Megadrive was a home arcade machine.
Strider Megadrive top 100
by Realtime Associates (1995)
This very underrated game has been dismissed by many because the controls take some time to get used to and they think the game is too hard. When you understand how the game works, however, it all becomes much better to play. And the graphics are very decent. The movie might have sucked (i'll admit i haven't seen it) but this has some depth and challenge and it is quite unique. Great atmosphere and mood, give this one a chance!
Warlock Megadrive top 100
Donald in Maui Mallard
by Disney Interactive Studios (1995)
It's not the best Disney platformer or even the best game with Donald Duck on the system but it sure is fun and the animations are beautiful. I could watch the game on idle or someone playing and still have a good time because of those. Aside from that, it's a pretty good Disney platformer, certainly deserving a spot in this top 100. Not my favorite but an enjoyable title with a few flaws (some parts / bosses are a bit boring).
Donald in Maui Mallard Megadrive top 100
Wonder Boy
in Monster World by Westone Bit Entertainment (1991)
The Monster World series (Wonder Boy in NA/Europe) has been on Sega consoles since the Master System so it's no wonder some of these great games were on the Megadrive and in this top. This one is a classic platformer but with light RPG elements such as towns and townsfolk, item shops and money, "leveling" up by collecting hearts and upgrading your equipment. It has nice graphics and controls, the levels are entertaining and the added progression from the items/hearts makes it a bit more addictive than a regular platform game.
Wonder Boy Megadrive top 100
Road Rash II
by Electronic Arts (1993)
Most 90s gamers that played on a Megadrive will remember the Road Rash series. Motorcycle violent racing game, it allowed you to his your opponents and even steal their weapons en route to the finish line while avoiding cars and the police. Road Rash II is the best iteration of this series on the system mainly because III has too much slowdowns and because it improves on the first game's formula a bit. If you like Road Rash, this is your best choice on MD.
Road Rash II Megadrive top 100
by Park Place Productions (1992)
There are no fights in NHL '94...a hockey game with no fighting ?? Ok, let's stick with NHLPA 93 then ^^. While NHL '94 did improve on the formula, the lack of fighting and most importantly, the overpowered addition of the one timers made it much worse than NHLPA 93. Now i'm no hockey expert but, aside from the Mutant League Hockey game, this is probably the best game you'll find for this sport on the system (it has full rosters and just lacks the real teams names).
NHLPA 93 Megadrive top 100
Grind Stormer
aka V-Five or V-V by Toaplan / Tengen (1994)
While this is a quality shmup for the Megadrive, you can feel the shift in focus as games became more and more bullet-hell-y. It's a good port of the arcade game and it's definitely enjoyable and worthy of being in the top 10 of the shoot'em'up games on the system. However, the colors are a bit faded compared to the original (or even Truxton) and presentation could have been better for a 1994 game (Tengen ported this one over while Toaplan ported Truxton themselves).
Grind Stormer Megadrive top 100
Pepen ga Pengo
by Sega CS (1995)
There's just something so cute about this game that i can't help smiling while playing it. Largely unknown because it was only released in Japan, it's a good puzzle game in which you need to kick blocks and kill the enemies to finish the level. Its gameplay is reminiscent of Bomberman but with enough changes that it feels like a real game and not a clone. Very enjoyable and has a 4 player mode!
I actually prefer this game over Mega Bomberman.
Pepen ga Pengo Megadrive top 100
Shining Force
by Climax Entertainment / Sonic! Software Planning (1992)
While both Shining Force and Shining Force II share the same universe as the earlier Shining in the Darkness, the gameplay has changed from dungeon crawler to strategy RPG. The Shining Force series plays like a traditional RPG until you are in combat and then need to order your characters around like in a turn based strategy game. Basically, it's a mix of both world that works really well, especially for this series, called Tactical RPG. Presentation is very good and the game is great.
Shining Force Megadrive top 100
Zero Wing
by Toaplan (1991)
How are you gentlemen? Toaplan themselves ported this game to the Megadrive. Most people know it for the incredibly cheesy intro with some of the worst Engrish translation ever but it's actually a very solid Horizontal shoot'em'up with a great soundtrack. It's also an early (1991) release on the console and as such, has contributed to the arcade reputation of the Sega 16bit machine. It's entertaining and deserves more than being known for its intro only.
Zerowing Megadrive top 100
The Chaos Engine
aka Soldiers of Fortune by The Bitmap Brothers (1993)
This dystopian steampunk game lets you take on the role of a mercenary trying to save an alternate history England where the latest creation from Baron Fortesque, the greatest inventor, has become sentient. It's a run'n'gun / hack'n'slash isometric game with lots of different characters, weapons,'s especially fun when playing in 2-player co-op (an AI handles the second character in solo play). The game has high production values as those were the standard of the Bitmap Brothers creations.
