The next update to the Cheapest Games series is a look at the Sega Genesis and it’s wonderful 16-bit library. In previous versions of this list, I showed prices of games that included a case and manual. Not only is it getting very hard to find complete Genesis games on the store shelves of indie game store (even though loose carts are usually common), the collectable market for complete games has really taken off in recent years.
So, much like my lists for NES, SNES, and N64 games, this list will be based on the prices of loose cartridges. Of course, this list will give you some indication of the games that will be somewhat affordable in complete form, but some games (like the later releases in cardboard boxes) are usually at more of a premium than others. (Prices listed are an average of what I see in indie game stores and eBay and Amazon prices for used US games with shipping added to the price.)
|Sonic the Hedgehog: $7
While I can’t say it is my favorite Sonic game and it does look a bit dated compared to the later Genesis installments, the original Sonic the Hedgehog is still an absolute classic. It is worth mentioning that there are many other, more economical ways of obtaining this game, including the Genesis 6-pak mentioned below, but if you’re looking to have it as a stand-along cartridge in your collection, at least it’s still pretty cheap.
Shop for Sonic the Hedgehog at eBay
Shop for Sonic the Hedgehog at Amazon.com
|Sonic the Hedgehog 2: $6
There is no doubt in my mind that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the best value on the Sega Genesis. In my humble opinion, this game alone is my favorite 16-bit game of all time and is the pinnacle of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. From the Emereld Hill Zone to the Death Egg battles, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a pure thrill. Those skeptics that claim all you have to do in the old Sonic games is “hold down on ‘right’” obviously haven’t made it past the first zone. Many Genesis owners, including myself, received Sonic 2 as a pack-in with their Genesis system, so this Sonic cartridge is ultra-common and dirt cheap.
Shop for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at eBay
Shop for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at Amazon.com
|Sonic the Hedgehog 3: $9
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is right up there with the second installment as the best Sonic game of all time (and many claim that when teamed up with Sonic and Knuckles it is the best Sonic game availible). It has better animation, additional power-ups and some amazing landscapes, but it’s a matter of personal preference when it comes to level and boss design. No matter if I enjoy Sonic 2 more, Sonic 3 is a game that is not to be missed!
Shop for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 at eBay
Shop for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 at Amazon.com
|Sonic and Knuckles: $9
With all the Genesis compilations showing up on modern consoles, the demand for this once-cutting-edge cartridge for under $10. (Finding one complete in a top-notch box, on the other hand can be pricey). For those of you that don’t know, Sonic and Knuckles is not only a stand-alone Sonic game, but it also allows you to plug in Sonic 2 and 3 to combine the features and characters of the games. Many Sonic fans consider Sonic 3 + S&K to be the best Sonic experience there is (the two games were originally intended to be one, but were split because of time and budget constraints at the time)
Shop for Sonic and Knuckles at eBay
Shop for Sonic and Knuckles at Amazon.com
|Genesis 6-Pak: $9
The Genesis 6-Pak is a relatively common collection of some of the early essentials from the Genesis. It includes the original Sonic The Hedgehog , Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns, Revenge of Shinobi, and Super Hang-On. So this game pack is a great start for a Genesis collection that will give you a taste of excellent platforming, action, beatemups, puzzle, and racing gameplay.
Shop for Genesis 6-Pak at eBay
Shop for Genesis 6-Pak at Amazon.com
|Earthworm Jim: $9
Earthworm Jim reinvigorated the stale platforming genre with its unique gameplay, artistic flair, and wicked sense of humor. Jim is practically an institution to some Genesis fans, but gamers new to the series may be discouraged by the game’s excessive difficulty. Clearly, Earthworm Jim was programmed by experts for experts. Its superb animation, crisp control, and amazing audio pushes the system’s capabilities. Earthworm Jim is certainly one of a kind, though casual gamers may find it somewhat frustrating.
Shop for Earthworm Jim at eBay
Shop for Earthworm Jim at Amazon.com
|Ecco The Dolphin & Ecco Tides of Time: $5 each
To diversify from the Sonic-like mascot games, Sega used their trademark innovation to create a game in which you guided a dolphin through the ocean, completing tasks and navigating unsafe waters. Ecco had more of a story than most platformers at the time and features some challenging puzzles that turned off many a casual gamer. However, if you like a thinking man’s 16-bit adventure, Ecco will be worth every cent of its low price tag.
Shop for Ecco The Dolphin at eBay
Shop for Ecco The Dolphin at Amazon.com
|Disney’s Aladdin: $8
Aladdin remains as one of the finest licensed Disney games of all time. It captured the look and feel of the animated film beautifully while presenting some entertaining gameplay. Fortunately for us mere mortals, Aladdin didn’t have quite the high difficulty level of Capcom’s Disney games on the NES (Although, I did have to re-do that Magic Carpet escape level many, many times). Overall, Aladdin is a well-balanced and engaging title that is a must-try for both kids and adults.
Shop for Disney’s Aladdin at eBay
Shop for Disney’s Aladdin at Amazon.com
|Dynamite Headdy – $6
This Treasure action/platformer was not quite as spectacular as the increasingly-expensive Gunstar Heroes, but Dynamite Headdy has everything you look for in a Treasure game: Crazy special effects, tons of sprites with little to no slowdown, an interesting weapons system, psychotic bosses, and trademark Treasure strangeness. Most of the levels consist of fighting bosses with only small sections of normal battling in between. As a result, the game is incredibly varied, featuring an incredible array of ideas and fast-paced action, while retaining the platform-game mechanic.
