Top 20 Greatest SEGA Games of All Time



Top 20 Greatest SEGA Games of All Time

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
From Sonic to Shinobi, Sega has created some of the most iconic video games of all time! For this list, we'll be looking at the best games developed and published by Sega and its development teams. Our countdown includes “Crazy Taxi” (1999), “Streets of Rage 2” (1992), “Yakuza 0” (2017), “Skies of Arcadia” (2000) and more!
Script written by Mark Sammut

Top 20 SEGA Games of All Time

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 SEGA Games of All Time.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best games developed and published by Sega and its development teams. For the sake of diversity, each franchise will be limited to a single game.

Which is the best Sega game ever? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “The House of the Dead” (1997)

This release, alongside "Resident Evil”, helped put the undead on the gaming map. A classic zombie game, "The House of the Dead" will also forever be a staple of arcades everywhere. The light gun shooter delivered fast and challenging action, as well as great visuals— especially the arcade version. It also offered a more in-depth storyline than this type of game typically gets. As a rail shooter built upon the foundations set by "Virtua Cop," "The House of the Dead" is just a consistently fun time, regardless of whether it’s played in arcades or on the Sega Saturn.

#19: “Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg” (2003)

Sonic Team might be named after the blue blur, but the developer has envisioned many unique worlds and IPs. "Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg" is a delightful platformer with an unapologetically bizarre storyline and gameplay that, if nothing else, tries something different. Although a traditional 3D platformer in many ways, "Billy Hatcher" throws out a unique mechanic that revolves around pushing and hatching eggs. Released after Sega left the console market, "Billy Hatchet" proved that the company still had a lot to offer besides the occasional "Sonic the Hedgehog" game.

#18: “Out Run” (1986)

When it comes to driving games, few titles are as influential as Sega's "OutRun." The 1986 racer brought an element of freedom to arcades that was unprecedented at the time. Players step behind the wheel of a Ferrari and head out on a high octane journey that prioritizes choice, as each stage ends by providing an option to select one of two roads. With five possible endings and a whole lot of scenery to experience, "OutRun" was the first racer to really capture that feeling of hitting the open road just for the sake of driving.

#17: “Valkyria Chronicles” (2008)

Visually gorgeous and narratively dense, "Valkyria Chronicles" is an RPG like no other. Set in a world torn apart by a war between two superpowers fighting over a limited resource, "Valkyria Chronicles" expertly tells a story filled with political intrigue and, more importantly, interesting characters. The story complements the intense action, as players control Squad 7's soldiers in battles where every move counts. "Valkyria Chronicles'" blends strategic gameplay with more immediate third-person shooter elements, creating an experience that manages to be tactical and also cinematic. Sega has developed plenty of great JRPGs over the decades, but "Valkyria Chronicles" ranks among the company's best.

#16: “Rez” (2001)

Sega and rail shooters are just a match made in heaven. "Rez" is pretty much the stereotypical rail shooter when it comes to its simple targeted gameplay; however, the game enhances its fundamentals through music and visuals.When you destroy enemies, additional sounds are layered upon the already memorable music. As the player progresses through the game, the levels build upon each other to create a truly awesome symphony. Such trippy music demands visuals that are also out of this world, something "Rez" attains by blending polygons and wireframe models. Regardless of the console or version, "Rez" is a must-play.

#15: “Super Monkey Ball 2” (2002)

In 2001, with the Dreamcast discontinued, Sega released "Super Monkey Ball" on the GameCube and put to bed any fears the company would lose steam as a developer. A year later, "Super Monkey Ball 2" came out and improved upon the original with a story mode and even more party games. Though the core gameplay remains as simple as ever, "Super Monkey Ball 2's" intricate and creative stages make sure a playthrough is never boring or easy. "Super Monkey Ball" has produced its fair share of great games, but the second entry set a standard that few franchises can hope to match.