The Chaos Engine Megadrive top 100
by Sega (1991)
Another great Disney title from Sega, Quackshot has Donald go the Indiana Jones way to try his luck at finding a treasure like the uncle Scrooge has done so many times. To escape the dangers and enemies, Donald can shoot plungers, bubble gum and popcorn from his weird can use the plungers to jump on higher platforms which introduces a bit of thinking to the game. It's a great action platformer with really nice visuals especially for a 1991 game.
Quackshot Megadrive top 100
Mutant League Hockey
by Electronic Arts (1994)
This game takes the basic rules from Hockey and pits robots, skeletons and trolls in two teams competing on the rink, with extreme prejudice. Players often end up dead as hazards are everywhere and the crowd throws weapons and powerups. You can also fight one on one in a minigame in order to knock opponents out and have them get a longer penalty. It's a fun and original take on Hockey but still relies on the same fundamentals. Give it a try if you like Hockey games. This game is featured in the Fantasy Death Sports article.
Mutant League Hockey Megadrive top 100
by BlueSky Software (1994)
Set in the pen & paper RPG world of Shadowrun, this game is very different from the SNES version. It's an isometric RPG with a mix of scifi and heroic fantasy world (There are trolls, dwarves, elves, magic but also cyberpunk stuff and hacking). It is a deep, highly entertaining role playing game with enough to do to feel like you're part of the game's universe, nice atmosphere and a really cool Matrix virtual world. While not perfect, it's probably as good as a console shadowrun game could have been.
Shadowrun Megadrive top 100
International Superstar Soccer Deluxe
by Factor 5 (1996)
I'm not the biggest soccer fan but this is clearly the best game on the system. Fifa always felt a bit weird and the presentation in ISS Deluxe is top notch. Graphics are much better than in any alternative, the game is smooth and it plays well, there are a lot of modes including a "scenario" mode where you must overcome adversity to recreate legendary matches. Good game for soccer fans...
International Superstar Soccer Deluxe Megadrive top 100
Sonic the Hedgehog
by Sega (1991)
THE game that made me want a megadrive. It was so much faster and tighter than any other platformer i had played. I know this is a bit low in the rankings but i enforce a "the best in the series reflects rankings more" policy here. I'm also a bit swayed by the fact that the game ran slower on PAL consoles due to it not taking the hz differences in display into account. Everyone knows this one, it's a great platform game in which you must fight the evil Dr Eggman (Robotnik in NA/EU) and free the animals.
Sonic the Hedgehog Megadrive top 100
Shadow Dancer
by Sega (1990)
The second best shinobi game on the console, Shadow Dancer is the sequel to The Revenge of Shinobi but adds a cool effect due to your animal companion. The gameplay is classic run'n'gun with shurikens and swords instead of guns as you play a ninja with the added dog attacks that you charge by holding a button. Levels are varied and you'll wander through burning and destroyed cities, caves, warehouses and rooftops. There's also an entertaining free fall bonus stage that plays like an inversed vertical shmup.
Shadow Dancer Megadrive top 100
Raiden Trad
by Seibu Kaihatsu (1991)
The Megadrive being one of the best shmups consoles, a port of Raiden was inevitable. It was ported by the original devs and is probably the best Raiden port on 16bit. Raiden is, at its core, a very solid Vertical shoot'em'up that won't wow you or make you go wild but is a consistent good game. That's rare enough to point out and consistency in a shmup means you'll never get bored in this one. Also, while the visuals aren't the best, there are no slowdowns at all.
Raiden Trad Megadrive top 100
by Game Freak (1994)
Made by Game Freak, the studio responsible for the Pokemon series, this game never got a physical release in the US and none at all in Europe...which might explain why it's so underrated. Kind of a mix between Sonic, Megaman and Rocket Knight, this platformer has great gameplay and awesome graphics. The levels aren't as good as in the Sonic or Megaman series, though, which explains the lower ranking. Still, it's a great action platformer that deserved an international release and some major ad campaigns.
Pulseman Megadrive top 100
Phantasy Star II
by Sega (1989)
Set 942 years after the events of Phantasy Star I, PSII is the first RPG released for the Megadrive and was released in the US two months before Final Fantasy on the NES. The Phantasy Star RPG series is among the greatest RPG series of all times so this game really is worth a playthrough even though it's not as polished or good-looking as the IVth game also on Megadrive. Additionally, its good plot and gameplay have aged better than in the first game and it is still a great adventure to experience to this day.
Phantasy Star II Megadrive top 100
Devil Crash
aka Dragon's Fury by Compile (1991)
The best pinball game for those that want more out of their pinball games... Devil Crash is a mix of Pinball and shooter, there are enemies that you kill with the ball. It's somehow a great mixup and plays well, graphics are nice and the game is very enjoyable even though there's only one table. It is the sequel to Alien Crush, the Giger themed pinball game from 1988.
Devil Crash Megadrive top 100
Eliminate Down
by Aprinet (1993)
The only game developed by Aprinet, Eliminate Down is among the best shoot'em'ups on the Megadrive. Borrowing heavily from Hellfire, this Horizontal shmup that features three firing directional weapons available anytime alongside the main forward weapon has some great level and enemy design. Kind of mixing R-Type's labyrinthic levels with Thunder Force's frantic pace, it deserves a place in this top and in your shmup collection. However, with a few flaws (you can quickly get overwhelmed after a death) and slowdowns, mostly die-hard shmup fans will enjoy it.
