The history of the gaming industry is one of the most fascinating industries to read up on, isn’t it? From the simple times of games like Pong, to the modern day hits like Call of Duty or Fortnite, the industry has come a long way. There have been several systems and companies behind these historic times. From legends like Nintendo, to classic systems like Atari, the world has seen its fair share of memorable games and consoles alike.
One system, in particular, has a long history. While anyone can download a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog on their mobile devices or modern consoles, the game used to be an exclusive of the mega-popular Sega Genesis. The system was a major hit back in the day. While it's long since retired from the world of gaming, the cartridge-based game system definitely left its mark on the world of video games. Yet as with any game system or era, the Sega Genesis has had both major highs and incredible lows in its career.
While franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog and games like Gunstar Heroes are considered legends of the console, other games like Batman Forever or Ristar aren't remembered quite as fondly. Today we are going to explore the twenty worst games on the Sega Genesis and the ten best — so be ready for a trip down video game memory lane.
30 Worst: Batman Forever
Today we kind of take Batman games for granted. Whether you prefer the more family friendly Lego Batman games or perhaps the more adult, action-packed Batman: Arkham series, the DC legend is becoming a video game legend as well.
Based off the movie of the same name, the game received poor reviews due mostly to the awful control scheme, stating that whenever you punched an enemy as Batman the action ended up being a delayed fight scene that continued well after the enemy was down.
29 Worst: James Pond: Underwater Agent
When we think of great James Bond games, we typically think of games like GoldenEye, don’t we? Well if you were expecting this to be like that game, you were way wrong. While given great reviews for the time, years later gamers have found the game to be boring and not all that excitingOf course, it's a novel spoof of James Bond films, but this kids' game doens't really do much to excite gamers.
28 Best: Jurassic Park
The awe and wonder of Jurassic Park has held audiences' attention and enjoyment for decades. The film franchise has been praised for showing mankind’s inability to not meddle in the natural order of the animal kingdom.
Based on the film of the same name, this game was a bird-eye view adventure-style game that captured the nature of the film quite well. While it definitely wasn't for everyone, this Jurassic Park game is still the best video game to come out of the mega franchise.
27 Worst: Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Games about the end of the world and robots are nothing new to modern day gamers. Heck, a lot of us see that every day playing Fallout 4. Still, this hilariously awful Terminator game takes things to a different level.
Based on the popular sci-fi film of the same name, the game was originally made for arcade machines. Sadly, when it was converted to the Sega Genesis, the console’s Mega Drive/Genesis hardware could not do scaling due to it’s limitations, and therefore many of the game’s images were redrawn at different sizes.
26 Worst: Fatal Fury: King Of Fighters
The fighting game genre is a popular one. Games like Dragon Ball FighterZ and Marvel vs. Capcom have made it clear that even fans of outside influences have fun playing fighting games. Made to offer a competitive edge on the popular Street Fighter II video game, Fatal Fury: King of Fighters centered around a martial arts tournament of sorts. However, the game’s critics noted it failed to live up to the same gameplay style as Street Fighter II, and had few mechanics that made it stand out from the fighting game crowd.
25 Best: Sonic & Knuckles
One of gaming’s most popular franchises has to be Sonic the Hedgehog. The story follows a young Hedgehog (you guessed it: named Sonic), as he runs at high speeds trying to stop an evil scientist and traverse large scale mazes. A sequel to Sonic 3, this game was praised for its exceptional lock-on system at the time and some players felt it allowed players to play essentially two games, as you took control of both Sonic and Knuckles.
24 Worst: Strider Returns
Sequels are a tricky business. Unless you have a franchise with as much history and mythology as Fallout or Halo, getting a sequel to measure up to the original is a tricky business. This side-scrolling adventure game was very popular and one of Capcom’s crown jewels at the time. However, the sequel failed to live up to the hype, as critics noted the game lacked the same excitement and originality that the original non-console game had.
23 Worst: Waynes World
Party time! Excellent! These are two words or phrases you would think would describe a video game based on a hilarious film franchise. You’d be wrong. Based on the popular SNL skit and feature film of the same name, this game was a pretty basic adventure comedy/action game. Controlling both Wayne and Garth, this game is often described as one of the worst games of all time.
22 Best: NBA Jam
Sporting games are a major driving force in the industry. With game publisher EA taking center stage with games like Madden, the sporting world has always been ripe for video game dominance.
