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Best Sega Genesis Action Platformers | RetroGaming with Racketboy

Best Sega Genesis Action


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With the recent announcement of Genesis games being


playable on the Revolution, I thought this would be a DEFINING GAMES GENRE GUIDES
wonderful time to review some classics. Ever since Super
Mario Bros was released on the NES, the platformer has HIDDEN GEMS GAME ARTWORK
been a constant genre in the video game industry. While
many of the platformers were simply Mario clones, the 16-
CHEAPEST GAMES GAME ROOMS
bit era was kicked off with Sonic the Hedgehog and never
looked back. The Genesis had an especially great
selection of interesting and unique platformers that helped
Sega compete with Nintendo and the more powerful
SNES. Featured Articles
I also should mention that this list is intended to be for Genesis exclusive. I will add a list of
multiplatform titles in the near future. (Also, if you notice Streets of Rage and Comix Zone are The Odyssey 2 Shooters
missing, a beatemup section is soon approaching) Library

Sonic The Hedgehog Series



The headlining series of the Genesis never
disappointed. The original Sonic may look a bit
dated in comparison to the later installments, but it Games That Defined
blew away its initial competition and in still an The Nintendo Wii
influential game in todays gaming world.

Sonic 2 was a tremendous leap in all respects and


is one of my favorite games of all time. It added 2-
player mode and had some of the most balanced The Best PS2 Games
gameplay in a platformer. Under $10

Sonic 3 improved the graphics quality and animation while adding some additional mini-bosses
and special powerups. It added a bit more depth and polish to an already wonderful series. Finally,
Sonic and Knuckles brought a new playable character but didnt add much to Sonic 3s already
high standards. However, it did offer lock-on technology that let you attach the older Sonic carts in Games That Defined the
order to play as Knuckles on the previous games. Nintendo Gamecube

Gunstar Heroes

Gunstar Heroes is one of Treasures most popular
titles because of its graphical innovation and killer
gameplay. It combined a linear, side-scrolling
shooter with plot elements, a dice game, recurring
bosses, and combat strategy. It also was an
incredibly compelling and blissfully chaotic 2-
player game.

The weapons system is innovative and gives the


player the ability to adapt to many different
situations. And like most every Treasure game the
bosses are huge, made of dozens of independent sprites, all of which move, jiggle, and rotate.
The animation is so advanced that it wouldnt be a stretch to compare Gunstar Heroes to the Neo

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Geo games of the era like Metal Slug or Shock Troopers.

Gunstar Super Heroes has received rave reviews for the Gameboy Advance, so it would be a
natural to bring the original back to a new console to show all the kiddies where this great
franchise began.
Full Review of Gunstar Heroes

Contra: Hard Corps



Hard Corps is the fourth major installment in the
Contra series of games by Konami. The game
retained the fast-paced run n gun gameplay
from previous titles but slightly shifted focus from
fighting onslaughts of enemy troops and vehicles
to mainly boss encounters. (Much like Alien
Soldier)

Some enhancements were established in this


Contra title such as multiple paths, endings, and
selectable characters. Because of this, Hard
Corps is regarded among fans as one of the best
of the series, not to mention a top-notch Genesis title.

Hard Corps is quite challenging, but youll want to play repeatedly in order to gradually improve.
Most bosses are easy once you know their patterns, but some will keep you on your toes every
time you fight them. The regular enemies, when theyre around, come at you very fast and from all
angles.
Review of Contra Hard Corps

Vectorman & Vectorman 2



As an answer to Nintendo and Rares Donkey
Kong Country series and its pre-rendered, 3D-like
graphics, Sega fought back with the Vectorman
series. It features its own 3D-ish character and
provided some animations, which in my opinion,
were even more impressive than DKC. Just
watching the introduction makes it difficult to
believe this is a Genesis game. It features 3-D
scaling and morphing that only Gunstar Heroes
seems to have touched.

The games themselves are straightforward 2D


action platformers in which Vectorman is equipped with a blaster that fires one bullet at a time;
powerups include a machine gun, bola gun, and triple-fire guns. Vectorman possesses the ability
to transform, through the use of powerups, into several different forms.

Like the Street of Rage series was outside of the US, both Vectorman games were included as
bonuses on the Sonic Gems collection. However, these are good enough titles to be available as
individual game downloads.
Full Review of Vectorman
Full Review of Vectorman 2

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.

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As usual, Treasure really put a lot of creativity into


Alien Soldiers 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.

Alien Soldier is slated to be included in Japans Gunstar Heroes Treasure Box compilation for the
PS2 (no US release is announced), but it would be a great title to see available for download on
the Revolution especially in the US.
Full Review of Alien Soldier

Castlevania Bloodlines

Bloodlines is the only Castlevania title to be
released on the Genesis but plays much like
Super Nintendos Castlevania IV. The graphics
arent as detailed or colorful as the SNES version,
but it pushed the capabilities of the Genesis to
achieve many effects that otherwise wouldnt be
possible on the system. Many of the bosses are
very large and are composed of many sprites that
combined into one entity.