Eliminate Down Megadrive top 100
Super H.Q.
aka Chase QH II by Sega (1993)
This game is a port of S.C.I. - Special Criminal Investigation, the arcade sequel to Chase H.Q. It plays like regular racing games ala Outrun except here, your goal is to catch the crazy bastards racing like madmen on the roads and highways. You have a choice of 3 vehicles, a fast sportscar, a reliable patrol car or a heavy truck (they all have different speeds, strength and weight). To catch an offender, you need to break his car which is where those stats come into effect. It's a really cool racing game.
Super Chase HQ II Megadrive top 100
Megaman the Wily Wars
by Minakuchi Engineering (1994)
This game actually is a remakes compilation of the first 3 Megaman games that were initially released on the NES. There are some differences in the games but overall, aside from a graphical update, that's what you get. Being the first and only release of Megaman games on a non-Nintendo console, it was pretty much a must-have for Sega fans. At its core, Megaman is an action platformer in which you gain the powers of the bosses you defeat. Very enjoyable albeit hard games.
Megaman the Willy Wars Megadrive top 100
Monster World IV
aka Wonder Boy IV by Westone (1994)
This game sadly was only released in Japan and that's a shame because it's actually even better than Wonder Boy in Monster World. Graphics and animations are really nice, among the best on Megadrive. There are new gameplay options such as being able to swing the sword up, down or holding the shield to guard from attacks. You can summon a pet which you can hold onto to either jump or float a bit. The game is really fun and cute and keeps the same formula as the previous games so if you liked them, play Monster World IV!
Monster World IV Megadrive top 100
Mutant League Football
by Electronic Arts (1993)
A pretty unique mix of US Football and deadly mutants fighting to the death. The game is very fun even though it can seem overwhelming for a beginner. If you don't know how US football is played, i'd recommend playing Mutant League Hockey instead. The game has a spiritual successor in Mutant Football League, a game designed by Michael Mendheim, the original lead designer of the Mutant League games...
This game is featured in the Fantasy Death Sports article.
Mutant League Football Megadrive top 100
Rocket Knight Adventures
aka Sparkster by Treasure (1990)
Really cool action platform game, with hilarious animations and really solid gameplay. This game had a sequel that also appeared on SNES but the changes made it worse, in my opinion, and that's why you won't find it in this top. Very entertaining game that deserves a mention in a conversation about the best platformers on the system.
Rocket Knight Adventures Megadrive top 100
Arrow Flash
by Treasure (1990)
Simpler yet very enjoyable horizontal shmup in which you switch from ship mode to cyborg/robot mode, giving you different shot options. It's a no-nonsense, pure speed and fun game. Graphics aren't the best around but they're really nice for a 1990 game and if you enjoy shoot'em'ups, you'll probably like this one for more relaxed gaming sessions.
Arrow Flash Megadrive top 100
by Psygnosis (1994)
Probably the best pixel art on the system, it really is spectacular. Henk Nieborg notably worked on Lionheart (Amiga), Lomax (PS1) and is among the best pixel artists in the world. The game itself is very enjoyable, it's a solid platformer that sadly got released a bit late in the console's life cycle and thus got overlooked. Graphics have a very distinctive style much more detailed than usual console art, more akin to the Atari/Amiga scenes and it's refreshing to see on a Megadrive. Check out his latest games: Xeno Crisis (new game on MD!!) and Battle Ax.
Flink Megadrive top 100
by Sega (1990)
It's probably the closest thing to Tetris you can find on the Megadrive (even though there's a version of Tetris, i didn't include it because it was cancelled due to licensing issues but it's great, try it if you can!). After a column lands, if three or more of the same symbols are connected in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line, those symbols disappear. Gravity also plays its role, making some combos possible. Great early title for the system and good puzzle game.
Columns Megadrive top 100
Skeleton Krew
by Core Design (1995)
Hidden gem alert !
This isometric shooter/hack'n'slash has great atmosphere and smooth gameplay, the designs are very unique and cool and it plays well, especially in co-op. Remember The Chaos Engine earlier in the rankings ? If you like that, definitely try this one. For me, the view, designs and gameplay are all better in this one! The late release date might explain why it has been overlooked or ignored by many.
Skeleton Krew Megadrive top 100
City Under Siege by Sega (1990)
This game is based on the Cyber Police ESWAT arcade game without being a direct port. It's a run'n'gun game that features a power armor with a jetpack and better weapons that you get after the second level. Overall, very solid run'n'gun action, good designs and a pretty unique jetpack based gameplay make this game very enjoyable and fun. I'd recommend it to all the fans of the genre.
Eswat Megadrive top 100
Greatest Heavyweights
by Sonic! Software Planning (1993)
Simply the best boxing game on the Megadrive...not that there's much of competition. The side view is unusual but well used, the game is fast and requires you to think about your attacks and it's fun to play. You can even create your own boxer (even though some of the colors are a bit silly, you can create a green-skinned boxer for instance) and try to reach the top of the rankings where you'll need to defeat the champions. Good boxing game.
