In the 90s, the burgeoning video gaming scene had only grown further. Across the country, with the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES, children everywhere were continuing what would likely be a life-long relationship with Nintendo’s famous plumber, Mario. They were plumbing the depths of fascinating and beautiful dungeons in the Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past. Barrels were being tossed with abandon in the Country of Donkey Kong.

But in some living rooms and/or family dens, including my own, sat a Sega Genesis. Still a very fun way to pass the time, but with significantly less name-brand heroes versus Nintendo’s creation. Outside of Sonic the Hedgehog, and maybe Streets of Rage, most of the Genesis library didn’t prove to have a lasting history. Instead, the Sega kids got perhaps one of the pound-for-pound strangest library of games on any console ever. Here are 15 of the weirdest.

Dynamite Headdy

Treasure/SEGA

One of my favorite games as a kid, and one that the mention of almost always produces a blank stare, Dynamite Headdy is definitely strange. It’s strange enough that I remember certain parts of it scaring me as a kid just from sheer “what is happening” energy. You play as a puppet who can fire his head at enemies and the environment, trying to stop some sort of weird dancing cat thing that I am only learning now was the “evil puppet king.” You could also get new heads as power-ups, like one that made you a vacuum. Yeah.

Ristar

SEGA

Another personal favorite is Ristar, a criminally underappreciated game where you play as Ristar, a star with extremely stretchy arms and very cool shoes. You extend Ristar’s arms to navigate the levels and to grab enemies for a brisk and effective headbutt. The game has some very memorable bosses, including an ice boss defeated by tossing plates of hot curry into his mouth. The soundtrack is also full of absolute bangers.

Toejam & Earl

Johnson Voorsanger Productions/SEGA

This is a cult classic that actually got a Kickstarter-funded reboot recently. You play as Toejam and Earl, two alien rappers from, of course, the planet Funkotron. You’ve crash landed on earth, resulting in your spaceship shattering into a convenient 10 pieces to be collected. The gameplay is charming and strange in itself, as there’s almost no combat outside of throwing tomatoes. I remember simultaneously being enthralled and having no idea what I was doing. The soundtrack is also worth a listen.

Wiz N’ Liz

Raising Hell Software/Psygnosis/SEGA

A game that seems to have been specifically designed to play while under the influence of LSD, Wiz N’ Liz is a game about collecting rabbits. You play as either of the titular wizards, who, thanks to a magical mishap, are now responsible for collecting the rabbits left scattered about the planet Pum and moving on to the next level by collecting the letters of magical words, like SNARF. Groovy.

Cool Spot

Virgin Games

OK, remember when 7-Up was a really popular soda? Next, do you remember how the red spot from their cans and bottles was their mascot? And he wore sunglasses? If you made it through all those questions without going “what are you talking about,” you are now prepared to experience Cool Spot for the Sega Genesis. Weird licensed games were a Genesis specialty, as we’ll see multiple times on this list. You played as the 7-Up mascot through a series of levels including a pirate ship. I couldn’t remember any specific plot, so I looked it up, and it seems to just… not have one. Cool!

Toki: Going Ape Spit

TAD Corporation/SEGA

Let’s just take a look at an excerpt from the wikipedia page: “Toki himself is transformed into a Geeshergam, one of the ape-like minions of Vookimedlo, although in his primate form, Toki more resembles a gorilla. Fortunately, the great warrior discovers that he is still in control of his own faculties and as an unexpected side effect of the spell cast on him, he can breathe fire and shoot forth various projectiles from his mouth.” Oh, he’s also really really slow. You know, like an ape would be.

Vectorman

BlueSky Software/SEGA

This game, which is basically a epilepsy warning from start to finish, put you in the role of Vectorman, a guy made of green balls who shoots projectiles and also sometimes changes into animals. You are one of the “orbots” left on Earth to clean up the pollution left by a human population that has left to colonize new planets. Unfortunately, one of the other orbots was accidentally attached to a functional atomic bomb, which seems like an extremely weird accident. Anyways, now you have to kill him. Which requires shooting a live atomic bomb? Seems like a bad idea but what else are you gonna do after school?

Rocket Knight Adventures

Konami/SEGA

The possum is not often considered a heroic animal, but Sega aimed to change that, I guess? Rocket Knight Adventures is one of an inexplicable TWO possum-helmed games for the system, and the vastly better one (Awesome Possum, is, in fact, not awesome.) You’re a possum in a rocket suit, which sounds like some sort of Deep South swear. Anyways, your job is to protect the reactivation of the Pig Star, a spaceship with the power… to destroy… planets. Sounds familiar. All that aside, the game itself absolutely rocks and I recommend checking it out.

McDonald’s Treasureland Adventure

Treasure/SEGA

Another bizarre licensed title, McDonald’s Treasureland Adventure stars horrifying food clown Ronald McDonald as he, well, adventures through Treasureland. Right now you’re probably thinking you traipse around a virtual Play Place collecting fries and burgers for points. Nope. Ronald (and some others of the McDonald’s roster of nightmare mascots) is basically not only the sole McDonald’s reference in the game, but even the only connection to any food in general. You just go around collecting gold, shooting magic and using Ronald’s famous scarf (?) to swing on hooks.

Mutant League Sports

Electronic Arts/SEGA

In what I can only assume was an extremely awesome way to get around not having the license to produce any official sports games, they just went, “OK, well then this team is all skeletons.” The Mutant League series of sports games is metal as hell and also has some all-time team names, like the New Goreleans Zombies, the Deadlanta Vultures, and the abominat-pun that is the Sin Fransicko Forty Nightmares.

Bubba N’ Stix

Core Design/SEGA

Here we enter a block of inexplicable licensed games. Bubba N’ Stix is a game centered around the mascot for Bubblicious gum, which apparently exists. Not only does a Bubblicious mascot exist, he is apparently a hillbilly with a talking stick. I’ll leave it to you to guess which one’s Bubba and which one is Stix. The stick also has green hair. Sure.

Michael Jackson: Moonwalker

Triumph/SEGA

In a game that, though no one thought it possible, actually got worse years after its release by suddenly also having an icky air of alleged child abuse posthumously attached to it. But, if you’re willing to think about all that in order to play a middling-to-bad beat-em-up, Moonwalker is the game for you.

Ecco the Dolphin

Appaloosa Interactive/SEGA

Ecco the Dolphin is a game designed to make children cry. It sits on a Blockbuster and/or Sam Goody shelf, looking very much like a game for toddlers, with a big smiling dolphin on the front. It has the appearance of a lisa frank sticker you can plug into a game console. A happy child then purchases said cute dolphin game and finds out it is horrendously, insanely difficult. Ecco the Dolphin is so goddamn hard, you guys. A game about a dolphin made hot angry tears flow down my fat little child cheeks.

Top Image: Pexels/SEGA

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