The Best Undiscovered Sega Genesis / Megadrive, Sega CD, and 32X Games


Usually, when you get a new-to-you console, you can usually find or remember the major games to check out. But what happens when you need something different to play? This is where the “Hidden Gems” come in.
Read More About My Criteria For Hidden Gems
See All The Hidden Gems Articles

Platformers

Obvious Choices:
Sonic the Hedgehog,, Toe Jam & Earl,

Featured Game: Ristar
Ristar ScreenshotPlatformers were all the rage in the 16-bit era, so there were a number of gems that got lost in the mix. Ristar was a fresh adventure game in which the main character actually had some interesting capabilities. Ristar’s gimmick is simple, but effective: Ristar can’t jump very high, or do any feats of extreme acrobatics. Instead, he can stretch his arms about two Ristar-Lengths ahead of him, he can grab onto ledges, walls, handholds, ladders, and enemies. He can even climb walls by touching the wall multiple times, climbing up slowly.

As Ristar, you must use your arms as your weapons, grabbing onto whatever you can — to destroy things, to advance to new places, to get cool secrets. You can grab onto flying enemies, who will bring you to previously unreachable places. You can nimbly swing from poles and branches, among other things, without your feet ever touching the ground for moments at a time. Needless to say, Ristar will keep you fascinated for quite a while if you give it a chance.
Find Ristar on eBay

More Great Games:
Rocket Knight Adventures
Dynamite Headdy
Knuckles Chaotix (32X)
Bonanza Brothers
Donald in Maui Mallard
Pulseman
Cool Spot
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mania
Disney’s Aladdin
Disney’s Lion King
Wiz ‘N’ Liz
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Wonder Boy in Monster World
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Quackshot Starring Donald Duck
Puggsy
Taz-Mania
Kid Chameleon
Marvel Land
Tempo (32x)

Action/Adventure

Obvious Choices:
Revenge of Shinobi, Ecco The Dolphin, Castlevania Bloodlines

Featured Game: Flashback: The Quest for Identity
Flashback ScreenshotTouted as a “CD-ROM Game on a Cartridge”, Flashback: The Quest for Identity was one of the most graphically impressive Genesis games in its day.

The game features fully hand-drawn backdrops and for its time remarkably fluid rotoscoped animation of walking, running and jumping movements, reminiscent of the earlier Prince of Persia.

In addition to is beautiful graphics, Flashback has some of the most engrossing gameplay and puzzles that you will find on the Genesis.
Find Flashback: The Quest for Identity on eBay

More Great Games:
Phantom 2040
Alisia Dragoon
Cannon Fodder
Adventures of Batman & Robin
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
BatteTech: A Game of Armored Combat
Jungle Strike
X-Men
Splatterhouse 3
Blackthorne (32x)
Adventures of Willy Beamish (Sega CD)
Road Avenger (Sega CD)
Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin (Sega CD)

Run-N-Gun Shooters

Obvious Choices:
Gunstar Heroes, Contra: Hard Corps, Vectorman, Earthworm Jim

Featured Game: Alien Soldier
Alien Soldier ScreenshotThis run-n-gun is considered one of the hardest games ever developed by the cult-classic factory, Treasure, and was released only in Japan and Europe. It is very difficult to find in either region.

As usual, Treasure really put a lot of creativity into Alien Soldier’s graphics and animation. The characters are large, extremely detailed and fluidly animated. And as opposed to most other side-scrolling shooters, the levels are notably short and easy before reaching a boss. This results in the game being mostly large boss fights.
Find Alien Soldier on eBay

More Great Games
Ranger-X
Target Earth
MERCS
Mega Turrican
Rolling Thunder 2
Rolling Thunder 3
Rambo III
Soldiers of Fortune

Shmups

Obvious Choices:
Zero Wing

Featured Game: MUSHA
MUSHA Screenshot

This one’s pretty hard to find, but it’s not uncommon for shmup fans to pay up to obtain the best of the best.ย ย M.U.S.H.A. (Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armor) . ย Just about every aspect of this gem is impressive — solid controls, interesting mechanics, and beautiful visuals.
Find M.U.S.H.A. on eBay