Greatest Heavyweights Megadrive top 100
Thunder Force III
by Technosoft (1990)
Another early title, TFIII is one of the best shmups on Megadrive. Unlike in its predecessors, the game stays with the Horizontal side-scrolling throughout which is probably for the best since it is in those moments that the ThunderForce series is at its peak. It's a classic, no-nonsense Horizontal shoot'em'up with powerups, options, different weapons and rapid-fire. Great graphics and special effects, level design is really nice and gameplay fast and responsive.... Worthy of a spot in a top 10 (arguably top 5) of the best shmups on the system.
Thunderforce III Megadrive top 100
Shining Force II
by Sonic! Software Planning (1993)
Keeping the core elements that made the first game great, Shining Force II just seems bigger in every way. Bigger and better, as the graphics, UI and music have all been improved and add to the game's atmosphere. The scale is pretty epic and you'll find yourself battling demons and possessed kings in a scramble as you try to save everyone in a vast open world. I'm not a big fan of the tactical aspect which explains why both this game and the first are ranked somewhat low in these rankings but if you do, these two are classics.
Shining Force II Megadrive top 100
Super Hang On
by Sega (1989)
Yet another arcade conversion that arrived early on the Megadrive...and it was quite impressive. For that year, graphics were outstanding compared to the alternativesThe game runs very smoothly and the whole "upgrade your bike" aspect is pretty damn cool. This game has aged really well and i recommend playing it for any fan of arcade racing games.
Super Hang On Megadrive top 100
Elemental Master
by Technosoft (1990)
Pure arcade fun. Fast, responsive controls make this vertical shmup very can go through several paths as you make your way to the top of the level and aside from that, the game is a great shoot'em'up especially for a 1990 game. Definitely contributed to the "home arcade" reputation of the Megadrive.
Elemental Master Megadrive top 100
The Lost Vikings
by Blizzard (as Silicon and Synapse) (1991)
One of the first games developed by the future Blizzard company, The Lost Vikings is a mix of platform, action and puzzle game in which you alternatively control 3 Vikings (that look more like dwarves than anything else) with different abilities in order to progress in the levels. It's a very fun take on the puzzle genre and has a good balance between challenge, reflexion and entertainment. Great and enjoyable classic puzzle game.
Lost Vikings Megadrive top 100
Panorama Cotton
by Treasure (1991)
What a lovely game Panorama Cotton is...the colors and graphics are great and kawaii (cute) and gameplay is much improved compared to games like Space Harrier II (launch title), AfterBurner or Burning Force. This genre is called Rail Shooter and this game is definitely the best there is on the Megadrive. The graphics are way above those of any alternative and kind of amazing for a 16bit console. The game itself is smooth but has a few slowdowns and some occasional flickering. Play this if you like arcade rail shooters!
Panorama Cotton Megadrive top 100
Mazin Saga
Mutant Fighter by Almanic Corp (1993)
Based on a Go Nagai manga (author of Mazinger-Z and UFO robot Grendizer also known in France as Goldorak), this is a side-scrolling beat'em'up ala Streets of Rage and the likes. Characters might seem tiny at first but that's to add to the feeling of oppression from the HUGE (and i mean H-U-G-E) bosses that could fill ten game screens. That's the epic dimension of Mazin Saga, a solid beat'em'up with fast and responsive controls, enjoyable boss fights (that switch to VS fighting at the end) and great animation. Go play this ASAP if you haven't already.
Mazin Saga Megadrive top 100
X-men 2: Clone Wars
by HeadGames and Sega (1995)
While the first X-men game was forgettable, the devs went back to the drawing board for this one and boosted the number of playable characters to seven. Beast, Psylocke, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Gambit, Wolverine and even Magneto are fighting in this run'n'gun platformer that features wall jumping, special powers specific to each character and weirdly puts you ingame right away with the title screen appearing after you beat the first level. That's actually great for immersion and the game, with its great graphics and precise gameplay, is a blast!
Xmen 2 Clone Wars Megadrive top 100
Golden Axe
by Sega (1989)
Considering the arcade game was released in the summer of 1989, it was only natural for Sega to bring it to its brand new console. As such, Golden Axe is a real staple of the Megadrive as it showed how good arcade conversions could be on the new 16bit consoles and really contributed to the console's early success. The game is a fantasy beat'em'up in which you select one of three different characters that have different attacks and magic powers. You accumulate mana potions that are used to unleash devastating magical attacks. It's a classic and a great arcade port.
Golden Axe Megadrive top 100
Streets of Rage
by Sega (1991)
While Sega had Altered Beast and Golden Axe, they did not have a contemporary beat'em'up like Double Dragon or Final Fight. To be able to compete with the upcoming SNES from Nintendo, they had to secure or create a franchise of such games. They created Streets of Rage, one of the best series and one that has become a synonym of the Megadrive's capabilities. With much better designs than in Final Fight, the SoR series improved on the proven formula by adding special attacks and varied, exciting level design. As classic as classics go.
