Sega Genesis Mini Games List: Sonic 2, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Tetris, And More
We're fast approaching the release of the next miniature classic console. On September 19, Sega will debut its Genesis Mini (or Mega Drive Mini, for those in Europe and Japan). As its name implies, the nostalgic console will collect some of the biggest and best 16-bit era games.
Fortunately, given a history of disappointing aftermarket Genesis consoles, this one is quite good. As you can read about in our Genesis Mini review, it looks good, has a nice selection of games, and those games play well.
The Genesis Mini's design is based on the Model 1 Genesis and is about 55 percent smaller than the original. In addition, the system includes two classic three-button controllers, a USB-to-Micro-B power cable, a power adaptor, and an HDMI cable. Sega will also sell a six-button controller which is useful for games like Street Fighter II.
What makes the Sega Genesis Mini so notable is the fact that all the games included are being ported by developer M2, a studio known for its fantastic first-party production quality emulation of classic games. Aside from maybe Digital Eclipse, there are few other studios you'd want handling a task such as this.
With 42 titles in all, you can see all of the games included in the console below. It's worth noting that Japan's version of the console has a slightly different roster with several exclusive games only released in that country. But bear in mind that you're able to change the language of your Genesis Mini to access foreign versions of certain games.
If you're interested in playing Sega Genesis on a modern HDTV, there's another option out there too. You can always get yourself Analogue's Mega Sg. GameSpot's Managing Editor Peter Brown said in his Mega Sg review: "While roughly $200 is a lot to spend on a console to play Genesis games, right now, the Mega Sg is the easiest way to get them up and running on a modern TV without sacrificing audio or video quality--the support for Master System and Sega CD games is the icing on the cake."
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
There's no doubt that Treasure is getting a lot of love from M2 on the Genesis Mini. Light Crusader is one of the developer's more intriguing Genesis games compared to the likes of Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy. It's an isometric fantasy action-adventure mixed with RPG mechanics. You control a gallant knight named Sir David who's on a quest to defeat an evil wizard named Ragno Roke. As one of the few longer adventure games on the Genesis, its inclusion should make it a great fit for folks eager for something a little slower-paced.
Eternal Champions is not one of the Genesis' most memorable fighting games. In fact, it was quite polarizing upon release. Many viewed the game as overly difficult to learn, lacking great fighters and a visual style that could make it stand apart from the competition. Others praised its diverse movesets, mode options, and story. Regardless, like many of the games on the Genesis Mini's roster, Eternal Champions manages to endure historically as a showcase of Sega's attempt to create a game uniquely its own in one of the industry's then most popular genres.
One look at Kid Chameleon should trigger memories of all the 'tude from Sega's Genesis marketing push in the '90s. Its cover is certainly evocative of the era: a kid in a leather jacket riding a skateboard towards your face. How could you not think that was cool? However, Kid Chameleon isn't only memorable for its style; it has some fun mechanics too. As you progress through levels as the game's titular protagonist, you could find and equip masks that transformed you into different characters, each with their unique abilities.
The inclusion of Tetris on the Genesis Mini may not seem like a big deal. However, this version of the universally adored puzzler is exceedingly rare, with only a handful of physical copies available in the world. The reason for this stems from the complicated license dealings of the Tetris name at the time of its development, which halted production and distribution of the game entirely. Nowadays this version shouldn’t surprise you, especially if you’re well-versed with the series at large. But it’s historical significance should more than justify your time spent T-spinning and racking up points clearing lines.
Aside from Tetris and Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Columns is one of the more significant puzzle games on the Genesis. The Genesis version is well-known for being relatively arcade-accurate and one of the earliest puzzle games to appear on the console in most territories--notwithstanding the legal issues around Tetris.
Monster World IV
Monster World IV is one of the most visually pleasing games in the Wonder Boy/MonsterWorld series with plenty of vibrant, detailed sprites and backdrops. You play as Asha, who upon hearing spirits plead to her for help, embarks on a quirky journey to find and aid them. Monster World IV’s inclusion on the Genesis Mini is a welcome gesture, as it’s rather tough to play nowadays in an official capacity. The last time it was re-released was on PS3 and Xbox 360 as a digital-only title in 2012.