#14: “Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master” (1993)

Debuting in arcades before making the jump to consoles and producing the awesome "The Revenge of Shinobi," Sega's ninja-themed franchise peaked with its third entry. Along with expanding Joe Musashi's moveset, "Shinobi III" is a surprisingly cinematic romp, one that makes impressive use of the Sega Genesis' capabilities. As great as the visuals are, "Shinobi III" also delivers in the gameplay department without feeling the need to pad out the campaign with an overly punishing difficulty. "Shinobi III" has aged incredibly well since its initial release and still ranks as one of the best ninja games ever.

#13: “Panzer Dragoon Saga” (1998)

Stepping away from the franchise's rail shooter roots, "Panzer Dragoon Saga" is an RPG with ambition, depth, and creativity to spare. Underpinned by a complex story that expands upon previous games, “Saga” makes full use of the character-driven interactions synonymous with RPGs. "Panzer Dragoon Saga" really immerses players in a world brimming with personality, conflict, and intrigue. Not happy with sticking to convention, however, the battle system enhances turn-based combat with real-time movement that adds a strategic component to landing and avoiding attacks. The dragon can also transform, which is just super cool.

#12: “Virtua Fighter 2” (1995)

When it comes to 3D fighting games, "Virtua Fighter 2" is historic. Sega produced something special with 1993's "Virtua Fighter," a 3D fighting game released during a time when they simply did not exist. While the original flirted with greatness, "Virtua Fighter 2" defined the term for its genre. Featuring a well-balanced roster inspired by real-world martial arts, "Virtua Fighter 2" looks fantastic, plays brilliantly, and strikes the right balance between accessibility and complexity. The arcade version is arguably the best, but "Virtua Fighter 2" transitioned beautifully to the Sega Saturn in 1995 and took the console market by storm.

#11: “Golden Axe” (1989)

With muscles for days and all of the fantasy tropes one could hope for, "Golden Axe" very much feels like a game that came out during the late '80s. A success in arcades and on home consoles, "Golden Axe" stood out among beat-'em-ups thanks to its sword and sorcery aesthetic and diverse roster of playable characters. Guaranteed to deliver a good time when played with a friend, "Golden Axe's" environments and brilliant soundtrack add to the feel that players are on a grand adventure filled with skeletons, dragons, and chicken legs.

#10: “Shenmue II” (2001)

As the successor to the trailblazer that was 1999's "Shenmue," Sega's sequel improved and expanded upon the first game’s innovative foundations. An open-world game that predated "Grand Theft Auto 3," "Shenmue II" continued Ryo Hazuki's quest to track down his father's killer. "Shenmue II" is the perfect sequel, a title that retains the core appeal of the first game while enhancing its strengths and reducing its frustrations. Whether you’re exploring Hong Kong or China's Guilin, "Shenmue II" presents a world brimming with life and ensures that players feel as though they are part of it.

#9: “Nights into Dreams” (1996)

The Sega Saturn notoriously lacked its own big hedgehog-themed console seller, but that does not mean Sonic Team skipped the generation. "NIGHTS into Dreams" is a breathtaking game that follows two children into a dream world where they take on its evil ruler, Wizeman the Wicked. Here, they also meet NiGHTS, a ‘Nightmaren’ who becomes their ally. Each of the seven stages showcases Sonic Team's impeccable talent for crafting mesmerizing and imaginative environments. The platforming sections with the children are fine, but the gameplay truly shines when Nights takes to the skies in flight sections that are as liberating as they are fun to play.

#8: “Jet Set Radio” (2000)

The Dreamcast was THE console for weird and ambitious games, and "Jet Set Radio" has aged far better than most titles of its era. Set in a colorful version of Tokyo overrun by gangs obsessed with graffiti, "Jet Set Radio" delivers arcadey extreme sports gameplay backed by an awesome soundtrack and stunning cel-shaded graphics. The timed levels can be pretty challenging, but that only provides more opportunity to appreciate Smilebit's ‘Tokyo-to’. Even though it was not a massive hit at the time, "Jet Set Radio'' left a lasting impression on gamers with its quirky personality and refusal to adhere to the status quo.