Streets of Rage Megadrive top 100
Light Crusader
by Treasure (1995)
Late entry in the Megadrive's library, Light Crusader is yet another great game by Treasure. One of the most overlooked action RPG games on the system, Light Crusader has an isometric view similar to Landstalker but in a more realistic setting. Your mission is to find out what has caused the disappearance of the inhabitants of Green do this, you will only explore one dungeon, going deeper and deeper as you solve the puzzles and defeat the monsters it contains. It's a great adventure and the refreshing medieval setting really sets it apart.
Light Crusader Megadrive top 100
Samurai Shodown
by SNK (1993)
Probably the best port of a SNK fighting game on the Megadrive, Samurai Shodown pits samurais against ninjas and other fighters in a weapon-wielding vs fighting duel. Some characters have animal helpers, others breath fire or poison and the game is very entertaining. Graphics are nice even if obviously inferior to the Neo Geo versions and the focus on smart play (with counterattacks dealing a lot of damage) is a refreshing change from the traditional Street Fighter style. Good port of a great game.
Samurai Shodown Megadrive top 100
Shinobi III
by Capcom (1993)
One of the best run'n'gun games on the Sega 16bit console and the best in the Shinobi series, Shinobi III improves on the Revenge of Shinobi and Shadow Dancer with a lot of varied levels that change the pace often. You won't get bored playing this game and it's one of the most enjoyable in the genre. Give this one a shot if you like shurikens over guns ^^
Shinobi III Megadrive top 100
Street Fighter II'
Special Champion Edition by Capcom (1993)
It's the best version of the best VS fighting game on the system. While SSF2 is also on the Megadrive, this special champion edition features 2 games: Street Fighter II Champion Edition and Street Fighter II Turbo Hyper Fighting. The superior speed of the Turbo version makes this one the best, for me. Aside from that, it's a solid port of the arcade game with fast gameplay and retaining all the core elements that made it such a hit. Classic.
Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition Megadrive top 100
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
and Sonic & Knuckles by Sega (1994)
Okay, i'm kinda cheating, putting Sonic & Knuckles along Sonic 3 but it wouldn't really make sense to separate them in a top 100.
While the game is great and has even more moves and powerups than Sonic 2, the levels are less focused, often longer and a bit more convoluted. Still, Sonic & Knuckles is great and can be played with other games and Sonic 3 also has top notch graphics and gameplay so it deserves to be in this top.
Sonic 3 and Knuckles Megadrive top 100
Puyo Puyo
aka Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine by Compile (1992)
Puyo Puyo is a classic puzzle game that has been adapted to non-japanese audiences with popular themes such as Robotnik for the Megadrive and Kirby for the SNES. I like the japanese version over the EU/US one but both are enjoyable puzzle games. Gameplay is simple, you have to form blobs of bubbles of the same color. They detach and fall which makes it possible to have combos, sending more stuff to the opponent. The 2-player mode is great and probably the best way to play the game.
Puyo Puyo Megadrive top 100
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
by LucasArts (1993)
Some rad kids are our only hope against the zombie apocalypse...The concept for this game is just so 90s it speaks for itself! In this overhead action shooter, you must splash the zombies with your water gun (and other weapons) and most importantly, rescue the uninfected people before they get zombified. Funnily stupid and stupidly fun, it's a great co-op game and a very enjoyable action shooter with cool graphics and good replay value.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors Megadrive top 100
Rock'n'Roll Racing
by Blizzard (as Silicon & Synapse) (1993)
Another early Blizzard game after The Lost Vikings, Rock'n'Roll racing is an isometric racing game in which you battle other cars and try to beat them to the finish...or to a pulp! Blizzard itself describes it as an "over-the-top demolition-racing experience" and it's quite right. The game is very fun and you can upgrade your car along the way, helping you wreck your opponents and finish first in the races. Fun racing game, good designs and music!
Rock'n'Roll Racing Megadrive top 100
by Sega (1989)
Sequel to the classic Ghosts'n'Goblins, Ghouls'n'Ghosts was a launch title for the system. In a time where gaming kids could not afford as many games as today, you had to stick with what you had and that was a chance because else, many would not have tried as hard with this game. It's very hard...but also fun and rewarding to play. If you like a challenge, give this one a go, it's a fun action platformer / run'n'gun hybrid.
Ghouls'n'Ghosts Megadrive top 100
Dynamite Headdy
by Treasure (1994)
Treasure proves once again they can make gorgeous games on the won't find a game as colorful as Dynamite Headdy on the system. Aside from the awesome graphics, the game will force you to use your head to advance through the levels and defeat the enemies...and i mean that litterally as the main character sends his head flying to attack or grab platforms...This platformer is oozing cool and is a blast to play. It's a very underrated title that any platformer fan needs to play.
