The 10 Biggest Selling Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Games Of All Time - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The 10 Biggest Selling Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Games Of All Time

Genesis does what Nintendon't!
Successor to the Master System, Sega's 16-bit fourth-generation home video game console Genesis was released first in Japan back in 1988, followed by a North America rollout in 1989, and a rebranding to the Sega Mega Drive for its Europe and Australasia debuts the following year. Going on to sell in excess of 30 million units worldwide, the backward-compatible console success was helped in no small part by its huge library of arcade game ports, the popularity of Sega's own Sonic the Hedgehog series, several popular sports franchises, and aggressive youth marketing that positioned it as the cool console for adolescents. As the tagline says at the top of the page "Genesis does what Nintendon't" - Ouch!

Among the close to 900 titles released for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, 17 of them sold in excess of 1 million copies. We've rounded up the top 10 below, but narrowly missing a space in this coverted collection are Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, X-Men, Sonic Spinball, NFL Football '94, NFL '98, Ms. Pac-Man and Jurassic Park. Perhaps you owned a copy of one of them? Or maybe you had several of the 10 biggest selling Sega Genesis / Mega Drive games of all time...
10. Mortal Kombat 3
The third installment in the popular Mortal Kombat franchise arrived for the Genesis in October 1995, with an upgraded Ultimate edition released the following year. It was received far better on home platforms than in the arcades, many gamers feeling the polygon graphics of the day employed to great success in other arcade games made MK3 look dated in comparison, but 1.02 million Sega owners snapped-up copies as it both looked and played better than many of the other 2D games the console was known for at the time.
9. Altered Beast
From quite a late in shelf-life release to one of the very first. Technically, the first for many. Altered Beast was the original pack-in game bundled with the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive for the first two and a half years of the console's release in both North America and Europe. It took a super speedy little hedgehog to really kick-start the demand for Sega's 16-bit console in those territories, but still 1.4 million copies of Altered Beast were sold (including individually & as part of a pack-in bundle) worldwide.

Fun fact: Concerned parents in the US Bible Belt arranged boycotts of the Sega Genesis because of it's pack-in game Altered Beast, worried that zombies and magic were not suitable entertainment for their children. No doubt they lost their shit over the Splatterhouse series!
8. Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition
Sniff my boot! The Mega Drive / Genesis version of Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition was released on September 28th 1993 in Japan, September 27th 1993 in North America and October 29th 1993 in Europe. It was first of two Street Fighter II ports for the console and came in a whopping 24 Megabit cartridge. A special six-button control pad was released, to replicate the arcade experience and make those tricky combos & special moves a tad easier.

The game proved to be a huge critical and commercial success, getting 10 out of 10 from a large percentage of Sega publications and receiving multiple game of the year awards. It also helped a spike in sales for the console, with 1.65 million owners grabbing themselves a copy to battle it out with their friends.
7. Mortal Kombat 2
The top selling 2D fighting game for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis was originally produced by Midway for the arcades in 1993, arriving October the following year for the home market. Perhaps because of the backlash against Altered Beast (see above), the original Mortal Kombat port required a special code to be entered on the home system to replicate the blood and fatalities that were part of the arcade version. Not so with Mortal Kombat 2, all the fun and violence straight out of the box, as such!

This version also contained several exclusive Easter eggs and features some different character animations for victory poses and a support for the motion controller device Sega Activator (did you have one of them?). 1.78 million copies were sold on original release, before bundled into compilations and virtual consoles for years to come.
6. NBA Jam
Known for its many official licenses; including NHL, Fifa and the NHLPA, the Genesis/Mega Drive was not short of sporting action. Perhaps surprisingly, given just how many versions of Madden's NFL series was released, it's NBA Jam that was the most popular with 1.93 million copies sold after its release in 1994, helped in no short part by the highly publicised "Jam Day" on March 4th 1994.

Unlike the already hugely popular arcade version, this home edition featured many new secret characters, with the 1995 Tournament Edition (Jam T.e.) even allowing the player to use then-President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Al Gore. Although I'm not exactly sure why you'd want to, but hey, each to their own.
5. Sonic & Knuckles
Well hello! You'd knew we'd get to the hedgehog sooner or later, right? And as you may have suspected, there's a lot more of him to come. Would the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive have had quite the same success without Sonic? Chances are, no. It certainly saw a huge boost in console sales when the original game replaced Altered Beast as the pack-in title (and those concerned parents no doubt finally felt vindicated), and recognising they were on to a good thing Sega milked the little spiky one for all he was worth (and continue to do so).

