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I was not a Sega Genesis owner back in the 1990's. I stood proudly next to my SNES and scoffed at my friends and their inferior console. Did they have Mario? No. Zelda? I think not.
But with time comes wisdom, and I realized I missed out on a lot of great Genesis games from back in the day. Luckily, I have played them now and am ready to impart my only slightly biased view on the world. That's right. These are the best Genesis games on the Wii Virtual Console, according to someone with no nostalgic attachment to any of them and in no particular order. Oh, and this list is also Sonic free for your enjoyment.
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Yeah, I'm gonna start this one off with the shmup. M.U.S.H.A. is a vertically scrolling shooter and one of the most popular games on the Genesis for good reason. The levels are fun and interesting, not to mention challenging. The story is cool, and there are giant fighting robots, for goodness sake! Mechas in a game? Yes! That is awesome!
All of that aside, the gameplay in M.U.S.H.A. is, while not totally groundbreaking, at least interesting. Collecting power ups causes the mecha to change color and get new weapons. Plus, the weapons can protect you from enemy fire. With all the depth, this a a great game no shmup fan should pass up, especially for 800 Wii Points.
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Ecco the Dolphin
Who doesn't want to play a game as a dolphin? I know I do. Even as an adult I found this game charming and interesting. You see, Ecco was swimming happily with his pod with he jumps too high in the air and they are all sucked away. What took them? Aliens? A giant vacuum? Well, Ecco sets off to find out, and it is not easy!
The gameplay in Ecco the Dolphin is fun and challenging, all at the same time. Attack bad sea creatures (or at least sea creatures who may hurt Ecco), talk to other dolphins and collect clues as to what happened to your pod. Each level has an interesting puzzle aspect to it that you have to figure out in order to continue, which adds a lot of depth (pun intended) to this ocean based game.
For obvious reasons, this is a game that is very likely to be popular with children.
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Well, who didn't see this one coming? Earthworm Jim not only is a great game, it also spawned a great cartoon! Sure it is also on the SNES (with better graphics), but the Genesis version had some extra levels that the Nintendo game lacked.
Jim was just an ordinary earthworm until the day a super suit fell on him, making him a super earthworm. With such a great hero, a game doesn't get much better. Levels are platformish and all of the things you can do in the game are totally wacky, like throwing cows. Plus, each level has puzzles you must figure out in order to continue (sort of like Ecco), so it makes you think.
Simply put, this game has a great sense of humor! If you want to laugh as you fight your way through levels, this is the game for you. From the silly to the absurd, nothing is off limits. What are you waiting for? Go save the universe, earthworm style.
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LandStalker: The Treasure of King Nole
LandStalker:The Treasure of King Nole is a great Zelda-esque adventure RPG. While the isometric perspective of the screen might throw some people off (it does take a while to get used to) everything else is superb. The story is interesting, as you play a treasure hunter and not some all out hero. You just want to find the treasure, not save the world, which is refreshing. The graphics look amazing, especially for a Genesis game. The isometric perspective really does make it look 3D, and the sprites are cute and move well.
Gameplay wise, it is a great experience, once you get used to the controls. While it isn't Zelda, it is better than some Zelda games, and it's great that the Virtual Console is giving LandStalker another run. Should we keep our eyes open for a sequel?
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Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
I know Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is the last in the series (of a sort, the other Phantasy Star games are nothing like the first 4), but it is also the best. This is your typical Japanese RPG, and it's great. There are lots of towns to explore and a plethora of NPCs to interact with. Even the environments are interactive to a degree (an often funny degree as well). The graphics leave a little to be desired, as they look hardly better than something on the NES, but they're all right in the end.
Besides, RPGs are about story, and Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium has it in heaps! The story is compelling and grabs you from the get go. It takes place 1000 years after Phantasy Star II, and the Algol system is at the end of its days and you have to save the dying world.
Gameplay wise, Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is just turn-based, but the battles have some new twists like the programmable combat and combo attacks with 2 characters or more. It's a great feature that makes the random battles feel less tedious. So if you haven't played one of the real Phantasy Star games yet, get ready to spend 800 Wii points on this one.