More Great Games
Robo Aleste (Sega CD)
Thunder Force II
Thunder Force III
Thunder Force IV (Lightening Force)
Panorama Cotton
Android Assault: Revenge of Bari-Arm (Sega CD)
Lords of Thunder (Sega CD)
Silpheed (Sega CD)
Soul Star (Sega CD)
Keio Flying Squadron (Sega CD)
Air Buster
Twinkle Tale
Sub-Terrania
Super Thunder Blade
Super Fantasy Zone
Fire Shark
Super Thunder Blade
Twinkle Tale
Eliminate Down
Forgotten Worlds

Dangerous Seed
Bio-Hazard Battle

Sagaia/ Darius 2
Afterburner Complete (32X)
Shadow Squadron(32X)
Space Harrier (32X)
Kolibri (32X)

Fighting/Beatemups/Hack-N-Slash

Obvious Choices:
Streets of Rage Series, Golden Axe, Street Fighter II: SCE, Mortal Kombat II, Eternal Champions, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Samurai Shodown, Strider, Battletoads, Double Dragon

Featured Game: Comix Zone
Comix Zone ScreenshotThis brawler is an extremely original and visually impressive game which immerses you in a comic book world. It’s probably one of the coolest games on the Genesis. Instead of featuring a character that simply walked down a city street and beat people up, Comix Zone had the game’s hero sucked into his own comic book creation and battle the villains within actual panels of comic book pages.

You can leap out of the page and back down into the next panel, perhaps even shortcut to the panels below. Add in the ability to rip loose chunks of the page itself to make deadly paper airplanes, or the power to punch an enemy through the ink boundaries of the panel and you have a fresh twist to the beatemup genre.
Find Comix Zone on eBay

More Great Games
Yu Yu Hakuso: Makyo Toitsusen
Battletoads & Double Dragon
TMNT: Tournament Fighters
TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist
The Lost Vikings
King of Monsters
Gauntlet IV
Saturday Night Slam Masters
The Punisher
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
Dragon Ball Z: Bu Yu Retsuden

RPG

Obvious Choices
Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III, Phantasy Star IV, Lunar the Silver Star (Sega CD), Lunar Eternal Blue (Sega CD) , Snatcher (Sega CD)

Featured Game: Shadowrun
Shadowrun ScreenshotBased on a pen and paper RPG, the console versions of Shadowrun are an RPG that is set in a dark future. The gameplay is more similar to Western PC RPGs as opposed to traditional Japanese console RPGs. Because of this, it seemed to stay under the radar of mainstream console gamers.

Shadowrun offers the player an open style of gameplay, where one controls the main character, Joshua, in third person perspective during both exploration and combat. Battles are real time, and although of varying difficulty, tend to be brutally short. Initially, the player is restricted to a single area of the game, but shortly gains access to almost all other areas. Access to other areas is accomplished primarily by taxi, although various restrictions and other modes of travel also exist, such as requiring a visa, or bypassing the visa check with use of a helicopter.

Instead of using experience points that you find in most RPGs, which allow you to move up levels, Shadowrun uses karma points, which you earn one at a time. These Karma points are used to make your character more powerful in the aspects of your choosing.
Find Shadowrun on eBay

More Great Games
Dark Wizard (Sega CD)
Popful Mail (Sega CD)
Beyond Oasis
Beggar Prince
Eye of the Beholder (Sega CD)
Monster World IV
Warsong (Langrisser 1)
Crusader of Centy
Light Crusader
Landstalker
Shining in the Darkness
Faery Tale Adventure
Dungeon Explorer (Sega CD)
Vay (Sega CD)

Strategy

Obvious Choices:
Shining Force, Shining Force II

Featured Game: Herzog Zwei
 Combining elements of real-time strategy and resource management into a shmup, Herzog Zwei is possibly one of the best games on Sega’s 16-bit powerhouse. Herzog Zwei is a two-player game in which the object is to destroy the enemy’s base. To accomplish this, the player was able to construct an assortment of units — including tanks, anti-aircraft guns, attack boats, infantry and armored cars.

Herzog Zwei was neglected by Sega at its release and was literally years ahead of its time. Nevertheless, it ultimately laid the foundation for games like Dune 2, Warcraft, BattleZone, and Command & Conquer by introducing most of the modern RTS conventions. The mechanics of Herzog Zwei make it a game with a slower feel than most modern RTS games, making for more
thoughtful play. I always find hybrid games like this to be interesting and such a neglected yet groundbreaking title should be shared with future gaming generations.

