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Top 10 underrated SEGA games that deserved to be played

SEGA built some great platformers but do you know some of the lesser known platformers?

We all know about the classic SEGA games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage, but do you know about the hidden gems that lurk in the halls of the SEGA vault begging for you attention?

Let’s go over the ground rules before we start – these are all SEGA published titles but not all were developed by SEGA. This is a bevy of great games that never quite got the attention they deserved, released on a variety of platforms. There is no better time than now to experience these overlooked gems.

10. Tails Adventure (Game Gear)

Tails Adventure box art
Tails Adventure box art

This one won’t surprise long-time Sonic the Hedgehog fans, but what if I told you there was a metroidvania-style Sonic game where Tails gets top billing? Tails Adventure is THAT game!

This very graphically impressive game for the Game Gear, features large sprites in wide open levels, but a more subdued pace than most Sonic games. This game also took chances but having items open new pathways taking on a Metroid style, something wholly different for a game associated with the breakneck speed of Sonic. Tails can find items to aid in his quest and can carry up to four at a time. It was also included on the Sonic Gems Collection for the Nintendo Gamecube in case you don’t happen to have a Game Gear.

While not a perfect game, it is so different from any other Sonic game that happens to feature Miles Prower. It’s definitely worth checking out.

9.Tempo (32X)

Tempo box art
Tempo box art

Tempo very well might be the most visually impressive SEGA games on the 32X! Featuring buttery smooth animation, killer tunes, wild backdrops, and a crazy hip hop grasshopper, it’s everything you never knew you needed in a platformer. As that grasshopper you star in the Major Minor show, (basically a Soul Train analogue), climbing a tower of levels to on a quest to defeat King Dirge.

Developer RED put all of their development might behind showing what the 32X could do in the right hands. Unfortunately, the world was moving away from the mascot platformer and being on a dying system, buried Tempo 32-feet underground.

8. Clockwork Knight 2 (Saturn)

Clockwork Knight 2
Clockwork Knight 2

The Super NES had Donkey Kong Country and SEGA one upped them with this beautiful sequel. Clockwork Knight 2 stars a wind up clockwork knight Pepperoucahu III on a quest to save Princess Chelsea. Adding a little more gameplay variety than just hitting the enemies with your keyblade, it added in forced scrolling levels where you ride your mighty stead Barobaro.

Knocked upon its release for its lack of difficulty and semi-short length, Clockwork Knight 2 nonetheless, it is a visually impressive game with a great setting, which makes up for its short comings.

7. Astal (Saturn)

Astal box art
Astal box art

Astal is a visual 2D masterpiece for the Saturn, full of scaling effects and lush watercolor painted levels. Yoshi’s Island for SNES featured pastel graphics but this really took it up a notch. An angry boy made from a jewel battles crystal enemies to save a girl made from a jewel and along the way meets a bird sidekick.

The gameplay consists of grabbing things like trees and rocks in the foreground and launching them at the foes. You can also smash things with a downward pound including the landscape. Lastly you can inhale and exhale causing a stun on certain enemies. Like other games on this list it was knocked for its length and lack of difficulty.

A powerhouse of graphics but slightly simple gameplay make Astal an overlooked gem.

6. Ristar (Genesis)

Ristar box art
Ristar box art

Ristar is a perennial favorite SEGA games compilations that still somehow never gets the love it deserves. Made by the wizards at Sonic Team yet somehow couldn’t play more differently. A shooting star that grabs onto things and head butts them into submission. Of note is
multiple layers of parallax scrolling and more colors than you thought the genesis was capable of.

Ending each level by grabbing a crank, circling around at dizzying speeds and then rocketing off into the cosmos! Comprised of clever graphical tricks, and that trademark Sonic Team attitude, Ristar is a lovable character in a well made game that never clicked. He stood in Sonic’s shadow but shone as bright as a star.

5. Quackshot starring Donald Duck (Genesis)

Quackshot starring Donald Duck box art
Quackshot starring Donald Duck box art

Quackshot starring Donald Duck is a little more methodical pace than some other Disney games. This early life Genesis title still packs the goods. Large sprites and great animations. As Donald Duck you play as an Indiana Jones type character exploring far off lands and raiding tombs. The primary weapon for attack and exploration is a gun that launches plungers.