Alisia Dragoon is a critically-acclaimed action-platformer that didn't make much of an impact upon its initial 1992 release. With little to no publicity, the game didn't have much chance of succeeding financially and inevitably fell into cult-favorite status. So if you haven't played Alisia Dragoon before, now's your chance. You play as Alisia, a sorceress on a journey to avenge the death of her father. You're equipped with an arsenal of devastating magical spells to dispatch foes, which makes for a visually pleasing spectacle.
Virtua Fighter 2
Virtua Fighter 2 was an arcade phenomenon when it first came out in1994. The critically acclaimed sequel to Sega's pioneering 3D fighting game franchise captivated players due to how drastically it improved upon the original both mechanically and visually. First launching on arcades, the game eventually made its way to the Sega Saturn. However, Sega wasn't happy only bringing it there; after all, the Saturn was struggling to gain a footing in the market against Nintendo and Sony. Soon enough, Sega would create a 2D remake of Virtua Fighter 2 available exclusively for the Genesis. It was nowhere near as universally loved as the superior 3D original, but nowadays it's a peculiar oddity that's at the very least entertaining to see in action.
Strider is another game that received a brilliant port to the Genesis. It's by no means arcade perfect, but this version of the Capcom-made action side-scroller is still a great time. As high-tech ninja Strider Hiryu, you'll slice your way through dozens of enemies, walk up steep inclines, and call upon the help of robotic animals to aid in your journey to defeat a treacherous dictator known as the "Grandmaster."
While many think of Gunstar Heroes first when discussing Treasure's work on the Genesis, it was far from the only game it released on the platform. Dynamite Headdy is one of its more energetic offerings that falls more in line with the mascot-centric platformers of the time. The main gimmick focuses on its titular protagonist's ability to throw his head at enemies to defeat them, as well use it to pull himself to various areas or move objects. All the while, in typical Treasure fashion, the game sports an impressive array of graphical effects and detailed sprite work.
Darius didn't actually release on original Genesis hardware, which makes it a peculiar inclusion to the Genesis Mini. This action shoot 'em up is well-loved by fans of the genre, standing out from the competition in the arcades due to its three-monitor setup. It’s being ported from the ground up by M2. While the Genesis Mini version won’t be nearly as extravagant as the arcade original, the fact we're getting a completely new Genesis port of one of the best shoot ‘em ups out there is incredibly exciting news in itself.
Road Rash II
It's crazy thinking about Electronic Arts' input to the 16-bit generation. It had quite the presence starting many of its most long-running sports franchises during that time, such as Madden, NHL, and more. But most fondly remember EA’s more creative output--in this case, the iconic Road Rash series. The Genesis Mini is getting the second game in the classic motorcycle racing series, which included new features like bikes with nitrous oxide injection and more diverse weapon sets.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars
Mega Man: The Wily Wars is a lovely novelty. It's a compilation of 16-bit remakes of the first three Mega Man games. While it was available in Japan and Europe as a cartridge release, it was distributed in North America for a limited time via the Sega Channel--a pay-to-play online games service provided by Sega through cable television services.
The remakes are relatively faithful to their NES originals with some attention taken to remove several notable glitches. A handy built-in save feature is also added to all three games, as well as a special mode that's made available upon completing all three games, which pits Mega Man against a trio of new bosses. Mega Man: The Wily Wars is very much a treat for North American players who weren't lucky enough to have parents willing to sign up for Sega Channel.
Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition
Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition is by no means the best version of Street Fighter II out there, but its inclusion on the Sega Genesis Mini is historically significant. As the first edition of the game to launch on the console, it only feels right that it's represented simply for that legacy alone. Unfortunately, you won't get as much from the game outside the box due to the Genesis Mini's pack-in three-button controllers. However, Sega has announced that the six-button Genesis-style USB controllers from hardware maker Retro-Bit will work with the Genesis Mini.
Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Ghouls 'n Ghosts is the fantastic and visually delightful sequel to the infamously tough Ghosts 'n Goblins. It puts you in the shoes of courageous knight Arthur, who is on a quest to defeat the evil Lucifer and save Princess Prin Prin. The arcade original is a delight in its artistry, but its Sega Genesis port is no pushover. At the time, this version of the game was considered an incredible accomplishment due to how well it translated the arcade original onto Genesis hardware without much compromise.
