The SEGA Genesis was my favourite console that gen. I own an SNES as well, but not during that gen. Anyways, the Genesis was acquired by my brother and I a few years after it was released, at a clearance sale for a store that was going out business. On this day I still fondly recall, my parents finally got my brother and I the Genesis we so wanted, and then the two of us pooled what little money we had and scored fourteen (yes, 14) games at really low clearance prices. The SEGA Gensis has provided me with innumerable memories, some of which I will detail here.
So, the memories:
First time playing a 16 bit game
Even though we got the Genesis late into the fourth gen, the game we first played was the one that many gamers who got the Genesis at launch (fuck you guys!) played: Altered Beast. The game in which you, a humble human, is granted a second chance at life (wise from your grave!) by Zeus himself, who sends you to the Underworld to rescue Athena from a bunch of monsters. If you collect these floating balls of power (ahem) during each level, you gain size and strength until, upon attaining enough of these power balls (ahem) you transform into one of several various mythical creatures.
Sure, the game may seem clunky and dated today (I still actually like it though, and I also enjoy the GBA sequel, Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms, which I bet you didn't even know existed, but I digress) but at the time it was very new, fun, exciting, and damn gorgeous. The graphics blew us away. Welcome to the 16 bit era, bitches, the Genesis seemed to exclaim, and, coming from the humble (but probably still one of the top 3 or 4 consoles ever) NES, the slogan, at least in our initial excitement, seemed to hold true: Sega does what Nintendon't!! I don't think Altered Beast utilized the ''blast processing'' though. That was solely for Sonic......(yes, I know it was marketing bs).
One of the Best Games of All Time
Shinobi III has you control Joe Musashi, the so called Ninja Master, in a battle to stop his sworn enemy, the Neo Zeed, who grips has the city clasped in his evil grasp, casting fear amongst all of the citizens and engulfing the fair city in a massive crime wave. The game has you fight a multitude of enemies, including bio-ninjas, who are controlled by the Shadow Master, a super ninja cloned from Joe's own bloodline.
Now, I may dispute the title of Ninja Master (Ryu Hayabusa, anyone?) but what I will not dispute is the contention that Joe Musashi is one badass ninja. And this game, the third in the Shinobi series, is easily the best, and for my money, is one of the best 2D action games ever made. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of the best games ever made, period. You can wall jump, ride horseback, double jump, use your sword, use shurikens, use magic, fight huge and menacing bosses, ride on a jet ski, etc etc etc. The name of the game is variety. Variety in abilities, and variety in locations. An agile character with a varied moveset, awesome locales and boss fights, great visuals and music, very good level of challenge, and a great variety in enemies all add up to one memorable game.
What makes this game particularly memorable for me, aside from just how awesome it is (seriously, the main memory is that the total package just blew me away), is the fact that we bought it for the low, low price of $4.99 at the aforementioned clearance sale. Also, this game was the first game in which I had ever ridden a horse, as well as the first game in which I rode a jet ski and I believe it was the first game in which I had encountered a double jump manoeuvre, but on that point I may very well be mistaken. I need to think about that some more, but I don't particularly feel like it at the moment, so I'll put this out there at the risk of it being incorrect. The last memory I have of it, besides it blowing me away, is being shocked at the graphics. They were awesome. And I thought Altered Beast looked great......
Arcade at Home?
Ya, this is the home version
Street Fighter was (and still is) an amazing fighting franchise. At the time, it was an arcade phenomenon. I loved playing it at the arcades, but always yearned for the ability to play it on a home console. Well, I got my wish in the fourth generation of console video games. Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition (also acquired at that clearance sale) was released on the Genesis (and the SNES, and ya, the SF games were better on the SNES. I know, I know...) and it was a good iteration of it to boot. In Special Champion Edition you could fight as the bosses!! The graphics and sound may have taken a hit, but damn it they were still awesome, and the gameplay seemed to be intact, with one caveat: make you have access to a 6 button pad.
My brother and I were thrilled to be able to experience an authentic SF game at home, anytime we wanted. I played this so much, and have sooooo many fond memories of playing it solo and with friends. Ditto for Super Street Fighter II, which we also had (did not get it at that sale though, if memory serves).
My Uncle play Games?
The NHL series on the Genesis (and SNES) was really fun, and featured lots of customization options. Great muiltiplayer, great control, and lots of replayability. The games featured cool touches like small bits of voice acting, persistent stat tracking, updates from other games around the league, and a few other things like a practice mode where you could practice 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3, etc (or even uneven matches like 3vs1). It was a fairly innovative series at the time.
What makes this special, however, is that my uncle, a big hockey fan, saw my brother and I playing it one holiday, and gave it a try. After fumbling with the controller for quite some time, and constantly asking what the controls were, he finally got the hang of it (sort of) and played my brother and I several times that day. I can fondly recall him scoring his first goal, several games in, and I still remember him shouting and then gloating about it. I also remember my brother scoring on him not a minute later, silencing my uncle's gloating. My uncle ended up buying a Genesis just for the NHL games, and we used to go over there once in a while and have tournaments. So fun.
I Will Beat the Shit out of you all!!
Streets of Rage 2 is one of, if not, the, best beat em up games ever made. What solidifies it in this position for me is the combination of the varied environments, the enemy variety, and the combat. You'll fight in and on ships, baseball diamonds, complexes, bars, beaches, in addition to the ubiquitous street levels. You'll fight, along with the typical denim jacket wearing thugs, Muay Thai kickboxers, kangaroos, ninjas, samurais, big fat baseball players who breath fire and do belly flops (seriously), kung fu masters, enemies wearing jetpacks, guys that look like the old wrestling tag team the road warriors, guys riding motorcycles, and more.
The source of most of my memories, however, is the combat. I had played beat em up games before, some good, a couple great, many bad or even absolute shit. Unlike some of the mediocre ones, you don't just mash on the attack button in SOR2. You have 2 special attacks for each character, as well as a dash attack. You also have a variety of throws and grapple manoeuvres. Simply walk into an enemy to initiate a grapple, and then, depending on what character you are using, you can punch, kick, front throw, reverse throw, or jumping throw the enemy. Throwing them into a group of other enemies sends them all flying, in a satisfying display of macho bravado.
Some of my fondest memories from the fourth generation and derived specifically from this game. I played this game over and over and over and over and over, both solo and with my brother, and it never got old. I loved atomic dropping and German suplexing guys as Max, the muscular wrestler. Pounding them with fists of fury as Adam. Rollerskating around as the aptly named Skate, and both fireballing and roundhouse kicking scumbags as Blaze. I remember the first time I beat Mr. X. That felt good. Or when I realized you could, just like some fighting games allowed, tech out of throws (although at the time, I didn't know that's what it was called). That saved me a shitload of headaches during some specific fights.
Very fond memories of this one.