If you look at Bloodlines on its own instead of


comparing it to the SNES game, it is actually an
excellent platformer. Being innovative in both gameplay and graphical effects, Bloodlines has
many features that make it stand out. It is worth noting that the storyline from Castlevania
Bloodlines ties into Bram Stokers Dracula novel. In addition, since Konami was free of Nintendos
censorship rules, the developers were free to put in a blood and background effects such as
hanging corpses.

With the fanbase of the Castlevania series still going strong on the GBA and DS, it only makes
sense to bring as many of the 2D Castlevanias to as many of Nintendos systems as possible.
Full Review of Castlevania Bloodlines

Dynamite Headdy

This Treasure action/platformer (also to be
included on the PS2 compilation) was not quite as
spectacular as 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.

Headdy is an ant who bashes enemies with his


head and had many different head upgrades
available to him throughout the game. 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.
Full Review of Dynamite Headdy

Revenge of Shinobi, Shadow Dancer, Shinobi 3



Shinobi has long been one of Segas flagship
characters, and its games a showcase of their
technical accomplishment. Today the games are

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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 debut of the ninja on the Sega Genesis
console, The Revenge of Shinobi was widely
praised at the time of its release and, for a while,
was one of the most popular games on Genesis.

Shadow Dancer is the second Shinobi title on the Genny and is the official sequel to the arcade
game. This time, our hero, Joe Musashi is accompanied by Yamamoto, the shinobi dog. The dog
effectively adds a strategic element to the action, allowing you to subdue even the toughest
enemies.

Known as Super Shinobi II in Japan, Shinobi 3 is regarded by many as the high point of the series.
It introduced a much smoother, faster style of gameplay while keeping the series familiar
trademarks firmly intact. The action never gets repetitive due to the constantly-changing scenery,
numerous surprises, and lots of incredible bosses to test your skill. If you like ninja games, you
cannot afford to live without this one.
Full Review of Revenge of Shinobi
Full Review of Shadow Dancer
Full Review of Shinobi 3

Rocket Knight Adventures



In the avalanche of 2D platformers during the 16-
bit era, it was easy for a game like Konamis
Rocket Night Adventures to get lost in the shuffle.
Rocket Knight Adventures has more technique
and plot than any other platform of the era.

RKAs protagonist is Sparkster, is an opossum who


fights an army of robots and pigs, many of whom
are piloting various mechanical vehicles.
Sparkster is armed with a sword that can project
energy over a short distance and a rocket pack
that allows him to fly.

The slick effects and big bosses alone can carry the game. It may have its flaws mainly with the
replay value, but overall, this is one of the best bets for the Genesis, period.
Full Review of Rocket Knight Adventures

Ecco the Dolphin



On the surface, Ecco looks like a typical kids
game. However, when you actually play the game,
you will immediately find out that it is full of
challenging puzzles and adventures. This critically
acclaimed title also featured spectacular water
effects and a brilliantly colorful undersea world.

Your dolphins movement is silky smooth, and at


first, swimming around in the open sea and
jumping out of the water is fun in of itself. The goal
of each of the 25 stages is not immediately
apparent, but youll find hints by talking to other
sea creatures you run encounter. Action-oriented gamers may find Ecco a bit tedious, but this is a
very satisfying game. A sequel Tides of Time was released shortly after and is an equally
entertaining and challenging game.
Full Review of Ecco The Dolphin
Full Review of Ecco: Tides of Time

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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. Ristars gimmick is simple, but
effective: Ristar cant 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.
Full Review of Ristar

Toejam and Earl



The original ToeJam and Earl is a relatively slow-
paced, collect-the-items game with cheesy
graphics and a really juvenile sense of humor. You
play as two funky aliens whore on earth looking
for the remaining pieces of their rocket ship. You
must complete 25 levels trying to find them, and if
you didnt find them, you must go back and search
each level until you have.

This game really shines when its in two player,


split-screen mode. Both players can cooperate
together to try and find the missing pieces of the
rocket ship. In the game you find presents which can be either beneficial or detrimental. The only
bad side to this is that you have absolutely no chance of knowing whats inside. It could be a pair
of wings, so you can fly over islands, or it could be removal of 1 instant life. Its a gamble.

While it is not a traditional platformer, TJ&E is an incredibly unique game that has a strong cult
following.
Full Review of ToeJam and Earl

Toejam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron



The second Toejam and Earl game took a strong
departure from the gameplay of the first game and
becoming more of a standard platformer. This was
quite a disappointment to many of the games
fans, but the sequel is still a solid game.

