February 06, 2014

The Elite Four: Two Player Genesis Games

In case it's not already clear, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive is probably my favorite console. We go way back. In my home in the 80's and 90's, Nintendo consoles came and went like high school boyfriends, and Atari would make the occasional booty call, but I guarded my Genny with my life. No one "borrowed" it, no one had a chance to break, and no one sold it. As such, I've spent considerably more time with my Genesis, so it's got a pretty big space in my heart, and I have a decent library to match.

Being the token Genny girl in town, I would often drag people to my house and make them help me with the many two player games the system offers, so here are my Top 5 Two Player Genesis Games (non-fighters).
5. X-MEN
You can't go wrong with comic book games, right?
…yes. Yes you can. But I digress! X-men is probably my favorite comic book so this familiar side-scroller action game has gotten a lot of love over the years. Like so many games, it is ridiculously challenging to take on by oneself, but with a partner, the game becomes much more manageable. That said, it's also a little glitchy! You have to be careful to advance through each level in pace with your 2P or you risk running into the game's advancement glitch, in which one player goes too far and eliminates the mechanics from the back of the level, disallowing P2 to advance through doors, thus getting stuck regardless of what P1 does. The only cure is the reset button. Other than that, the game is great fun! You can play as Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Gambit or Cyclops as your main characters, and you can also swap out for one of the others which not only gives you a new set of abilities, but a fresh health and power meter, too. Additionally, you can call upon Iceman, Rogue, Storm and Archangel for a special attack, and Jean Grey is always there to catch you if you fall. Together, you try to eliminate the virus that's made itself home in the mansion's Danger Room, rendering it unpredictable. I wonder who is responsible for that...

4. Columns
Probably a strange choice, I know, but I'd like this list to have a little diversity and I actually play Columns a lot! It's basically Sega's answer to Tetris, which wasn't really available on the common home consoles of the time (except for Game Boy, of course), so it was our falling puzzle competition substitute. Columns plays a lot like Tetris, except instead of fitting together the different shapes, you have to line up the matching shapes/colors of falling columns in series of 3 or more. I was the Columns master of my heyday, so it was always fun to take on challengers and enjoy the kickass tunes!

3. Streets of Rage
Now we're diving into the good stuff! Streets of Rage is a classic beat 'em up with a similar gameplay style to many other popular Genny games, it's almost like an urban Golden Axe, with… less severe weapons. Basically, you chose from Adam, Axel or the lady Blaze, all of whom specialize in a different style of fighting (boxing, martial arts and judo, respectively) and take on the crime syndicate that's been plaguing the town. The coolest thing about SoR is that it has multiple endings! This was pretty rare for the time, and you could only see the second ending if you played with another, making the game all-the-more awesome in 2P.

2. Gunstar Heroes
It's exactly what it sounds like: two heroes with a lot of guns. Another game that's incredibly annoying to play on your own but supremely awesome in 2P. You play as Red and Blue, and you have four guns to choose from: blue stuff, green stuff, orange stuff and fire! Then you select your level and side-scrolling shooter your way through an onslaught of enemies to take on the boss at the end. This game made use of so many cool things, like moving levels, a health "bar" gauged by numbers, combining two gun types to make a behemoth weapon and a creepy-as-all-hell bad guy. Excellent controls, fast pace and a menacing soundtrack… I love this game.

So of course, that leaves:

1. Golden Axe
Easily one of my favorite games of all time, and surely my favorite "two player" on the Genesis, Golden Axe is glorious anytime, anywhere, with anyone. That said, the game is quite tricky and beating it on your own can be frustrating. Regardless of the fact that I have the game basically memorized, and still recall strategies I perfected way back in the day, the two player option in GA is never a bad idea. Not only is it significantly less difficult, but it's simply more fun, trying to implement a strategy between two players, and occasionally arguing over who gets to ride the fire-breathing dragon or racing to kick the gnomes. Luckily, the game comes equipped with not two, but three playable badasses. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dragon Lady, Underwear Boy, and Beardy Dwarf™:

Together, you hack and slash your way through great, medieval levels with weapons and magic, to save the world from Death Adder and avenge your loved ones. I will never tire of this game. I even have it on my iPhone...

Runners up:
Contra Hard Corps - Anything with "Contra" in it is usually reliable fun, and playing Contra with a friend is a good time. And helpful. Very helpful.
Sunset Riders - Unfortunately this version was like the arcade version with less calories, but it was the closest thing I could get to for a long time, so I depended on it to share SR with friends.
Altered Beast - This was one of the most epic games of its time, and I'd frequently recruit someone to share it with.
Toejam & Earl - Mindless fun.

And there you have it! Some of my favorite two player games for my favorite retro console! What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I used to love playing X-Men but it was mostly a solo adventure for me. I recall it was super hard and nearly impossible to get through without a guide or tons of practice. As for a 2-player experience, my fav for the Genny (as you lovingly named it) has to be ToeJam and Earl. It wasn't just no fleas fun - it was the most fun you could have with a mindless game ever. That game had so much 80s/90s style it should've been illegal.

    Also, I'm not sure if you're a sports fan or not but NHL '94 is one of the best arcade-y sports titles ever and was a blast to play with a friend. I still own my copy to this day and it still has all my old stats. Ah, memories...