Dynamite Headdy Megadrive top 100
Thunder Force IV
aka Lightening Force by Technosoft (1992)
This ranking will probably surprise shmup fans but I have to admit i like Vertical shmups over Horizontal ones. Still, Thunder Force IV is the best Horizontal shmup on the Sega Megadrive and it shows...great shmup graphics, full of cool effects and with a great soundtrack, the game is tough without being unfair and has aged really well. The 60hz versions do have a few slowdowns, though. Go play this if you like shoot'em'ups!
ThunderForce IV Megadrive top 100
by Virgin Games (1990)
Finding the Megadrive version of Aladdin in this top will surprise no one that has played it. This platform game is one of the best on the system and is very different from its SNES counterpart (developed by Capcom). It features great animation, a good combat system (sword fights, yeah !) and overall is just a great game. It's a bit too difficult though, which explains the ranking.
Aladdin Megadrive top 100
by Iguana (Acclaim) (1993)
The sequel to Arch Rivals, this game is played as a 2v2 basketball game in which there are no fouls. You can hit your opponents to steal the ball and perform crazy dunks. If you keep scoring, your player will be "on fire" and have infinite turbo boost. It's very fun to play, especially in 2 player mode. I always aimed for a broken glass panel ^^
NBA Jam Megadrive top 100
Contra Hard Corps
aka Probotector by Konami (1994)
The Contra series has always meant hardcore games for hardcore gamers. So what would have been more natural than making the insanely difficult Contra Hard Corps (pronounced hardcore) ? This run'n'gun is VERY hard but it's also one of the best in the genre on Megadrive and maybe even in the series. Note though that the Japanese version is much easier than the US one and that the EU(/PAL) version called Probotector was kinda butchered.
Contra Hard Corps Megadrive top 100
Alien Soldier
by Treasure (1995)
For this game, that was originally supposed to have much more content, Treasure went ballistics. You will face 31 bosses in 25 stages. Let that sink in...yup, there's absolutely no downtime in here. Gameplay is great, visuals are some of the best on the system but the game is pretty hard because of the high level of challenge though. Non-stop arcade action frenzy with great graphics ? Sign me up !
Alien Soldier Megadrive top 100
by Compile (1990)
One of the best shmups on the system or even 16-bit consoles, MUSHA is part of the Aleste series. It's a vertical scrolling shoot'em'up packed full of enemies with great graphics for a 1990 game. The japanese oriented theme is refreshing in a shmup and contributes to the fun of the levels. It's also easier than some other shmups on this list because of the simple yet genius system of upgrades: instead of losing a life when getting hit, you lose your current upgrade (much like in Sonic where you lose your rings). Don't miss out on this one, it's great!
MUSHA Megadrive top 100
Comix Zone
by Sega (1994)
Underrated and very fun beat'em'up with insane graphics in which you're trapped in a comic and have to jump from strip to strip. You really get the feeling that you're playing inside a comic book as the graphics and animations are great... Gameplay is fast paced and there are multiple ways to go. It's just pure awesomeness and has a huge 90s feeling. Must have!
Comix Zone Megadrive top 100
Earthworm Jim
by Shiny Entertainment (1994)
So...Comix Zone had great graphics and animations, right ? Well this game might just top it ! The cartoony graphics allow the main character in this game (a worm in a spacesuit) to stretch in multiple ways and he's probably the most expressive MC of any game on the Megadrive. The game is very fun and well worth sticking around to try reaching the end as you'll be treated to a lot of crazy, weird and hilarious moments !
Earthworm Jim Megadrive top 100
Shining in the Darkness
by Climax (1991)
This game is the first entry in the Shining Force RPG series. It has a very different gameplay as this one is a dungeon crawler like Lands of Lore or Eye of the Beholder. The game has a lot of humor and while the story is not bad it's not great either. But the gameplay is good, you'll be spending your time in dungeons, killing monsters and then have a beer in the tavern or selling your loot. Pretty typical but for a 1991 release, it's very well made and deserves praise.
Shining in the Darkness Megadrive top 100
TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist
by Konami (1992)
While many fans of the mutant turtles will tell you that Turtles in Time on the SNES is the better game, i tend to disagree. This game might have a bit less polish and lacks some of the fun animations in the SNES game (such as the enemy projection toward the screen), the levels in Hyperstone Heist have a better flow and design. The gameplay is tight and you can't really go wrong with a TMNT game so...what are you waiting for ? PIZZA TIME!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist Megadrive top 100
ToeJam & Earl
in Panic on Funkotron by ToeJam & Earl Productions, Inc. (1994)
This time around, the humans (which you inadvertently let come up aboard your ship) have invaded your planet and it's your duty to send them back to earth. This game is a bit controversial because it abandonned the gameplay that players loved in the first game for a much more classical platformer approach. However, the amazing graphics, the quirky charm of the Funkotron world and the funky beats are anything but classical. The game provides great entertainment, even more so if you have a friend playing with you. It's full of silly details and the difficulty is just right.
