Ah, St. Valentine’s Day. It’s mere mention brings thoughts of flowers and chocolates, soft music and even softer touches, and of course… games! Hey, we all hope to get some nooky later on at night, but you still have 23 1/2 hours left in the day to kill, right? Why not spend some time together with a few quality titles?
Upon first inspection, there may not seem to be much on the Genesis that you can enjoy with your other half, but look closely my friend. There are actually quite a few games that she’ll be able to get into easily (so very important), and actually have fun with too. Just be sure to stay away from anything overly complicated and you should be fine. And no, having her hold the hint book while you navigate the dams in Phantasy Star II does not count.
We here at Sega-16, in our never-ending quest to educate about the joys of Sega’s 16-bit wonder, have compiled a humble little list for you to help decide what to play. Remember, you want to do things together, right? You want to share in each other’s interests, right? Well, if you can go antique shopping or stand by quietly as she tries on half a dozen outfits (only to buy nothing), then she can play Genesis with you for a bit!
Platfomers are always good for beginning gamers, regardless of their sex. Those with recognizable characters are even better, and this has to be one of the most widely known. Who didn’t like the movie Aladdin? Your loved one will appreciate just how close the game mimics the film and won’t feel intimidated by the gameplay. Just have her collect apples and remember to use them! Hacking wildly will lead to quick frustration and kill her interest. Once she gets used to the controls, things should pick up pretty quickly. There’s not much of a challenge to the level design, so as long as she remembers to take her time as she moves to the right, she’ll be fine (watch out in that dungeon level, though). There is no two-payer option here, so you’ll have to settle for giving advice and support. I find that it helps to watch the film before you play the first time, so that the whole experience is still fresh in her mind.
Playing together (I mean outside the bedroom) is always fun and here’s a little gem that will have you in stitches. As the two of you try to make it through each stage as stealthy as possible, hilarity ensues. There’s nothing really violent about Bonanza Bros. (weapons stun, not kill), and it’s mostly the slapstick, Keystone Kops-style antics that carry the game. The split-screen gameplay allows you to each see what the other is doing and offer advice or even compete with one another. Even though the stages change in layout, the basic concept is always the same. This small learning curve makes it a game you can jump right into. Bonanza Bros.‘s greatest strength has to be that it allows you to actually work together, something that few Genesis titles pull off so easily. Getting her to play along in Arcus Odyssey isn’t really an option so it’s good to have a few carts where she can actually hold her own, and this is the perfect place to start.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
It seems that not a list goes by without mention of Walt’s rodent star. You could say that I included Mickey here on the “cute factor” alone, but it actually has more to do with the non-violent and simple gameplay than it does with the sugary presentation. Castle of Illusion uses but a single button and never requires much thought. The easy mode is a great training ground and she’ll eventually get good enough to move on to the almost-as-simple normal game, where she can actually earn the ending. Watch as she delights in the Disney tunes and cute little forest creatures; you’ll love it as much as she does. I really like Castle because of its appeal to all ages. It’s a game I can go back to every so often, yet it’s simple enough for my wife to play through. We had a blast just having her try and see how many classic Disney characters she could identify. I was amazed that she recognized the clock tower giant. She’s never seen the cartoon!
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
This list wouldn’t be complete without a puzzle game. I chose DRMBM over Columns due to its variety of modes and its familiar license. Plus, I’ve always preferred Puyo Puyo to Columns. It just seems to have so much more personality. The Sonic license is put to good use (great graphics!) and there are lots of characters from which to choose. Friendly competition is a great way to spend some time and Robotnik is a blast.
Puzzle games are always fun because no matter how good you think you are, it’s always possible for someone to get lucky (beware the button mashers!). You don’t need quick reflexes or a large IQ to enjoy Robotnik, just decent communication skills (if you don’t have those, then you’re playing the single-player mode anyway).
One of the more under-appreciated Sega arcade classics, Flicky is a game that women will definitely enjoy. What could be sweeter than a little blue birdie saving baby chicks from mean pussy cats? There are lots of pretty colors and the stages are small enough for her not to get lost. Moreover, the tight control of the Genesis D pad mimics the arcade quite well and the game is almost a perfect port (not that the coin-op was that tech-heavy to begin with). I’ve yet to meet a girl who didn’t like this game. The only downside is the steadily progressing difficulty that can eventually become too hard for female companions to get around. Flicky can really pour it on in the later stages, so you’ll have to try challenging her to see who can get the highest score, rather than competing to see who gets farthest. Just be ready to see her cringe when she misses those chicks in the bonus stage!