Yet one classic Sega game really drove home this fact years earlier.
A very popular sporting game, NBA Jam was unique; playing a game of basketball where your player could make impossible shots from half court and even make earth-shattering slam dunks helped it stand out.
21 Worst: Ex-Mutants
No, this isn’t a game based on the popular Marvel Comics heroes known as The X-Men. A popular comic book series in the 80’s and 90’s, the game was based on Malibu Comics version of the series. It focused on six mutants, (three boys and three girls), who were gathered by a cyborg professor named Kildare to inspire the survivors of a nuclear war-torn planet and face the evil Great Fred. Think post-apocalypse meets the X-Men.
20 Worst: X-Perts
A spinoff of the game Eternal Champions, the critics and gamers alike found the concept of controlling three players at once exciting at first. While not a very new concept to gamers in today’s age, this new feature was a major hit at the time. However, it soon became apparent that the missions and gameplay were very repetitive, consisting of basically standing in front of a console, pressing a button and letting the character finish their moves.
19 Best: Vectorman
While modern games explore the complex morality of things like AI, robotics and humanity in general, video games in the Sega Genesis era were not so deep or emotional, including this next game.
This action/platform game was given high praise.
A futuristic game where you play as a robot battling another robot who’s become an evil dictator on Earth, gamers loved the advanced graphics, superb audio, large levels with hidden areas to explore and the ability to morph your character as you play.
18 Worst: OutRunners
When you decide to buy or play a racing game in today’s gaming world, you get to partake in some of the most realistic races in the genre. Yet back in the day, racing was not always so breathtaking. Called by some the most embarrassing driving game on the console, the game was originally an arcade game. However, when ported into the Sega Genesis, players found a forced split screen featuring you the player on one side and the AI on the other side, diminishing the view you had in the game of your driving.
17 Worst: Techno Cop
Kind of like a Robo-Cop video game, you play as a cop in a futuristic setting, who has to take out as many thugs as you can in a limited amount of time. Except in this game you weren’t tragically taken out in the line of duty and then rebuilt to become a half cyborg, sacrificing your humanity in the process. The game was a side-scroller, and no matter how much progress you make in the game, the background never changed, and the driving aspect became kind of boring after a while.
16 Best: Phantasy Star IV - Sega Genesis
Rich fantasy world driven games have been beloved in the industry for years. One major example of this is the long-running franchise Final Fantasy.
This next game is a perfect example of why this genre works so well.
While originally not beloved, retro gaming reviews have praised the game’s deep storytelling and gameplay, calling it the definitive 16-bit gameplay experience. Fans love the rich world of Phantasy Star and the story that was told in the game.
15 Worst: Art Alive
While not all games have to be complicated, rich in plot, or action-packed, a game should at least have some sort of entertainment value. Not Art Alive. Now this game is pretty boring. It’s literally a painting program. The most exciting aspect is that kids were given Sonic stamps to use in the game. That’s about it. You might as well open up the paint program on your computer. You’d get the same amount of action as you would in this game.
14 Worst: Ristar
We’ve had a lot of games over the years that seem simple in design and yet hold amazing beauty. Take for example Unravel, where you play as a yarn creature venturing through a realistic world. Of course, not every game can straddle this line effortlessly — Ristar is a game that stumbles into the pitfall.
Playing as a star, the players in this platform game moved along the world, using the star’s long arms and hands to navigate the world and combat enemies. While originally praised, many gamers noted that it seemed to borrow many gameplay mechanics from games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Earthworm Jim.
13 Best: Comix Zone
Very popular games these days blend humor and action perfectly to create some truly hilarious dialogue and ridiculous plot points that you can’t help but fall in love with. Games like Sunset Overdrive or Ratchet and Clank are perfect examples.
Yet this next game did that well before these other franchises.
Despite some gameplay repetitiveness, gamers praised the original story of Comix Zone and loved the amazing color scheme of the game, which was rare for a video game back in the day.
12 Worst: Rise Of The Robots
Rise of the Robots was a commercial hit. The game focused on a city taken over by a self-aware AI and the lone organic infused cyborg who goes on a mission of revenge to avenge the death of his father. While the animations were amazing for the time, the high-resolution animation took away from the gameplay itself, giving players an uncomplicated and simple gameplay mechanic.