ToeJam & Earl II in Panic on Funkotron Megadrive top 100
World of Illusion
starring Mickey and Donald by Sega (1992)
One of the best platform games on the Megadrive and arguably the best co-op title, World of Illusion is full of charm. It's rather on the easy side as you'll find plenty of candy and cakes (that somehow give you more life cards /shrug video game logic) in the levels and while some games would have been worse for it, World of Illusion lets you enjoy the ride through a magical adventure with those 2 iconic Disney characters. Kids will love it and you can play with them, too...
World of Illusion starring Mickey and Donald Megadrive top 100
Another World
aka Out of this World by Delphine Software (1992)
This non-exclusive title is too good to pass up and deserves its spot in this top 100. This game is an action adventure with very smooth animations that made use of the rotoscoping technique (drawing over film). The atmosphere is great and while controls are a bit stiff, the way Eric Chahi designed the game to tell the story and explain the world through gameplay really is unique. It's one of those games that you must try at least once in your life.
Another World Megadrive top 100
Ranger X
by GAU Entertainment (1994)
Ranger X is a kind of run'n'gun and shmup hybrid where you can fuse with your vehicle and fly around. Really cool, easy to understand, hard to master but rewarding game. Visuals are nice, not the best on the system but good enough to keep you playing.
Ranger X Megadrive top 100
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
by Westwood Studios (1994)
One of the earliest true Real Time Strategy games along with Herzog Zwei. This one, however, had much more solid foundations AND was based on a great book series. The game has a great atmosphere, the pixel art cutscenes are gorgeous and i was surprised by how well it plays on a controller (i played this game on PC before this version). Simply put, it's the best strategy game on Megadrive.
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis Megadrive top 100
The Lion King
by Westwood Studios (1994)
Aaaah...the good old days when licensed games were usually great. Oops, sorry for the nostalgia trip but it's true that nowadays, licensed games usually mean crappy, quick cash-grabs instead of a masterpiece. The Lion King is one of the best platformers on the system and is full of gorgeous backdrops and animations. Difficulty curve is perfect, too. Oh you just can't wait to play this...
The Lion King Megadrive top 100
aka Tatsujin by Toaplan (1989)
This shoot'em'up is one of the early titles for the Megadrive and helped give it its reputation of "home arcade machine". Based on the arcade game released a year earlier, the game's smooth scrolling, big projectiles and huge bosses made it clear that the console was 16bit and that the NES was obsolete. While Grind Stormer, another shmup from Toaplan is also on the console, the impact of this game was much bigger and it also featured less "bullet-hell" (or danmaku) mechanics, instead relying on old fashioned tough enemies and focused on your ship's damage. Surpringly still very enjoyable especially for an older title that was released in 1989!
Truxton Tatsujin Megadrive top 100
aka Crusader of Centy by Sega (1994)
Touted as the "Megadrive's Legend of Zelda", Soleil is a game that was developed by Sega in the Mega RPG Project, in an attempt to bring back RPG gamers to their console. While the graphics do look very similar, i wouldn't really compare the two games. Soleil seems aimed at a different target, with its tone and cute (kawaii) graphics, characters and animals. In Soleil, you gain powers from the 2 animals that accompany you. The more animals you rescue, the more powers you have at your disposal, just like the items in the Legend of Zelda series. It's a fun game and definitely one of the best action RPG on the platform.
Soleil Crusader of Centy Megadrive top 100
Castlevania: Bloodlines
aka Castlevania: The New Generation(/Vampire Killer) by Sega (1994)
Contrary to popular belief, the SNES wasn't the only 16-bit home console to get Castlevania games. This game was, at the time, overlooked by many fans of the franchise (thankfully, not so much nowadays) even though it's a great title! Gameplay is fast and responsive, graphics are good and while it won't compete for the "best Castlevania game ever" title, it's still a great game and one of a kind on the Megadrive.
Castlevania Bloodlines Megadrive top 100
by Climax Entertainment (1992)
More serious in tone than Soleil, Landstalker uses an isometric view that is pretty uncommon in action RPGs. While it can result in some frustration (especially when jumping on platforms), the resulting aesthetics are very good and give the game a unique look. It is a bit on the short side but it's an enjoyable game with no real flaws. Recommended to all the action RPG fans!
Landstalker Megadrive top 100
Virtua Racing
by Sega (1994)
I feel like this game could have been much more huge on the Megadrive than it was. The very heavy price probably contributed to it not being as hyped or liked as it could have. I didn't play it at the time of its release because of the hefty price tag due to the added components in the cart (the SVP chip) similar to the Super FX carts on SNES. I was amazed, however, at how smooth the game is, even in 2 player mode! It's truly an achievement to have managed to get this game to run on the Megadrive and is an important piece of history that remains fun to play to this day.
Virtua Racing Megadrive top 100
Micro Machines 2
Turbo Tournament by Supersonic Software (1994)
The definition of multiplayer back in the day! This game pits you and your friends (playable up to 4 thanks to 2 controller slots on the cart) in tiny micro cars that battle and race on tracks made furniture and house items. Imagine Rick Moranis' kids having sports cars in Honey, I shrunk the kids! Great fun with friends...