The single player game was good on its own, but it was Herzog Zwei’s multiplayer set the game apart. Players could engage each other on any of the game’s eight maps through the use of a vertical split screen. Against an actual breathing opponent, the game became much more complex and could make for hours of intense fun.
Find Herzog Zwei on eBay

More Great Games
Gain Ground
General Chaos
Aerobiz Supersonic
Dune: The Battle for Arrakis
Populous
Masters of Monsters
Gemfire
Starflight

Puzzle/Maze

Obvious Choices:
Ms. Pac-Man, Mega Bomberman

Featured Game: Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
 Even though the game wasn’t promoted a whole lot (other than the Sonic tie-in), Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is the best puzzle games on the Genesis. The game itself is actually based on the established Puyo Puyo series that had been keeping Japanese gamers occupied for years.

There is not much complexity in the Mean Bean Machine’s gameplay. The player must group 4 or more different colored beans together so that they erase, and send Refugee Beans (aka Garbage) to the opponent. The more beans that link up, the more garbage is sent. Players may also activate step chains so that even more garbage is scored.

The one-player gameplay is very good as each “opponent” has a different technique and skill level. These different levels do an excellent job of testing your mastery of the game and have a great pace of difficulty. Beginners will not feel overwhelmed by the first level and will eventually progress until the final battle with Dr. Robotnik that will challenge even the most hardcore puzzle addicts.
Find Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine on eBay

More Great Games
Zoop
Panic! (Sega CD)
Klax
Pac-Attack
Snow Bros. Starring Nick & Tom

Sports/Racing

Obvious Choices:
World Series Baseball, NBA Jam TE, NFL With Joe Montana, Virtua Racing, Road Rash, OutRun

Featured Game: Zany Golf
 Zany Golf is an amazing mini golf game that started on the Apple IIGS and PC, but was later ported to the Genesis. It was programmed mostly by the man behind Marble Madness, Will Harvey. The gameplay is very similar to standard mini golf, but you must complete the course in a specific number of strokes. If you finish a hole within a specified time period or if you hit specific targets, you can earn bonus strokes.

Zany Golf featured a stunning 3D isometric viewpoint and was filled with nine inventive holes of mini golf. What made Zany Golf’s course so interesting is that each hole had a creative theme and features different obsticales that are not physically possible in real life such as jumping hamburgers, telportation devices, and moving anthills.

Zany golf had intuitive and precise controls, but still offered quite a challenge. Many gamers will need to play a hole a few times through to be able to get through it without running out of strokes. I still remember being filled with anticipation when I was able to clear one hole and see what mind-blowing course would greet me next.
Find Zany Golf on eBay

More Great Games
Skitchin’
Championship Pro-Am
Super Baseball 2020
Micro Machines
Combat Cars

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65 Comments

racketboy says:

Well, I wasn’t going to list all of them — the list could be quite long ๐Ÿ™‚

Free User says:

Maybe will be better to change the Fighting/Beatemups/Hack-N-Slash section, dividing it into two sections, one for Fighting/Beatemups and another for the Hack & Slash. Ghouls โ€˜N Ghosts, Gauntlet IV and Strider are no beat em ups, but action games instead.

Terrabyte303 says:

I like the list. Great job Racketboy. Thanks!

Free user says:

Racketboy, Final Fight CD, Virtua Fighter 32X and Eternal Champions CD are three of the best fighting games of Genesis, I think they should go into the obvious choices section.

Passerby says:

I think “King’s Bounty” should be under RPG’s. It was sort of good

james42519 says:

kinda think you should split the gen/segacd, and 32x up into the own groups or something to make it easier for people to go through they by what system they are on.

james42519 says:

i don’t see segacd mentioned on the list. you forget about that?