#7: “Shining Force II” (1994)

On a system that had quite a few noteworthy RPGs, "Shining Force II" still stood out as something special. Surpassing the high standard set by the original "Shining Force," the sequel delivers a bigger and more refined campaign. The story, which involves a besieged kingdom and plenty of demons, is an epic adventure filled with NPCs, recruitable units, and detailed areas designed with exploration in mind. As far as its grid-based battles are concerned, "Shining Force II" pairs solid turn-based combat with a heavy emphasis on group cohesion, character progression, and tactical nuance.

#6: “Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II” (2002)

The Dreamcast brought online gaming to consoles. After testing the waters with "ChuChu Rocket!," Sonic Team went full RPG with "Phantasy Star Online," and the outcome was nothing short of glorious. For the first time, console players could form online teams to take on quests, explore sprawling fantasy-esque environments, and defeat bosses. "Episode I & II" took the already brilliant "Phantasy Star Online" experience and added plenty of content, making the adventure that much better. "Phantasy Star Online" demonstrated that the potential of consoles was unlimited. Even as online RPGs became commonplace, Sega's game remained an impressive work of art.

#5: “Crazy Taxi” (1999)

Who knew that driving a taxi could be so much fun? Debuting in arcades and excelling on the Dreamcast, "Crazy Taxi" took the colorful insanity that defined many late '90s Sega games and removed the limiters. The whole game revolves around the simple goal of chauffeuring customers from one point to the next, with reckless but controlled driving resulting in more cash. Fueled by a punk rock soundtrack and playing out across various vibrant stages, "Crazy Taxi" unapologetically embraces its wacky premise to create an experience that is hard to put down.

#4: “Streets of Rage 2” (1992)

During an era when beat-'em-ups lined arcades, "Streets of Rage 2" stood as perhaps the genre's most complete package. With the streets once again overrun by Mr. X's goons, four heroes set out on a rampage that will encompass the entire city. Beat-'em-ups are known for being relatively straightforward yet gut-bustingly hard, but "Streets of Rage 2" is by no means a shallow game. Completing the game's eight stages requires mastering the robust movesets of the characters, and the enemies are far from incompetent. The satisfying combat is accompanied by a flawless soundtrack and fantastic environments.

#3: “Yakuza 0” (2017)

Whether weaving an epic gangster tale spanning multiple games or unleashing a zombie outbreak, Sega's "Yakuza" franchise always dances to its own beat. As a prequel to the main series, "Yakuza 0" is the ideal entry-point for newcomers to the franchise. Not only does it tell a gripping and unpredictable story featuring two extremely likable playable characters, but "Yakuza 0" also finds time for bizarre side quests, fun mini-games, and a couple of nods to Sega's history. At any given point, "Yakuza 0" can be devastating, hilarious, absurd, or cool all in the same scene.

#2: “Skies of Arcadia” (2000)

The Dreamcast did not have many JRPGs to its name, but Sega made every one count. A vast RPG set in a world overflowing with character, secrets, and rich history, "Skies of Arcadia" exudes a joyous energy that echoes the adventurous nature of the air pirate heroes. The main quest is to find the Moon Crystals before they fall into the hands of the evil Valua Empire. While this is what drives the story, it’s the sense of discovery and the consistently great personalities that show up in this world that make "Skies of Arcadia" unforgettable.

#1: “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (1992)

Although Sega had released countless fantastic games before 1991, "Sonic the Hedgehog" put the brand on the map as a console manufacturer. As the sequel to such an iconic game, "Sonic 2" needed to deliver more of the same, only better, and Sega did not disappoint. The introduction of the spin dash move was a game-changer for Sega's franchise, and "Sonic 2" features some of the best-designed levels in gaming history. The sprite work is excellent, the environments are varied and eye-catching, and the soundtrack ranks highly among the franchise's many masterpieces. "Sonic 2" is Sega at its best.