An interesting twist on multi-player fun, Gauntlet IV is about as close to an RPG as she’s likely to get in the early going. It’s simple, two-button gameplay won’t send her running and there’s even a strong female character for her to use. I think the best thing about playing Gauntlet with other people is the need to work together. Sharing potions, keys, and food is essential for getting through each stage. She’ll appreciate your “protection” and cover fire, and you’ll have someone with whom to slay demons and ghosts. Use your multi-tap and take along two friends or siblings on your journey, making things even more fun. This is an excellent party game that really doesn’t get the attention it deserves, which is a shame. Tengen’s offering has something for everyone, as you can always take on the quest mode on your own when she’s not around. Just be sure to have some paper ready for that massive password; you’re going to need it.
Classic and instantly recognizable. Those are two features that will make this a definite game to play with your lady friend. You don’t have to explain the rules (unless she grew up in a cave), and the simple controls will have the two of you off and running in no time. The sound and graphics are limited, but the gameplay is as solid as ever. I know that sometimes Monopoly tends to go on forever, but that’s not a problem here. No clean up is required and there are no tiny pieces to step on! Moreover, the computer always handles the banking, so you’ll never have to use math! What could be better than that? Another great feature is that up to eight players can join in (break out those multi-taps), which makes Monopoly a great party game for those times when you need to accumulate points with the family. You can always slip out to the bathroom if they become too involved.
Definitely a game that should be in every married man’s collection. This is the classic girly game (and I’m not saying that in an Arnold-like way) that they never get tired of. Few on-screen characters, no buttons to use, no complicated menus or heavy thinking; just simple D pad movements and lots of fun! Take into account the multitude of variations the Genesis version of this arcade classic offers and you have a winner. The best feature? You can play simultaneously! The great two-player coop mode lets you be Pac-Man and her use the Great Bow-Wearing Dame of Gaming. Give her the tiny stages to get started, then gradually move her up to the larger mazes as she gets better. Eventually, you can let her have a swing at the custom stages (better to wean her on the arcade ones first). It’s a timeless classic that will always draw fans, I guarantee you’ll get bored of playing long before she does.
Sonic The Hedgehog
Another game requiring little use of the controller, many people complain that Sonic can be passed by merely holding the D pad to the right and jumping occasionally. True, perhaps, but how many of your girlfriends or wives are experts at doing that? Unless they’ve been into gaming for a bit, you’ll probably have to grin and bear it as they struggle to make the Blue Blur grab those two rings on top of a ledge that you know she’ll never get to. Your job here: navigation and logistics. Let her know that you have to break the wall to get that extra life, remember to prepare her for the dramatic increase in speed she’ll get from the red shoe power up, and be sure to remind her that it takes only three hits to do in Robotnik. She’ll be appreciative for your help and at the same time, she’ll feel like she’s accomplished something (don’t spoil her fun!). You’ll surely be rewarded for being so supportive!
Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition
What? A fighting game? Sure! Sometimes it’s good to just kick the snot out of each other, no matter how much in love you are. She’s going to be the poster child for button mashers everywhere, but she’ll have a blast doing it. That’s the point, isn’t it? Let her choose a character for you (she’ll always take Chun Li for herself) and let her pick the stage. Most of all, let her win. Showboating with a six-hit combo and special finish impresses no one but yourself, so there’s no need to be a killjoy here. After a bit of jump kicking and random, senseless attacks, tell her how to do some special moves, like a fireball. She’ll squeal with glee at being able to pull off something so “complicated” and it’ll give you a chance to get close. Bonding over a 2D fighter might not seem like the most romantic thing, but like I said earlier, it’s all about getting into each other’s interests.
Obviously, this list is but a small percentage of the potential Genesis titles that can be played with your significant other. You will, of course, have to chose your gaming depending on her particular tastes. Heck, I know girls who would prefer to play Mortal Kombat (the image below is for them!) or Shining Force over those listed above. Unless you’re sure of what she likes, or if she isn’t a gamer, then it’s best to play it safe. Who knows? If you pick the right game, you might not have to wait until nightfall to get some nooky after all.