11 Worst: The Ooze
Typically in a video game, when your playable character advances throughout the game and gains more power, they become better equipped to handle the mission at hand. This next game, however, fails to live up to this expectation. While gamers thought the plot of the game was highly original for the time (kind of similar to DC’s Swamp Thing), the animations were choppy and the gameplay boring, as the main character The Ooze grew in size and became harder and more painstakingly boring to maneuver.
10 Best: Mortal Kombat
While violence in games is nothing new to modern gamers, back in the day games were pretty tame. Needless to say, this game was highly controversial in the 90s.
The game was very graphic for the times, and during the era, video games were not as popular as they are now. It took some time for the mainstream to accept it, but Mortal Kombat is considered a classic today.
9 Worst: Fantasia
You’d think adapting a classic Disney film into a game would be well received. I know I used to love playing Aladdin on Genesis back in the day. This game based on the classic Disney film of the same name was very poorly received by gamers. While the backdrops of the game were beautiful, the action was described by gamers as being bland and frustrating, and at times very boring. The visuals may have appealed to some pre-release, but once gamers got their hands on this game the action lacked in excitement.
8 Worst: Cyber-Cop
First Person Shooters, or FPS, are one of the most popular genres in the modern age of gaming. Walking through a virtual world and seeing the game through the eyes of your character has long been a popular trend in gaming. Yet not all FPS started out this way. This FPS had issues with blocky controls, non-textured polygon surfaces, and a high difficulty, along with realism that seemed out of place in a game featuring androids and illegal genetic experiments. Needless to say... First-person shooters have come a long way since.
7 Best: Gunstar Heroes
Some games come along once in a blue moon, capturing audiences' hearts with their wholly original and unique gameplay. Gunstar Heroes is one of those games.
Considered not just one of the best Sega games of all time, but one of the greatest games of all time period, Gunstar Heroes is a classic.
This platform shooter is known by gamers to have stunning visuals, fast-paced action, a multitude of bosses to face and a fantastic game world overall.
6 Worst: Awesome Possum
Copyright infringement has been something that has plagued the entertainment industry even in the days of Sega Genesis. Awesome Possum was a simple platform game featuring Awesome Possum and Rad Rhino. In it, you have to stop the evil Dr. Machino from destroying the world. The game has received poor reviews over the years and faced legal troubles as some view the game as a ripoff of the comic book series created by Paul A. Roginski. However, he was unable to prove the theft and the charges were dropped.
5 Worst: Gladiators
While we as a culture are getting used to seeing classic shows being rebooted or adapted for other forms of entertainment, not all shows were ready for this change back in the day. A video game version of the popular television show of the same name, the game underwent several changes as it changed consoles. While it got a bit more faithful to the original show’s format on the Genesis, the side-scrolling game was not as adventurous, and it failed to capture the same spark that the original show had.
4 Best: ToeJam & Earl
This next game is practically the definition of "Cult Classic."
While it may not have been the most successful game financially, for some gamers the ToeJam & Earl franchise is an unforgettable masterpiece. It’s known for amazing graphics, humor, music, and for being wholeheartedly original, although some are quick to point out the combat in the game is lacking.
3 Worst: Dark Castle
The concept sounds simple enough. This platform game featured the protagonist traversing a castle to defeat the evil Black Knight. While the game was highly praised in its initial run on the Macintosh computer, the game lost its appeal and star power on the Genesis, failing to capture the gameplay and look of the original game. The sad reality is that no matter how good a game may appear on one system, adapting it for other systems with different computing systems doesn’t always equal a hit.
2 Worst: Shaq-Fu
One of the most controversial games on this list, Shaq-Fu featured the basketball legend of the same name traveling to another dimension after visiting a dojo in Japan and forced to save a young boy from an evil and ancient mummy. Some have praised the game’s fast-paced action and originality, while others call the game an embarrassment and one of the worst and most boring games ever made. It’s truly a case of every gamer for themselves.
1 Best: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
While the ranking of the Sonic the Hedgehog games is up for debate, many fans agree that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is among the very best.
Considered the best in the series by some, the game’s larger levels, increase in enemies and larger music library made this an instant hit.
Using its already established fanbase, the game’s known for its amazing colorful backgrounds and was innovative for including a two-player component for the first time, something not even Mario and Luigi for Nintendo had managed.