Sega deserves a lot of praise for Sega Forever, the campaign that delivered classic Sega titles to the Google Play Store. All the games are free to play with ads, meaning you'll have to contend with pop-up ads between levels and whenever you save. If you love a game and want an ad-free gaming experience, you can unlock the premium version for $2.
The touchscreen emulation for controls is pretty decent, but Sega has also added controller support for most of the titles, so if you have a Bluetooth controller for Android, you're good to go.
Though there are more than 20 games in the growing collection of Sega Forever-branded titles, these are the best of the bunch. We have included links to the ones who didn't make the cut at the bottom.
Sonic The Hedgehog Classic
Sonic the Hedgehog is an absolute classic and the game that anchored Sega's Genesis lineup. This high-speed platformer was Sonic's video game debut, and is still an absolute blast to play all these years later.
The Android version was actually released well before the start of the Sega Forever campaign, so you'll definitely notice the difference in presentation. Compared to other retro games brought to Android such as Mega Man that felt sluggish, the emulation here is almost too fast, and yet oddly appropriate for a Sonic game.
Sonic made his video game debut in this classic Genesis title, which you can now play on the go for free!
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Classic
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of the best selling Sega games of all time, and for a good reason. This game is as iconic as it gets for Genesis games and introduced Sonic's sidekick Tails to the franchise.
Dr. Eggman/Robotnik is trying to track down the seven Chaos Emeralds to unleash his ultimate weapon, so it's up to Sonic and his pals to free the captured forest animals and save the world from evil. Just another classic Sega game that still holds up today.
Sonic 2 is one of, if not the greatest Sonic game of all time. It introduced Tails to the series and still holds up as an absolute must-play for mobile.
Sonic CD Classic
Released for the Sega CD — a CD-Rom accessory for the Sega Genesis that you probably didn't own — Sonic CD was designed to highlight the new capabilities of CD-Rom technologies. While it didn't showcase anything too earth-shattering, it managed to preserve everything we love about Sonic.
The story has you battling Dr. Eggman/Robotnik again who is now after the Time Stones in a new adventure that has Sonic traveling forward and backward through time. It's the same fast-paced platforming action you'd expect from a Sonic game with the added flourishes that the Sega CD afforded the developers to dabble with. This is a great option if you've played the first two Sonic games to death and are looking for a fresh Sonic adventure that isn't dreadful like Sonic Adventures.
Sonic CD is a time-travelling adventure that bridges the gap between the classic Genesis titles and the more recent 3D Sonic games.
Sonic 4 Episode 2
Sonic 4 was one of the first official Sonic the Hedgehog games that Sega published to the Google Play Store. It represented both a return to the classic 2D side-scrolling action of the first games along with 3D rendering and new ways to attack and move.
The first game, Sonic 4 Episode 1 was launched on the Google Play Store nearly a decade ago as a paid title, but Sega has just recently added the sequel, Sonic 4 Episode 2, to the Sega Forever line up.
Sonic 4 is equal parts nostalgic and a breath of fresh air. All those classic sound effects are here, but the gameplay has been significantly altered from the classic Genesis games. Some of the changes are cool, like the ability to tag in Tails and fly away to victory. All in all, I've found Sonic 4 feels a bit slower than the classic Sonic games I remember which is a bit disappointing, but it's still a pretty great game that plays well with a Bluetooth controller in hand.
This is the second episode of Sonic's return to form and Sega's revival of the classic 2D platformer gameplay that Sonic fans know and love.
Chances are you may have missed out on Ristar back in the day, and that's fair because there were so many games released back then of mediocre quality and it was impossible to play them all.
Of all the "unknown" games released under Sega Forever, I think this plucky platformer might be my favorite. Developed by the Sonic development team, you play as the titular character, Ristar, an anthropomorphic cartoon star with stretchable arms that allow him to climb and swing around and also take out enemies. It's a bright and colorful game with unique gameplay that plays well on Android.
Ristar is an underrated Genesis platformer that features unique gameplay mechanics and vibrant and colorful graphics.
Comix Zone Classic
This game is pure '90s nostalgia. Comix Zone is a beat-em-up game initially released for the Sega Genesis that plays out on the pages of a comic book. You play as Sketch Turner, a rockstar/comic book artist hard at work on his latest comic creation when a bolt of lightning causes Sketch and Mortus (the main villain in the comic) to switch places. You must work your way through the pages of the comic as Mortus draws in enemies for you to fight.
You've got to give it up for just how creative the concept is, and the gameplay is top notch. You can kick enemies through to the next panel of the comic, and there are secrets to unlock as you can occasionally choose your own path through the pages. The action is pretty stellar, too, with puzzles and other secrets to keep the game fresh.
