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
Featured Game: Ristar
Platformers 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
Knuckles Chaotix (32X)
Donald in Maui Mallard
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
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
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:
Adventures of Batman & Robin
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
BatteTech: A Game of Armored Combat
Adventures of Willy Beamish (Sega CD)
Road Avenger (Sega CD)
Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin (Sega CD)
Featured Game: Alien Soldier
This 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
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. M.U.S.H.A. (Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armor) . 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)
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)
Super Thunder Blade
Super Fantasy Zone
Super Thunder Blade
Featured Game: Comix Zone
This 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
Saturday Night Slam Masters
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
Dragon Ball Z: Bu Yu Retsuden
Featured Game: Shadowrun
Based 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)
Eye of the Beholder (Sega CD)
Monster World IV
Warsong (Langrisser 1)
Crusader of Centy
Shining in the Darkness
Faery Tale Adventure
Dungeon Explorer (Sega CD)
Vay (Sega CD)
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
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
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