Many classic games in the Genesis library have been collected into compilations by Sega, such as the recent Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. Others have been released for download on such services as the Wii Virtual Console. However, there are a ton of excellent games that will most likely never see the light of day again for a single, soul-crushing reason: licensing agreements.
Think back to the Genesis titles you really enjoy. In fact, think back to the games you loved on any console. There are bound to be a good number that are licensed. Due to the rights changing hands or the publisher sinking like the Titanic with all its properties stowed tight in the cargo hold, these games have never been re-released. For years and years, it was thought that once a property changed hands, the chances of seeing games based on it made available once again were slim and none, and slim is off playing COD: Modern Warfare 2.
This doesn’t have to be the case! Publishers are able to reach agreements for classic games to once again live and breathe. The best example of this is Konami’s classic TMNT: The Arcade Game. Both Konami and Ubi Soft (the current Turtle rights holder) got together and re-released the game on Xbox Live Arcade. It was a great showing of making older games available to newer audiences taking precedence over rights exclusivity.
And the Genesis is ripe with games just aching to make a comeback. Join us now as we take a look at the top ten licensed games we’d love to see return.
10. Tiny Toon: Buster’s Hidden Treasure
Come to think of it, this seems to be the one franchise on this list that just won’t go away. As recently as the GBA, Tiny Toons was getting looney on some game console, long after most people stopped caring that the series stopped airing new episodes almost twenty years ago! for some reason, the characters refuse to stay in the Warner Bros. vault. The Genesis games were both fun and true to the characters, and I’m especially fond of Buster’s Hidden Treasure. As a fan of the NES original, it was awesome to play a platformer in this series without the damn theme song droning on and on for a hundred levels. I didn’t think too much of ACME All-Stars, but that game might deserve another chance. That is, after I get tired of Tiny Toon platforming!
9. The Terminator (Sega CD)
I’m going to pretend that the games for T2 never existed and assume that the original Terminator was released in a vacuum. You know why? Because the lack of a Tommy Tallarico soundtrack means they come from some alternate future, one where badass side-scrolling action games have been overthrown by the emotionless light gun games that use a peripheral no one bought. I refuse to believe that my Sega destiny is already written!
So to that end, I’ll sit in my game room with the Sega CD version of Terminator revved up, and I’ll scream THERE IS NO FATE BUT WHAT WE MAKE! at the top of my lungs while I kill punk rockers in order to prevent a sixty-four color apocalypse.
8. Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin
Some people prefer the Sega CD version because it has more levels and that incredible groan-inducing theme song by Spencer Nilsen and Eric Martin (of Mr. Big fame), but I have to go with the cartridge. It came first, setting the bar that the CD port neither met nor exceeded. “Swing Time” is cheesy fun, but the gameplay suffers, and no photo option takes some life from the character. The near-open world design also provokes the player to wander around without knowing where to go next, something the first version didn’t do. The cart original is a super hero game done RIGHT. Created from the ground up around Spidey’s powers, it simply won’t work with any other protagonist. My full views on it can be seen in the dedicated Double Take article I spun last year, and suffice it to say that I’d rather play though this all day than watch Spider-Man 3.
Ray, Peter, Egon, and Winston have all returned on modern consoles to great success, so why not bring one of the earliest examples of great licensing on the Genesis back for another round of bustin’? I’m sure those who own a Wii would love the chance to download this baby. The large, detailed levels and great platforming action would be a welcome blast from the past today, and it even has the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man! Like anyone would need more reason to grab a proton pack. Nintendo already saw a version of the new game released on the Wii, and the recent release of a new game to modern consoles has made the property hot again, so toss some greenbacks at Atari (since Sega no longer holds the license), and get this baby onto the Virtual Console.
