I received the Sega Genesis (the Model 2 version seen in the first photo) for Christmas 1993. Up until that point, the only video game system I had ever owned was the Nintendo Entertainment System and I was eager to join the ongoing 16-bit video game console war that was taking place between Sega’s Genesis (which debuted in 1989) and Nintendo’s Super Nintendo Entertainment System (launched in 1990). I was torn between my loyalty to Nintendo and trying Sega, which marketed its Genesis as a hipper and edgier product.
I had a friend down the street who owned a Genesis, and he ultimately talked me into asking for that system from my parents for Christmas. I won’t say I regret making that choice, but there were many times that I was jealous of what the SNES was offering in terms of games and the fact that it was the more popular and better reviewed system. Still, I chose my side in the 16-bit console war and I had to stick with it until 1996 when I jumped back to Nintendo for their 64-bit Nintendo 64 console, which was the successor to SNES.
Thankfully, I had decided to ignore the launch of the CD-based 32-bit Sega Saturn, which hit shelves in 1995 as a direct competitor to Sony’s CD-based 32-bit PlayStation. The Saturn got crushed by both PS and N64 during that generation and was essentially a dead console in North America by 1996 although it wasn’t officially discontinued until 1998.
So what the heck is the 32X I mentioned in the title of this post? Launched in 1994, the 32X (much like the Sega CD) was an add-on peripheral for the Genesis that was meant to help give Sega an edge over the competition and extend the life of the Genesis. In addition, it was essentially a stop-gap measure while the Sega Saturn was still being developed. The 32X original retail price was $159.99 and my friend and I (the one that talked me into getting a Genesis) both bought one in 1995 at Toys R Us when it was marked down the $19.99! Yes, the 32X (again, much like the Sega CD) was a failure. Half-hearted cash grabs like the Sega CD (which I never owned) and the 32X were two big reasons why I chose not to stick with Sega for the Saturn.
Back to the Genesis, while it may have had the best specs or game catalog of its generation, it was still a fun system to play. With over 700 games released in North America alone, there were plenty of good games to play over and over again or rent for a weekend back in the day.
Here’s a list of my favorites in no particular order:
MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head
1994, Viacom New Media
Yes, there was a time when I was a huge fan of Beavis and Butt-Head. I spent many late nights during this time watching their stupid show on MTV. The game was fun, but kinda hard. I remember the button tapping stage where you are fishing out of the window seemed impossible until my friend and I realized that if we used my third-party Genesis controller that had a turbo button switch that would do the trick!
Captain America and The Avengers
1992, Data East
A fun side-scrolling beat ’em up that was a pretty good conversion of the arcade game.
I’m not a huge fan of fighting games and I couldn’t tell you the last time I played one. My casual interest in them pretty much died when the Genesis did, but I couldn’t help but get caught up in the craze of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter during those days. At least the Genesis version is considered to be the best home port of the game since Nintendo shied away from some of the over-the-top violence for their SNES version. Mortal Kombat II is a better game (improved graphics + more playable fighters), but the first MK probably got the most of my time of all MK games.
1992, U.S. Gold
The only OFFICIAL game of the 1992 Olympic Summer Games! I’m probably one of the only people in the world who cares about this game, but it wasn’t too bad. The more I played it, the more I began to like it. I guess it’s technically not a “good” game, but I have a nostalgic love for it.
Road Rash II
1993, Electronic Arts
The first Road Rash is just as good, but I remember renting this one the most. I don’t remember enjoying Road Rash 3 as much. Fun and violent, it’s a motorcycle racing game where you punch, whip chains and swing baseball bats at your opponents when riding next to them.
Shining Force ranks up there with Final Fantasy II on SNES and Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation as one of my favorite RPGs. It’s turn-based and takes place on a map, so a lot of strategy is involved in picking the right members for your team to do battle with. I got pretty far in it, but I was never able to beat it. Still loved it though.
Soldiers of Fortune
1993, Spectrum Holobyte
Known as The Chaos Engine in the UK, this game is a top-down run ‘n’ gun steampunk shooter. It gets pretty frustrating in later levels but is fun to play with a friend.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) and Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
The first two Sonic games are stone cold classics and two of my favorite games of all time. So many good memories playing these games as a kid. Sonic 2 (which was bundled with my Genesis console) is the superior game in all ways (graphics, stage design, soundtrack, “Sonic Spin”), but the first one is still worth a play-through. Oddly, I never really got into the sequels that appeared in 1994: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. Maybe because they were rentals as opposed to me owning the first two, thus being able to devote so much more time to them.
Super Street Fighter II
I doubt there’s any fighting game that I’ve given more time to than Super Street Fighter II. I had this game pre-ordered from Toys R Us for its release and I loved the new characters.
ToeJam & Earl
A game with a quirky sense of humor and a great R&B/funk soundtrack. Few things are more ’90s than ToeJam & Earl.
Virtua Fighter [32X]
Not the best home version of the original Virtua Fighter (that’s one of the few feathers in the Sega Saturn’s cap), this was still a decent edition of the arcade fighting game that felt revolutionary for its time. It was bundled with the 32X add-on.
WWF Raw [32X] (1995) and WWF Royal Rumble (1993)
WWF games were off to a bad start on the Genesis with WWF Super WrestleMania in 1992, but WWF Royal Rumble greatly improved in terms of gameplay, graphics, and roster of wrestlers. WWF Raw featured more of the “New Generation” of WWF wrestlers and new moves. Although I already owned the Genesis version of WWF Raw, I picked up the 32X version on the cheap for the slight upgrade in graphics and the addition of Kwang as a hidden playable character.
Being obsessed with comics books and the X-Men during this time, this game was high on my Christmas wish list right behind the Genesis itself. Christmas 1993 was pretty good to me because not only did I get the Sega Genesis/Sonic the Hedgehog 2 bundle, but my parents also bought me this game. It’s not a perfect game, but it sure was a fun one.