Shop for Dynamite Headdy at eBay
Shop for Dynamite Headdy at Amazon.com
|Rocket Knight Adventures – $8
In the avalanche of 2D platformers during the 16-bit era, it was easy for a game like Konami’s Rocket Night Adventures to get lost in the shuffle. Rocket Knight Adventures has more technique and plot than any other platform of the era. The slick effects and big bosses alone can carry the game. It may have its flaws — mainly with the replay value, but overall, Rocket Knight Adventures is a solid value for the Genesis
Shop for Rocket Knight Adventures on eBay
Shop for Rocket Knight Adventures on Amazon.com
|Vectorman & Vectorman 2: $8 Each
As an answer to Nintendo and Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series and it’s pre-rendered, 3D-like graphics, Sega fought back with the Vectorman series. These run-and-gun shooters feature their own 3D-ish character and lots of 16-bit eye-candy in addition to lots of stuff blowing up. I still find both of these games to be guilty pleasures on a regular basis.
Shop for Vectorman Series on eBay
Shop for Vectorman Series on Amazon.com
|Ranger X – $9
If you’re looking for an affordable scrolling shooter that is something out of the ordinary and that will show off some of the Genesis’s technical capabilities, Ranger X is a safe bet. It feels like a bit of a mix between a run-and-gun and a traditional horizontal shmup. It has a pretty interesting control setup and will make full use of a six-button controller if you have one availible.
Shop for Ranger X on eBay
Shop for Ranger X on Amazon.com
|Target Earth (Assault Suit Leynos): $8
I’m guessing the American title and cover art probably didn’t help the widespread adoption of this action plaformer. Some of you might be more familiar with the Japanese name “Assault Suit Leynos” and the Assault Suit series as a whole (which also included Cybernator on the SNES). Target Earth is the first game in the series, and much like its predecessors, it is an intensely-challenging side scroller that allows you free movement and a variety of weapons. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you love shooting platformers with a challenge, you need to track down this bargain.
Shop for Target Earth on eBay
Shop for Target Earth on Amazon.com
|Revenge of Shinobi & Shinobi III: $8 Each
Shinobi has long been one of Sega’s flagship characters, and its games a showcase of their technical accomplishment. Today, the games are still noted for their high quality of graphics, gameplay and music, as well as their difficulty. Revenge was the unofficial sequel to the original Shinobi (from the arcade, NES, SMS, and more) and the series debut on the Genesis console.
Shop for Shinobi Series on eBay
Shop for Shinobi Series on Amazon.com
|Flashback: The Quest for Identity – $6
Touted 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. The game had a decent print run and had ports on a number of other platforms, so the supply to demand ratio has remained quite stable.
Shop for Flashback on eBay
Shop for Flashback on Amazon.com
|Comix Zone: $9
This brawler is an extremely original and visually impressive game which immerses you in a comic book world (you are literally pulled into the pages of a comic book). Comix Zone is probably one of the most stylish games on the Genesis and includes some subtle features and a difficulty level that aren’t found in most brawlers.
Shop for Comix Zone at eBay
Shop for Comix Zone at Amazon.com
|Thunder Force II – $7
The Thunder Force series has had a strong following from 2D shooter fans over the years and it has a handful of installments on the Genesis. Granted, Thunder Force II is one of the less popular games in the series since it has a bit of a different feel due to some stages which have free-scrolling sections. The game, however, does have a nice gradual difficulty curve to ease you in.
Shop for Thunder Force II at eBay
Shop for Thunder Force II at Amazon.com
|Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine: $5
If you want a good puzzle game for your Genesis, look no further than Mean Bean Machine. The game is essentially a straightforward Puyo Puyo clone with characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog TV series. Playing against a human opponent is most likely to deliver the most fun, the one-player mode is surprisingly well-executed. Each round you play again a new Dr. Robotnik sidekick and each has their own disticting approach to the game and has a gradual difficulty level. The game will start you out slow and work your way up to mastery before facing Dr. Robotnik himself (good luck with that one).
Shop for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine at eBay
Shop for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine at Amazon.com
Other Cheap Favorites:
- Road Rash II: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Street Fighter II: SCE: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Super Street Fighter 2: $8 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Mortal Kombat II: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Strider: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Mickey Mania: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
- NBA Jam TE: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- The Lost Vikings: $8 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Eternal Champions: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Taz-Mania: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Sonic Spinball: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Sonic 3D Blast: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Kid Chameleon: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Disney’s Lion King: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Tiny Toons: Buster’s Hidden Treasure: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Maximum Carnage – $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Urban Strike: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Desert Strike: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Jungle Strike: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Sub-Terrania: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Super Thunder Blade: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Cool Spot: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- X-Men: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Quackshot Starring Donald Duck: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Phantom 2040: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com4
- MERCS: $8 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Golden Axe: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Golden Axe II: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Zoop: $6 – eBay
- Shining in the Darkness: $8 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Marvel Land: $8 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Garfield: Caught in the Act: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Elemental Master: $7 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Biohazard Battle: $6 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Championship ProAm: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Road Blasters: $4 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Adventures of Batman & Robin: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Bonanza Brothers: $3 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Afterburner 2: $3 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Space Harrier 2: $5 – eBay / Amazon.com
- Wonderboy in Monster World: $9 – eBay / Amazon.com