Need a reminder about the top games published by Sega? Are you nostalgic about past decades when playing video games was much more intimate? Not that there’s anything wrong with 5K screens, gorgeous graphics, LAN gaming, or live streaming in 1080p to thousands of viewers. But there is something magical about low-resolution visuals that, at the time, seemed unreal. The next day, you typically couldn’t contain the excitement and had to either tell someone or invite him or her over. Or was it just us that felt that while playing the games on this list? These are the 21 best Sega games.
1. Streets Of Rage 2
We thought about the top spot of the list of the best games by Sega for a long time. Yes, the prequel was amazing. But as you can see, we’re trying to include only one game from the series, and this fighting game was left such a huge impression. We spent hours with different friends punching and kicking enemies that didn’t feel copy-pasted and repetitive. Also, unique characters that look and feel like real warriors, with strengths and weaknesses, felt so smooth and capable. Plus, you’ll be smacking enemies around to a beat – the game’s amazing soundtrack. It’s unforgettable!
2. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
You might think Sonic Mania or Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is the cream of the crop, and that’s okay. In fact, we were on the verge to choose one of those two. But what won us over is the memory of combining two separate games into one unique adventure. Then, we recalled the great level design, the captivating graphics, the fluid movements, the fast-paced action, challenging enemies, and just annoying object movements. You might not have struggled with it, but we spent hours falling to our death jumping up and down on the barrel at the Carnival Night Zone.
You know you’re playing one of the greatest games by Sega when a 1986 car racing arcade game made you feel like you’re driving a red Ferrari Testarossa Spider. To clarify, the cabinet was equipped with a stick shift, steering wheel, and acceleration/brake pedals. Plus, there’s a blonde girl in the passenger seat, who cheers you on as you avoid traffic. Furthermore, unlike similar games in that period, OutRun is non-linear, which means you can drive anywhere you want. The game is also included in Shenmue 2 and Yakuza 0 and remains one of the best-selling games of the 1980s.
4. Shenmue 2
Fourth on our list of top Sega games is Shenmue 2, a game released in 2001 that we should’ve included on our list of games like GTA. Because it is! Although it’s an open-world game, it’s not the majestic world you’ve gotten used to in Grand Theft Auto. Yes, you’ll play as the protagonist Ryo Hazuki just like you played CJ or Niko Bellic. But, the world will be smaller but packed to the brim with interesting events to experience, and things to see. It’s a quiet, intimate experience that still allows you to sink hours immersed in it.
5. Phantasy Star IV: End Of The Millenium
When we think of RPG games in general, we think of the Final Fantasy franchise. If we limit it to a Sega video game, we think of this 16-bit beauty. Yes, it wasn’t the most loved game at the time of release, but over the years it attracted a loyal fanbase. It combined science fiction, turn-based RPG, and open-world space exploration. You can fly space ships, fight in space, and travel between planets while avoiding asteroids. It even has elements of an idle game, because you can create macros for your characters, so you don’t have to keep pressing things.
6. Yakuza 0
This combat game looks like a typical Japanese game but was popular in the West as well. Although it came later than say, Yakuza 6, it’s a prequel to the main series. You’ll be playing as two characters, Goro Majima and Kazuma Kiryu, and enjoy being a part of a mafia/gang/criminal organization. There’s humor, your company management skills are put to the test, you’ll earn a ton of money, and even get to race cars. No, we didn’t forget an obscene amount of punching, kicking, jumping around, and beating people up with over-the-top martial arts moves. Truly a good Sega Genesis game.
7. House Of The Dead 2
House of The Dead 2 is a horror game that can nowadays be emulated so you won’t go broke or hungry. That’s because it was originally an arcade game, and you needed to borrow or earn some change to play it. And play it we did – even though the story or the voice acting wasn’t too convincing. But there was just something so addicting to killing zombies over and over with a friend in an in-person multiplayer. If you’ve played games such as World War Z, Dying Light, or Days Gone nowadays, well, House Of The Dead 2 was the equivalent back in the day.
8. The Revenge Of Shinobi
This 2D ninja platformer masterpiece, released 1989, is a story of a samurai hero, Joe, who is on a quest to get some sweet revenge. Speaking of action, you can jump, double-jump to do parkour moves, throw shurikens, slash, and use ninjutsu, which to fans of anime games such as Naruto, is well known as the term for combat magical powers. You might also fight Batman, Spider-man, Rambo, Godzilla, The Terminator, and other well-known protagonists and antagonists. Some were removed or replaced due to obvious copyright infringement.
9. Panzer Dragoon
Anyone who has played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim knows what the appeal of hunting massive monsters is. Unfortunately, you never got the chance to ride the monster itself. In this Sega game, you’ll inherit one by accident! You, as the main character, Keil Fluge, see two dragons, blue and black, fighting. The rider of the blue dragon gets fatally wounded and entrusts you with stoping the Dark Dragon. As you ride Solo Wing, the blue dragon, you can use different abilities and just torch or laser down enemies left and right. The game was so good in 1995 that it got a 2020 remake!
10. Shining Force II
Right in the middle of our rundown of the best Sega games is this war–military classic. In all honesty, it’s just unreasonably underappreciated by some. Yes, it was a bestseller when it was released in Japan in 1993, but was criticized everywhere else. In this strategy RPG, while in combat, you use your characters, spread across the grid, to attack in turns. Outside of combat, you’re free to visit various towns and the kingdom, find and loot treasures, and recruit new characters. You can also level them up, improve their skills, and when they reach level 20, promote them to a different class.
