20. Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday
I guess the easiest way to describe this game would be to call it a mix of classic XCOM concept and table J&D mechanical. Again, it’s not really easy to briefly describe a game that was so complicated that it came with an 85 (!) page manual full of tips, strategies and explanations.
Even with this book, you’ll have a hard time understanding this combat game’s mix of sci-fi strategy, world-navigating RPG, and ship-to-ship combat sequences. Almost every choice you make in this game has some sort of consequence, and you’ll be forced to make plenty of choices as you navigate this massive adventure. While you could argue that this game ultimately tried to do a bit too much, it’s hard to deny its ambition, creativity, depth, and desire to be different.
19. Wonder Boy in Monster World
If you can get past the somewhat plain (albeit colorful) visuals of this game, you’ll find that it’s actually one of the deepest and most mechanically creative action platformers of its time. . In fact, I honestly consider this game to be the best version of Zelda II: The Adventures of Link in many ways.
wonder boyThe ocarina-based puzzle/exploration sequences, merchants/inns, and item-based environmental abilities will certainly do Zelda fans say “hmmm”. Ultimately, however, wonder boy stands out for his fight. It would be years before we saw more platformers successfully using this title’s RPG combat elements (like inventory slots, companions, and alternate weapons) just as well as wonder boy used them in 1991.
You could argue that Ranger-X deserves to be on this list purely for the quality of its visuals. Seriously, some of the background effects and animations in this game push Genesis to its technological limits in surprising ways. Ultimately, though, it’s this game’s controls that made it so fascinating.
Genesis players with access to a six-button controller could actually use all of those buttons to independently control Ranger-X and his companion vehicle. While clunky at times, these controls really opened up new strategic possibilities that made this side-scrolling action title so much more ambitious than other great games of its genre at the time. It was an interesting glimpse into the future of the action genre.