In this episode our funky alien friends have


accidentally unleashed those disgusting humans
from Earth on their home planet of Funkotron.
Your job is to capture all of these obnoxious
creatures and send them back. In addition to
collecting items, you capture the humans by
throwing magical jars at them. The visuals are fantastic, with cartoon-quality animation. The two-
player mode has been retained, but it has a different feel to it since you must remain on the same
screen as your partner.
Full Review of ToeJam and Earl: Panic on Funkatron

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse



While it is a very early Genesis title, Castle of
Illusion holds up very well to most over the
platformers released over the Genesis long

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lifetime. The beautiful graphics, animation, and


music are pure Disney. The highly imaginative
stages range from an enchanted forest to a huge
toy room. Each offers its own unique challenges,
and there are surprises around every corner.

While Castle of Illusion is perfect for kids, its also


challenging enough to keep adults interested. It
may be a bit short compared to modern games,
but considering there is no save option (only continues) thats probably for the best.
Full Review of Castle of Illusion

Pulseman

Produced by Sega at the end of the Genesis
lifespan, Pulseman was only released in Japan. It
featured mesmerizing blend of artistry and
atmosphere will deliver a trance-like hypnotizing
effect unlike anything ever attempted.

While it isnt especially deep, the gameplay and


atmosphere has been compared to both Sonic
and Megaman, so you know it is filled with great
platforming fun. Pulsemans 2D graphics are some
of the best on the Genesis and feature a number
of great animations and special effects.
Full Review of Pulseman

Similar Posts From These Categories:


Sega, Genesis, Platformers

Published: March 30th, 2006 at 10:01pm by racketboy


Updated: March 30th, 2006 at 10:01pm

19 Comments
Equiz

March 31, 2006 at 10:42
am
Just a little correction: right under Gunstar Heroes, it says Guardian Heroes and thats Saturn RPG.

Nice list. B)

Anonymous

March 31, 2006 at 11:49
am
Quackshot is not on the list. How that can happen is beyond me

chess pieces

March 31, 2006 at 12:36
pm
And no Altered Beast?

Anonymous

March 31, 2006 at 12:37
pm
Agreed, Quackshot seems more than worthy enough.

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Anonymous

March 31, 2006 at 12:54
pm
Where the heck is Earthworm Jim? And dont forget about Pitfall: THe Mayan Adventure! An aye on
Altered Beast as well.

racketboy

March 31, 2006 at 1:53
pm
Ill be adding most of those I knew I forgot some

Altered Beast will be in my beatemup section

Earthworm Jim isnt exclusive to the Genny, but will be added to the non-exclusive list.

Keep the recommendations coming!

Kevin

March 31, 2006 at 4:02
pm
I still have a Genesis hooked up with the rest of my systems. My kids actually play it more than the
Gamecube a lot of the time.

And pretty much everything I have is on your list.

Anonymous

March 31, 2006 at 4:04
pm
I think Vectorman was pretty cool, and I break it from time to time even to this day. Also, Altered Beast
should not be on anyones best of list ever. Its highly overrated and really quite boring compared the
truly best ones.

Anonymous

March 31, 2006 at 4:05
pm
err.. I mean to say I break it OUT from time to time

Anonymous

March 31, 2006 at 4:47
pm
come one wheres streets of rage? and wheres golden axe?

racketboy

March 31, 2006 at 6:02
pm
read the intro they are coming later in the beatemup section

Anonymous

April 1, 2006 at 5:57
pm
Since youre starting to do best *genre* lists for the Genny, I think a good related list might be best music
on the Genny. The Genny got little love for tunes because it has a bizarre sound chip setup, but there are
some greats. It would be nice to see a list of those go up as well.

Anonymous

April 3, 2006 at 10:52
am
Like others has said, I too think that Quackshot should be on that list. Its a great platform game that I still
play until today, and better than Castle of Illusion IMO.

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Anonymous

October 12, 2006 at 5:34
pm
Where is Tiny Toons: Busters Hidden Treasure? Its the best platformer for the Genesis.

Anonymous

November 15, 2006 at 5:41
pm
Pulseman was made by Game Freak, not Sega

RESIDENTEVILFAN

May 13, 2007 at 7:49
pm
WHAT ABOUT BATTLE TOADS DOUBLE DRAGONS OR MAXIMUM CARNAGE.

Hey?

June 6, 2007 at 8:24
pm
Well while this is a good list, you overlooked one of the best platformers not just of the genesis system,
but of all systems in all of time. The liquid action that plays almost as an adventure game in Pirates of Dark
Waters! This game far supercedes the SNES counterpart, which is much slower and the lower resolution
hinders it (which is typical comparing most SNES games to their genesis counterparts).

RAMPKORV

July 13, 2007 at 5:45
pm
Kid Chameleon was the best platformer.

anonim

July 7, 2011 at 4:46
am
hehe theres a bunch of retro gaming dudes here.

tiny toon and quackshot sure are great games. i vote up for em

street of rage? thats not a platformer, dude.



hehe

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