Unbrokenlove says:

Love the fact that you featured Shadowrun. one small beef thoug…you made no mention of the computer combat. IMO the computer hacking part was what made the game

blur says:

Awesome list. I’m kinda surprised to not see Columns listed under the Puzzle/Maze list. That was a pretty well-known puzzle game…of course, this IS an “undiscovered games” list, so I’m likely missing the point. ๐Ÿ˜› Still, Columns III (apparently, Columns II was arcade only or something) is well worth owning, although WTF about there being a cheesy-looking dude in a yellow shirt on the box art.
Speaking of box art, Alex Kidd’s (a really colorful game, but the one-hit kills are mega annoying) scares the crap out of me; he looks like a failed Keebler mascot.

dansom says:

Whats with everyone saying change this or do that? If you dont like this list then either go make your own, the way you think it should be or at least have the niceness to suggest politely your point of view.

Great list, wasnt a sega player back in the day, very helpful in determining what to hunt down. a quick bit of youtubing with unfamiliar games is also helpful, if your not sure if it would be your cup of tea!

racketboy says:

Thanks — I appreciate it ๐Ÿ˜‰

dame says:

There was this one game, i forget either genesis, 32x, or cd, where your this guy who collects rings for elemental attacks and uses it for battle in a rpg/platform sidescroller game. i forgot the title to that game, but i always wanted to play it. does anyone know the title to the game i’m talking about?

ninjacop says:

nadia:the secret of bluewater/fusigi no umi no nadia
i never seen this anime show.
but i cried at end of this game.
its true masterpiece with beatiful FM music.(behind alien soldier)
try it if you can read japanese…

mike says:

TO DAME I believe you are thinking of “jewel master” a fun yet tough game.

mysterylobster says:

Will Harvey was not “the man behind Marble Madness”. That would be Mark Cerny. Harvey just did the conversion for the computer versions.

Viktor says:

What about the game Elemental Master as one of the obvious choices among the shmups?

George says:

I can’t believe Shadowrun showing up as a hidden gem. Not because the game was bad, but because I thought the game was awesome. The SNES Shadowrun game is also great but is completely different than the Sega one. I always wanted Shadowrun 2 to come for SNES since it was promised at the end *sigh*.

Completely separate tangent, I noticed there was no game gear hidden gems and I wanted to point out an awesome puzzle game that I would most certainly consider a hidden gem. It was called Kinetic Connection. Check it out if you can.

Ben says:

Thanks for putting Robotnik’s Bean Machine on the list, I love it ๐Ÿ™‚ And for the sports games.. Do you know Ball Jacks? It’s a very original and great sci-fi game about crab-like robots battling eachother in a contest involving pinchers, balls and conveyer belts. It’s great fun!

kyle says:

hey why didn’t you include buck rogers countdown to doomsday? that was one of the best. i remember playing it for hours on end as a kid.

kampuchea says:

sega has alot of great games. Too bad when i was growing up i had snes instead of genesis. BUt now i can go back and buy / collected all the great genesis games that i couldnt play back in the days

AJ says:

It seems odd to see Flashback on this list, but I guess it must have been more obscure across the pond. In the UK it was far from being a hidden gem – to the contrary, it was frequently touted as one of the console’s all-time highlights by every Sega magazine I remember reading (even though it was somewhat inferior to the Amiga version).

I wonder if it is even possible to have been a Mega Drive gamer in the UK without being very familiar with it.

Quark13 says:

Great list! But like often the case my all time favorite genesis game ‘Subterrenea’ is missing!

Fraunken says:

Krusty’s Super Fun House was an extraordinarily fun puzzle game. I remember spending blissful hours to the soundtrack.

CHayes says:

AJ- Flashback was hailed by US magazines as one of the greatest games of all time, and I think it sold reasonably well. It was mostly known as a Genesis game here although about a year later it came out on SNES, Sega CD and eventually Atari Jaguar (I’ve played the Genesis and Jag versions a lot and I swear the Jag version is somehow slower).

If you were into Sega Genesis in the US at its prime you knew flashback because for a year it was in the argument for most impressive visual game in the system wars.

I still think it makes sense for Racket to put it here for people who pick up these retro games later in life. If you’re 30-40 years old, Flashback is an obvious choice. If you’re 15-25 like a lot of the users on here than Flashback is something they NEED to discover that maybe they don’t know about because it never became a franchise or lived on to next gen consoles.

proxy says:

what about gun-star heroes,warlock,streets of rage series,generation lost,immortal

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