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle is the only Alex Kidd game to launch on the Genesis. It follows Alex as he embarks on a search for his long-lost father on the planet Paperock. The game is certainly not the best in the franchise, but its inclusion on the Genesis Mini is a least a fun nod to Sega's former mascot.
Sega composer Yuzo Kushiro is highly regarded for his brilliant jams on the Streets of Rage soundtracks. However, he has also dabbled in development several times throughout his career. One notable project that also happens to be on the Genesis Mini is Beyond Oasis, a visually splendid action-adventure similar to The Legend of Zelda. You control the protagonist Prince Ali through a variety of dungeons, uncovering the power of an ancient armlet that can summon powerful spirits. Shallow combat keeps Beyond Oasis from being a real gem, but its standout art style and fantastic soundtrack--also composed by Koshiro--make it well worth playing today.
Golden Axe is another one of those games that have become oddly synonymous with Sega Genesis. Its '80s-era high fantasy visual flair and simple beat 'em up antics makes it easy to pick up and play. In no way does it compare to something like Streets of Rage 2, but there's enough charm to Golden Axe that makes it well worth the time spent playing--if only to experience one of Sega Genesis's earliest classics.
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is the grand conclusion to the original Phantasy Star series. Like previous games, you'll guide a party across an expansive quest and engage in turn-based battles against a variety of foes. There's a greater emphasis on visual storytelling in Phantasy Star IV with manga-style panels accompanying the narrative and an expanded script. We're hoping the improvements introduced to this version of the game will be similar to M2's work on the Switch port of the first Phantasy Star--which brought several quality-of-life changes that made the experience far more pleasant for contemporary play.
Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball
Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball is an intriguing series spin-off. Many of the Genesis-era Sonic games came from Sega's Japanese teams with some collaboration from its American staff. However, Spinball was only one to be developed primarily by Sega's American developers.
Set in the universe of the animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, the game has you navigating the blue blur through a series of pinball machine-like environments. Spinball is nowhere near as well-designed as the mainline games, but it stands as an interesting footnote in history purely for its historical significance in the series at large.
Vectorman is a brilliant display of the Genesis' technical prowess. You need only gleam at its complex pre-rendered 3D sprites, expansive levels, and impressive background effects. The game was considered Sega's answer to Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country at the time, as both used similar visual tricks to show graphics beyond what was thought possible on 16-bit consoles.
Wonder Boy in Monster World
Wonder Boy in Monster World should be a treat for fans of the recent Wonder Boy and the Dragon's Trap remake, as well as Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. As the fifth game in the Wonder Boy franchise and the third in the Monster World sub-series, this joyous side-scrolling adventure closely follows in the exploration-focused tradition of previous games. Despite its lack of popularity, Wonder Boy was one of Sega's most standout franchises, so to see one on the Genesis Mini is a nice gesture.
Sonic the Hedgehog
No classic console version of the Sega Genesis would be complete without the debut of the company's iconic mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. The first Sonic game was pivotal in establishing Sega as a force that could compete against the creative forces at Nintendo. Despite the '90s 'tude marketing that surrounded the game's launch, Sonic the Hedgehog is a joyous fast-paced platformer with lively cartoon visuals. If you haven't played the first Sonic, you certainly owe it to yourself to do so as soon as you boot up your future Genesis Mini.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog was certainly a solid game in its own right, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is where the fast-paced formula truly shines with some of the best multi-layered stage design in the series and the addition of the iconic spin dash. The sequel is a delight that only makes a great idea even greater. Now, where's the announcement of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles? Come on Sega and M2, we don't have all day!
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco the Dolphin has certainly stood the test of time as one of the more oddly intriguing games on Sega Genesis. You control Ecco, a bottlenose dolphin on a time-traveling journey across Earth's oceans to fight off hostile aliens. The game's occasional moody and haunting atmosphere still sets it apart from most games of its time. While Ecco the Dolphin's objectives can be a bit obtuse, and its controls somewhat stiff, its premise alone should be enough to warrant a few attempts through its myriad challenges.