Micro Machines 2 : Turbo Tournament Megadrive top 100
by BlueSky Software (1995)
Great little known gem that came out very late on the Megadrive. Not many people played it because the Saturn was already out but it features gorgeous 3D rendered graphics (like the Donkey Kong games on SNES), fast gameplay and good level design. The game is hard but it's still a great game that you will enjoy playing if you don't mind hard games.
Vectorman Megadrive top 100
by Sega (1995)
Criminally underrated, this title developed by the Sonic team remains massively unknown because of its late release (3 months only before the Saturn hit the shelves). It's a shame because the game has incredible visuals and a very interesting gameplay mechanic. The main character, Ristar, has extendable arms that are used to grab enemies and also to move around. It takes a bit to get used to but when you do, it's very fun. I definitely recommend it to any platformer fan as you'll have a blast playing this game!
Ristar Megadrive top 100
Gunstar Heroes
by Treasure (1993)
Arguably the best run'n'gun game on the system. Very colorful, great visuals and great in coop. Even though i like Mega Turrican more, you'll have a lot of fun with this one!
Gunstar Heroes Megadrive top 100
Speedball 2
Brutal Deluxe by The Bitmap Brothers (1993)
Blood and broken bones...Ice cream!
High production values from the Bitmap Brothers, with great music and designs along with a refined gameplay from the first in the series which was a success on Amiga and Atari computers.
A definitive classic of the era, this brutal sports game is very enjoyable. There's tons of ways to score points, you can improve your players or hire free agents...etc. If you want to know more about this game, i suggest reading the Future Death Sports article.
Speedball 2 Brutal Deluxe Megadrive top 100
Mega Turrican
by Factor 5 (1994)
Very underrated game. It's a great Run'n'gun game with exploration, some would call it a metroid-vania but a more accurate description would be Contra meets Metroid. This is a sequel to the Amiga/Commodore games. If you like Contra: Hard Corps, Gunstar Heroes and other games like those, go play Mega Turrican asap, it's the best of the bunch in my opinion.
Mega Turrican Megadrive top 100
by Delphine Software (1992)
Now this is an all time classic and while not exclusive to the Sega 16bit machine, it definitely deserves a good ranking in this top. It was designed with the Megadrive in mind but all the versions are great to play through. Be prepared for quite the adventure as you try to reconnect with your memories and embark on a journey that will bring you from Titan to Earth and distant planets. Gameplay is very smooth and the rotoscoping techniques already used in games like Another World really give this title a unique feel. Visuals are also top notch. Truly a cinematic experience that you will fondly remember for years.
Flashback Megadrive top 100
Story of Thor
aka Beyond Oasis by Ancient (1994)
This game was one of the games that were developed as part of the "Mega RPG Project" initiative which Sega launch to counter the bigger RPG library of the SNES. It is my favorite Action RPG ever, probably because i just love the graphics and the added depth in gameplay due to the combo system, the breakable weapons (an idea that was included in the latest Legend of Zelda game: Breath of the Wild) and the plot/characters. It is sadly a bit short but there are some sidequests (you can get infinite, stronger versions of weapons by completing hidden objectives) and it is a highly enjoyable game!
Story of Thor Megadrive top 100
Bare Knuckle III
aka Streets of Rage 3 by Sega and Ancient (1994)
For many, Streets of Rage 2 is the best in the series. And i can understand why they would think that, experiencing the butchering job that Sega of America performed on the original game. However, the original japanese game is the superior version...the gameplay is more varied thanks to new special attacks and a progression system which grants you more powerful versions, a branching storyline and great graphics! If you've only ever played the NA/Europe version, do yourself a favor and play the japanese one.
Bare Knuckle III Megadrive top 100
Phantasy Star IV
by Sega (1993)
The Phantasy Star series has been a staple for Sega 8bit and 16bit consoles, the first game being even better than Final Fantasy at the time. The rythm in this game is great, you'll never get stuck not knowing where to go. As a result, the game is faster to complete than titles like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest but the adventure is still very much worth it and definitely the pinnacle of the series and the best RPG on the system. Weirdly got delayed 2 years before being released in North America and Europe which is why some people might have never played it.
Phantasy Star IV Megadrive top 100
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
by Sega (1992)
Quite simply the best in the series that made Sega a real contender for Nintendo. This one is the more focused of the 3 and has the perfect mix of challenge, length and fun factor. Level design is brilliant and forces you to stay on your toes in this excellent platformer. Sonic is very fast but, unlike Bubsy or other characters of the same ilk, he can actually stop and see where he's going. There's nothing much to write about that hasn't been told already. Go play this if you haven't.
Sonic the Hedgehog Megadrive top 100
Honorable mentions:
Streets of Rage 2, The Revenge of Shinobi, Saint Sword, Cadash, Mortal Kombat, Gley Lancer, Phantom 2040, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Haunting, General Chaos, Gaiares, Bubba'N'Stix, Warsong, Jungle Strike, Kid Chameleon, Twinkle Tale, Alien Storm...