Released worldwide in October 1994, Sonic & Knuckles was the fourth platform game in the series and had been developed simultaneously alongside Sonic 3, with the two originally intended to be released as a single game, but time constraints and small cartridge sizes forced Sega to split the project. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it meant Sega could release two separate games and earn twice as much from the same development project. Honest.

Sarcasm aside, the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge was pretty cool as it featured "lock-on technology" that allowed the game to connect to either the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 cartridges, combining elements from both games. This feature was implemented so the game could be experienced as intended, and not because it meant people would end of shelling out twice the amount of money. Honest.

Selling 1.24 million copies in the US alone and close to 4 million worldwide, Sega's cunning plan clearly worked.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Here he is again. Spoiler alert but the law of diminishing returns meant this second sequel didn't out-perform its predecessors. Still Sonic the Hedgehog 3 did the business when released in February 1994, and garnered many a favourable review with critics noting an improvement in gameplay from the also well-received Sonic 2. 4 million copies were sold worldwide, proving that the thirst for manic-fast, side-scrolling action was still there.

Fun fact: According to some members of the development team, Michael Jackson composed portions of the soundtrack for this game but left the project and went uncredited. We looked into that here. In not quite the same league as the King of Pop, to promote the European release the British-band-turned-Covid-denier-nutjobs Right Said Fred adapted their song "Wonderman" to include references to Sonic, and was used in Sonic 3 advertisements plus released as a single (which, fact fans, charted in the UK at number 55).
3. Disney's Aladdin
Based on the 1992 film of the same name, Disney's Aladdin was something of a surprise - it was actually really good! So many movie-to-game tie-in releases had been (and continue to be) hastily assembled cash-ins, with little to no playability or replay value, but when Aladdin arrived in October 1993 it was a breath of fresh air (although don't confuse it with the similarly titled but entirely different SNES game released in the same month). Awarded Best Genesis Game of the year by Electronic Gaming Monthly, the publication also declared it had the Best Animation. And they weren't lying. In excess of 4 million copies of the side-scroller were sold.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
With over 6 million copies sold, technically Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the biggest selling Sega Genesis / Mega Drive release when discounting pack-in copies of the original Sonic title (sorry, spoiler there for what's coming up). This was the game that heralded the arrival of Sonic Mania! Backed by a $10 million advertising campaign, 750,000 copies were sold in the UK alone during its first week of release in November 1992, and it ended up as the highest-grossing entertainment product of 1992 with over $450 million in gross sales by the end of the year. Sonic 2 also played a major role in keeping Sega competitive (primarily against Nintendo) during the console wars of the fourth generation of video game consoles in the early 1990s.

No prizes for guessing which title tops the chart...
1. Sonic the Hedgehog
"Sey-gah...". Just booting-up the original 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog game was a treat in itself. From its design origins to the side-swipe at Sega's main rival, we explored the development of Sonic the Hedgehog here, but what you want to know is how successful it was to make it the biggest selling title on the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive top 10, right?.

Well, in excess of 20 million copies have been sold of the original released cartridge! However, the majority did come about as part of the bundled-with-console packages available, but it was a mighty bountiful marketing decision to quickly couple Sonic's debut title with the console as it resulted in a surge of 15 million bundled Genesis / Mega Drive units flying off shelves in 1992 alone, generating Sega a gross of $1 billion that year! And in a move which no doubt appeased those concerned parents in the US southern states, Genesis owners who bought their consoles before the switch from Altered Beast could request free copies of Sonic the Hedgehog by mail! Praise the lord!

As for individual game sales (as in not with the console), Sonic the Hedgehog still doesn't disappoint. The title sold 2 million copies worldwide by the end of 1991, and was Blockbuster Video's highest-renting game of the year. It went on to set a Sega software sales record with 2.8 million cartridges sold by March 1992 (just prior to its inclusion as pack-in game of choice), and a last tally of over 4 million copies worldwide by the end of 1993.

So there you have it, the ten biggest selling Sega Genesis / Mega Drive games of all time. How many of them did you have? And which one was your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

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