If you've mostly spent time playing Castlevania games on Nintendo consoles, Castlevania: Bloodlines might be foreign you. But you're in for a fantasic ride, as Castlevania: Bloodlines stands among the best of the classic series with astounding visuals and well-executed platforming. Set in 1917, you play as either Jonathan Morris or Eric Lucarde, who are vampire hunters both on a mission to stop Dracula's resurrection. You'll navigate environments packed with dangerous obstacles while facing a variety of undead threats and possessed machinery. Castlevania: Bloodlines is classic Castlevania for all intents and purposes, and it's one of the best of its kind.
Space Harrier II
Space Harrier II was one of the major launch games for Sega Genesis in the U.S. and Japan. As the console-exclusive sequel to the much-loved arcade rail-shooter, Space Harrier 2 puts you in control of a super-powered protagonist endlessly running and flying across checker-board landscapes while shooting swarms of evil robots and alien creatures.
Shining Force is a turn-based tactical RPG where you command a group of adventurers with varying skills and abilities to do battle against the evil forces of a tyrant known simply as Kane. There aren't many grid-based strategy games on the Genesis, so to have Shining Force is certainly a welcome addition to Sega's mini console.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Most people fondly remember Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine as a charming puzzle game based in the universe of the Sonic the Hedgehog '90s cartoons. But in reality, it's actually a westernized version of the classic Japanese puzzler, Puyo Puyo. If you've yet to try out this fantastic series, then Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a perfect place to start on your future Sega Genesis Mini.
ToeJam & Earl
There's a lot of fondness for ToeJam & Earl. Something about its '90s-era hip hop and attitude exudes an infectious charm that's difficult to not be taken by, even today. The game itself centers on its titular protagonists--alien rappers who have crash-landed on Earth and must collect pieces of their wrecked spacecraft to escape. This a great one to play cooperatively with a friend, and with the Sega Genesis Mini's two included controllers, that's a reality you can easily experience moments after taking it outside the box.
Despite its steep difficulty, Comix Zone is quite the visual treat nowadays. It's incredibly cool to see its hoody-wearing undercut pony-tailed hero jump from one comic book panel to the next, creating a stylish visual flair that you don't see in many games of this era. The game tells the story of Sketch Turner, a starving artist (and freelance rock musician) who gets sucked into a comic book he's creating. Inside the pages of his story, he must fight off Mortus, a mutant villain he created who is trying to escape into the real world. Whether you'll spend much time trying to overcome Comix Zone's various challenges or not, seeing the game in action is reason enough to boot it up.
If you were an early owner of the Model-1 Sega Genesis, you should be familiar with its pack-in game, Altered Beast. This port of the classic arcade beat-em-up consumed the time of hundreds of Genesis early adopters who were hungry for a taste of the arcade at home. In Altered Beast, you play as a resurrected centurion warrior who is tasked to rescue the Greek Goddess Athena. But in order to survive, you must rely on a power given to you by Zeus to transform into powerful beasts. While the game hasn't aged particularly well, it's schlocky digitized audio and shapeshifting action should make for a fun and faithful distraction.
Developed by famed studio Treasure, Gunstar Heroes is an incredibly entertaining side-scrolling shooter that you shouldn't pass up. The game centers around a unit known as the Gunstars and their mission to stop an evil empire from recovering four power gems. As either Gunstar Red or Blue, you'll use an arsenal of guns and acrobatic maneuvers to take on swarms of dangerous enemies and screen-filling bosses. It's great fun without the crushing difficulty of a game like Contra. And it's got that over-the-top Treasure-style spectacle that you need to experience firsthand to truly appreciate.
Contra: Hard Corps
Speaking of Contra, the one included on the Sega Genesis Mini is devastatingly hard. In fact, Contra: Hard Corps is notorious for its difficulty. This is because the game was dialed up in western regions compared to the Japanese version, which actually gave you a three-hit life bar and unlimited continues as opposed to the one-hit and limited continues. Fortunately, M2 is known for providing options for accessibility in its enhanced ports of classic games, so those who have neither the patience nor skill to beat Contra: Hard Corps may finally have a chance at beating this infamous adventure. This could be a tremendous boon for newcomers, as Contra: Hard Corps is just as visually and mechanically impressive as Gunstar Heroes, providing a variety of fun set-piece moments and boss battles.
