The Best Sega Genesis Platformers

Gaming Jump - September 2019

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If you are a 90's kid, then you'll be well aware of the many consoles that emerged during that period. 2D and early 3D video games were the best things in a kid's life, thanks to Nintendo. Nintendo continued to rule the gaming world until Sega's revolutionary Genesis system was introduced in 1989. Going by the name Mega Drive outside North America, the system had enhanced resolution, more processing power that beat its 8-bit competitors and broader color output.

With Sega's marketing campaign and a handful of games that were at a higher level than those of Nintendo in terms of graphics and strategy, Sega quickly won the hearts of every gamer child. The discussion below takes a look at some of our favorite platform games that made our childhood memories.

Sonic the Hedgehog

One of the best Sega genesis platformers in the 90s was the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog. It was developed by the Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Genesis, releasing in North America, Europe, and Australia in June 1991. The game was the result of Sega demanding a game that could feature a mascot for the company.

The simple gameplay revolves around the adventures of Sonic in his quest to destroy Dr Robotnik and release the animals he has trapped, as well as collect six magical emeralds. Players can collect rings as a form of health and must jump on enemies to destroy them as they traverse each level. After completing a stage, players must face off against Dr Robotnik in one of his various robotic machines.


Castlevania Bloodlines

Castlevania Bloodlines was developed and published by Konami for the Genesis in 1994 and is the only one of its kind released on the console. Its storyline is about a legendary vampire by the name Elizabeth, who plots a sacrificial war to bring her uncle back to life in the twentieth century. She organizes the start of World War 1, but John and his best friend Eric vow to take up the fight against her. Together, they manage to stop Dracula's resurrection.

Unlike other Castlevania games, Bloodlines does not take place in the Dracula castle. Instead, most of the levels in the game take place in different locations throughout Europe.

Players proceed through levels by defeating enemies and collecting gems to power up their weapons, before defeating the level boss and moving on to the next stage.


Dynamite Headdy

Dynamite Headdy is a platform game where the player controls a puppet named Headdy and his detachable head. The story involves Headdy trying to save the world by opposing the evil puppet king, who is transforming all the puppets in the world into his evil minions. To succeed, Headdy must fight and win against the king's army and the key masters at the end of every stage.

Headdy can attack enemies by launching his head at them, and can also use his head to grab hooks and reach higher places. Players can find power-ups throughout the game which alter the abilities of their head, for example by increasing damage or providing invincibility for a short time.

Dynamite Headdy is regularly listed among the best Genesis games ever, with a particular fondness being shown for its originality and sense of humor.


Shinobi III

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master was released in Japan in 1993. It's an action platformer developed and published by Sega for the Genesis, which was also launched in 1993.

The player controls Joe Musashi, a master ninja who returns from exile to once again defeat the evil criminal organization known as Neo Zeed.

Compared to the Shinobi games that came before it, the gameplay is somehow smoother in terms of action, difficulty, and speed. In addition to the movement speed, the character now has new moves and techniques that include a mid-air dash kick, a running slash attack, and the ability to jump-scale walls. Apart from the normal movement and combat moves, the character has additional ninjitsu techniques. However, each technique can only be used once in every stage, unless you find bonuses in hidden spots in some of the levels. The ninjitsu techniques involve fire dragons, boosted vertical leaps, self-sacrifice for extra damage, and a temporary shield.


Rocket Knight Adventures

Rocket Knight Adventures was first released in 1993 by Konami. The surprisingly complex plot features the adventures of Sparkster, an anthropomorphized opossum who must protect his homeland from invasion by the evil Devotindos empire. Sparkster is aided in this quest by his rocket pack and magical sword.

Gameplay normally takes the form of a side-scrolling 2D platformer with the player able to jump, attack enemies, and fly using their rocket pack. But there's plenty of variety to the game, with some levels switching to a horizontal scrolling shooter or allowing Sparkster to pilot a huge machine to battle his enemies.

The charming character sprites, vibrant colors, and evocative music help make this one of the best platformers on the Genesis.


Toejam and Earl

This game was developed by Johnson Voorsanger Productions and published by Sega for the Genesis console in 1991.

The storyline centers on two alien rappers who accidentally crash-land on planet earth. The player assumes the role of either character to collect the missing pieces of their damaged aircraft in an attempt to escape the planet. Each level is set on floating islands in space and players must progress through each stage, avoiding the quirky enemies all the while, until they reach the elevator to the next level. You will encounter such bizarre obstacles as man-eating mailboxes, chickens armed with tomato-shooting mortars, and phantom ice-cream trucks.

Power-ups can be obtained in wrapped presents, with some having unique effects like added running speed and enemy distraction. While others contain harmful power-ups like the loss of life and a randomizer that resets all the power-ups.


Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Sega developed this game and released it for the Mega Drive in 1990.  The player takes the role of Mickey Mouse on a quest to save Minnie Mouse after she was captured by the evil witch Mizrabel.

Castle of Illusion is a 2D platformer where Mickey defeats enemies by jumping on them or using projectiles like apples or marbles. Just like other side-scrolling platformers, every stage ends with a boss fight against some of Mizrabel's henchmen, before eventually facing off against the witch herself.

The colorful, iconic Disney characters, as well as the tight controls and great animations, make this a Genesis classic.


Taz in Escape from Mars

The fantastical plot of this game features Marvin the Martian deciding to fill the empty cage in his zoo. Going through his animal book, Marvin finds Taz and the idea of capturing him crosses his mind, so he decides to visit earth for the catch. Meanwhile, Taz is busy minding his own business when Marvin beams him up to the flying soccer and takes him to the zoo.

Gameplay involves trying to escape the zoo and return home. Taz can perform a spinning attack to defeat most enemies in one or two hits, while bosses take six to eight hits. Further attacking variety is available if Taz eats certain objects spread around the level - for example, eating a gas container allows Taz to breathe out fire for a short time.

There are six worlds, each containing two to three levels, followed by a boss fight at the end.


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