Looking Back to the Sega CD (A Retrospective)

While modern-day graphics and outstanding audio now dominate the gaming industry, nothing hits home like watching the bright lights and style of vintage style Sega games. Many of us had the pleasure of learning to play games on classic systems like a Sega Genesis, Master System, or the handheld Game Gear.

Even if the Sega franchise strikes you as dabbling in old school gaming, it is well worth a look at the systems. Some of the original Sega CD (or Mega-CD in Europe) games have an astounding amount of appeal that lovers of all things gaming should consider giving a try.

There are so many addicting games to choose from it is hard to know where to start, but we’ve got you covered.

Here is a list of our top selections for the best of the Sega CD games!

Sonic CD (1993)

We have all heard of Sonic the Hedgehog. If you haven’t, you have been living under a rock since the 70’s This iconic character came with games full of vibrancy and iconic music. Sonic CD is full of excitement, and the race with Metal Sonic is one of the most intense sequences in the entire series.

The gameplay here is simple; you hop, bop, run and occasionally tear through enemies like a power saw on a quest to save your girlfriend. Even though Sonic CD stays close to the original formula, it still finds room for innovation. The result is a game that feels completely familiar and completely original at the same time.

Lunar: The Silver Star (1992)

Lunar may not have had astounding graphics, but it did have a fantastic soundtrack and scenic anime cutscenes. Game Art’s epic RPG was the closest the Mega-CD ever got to having its own Final Fantasy, and following its Japanese release, the console’s sales in that region were given a boost.

The game itself did well enough that it was deserving of a sequel. It was also remade in 1996 for the PSone.

Lunar: Eternal Blue (1994)

Lunar: Eternal Blue is a traditional turn-based RPG that looks, sounds, and plays like the first Lunar game. This game is the sequel to the 1992 release Lunar: The Silver Star.

The sequel deserves a spot on the list for the excellent job on the story, the length of the game, and the vastly improved magic system. The game also takes advantage of the CD format with orchestrated music tracks, voice acting, and over 60 anime-inspired cinematic cutscenes.

Earthworm Jim: Special Edition (1995)

This was definitely a game that put unique creativity first. Every level was different and clearly outside the box. Earthworm Jim can be considered one of the best platformers of its era.

It featured creative level designs, impressive animations, and a crazy cast of characters. The backgrounds do lack the detail of the SNES version, but it more than makes up for it with Red Book audio, more animations, additional weapons, new secret areas, expanded levels, and a password system.

Shining Force CD (1994)

This game is actually a remake of the two Shining Force Gaiden games that originally appeared on the Game Gear. Shining Force CD is a massive game that’s comprised of four separate “books.” While the first two books entail the aforementioned Game Gear games, the remaining two focus on a brand-new scenario that was made exclusively for the Sega CD.

The new Sega CD version also presents better graphics, but the gameplay itself is quite the same. It still largely centers around grid-based tactical battles. Players take turns moving, attacking, casting magic, and using items.

Snatcher (1994)

Snatcher is a cyberpunk adventure written and directed by Hideo Kojima and inspired by sci-fi flicks like BladeRunner. Originally released on the NEC PC-8801 and MSX 2 in 1988, Snatcher was later remade for the PC Engine and became a massive hit before finally being released in America on the Sega CD.

Along with an impressive two and a half hours of audio speech, this game also has some stunning visuals. Konami used programming techniques to nearly double the amount of colors that the system could display. This game could be described as a visual comic and paved the way for more narrative-heavy games like “Metal Gear Solid

Popful Mail (1994)

Popful Mail takes place in a whimsical, fantasy-themed world, and features charismatic characters and a light-hearted storyline. The game’s main character is an elven bounty hunter named Mail, who arms herself with a sword. During the game, Mail is eventually joined by a wizard named Tatt and a winged cave-dwelling creature named Caw.

The three characters each have their own attacks, and they all keep separate health bars. Popful Mail is both an RPG and a 2D action/platformer. The game is built around typical “running and jumping” mechanics, but it also allows players to speak with other characters and manage a vast inventory of items.

Silpheed (1993)

This game is a fast-paced shooter that simply would not have been possible in Genesis. The ships and obstacles in Silpheed were all comprised of 3D polygonal shapes. The use of 3D visuals was a rare occurrence in 1993, and Silpheed really stood out from most other 16-bit games.

This game provided a great combination of use to maximize the potential of the Sega CD. If you want to see the system’s capabilities, then check this one out!

Robo Aleste (1992)

Robo Aleste revolves around giant, flying, steam-powered robot samurais in 16th century feudal Japan. Storyline wise, it is long and a bit confusing. Gameplay-wise, you really cannot go wrong with samurai robots.

If that alone does not pique your interest, I don’t know what will. During the game, players will have the opportunity to arm themselves with throwing knives, ninja stars, bombs, and powerful bolts of electricity.

Additionally, two flying discs hover in front of your mecha, which can be used to absorb enemy fire or be upgraded with weapons of their own. Simply put, “Robo Aleste” is 2D, 16-bit, horizontal-scrolling action at its finest. Overall, this game deserved more attention than it received.

Sega CD Wrap Up

At the time, Sega’s decision to release a CD-ROM add-on for the Genesis seems almost irrational.  In retrospect, the Sega CD was very much a product of its era. They managed to produce some fantastic games for the time that are still appreciated today.

While the original games may not have had the realistic graphics of a cinematic movie, they possessed a vintage charm we could never recreate. Whether you are into video games that are fast-paced like sonic or the working designs of an RPG, the Sega CD’s are worth taking a blast into the past.

One comment

  1. Nice article. Sadly, I was unable to play Sega CD back in the day. I had the Family Computer (NES) w/ it’s Disk System accessory, then Super NES, then PlayStation. My brother had the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) but we were unable to buy the Sega CD add-on. I remember reading about the hype of Sega CD since it was one of the first to use a CD for its games. But sadly, it was overshadowed by the PS One. Still a classic though.

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