The zany, cartoony antics of Earthworm Jim should be interesting to see on the Sega Genesis Mini, especially with M2 at the helm to clean it up and make it shine. Earthworm Jim wasn't known for its well-executed platforming, but its over-the-top style and comedy made it stand out from the competition. If you're unfamiliar, the game puts you in control of an earthworm named Jim, who wears a robotic super suit and battles a variety of evil enemies, including a maniacal pot-bellied crow in a yellow jumpsuit, a professor with a monkey for a head, a hostile robotic trash can, and much more.
Streets of Rage II
What about Streets of Rage II hasn't already been said? This iconic, stylish side-scrolling beat-em-up has been paraded in the lists of nearly every top Sega Genesis games list out there. But gosh if it isn't always so worth playing no matter where you're at in life. The fast-paced brawls alongside the bumping Yuzo Koshiro dance soundtrack always makes Streets of Rage 2 a fantastic time. And all this is amid a dazzling array of vibrant 2D sprites and detailed backgrounds. If you haven't experienced Streets of Rage II already, we envy you--definitely play it with a friend for optimal results.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Castle of Illusion was the first game starring Mickey Mouse to make a splash, and it paved the way for numerous Disney platformers to come. There's a wonderful variety of stages that elevate personality above difficulty, but it's not so easy that you can quickly breeze through. It's a pleasant surprise to see a licensed game make it onto the Sega Genesis Mini, especially given how many games of this nature are often lost to time due to expired licensing deals.
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
World of Illusion doubled up on Castle of Illusion's pleasing mix of accessible platforming and beautifully rendered 2D sprites and backgrounds. New to World of Illusion was the ability to play as either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. In addition, you can play both cooperatively with a friend while sharing from the same pool of lives. The introduction of two playable characters kept the game varied, as each character has their own unique set of abilities and differences that impact gameplay and exploration.
Thunder Force III
Spaceship shoot 'em ups were all the rage in the 16-bit era, so it's sort of an unspoken requirement that one appears on the Sega Genesis Mini. Fortunately, it's getting one of the best in the genre: Thunder Force III. This much-loved shooter is packed with weapon upgrades, impressive visual effects, a rocking soundtrack, and a wealth of challenging bosses; all the stuff a game like this needs. Of course, what Thunder Force III does exponentially better than any of its contemporaries was offer a far more forgiving powerup system, allowing you to keep weapons you collected even after death; though, whichever power-up you were using upon death is lost. In addition, you can modify the speed of your ship at the press of a button, as opposed to having to collect power-ups to regain your ship's speed--a mechanic often seen in other spaceship shoot 'em ups of the time. It's no Thunder Force IV, but it's a worthy inclusion to the Sega Genesis Mini's roster nonetheless.
Super Fantasy Zone
Where Thunderforce III is a much more self-serious sci-fi shoot 'em up, Super Fantasy Zone is unabashedly light-hearted. You need only observe its cutesy visuals and soundtrack. But where Super Fantasy Zone shines, in particular, is its non-linear stage design--a quality the series is well known for. Instead of putting you down a path taking you from left-to-right or vice versa, Super Fantasy Zone gives you the ability to move freely across a stage. Your objective in each stage is to explore and clear out its various enemy generators, which once destroyed will trigger the appearance of a boss. It's an intriguing, yet well-executed twist on the genre's most deeply held tenets, justifying the game's presence on the Sega Genesis Mini.
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Shinobi III is perhaps one of the best games in Sega's classic Shinobi series and on the Genesis in general. It's a riveting mix of well-paced action and memorable set-pieces that's a joy to simply play in front of others--if only to show them just how cool it all looks in motion. You play as Joe Musashi, a veteran Oboro Clan ninja on a mission to once again take down a totalitarian criminal organization known as Neo Zeed.
Landstalker is a whimsical fantasy action-adventure played from an isometric view. You take on the role of Nigel, an adventurer in search of clues leading to a legendary treasure. However, this is no easy task as you must explore numerous enemy-infested dungeons and worlds to accomplish your objective.