5 Awesome RPGs for the Sega Genesis

While, for many, the Super Nintendo was the undisputed king of RPGs in the 16-bit era, Sega’s sleek, blast processing-fueled console had its share of outstanding offerings in the genre that should not be missed! In this mini-article, we’re highlighting 5 games for the Genesis of various RPG varieties. Press start, let’s go!

1. Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole

  • Developer: Climax Entertainment
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: JP: October 30, 1992; NA: 1993; EU: October 1993

Landstalker is an action-adventure fantasy RPG that follows the story of an elvish treasure hunter named Nigel and his newfound fairy companion Friday as they search for the hidden fortune of the legendary King Nole on a mysterious island. The game has an isometric, pseudo-3D perspective with high-quality, colorful sprite work. The gameplay of Landstalker has a strong puzzle focus with many of them cleverly utilizing optical illusions created by the artwork.

There’s lots of exploration, platforming, and enemies to defeat in order to find rare treasures and it offers hardcore players a good amount of challenge to fully complete, especially in its optional content. While the isometric perspective can sometimes make platforming and movement frustrating, Landstalker is an excellent title that deserves more praise!

2. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention

  • Developer: Sonic! Software Planning (Sonic Co.), Climax Entertainment
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: JP: March 20, 1992; NA: July 1993; EU: July 1993

Shining Force is a tactical RPG that tells the story of Max, a young swordsman in training. After his kingdom is attacked, Max forms a party to join the conflict which escalates into a large scale war across several countries centered around the mysterious Gate of the Ancients. Despite this sounding rather dramatic, Shining Force is mostly light and comedic in tone, which really shines in the explorable town sections between battles.

Shining Force has a unique setting that gradually blends science-fantasy into its initially typical vaguely medieval fantasy world. It features a wide variety of races ranging from bog-standard humans, elves, dwarves, etc. to more unusual additions like birdmen, hamsters, centaurs, armadillo warriors, and even robots! With an expansive roster of recruitable characters, approachable tactical combat system, and charming presentation, Shining Force is a classic TRPG that’ll appeal to almost anyone.

3. Beyond Oasis

  • Developer: Ancient
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: JP: December 12, 1994; EU: March 1995; NA: March 15, 1995

In Beyond Oasis, players control Ali, an adventurous prince who discovers a magical device called the Golden Armlet deep underground. The spirit of its previous owner, a powerful wizard, reveals that there is also a Silver Armlet wielded by an evil sorcerer that Ali must now defeat. He journeys across Oasis in search of elemental spirits which he can summon with his armlet in order to confront the evil.

Gameplay-wise, Beyond Oasis has a lot of interesting ideas. Combat feels very much like a beat ‘em up with lots of cool combos and moves that Ali can perform. The different spirits are summoned by using the armlet on their respective elements found in the environment, which feels very natural. The presentation is also fantastic, with large, well-animated sprites, detailed backgrounds, and impressive boss battles. Beyond Oasis really captures an Arabian Nights-style, swashbuckling adventure and is one of the best retro action RPGs out there.

4. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

  • Developer: Sega CS
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: JP: December 17, 1993; NA: February, 1995; EU: December 8, 1995

Phantasy Star IV is a turn-based RPG set in a science-fantasy universe 1000 years after the events of Phantasy Star II. The terraformed planet Motavia is returning to its original desolate, desert state and is ravaged by deadly biomonsters, only kept in check by mercenaries called hunters. One such hunter is Chaz Ashley, who gathers allies to discover the truth behind the biomonsters in a story that escalates to the fate of the entire star system.

Mechanically, IV builds off of previous Phantasy Star games and refines their systems while adding its own embellishments. Simply put, Phantasy Star IV is an ‘phantastic’ classic RPG with anime-style cutscenes, detailed artwork, an amazing soundtrack, and a strong story that cements it among the very best of the 16-bit era.

5. Shadowrun

  • Developer: BlueSky Software
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: NA: 1994

Shadowrun, based on the hit cyberpunk tabletop RPG of the same name, is set in a futuristic Seattle in 2058 where magic has returned, many humans have mutated into fantasy races, and society is dominated by megacorporations, cyborgs, and clans of magic users. You play as Joshua, a man who is trying to solve the mystery of his brother's murder with the only clue being video captured from another victim’s cyber-eyes.

The main game is a top-down, real-time action RPG where you can explore a vast city and fight enemies with a variety of weapons and magical abilities. Players can also enter cyberspace, which has its own perspective and rules, where you can steal data and hack into systems in the real world. Shadowrun is a brilliantly ambitious, open-world RPG with a great atmosphere that feels totally unique, especially for a console game.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed this journey into RPGs for the Sega Genesis and maybe found something to pique your interest in joining the ‘dark side of the 16-bit generation! Let us know what you think in the comments section below and stick around Honey’s for more of all things gaming and otherwise cool. See ya!

Phantasy-Star-IV-The-End-of-the-Millennium-game-667x500 5 Awesome RPGs for the Sega Genesis


Author: Oskar O.K. Strom

Call me Oskar or OkiOkiPanic or other things depending on how whimsical you're feeling. I'm an artist and game designer currently working in the indie scene. In true otaku fashion I'm also interested in anime/manga, collecting figures, building robot models, idols, denpa music, retro games and electronics, etc. Judging by the company I keep I figure it's only a matter of time until I'm obsessed with wrestling and mahjong.

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