11. Daytona USA
If OutRun didn’t exist, Daytona USA would be the finest Sega game for car racing. It’s also an arcade game with a customized cabinet, although it came less than a decade later, in 1993. Unlike OutRun, it allowed for two players to sit next to each other. The deluxe cabinet even had subwoofers underneath the seats for an even better experience. The actual game came out in 1994 and was one of the first games to play in 60 fps. It even had an additional effect called smooth filtering that filtered textures to provide a silky smooth experience.
12. Star Wars Trilogy Arcade
We know not everyone is a fan of the newest Star Wars franchise. But back in 1998, those movies were all the rage. With that said, a cabinet containing Star Wars Trilogy Arcade was as close as you could get to a fantasy experience of being in the movie. Using a joystick to shoot, you replayed the best battle scenes from Empire Strikes Back, New Hope, and Return of the Jedi. You could also follow main missions (three of which were to destroy the Death Star) and a bonus mission where you fight Boba Fett and Darth Vader as Luke Skywalker. A dream of every sci-fi nerd!
13. Alex Kidd In Miracle World
Let’s not beat around the bush. Alex Kidd is the direct competitor to Nintendo’s Mario. But, instead of jumping, Alex punches things to collect cash. The same mechanics of dodging enemies are present. The enemies are just as deadly – in fact, they kill you in one hit. It’s also a great family-friendly game, viable for boys and girls. But, even though it’s just as challenging and fun to play as the Super Mario Bros, Alex Kidd has a few improvements. Most notably, he can purchase a helicopter or a motorbike instead of running!
14. Crazy Taxi
If you like a challenge in maneuvering and figuring out how to earn as much money by drifting, Crazy Taxi will be your top game pick by Sega. When the passenger gets in, it’s up to you to do stunts, steer, slip, and slide crazy close to other cars, and even smash many of them to reach the destination. The crazier the driving, the higher the tip at the end of the taxi ride. Some versions of the game also have mini-games built-in. The game was so popular that after a few ports, Sony had to copyright the gameplay. Simpsons Road Rage tried to “borrow” its mechanics, and they later settled out of court.
15. ChuChu Rocket!
We failed to mention a single puzzle game up to this point. We’ll make it up to you with ChuChu Rocket! which was a commercial and critical success. It’s the first game that enabled online gaming for the owners of the Sony Dreamcast console. This was a revolutionary step from playing offline against the computer and allowed gamers to face up to 3 of their friends via the Internet. Unfortunately, it also connected some and tore others players apart due to frustration. It’s a game of cat and mouse – really! Your goal is to guide ChuChu (the mouse) into the rocket while avoiding multiple KapuKapu (cats).
16. Virtua Cop 2
Being a policeman is no easy job, but at least it’s never boring. However, it can also be deadly, which kills the fun, pun intended. So why not try the profession in a virtual environment, through this classic gun game? The main difference between the prequel and this one is the replayability since it’s a non-linear Sega game. Believe it or not, changing the route you take and thus altering the entire experience wasn’t common when this was an arcade game. The essence remained when it was ported to Sega Dreamcast since you can still enjoy shooting down waves of terrorists and outlaws.
Rez is one of the weirdest games Sega has released. It’s a musical rail shooter game, after all. In it, you’re a hacker who has infiltrated a mysterious Artificial Intelligence. As you progress through levels. new layers are added to the musical track, making it beat more intense, in pulses. This raises the pressure and whether you like it or not, will pump you up. We had the chance to see people play one of its remakes in Virtual Reality and with headphones on. They said it was like nothing they’ve experienced.
18. Jet Set Radio
Do you ever wonder what would happen if Sony jumped on the Tony Hawk’s skating bandwagon? Well, you don’t need to. This sports game, also known as both Jet Grind Radio in North America, deals with a group of street-smart fellows who like to skate around and spray graffiti. The graphics for the time of release (2000) pushed the Sony Dreamcast console to the limit. In fact, Sony couldn’t make a PlayStation 2 copy because of that! If you were to play it in 2020, you would still be enamored by the soundtrack, mechanics, open world, and graphics.
We decided to put a modern entry on our list of the games by Sega. Vanquish combines racing, third-person shooting, and a massive, terrifying alien invasion. The plot is pretty thin, but playing as Sam Gideon, who wears an armor called Augmented Reaction Suit, is exhilarating. Not only can you move faster than everyone around you, but you are also forced to perform insane air combat stunts to beat the enemies. Unlike some other games on our list, you can buy a physical or digital copy of Vanquish right now.
20. Super Monkey Ball
Super Monkey Ball is a silly arcade game that was played with a joystick shaped like a banana. However, after a 2001 GameCube release, it became insanely addicting to many, primarily due to its mechanics. You’ll play as a monkey trapped in a hamster ball, and your goal is to collect as many bananas across the levels. The thing is, you’re not actually controlling the monkey or the ball. Instead, you are moving the level to maneuver the monkey into collecting items.
21. Super Street Fighter 2
Super Street Fighter 2 is a Sega classic released in 1994. It is a 2D fighting game where you can fight with other monsters to be the best fighter in the game. The truly nostalgic music and not-so-good, but still perfect graphics make it a great memory. If you are a fighting fan and enjoy playing such games without those stunning graphics and character storylines, the Super Street Fighter 2 is the perfect Sega Saturn game you can ask for. It may not be the greatest game ever created, but for me, it is one of the best classics out there.