6. Spot Goes to Hollywood
I prefer this sequel to the original Cool Spot, which had a bit too much repetition for my taste. Spot Goes to Hollywood has a larger selection of levels, and while some might not like the isometric view, I don’t mind it at all (I never had a problem with them in Landstalker or Light Crusader either). Cool and the gang (ha!) are such neat little characters, and the diversity of the levels makes for some great fun. I’ve always found Spot to have a charm that a lot of the Sonic imitators of the era were lacking. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the characters were much more original than most of those that were shoved down our throats back then. I would have to recommend the Saturn port if you can find it too, as the music is incredible. Aside from that, this version is the way to go, and it can be had for less than a ten spot (ha! ha!).
5. X-Men 2: Clone Wars
While the first X-Men game garnered mix reactions from fans, the sequel does an excellent job of bringing Marvel’s merry mutants home in grand fashion. A slick action title that allows usage of many of the team’s most prominent members, it was a huge game that is as brutal sometimes as the very world the X-Men inhabit (it was also perhaps the first X-Men game to finally get Wolverine right). No password or save means that gamers have to hone their mutant controller powers to their fullest, but the reward is well worth the sacrifice. Hell, it tosses players into the action before even showing the title screen! This is a game that deserves to be brought back, and it’s a shame that it missed all the mutant mayhem the films sparked a few years ago. Don’t let the name fool you; this is the one Clone Wars that’s actually good!
4. Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
The King of Pop may be dead, but stalking small children hiding in closets lives forever! We loved to “WOO” and “OW!” our way through parking lots and dark forests back in the day, and this is the perfect time to get this title onto someone’s download service so that today’s younger MJ fans can see the glory in making stray dogs dance. The animation might be almost as stiff as the Gloved One himself now, but there’s still a lot of moonwalking to be done here, and there’s simply no reason to not bring this one back. We can also see how an entire graveyard stage filled with zombies doesn’t have “Thriller” as its music! Modern technology will let you fix that, Sega! Hey, it’s not like anyone would complain that Sega would be exploiting Jackson’s death by releasing it. That horse has already been flogged.
3. Quackshot Starring Donald Duck
Going in a slightly different direction than Castle of Illusion, Quackshot features a much larger game environment. Instead of linear levels, players are treated to several different locations that even allow backtracking. Some of the puzzles are tricky too (damn maze in India!), but Donald always manages to pull through. The visuals are still excellent, and the whole thing just oozes Sega and Disney charm. I’m sure that there are plenty of gamers today who wouldn’t mind spending an afternoon with the heroes of Duckburg, and this seems like as good a time as any to bring Mickey’s pal back. Lots of Disney characters are featured as well, and it’s still fun to see the little bird go all postal on everything onscreen with his quack attack. A recipe for potential domestic violence? Could be.
2. Disney’s Aladdin
Perhaps one of the greatest-looking games of its generation, Aladdin is no slouch in the gameplay department either. David Perry and company set out to blow gamers’ expectations out of the water, and they did exactly that. At the time, this was about as close to a playable cartoon as was possible on the Genesis. Butter-smooth animation, bright and vivid colors, and some incredible graphics highlight what is surely one of the better platformers on the Genesis. And it still looks and plays great today, a true sign of a classic. It beats the lifeless Capcom SNES version hands-down, and it would be great to finally get to hear those 16-bit renditions of those classic Disney songs. The only downside? Not being able to pelt Abu’s sorry ass with apples.
1. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
By far my favorite Genesis game of all time and among the best gaming experiences of my life, Castle of Illusion is the game on this list that I most want to see brought back. It is a prime example of Disney firing on all cylinders, and the utmost care has been taken to do the iconic mouse justice. Solid gameplay and amazing visuals are just the first thing players will notice about this 16-bit classic. “Genesis does” indeed! Even after all these years, everything still shines, although the game does seem much easier now. And with the upcoming release of the Wii-exclusive Epic Mickey about to redefine the character once again, what better time to let him scamper onto the Virtual Console or even appear as an unlockable in the new game. You hear that Minter? Make me happy!