Guest starring a whole cast of Disney favorites including Scrooge McDuck, Daisy, and Hewey, Dewey, and Lewey. If the idea of Donald Duck with a plunger gun doesn’t appeal to you, there isn’t much more I can say to sell you on Quackshot starring Donald Duck!

4. Alisia Dragoon (Genesis)

Alisia Dragoon box art
Alisia Dragoon box art

Alisia Dragoon is game that maybe you’ve seen released in compilations and never taken the time to try, well now is that time. A girl and her pet dragons embark on a quest to avenge her father and gain new powers along the way. Developed by the now legendary GameArts, who showed off their sprite rendering prowess, this early game hinted at their potential.

Your main attack method is a wicked lightning attack the calls to mind the lock on mechanics of Panzer Dragoon. The lightning attack loses power so it encourages the player to charge and unleash bolts, frying nearly everything on the screen. She is accompanied by her four pets who can block and attack with fire, boomerangs, or thunder. Various collected power ups will
add to Alisia and her pets might allowing even more devastation.

A critically acclaimed game that never found its audience upon release, don’t let Alisia Dragoon slip away if it crosses your path.

3. Knuckles Chaotix (32X)

Knuckles Chaotix box art
Knuckles Chaotix box art

Of all of the Sonic family of games, Knuckles Chaotix one is the most neglected. A tandem system is employed in this game, essentially a giant rubber band, tying Knuckles to different characters, allowing them to sling shot across the landscape. Knuckles Chaotix uses some of the characters from the Sonic Arcade game like Mighty the Armadillo and introducing some fan favorite character like Vector the Gator, Espio the Chameleon and Charmy the Bee.

Also there are two partners who will slow your progress Heavy the Robot and Bomb. One of the main knocks against Knuckles Chaotix, is the often heard low difficulty factor, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying this one. There is really no reason this game is the forgotten son of the Sonic family.

2. Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox)

Jet Set Radio Future box art
Jet Set Radio Future box art

Jet Set Radio Future is easily one of my favorite SEGA games of all time. This game drips with style that no western made game can touch! A street gang of teenagers on rocket powered rollerblades shreds futuristic Tokyo spray painting tags while being pursued by a slightly incompetent police force and battling rival gangs. All while blasting possibly THE greatest soundtrack ever.

This game has been trapped on the original Xbox as it’s one of the few games that is not backward compatible with future consoles. It is a pack-in game included with the system itself, on the same disk with SEGA GT.

Featuring SEGA’s now famous (and often imitated) cell-shading technique, the character designs and graphics are second to none. If you don’t know
Jet Set Radio Future, go check it out right now!

1. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)

Mickey Mouse in the Castle of Illusion box art
Mickey Mouse in the Castle of Illusion box art

Mickey Mouse in the Castle of Illusion is a true masterpiece on the Game Gear but also available for the Master System. I maintain that this is better than its Genesis counterpart which is a fantastic game in its own right. While Mickey loses his ability to toss apples like in the Genesis version, he can now toss rocks, barrels and even chests on top of the prerequisite butt bounce. This game is packed with tons of hidden areas and items. Overall I think this game requires more puzzling and the same if not more twitch reflexes than it’s 16-bit counterpart.

The soundtrack is also amazing for an 8-bit game, with feature cartoon quality songs bouncing along the whole time. With great controls, lush graphics, and incredible music, Mickey Mouse in the Castle of Illusion is a must play.

Hopefully I’ve highlighted some SEGA games you weren’t aware or at least made you fondly reminisce about a forgotten game. Maybe I’ve given you some new treasures to track down. Maybe one will be a new favorite like all of these are for me.

Did you play some of these SEGA games growing up or have them in your collection? Share your memories in the comments below!

Andy Schneider

Lifelong SEGA fan ever since the Master System. Avid comic book reader and video gamer. Midwest born and raised. Yakuza, Jet Set Radio and Panzer Dragoon are some of my favorites.
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