27 years after its release, we take a look back at the 30 greatest Sega Genesis games of all time.

Back in 1989, which seems like a century ago as far as advancements in gaming culture are concerned, the Sega Genesis revolutionized a budding industry forever and for the better. Originally dubbed the “Mega Drive'”on the Japanese market, the 16-bit gaming console after receiving a new moniker stateside, triumphed above other systems with sharper graphics, higher resolution, industry-best animation and a slew of unparalleled gaming titles.

During its formidable days in the early ’90s, the Sega Enterprises, Ltd. developed-system housed more than 900 titles. Completely reshaping the complexion of inherent discernment, Sega quickly heightened the quality of gameplay while equally evoking a sense of emotion and unrivaled excitement from its users. Many of these titles rank among the greatest games ever produced, on any console. Others reign as the best arcade games that you eventually were able to enjoy from the comfort of your living room (that is unless your parents wouldn’t let you hook up your Sega to the “good TV”). That said, today we look back at the 30 greatest Sega Genesis games of all-time.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

The definitive title that shaped the face of Sega Genesis, this third installment of Sonic was undeniably the best of the series, and thus, the greatest Sega Genesis game of all time.

Streets of Rage 2

Arguably the best multiplayer fighting game of its time, Streets of Rage 2 trumps its predecessor with new characters, a deepened story line and enhanced beat ’em up gameplay. Aside from that, Axel was just the coolest.

Gunstar Heroes

One of the later hits for Sega that debuted in 1993, Gunstar Heroes helped usher in the era of the side-scrolling shooter and cartoon-like animation. The high-level bosses in this game may be its greatest achievement.

Street Fighter II

Surely one of the best arcade games ever, Street Fighter II was done right in its small screen adaptation by Capcom. If you didn’t play this game all day and all night, you missed everything that is ideal about this culture.

NBA Jam

Maybe the most widely celebrated basketball game that couldn’t be further from tradition, catching fire on your friends and blazing the nets is still one of the best feelings there is.

Mortal Kombat II

Legendary for a multitude of reasons, Mortal Kombat II saw the game soar to new heights, both at the arcade and on Sega. “Finish Him” could be easily identified as one of gaming cultures most transcendent phrases.

NHL 95

EA Sports’ NHL 95 would be the first and last time anyone took hockey games for granted. Exposing a much broader and youthful audience to the sport than ever before, this goes down as one of the best hockey games ever made.

The Revenge of Shinobi

The introduction of Shinobi in 1989 not only took gamers by storm, but it spawned a wave of games in a similar vein. However, none could hold a candle to this towering achievement and foundational character development.

ToeJam & Earl

In the early ’90s when hip hop was at its peak, video game developers begin to take notice. Enter alien rapping duo, ToeJam & Earl. Urban culture for the first time infiltrated gaming culture and this title was proof the formula could work exceptionally well.

Contra: Hard Corps

Another in the side-scrolling shoot ’em up style gameplay, Contra continued to build on its legendary series with Hard Corps. The famous “Konami Codes” helped greatly with 70 extra lives and unlimited weaponry if executed properly.

Aladdin

One of the few movie adaptations that truly resonated with gamers on a broad scale, we’d be remiss if we ignored the greatness that was Aladdin.

Double Dragon

Certainly not the knockout it was at the arcade level, but Sega did a great job with Double Dragon. Another in a long line of multi-player fighting games that inspired much of what we play today.

Shining Force II

A highly refined version of the original Shining Force, this sequel strayed from the original with regards to the storyline, but offered more roaming abilities alongside lengthening the easily beatable first installment.

Ranger X

Maybe not Transformers in popularity but then again it didn’t really need to be. This side-scrolling robot thriller was as fun to play as the graphics were to marvel upon. Also one of the most tactically impressive games of the Sega era.

Tecmo Super Bowl

Ok, so, maybe done better on other consoles, like Nintendo, but Tecmo Super Bowl on Sega was nothing to turn your nose up at.

Triple Play Baseball ’96

At this point in time EA Sports was already becoming a powerhouse. That continued in 1995 with the release of Triple Play Baseball. The graphics were top notch, the gameplay was faster, more accurate, and above all, it was the most enjoyable baseball game to date.

X-Men 2: Clone Wars

Iin 1995 when this game released, there was no better Saturday cartoon than X-Men. Clone Wars was quite possibly the best extension of that series on any gaming platform. Moreover, its a shining example of just how to translate a great comic and television series to gaming supremacy.

WWF Royal Rumble

If you grew up completely engulfed in WWF wrestling like the lot of us, Royal Rumble put that excitement and energy fittingly in the palm of your hands.

Sonic the Hedgehog

The first installment of Sonic the Hedgehog was the game we all played, beat, beat again, mastered, and kept playing for years to come. Igniting our curiosity for the console and its imaginative nature, the first Sonic installment properly left us wanting more.

Bart Simpson vs. Space Mutants

Maybe a niche gaming experience that didn’t quite achieve mass appeal, this title properly captured the popularity of the Simpsons and its most famous character during that time.

Golden Axe

Another in the 1989 release phase for Sega, Golden Axe introduced the side-scrolling gameplay style that pinned the fearless Conan-like warrior against the sinister Death Adder.

Earthworm Jim

Originally released by Sega in 1994 before being scooped by every other gaming console imaginable, Earthworm Jim was great due to its fluid animation and creativity. Still popular to this day, the title received a reboot in 2010 for the PlayStation Network and XboxLive Arcade.

Super Off Road

Long before the days of games like GTA or Gran Turismo, Sega had Off Road. The sequel, Super Off Road, was the best the series had to offer. Another game that was an arcade legend at its peak.

George Foreman’s KO Boxing

Nintendo had boxing locked up with Mike Tyson Punchout, that much is sure. But George Foreman’s KO Boxing was a formidable adversary of its time.

Herzog Zwei

Among the best retro two-player Sega games of all time, Herzog Zwei finds placement on this list due to its strong strategic nature and tactical brilliance.

Bulls vs. Blazers

Back when basketball games allowed star players to perform “signature moves,” Bulls vs. Blazers picked up where Celtics vs. Lakers left off, yet with slightly faster and much-needed advancements. Though it doesn’t hold up well today, this gameplay style birthed all we see today from the best basketball titles.

Bill Walsh College Football ’95

Following one of the first games to tap into college football, EA Sports triumphed with the second edition of the Bill Walsh College Football series.

Altered Beast

From the same developers of Golden Axe, Altered Beast was action-packed to say the least. It gave us the opportunity release our inner rage as a centurion turned werewolf with super powers.

Madden ’95

Though the Madden series begin 1992 with the release of Madden ’93, it took until Madden ’95 for the best edition on Sega to emerge. It ignited the popularity of the series that’s still prevalent today.

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

The Phantasy Star series is easily one of the most recognizable in the Sega lineage. At its forth iteration, The End of the Millennium, the installment reached its peak in both popularity and gameplay execution.

Darren Griffin for Highsnobiety.com

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