Set in a comic book come alive, Comix Zone is a quintessential 90s beat'em up that features a compelling story and unique gameplay.
Kid Chameleon Classic
I think it's easy to dismiss Kid Chameleon as just another cheesy 90s platformer but there's a ton of content packed in here. Set in "the future" where hologram VR games are all the rage, the boss Wild Side has started abducting players into the game and it's up to your character Casey to go in and beat the game to save the day.
To do so, Casey must don different masked helmets that transform him into different characters. There are over 100 levels to play, with many of them only accessible by finding warp teleporters throughout the game. Because of the variety of levels and the ability to switch between characters, Kid Chameleon constantly feels fresh each time you play. It's a fun throwback if you remember it from the Genesis days, and still holds up as a fun platformer in 2020.
Don a wide variety of transforming helmets in this unique Genesis gem from the glory days of gaming. Even if you missed out on this one in the 90s, Kid Chameleon is still well worth checking out in 2020.
Streets of Rage 1 and 2 Classic
Streets of Rage is a classic that helped solidify the beat-em-up genre in the 90s. Both Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 are available on Sega Forever and are still great to play all these years later.
This game is about fighting crime on the streets, and there's some sort of plot going on, but honestly who cares. Streets of Rage is all about fighting action with kickass combos, grapples, and throws, with deadly weapons thrown in the mix — just accept the weird video game logic of a punching combo doing more damage than a stab to the gut.
Streets of Rage is fun to play solo, but you're also able to play multiplayer over Wi-Fi, which allows each player to play on their own phone. There's support for Bluetooth controllers, too, but it's not the best implementation that I've seen.
It's time to clean up the streets — with punches and kicks! Streets of Rage is a classic beat-'em-up game that now features local Wi-FI multiplayer for mobile.
The sequel to Streets of Rage introduced a new slew of attacks and more extreme enemies and bosses to beat down in the streets.
The Revenge of Shinobi Classic
This was the first Shinobi game released for the Sega Genesis, and if you've never played a Shinobi game before, well, here's your chance!
In this game, the evil Neo Zeed organization has killed your ninja master and kidnapped your bride, so it's up to you to travel across the eight districts and use all your ninjutsu skills to take them out, collecting mystical power-ups along the way. The old cheats you remember from your childhood still work, so you can go into options and set the shurikens to 00 to unlock infinite shurikens. Boo-yah!
The Revenge of Shinobi is an action-packed side-scroller where you must dole out ninjitsu justice as you track down the criminals who captured your bride.
Crazy Taxi Classic
This is one of the Dreamcast games you could call a classic. Crazy Taxi is an open-world arcade driving game where you play an outrageous taxi driver who has no regard for street laws because time is money.
The gameplay is frantic and, well, crazy, as you race around the city picking up new fares and getting them to their destination as fast as you can. This game has been remastered for mobile and features the original soundtrack from the Dreamcast game, which had music from The Offspring and Bad Religion.
Both Arcade and Original Modes are available, along with 16 mini-games. This game is crazy fun and addictive and a great fit for mobile. This one takes me back.
Crazy Taxi is an arcade classic and one of the most fun games that launched with the Sega Dreamcast. Ignore all other Crazy Taxi games in the Play Store — this is the one you want to play.
Beyond Oasis Classic
Nintendo had Zelda. In response, Sega had Beyond Oasis. In this action RPG, you play as Prince Ali as he journeys across a magical land filled with ogres, zombies, wizards, and epic boss battles against gigantic rock monsters and dragons.
The gameplay and combat are spot-on, and there's a variety of weapons you can collect. The game starts after Ali finds a golden armlet that once belonged to a wizard who waged war against the wearer of the silver armlet. The gold armlet lets Ali summon four spirits, which must be discovered by exploring the lands of Oasis. If you've never played this game back in the day but love great action-adventure games like Zelda, absolutely check out Beyond Oasis.
The Sega Genesis didn't have the same level of iconic action RPGs as Nintendo did, but Beyond Oasis is a Sega Forever title that deserve more attention and praise.
Super Monkey Ball: Sakura Edition Classic
Super Monkey Ball is one of those wacky games that almost seems too loose and silly to be fun. Originally released as an arcade game, Super Monkey Ball games were released throughout the early 2000s for console and handheld devices.
Rather than controlling the character, you control the course itself. Simply tilt your phone and the board itself moves — it takes a bit to get used to, but it's intuitive on mobile phones. Your monkey ball starts to roll and pick up speed depending on the angle and direction that you tilt. You must reach the goal gate of each level without falling off the edge or letting the time run out, with bonus points and extra lives available by collecting all the bananas on the stage.
There are six worlds and 125 themed stages available, along with wacky mini-games including Monkey Target, Monkey Golf, and Monkey Bowl. Good wholesome fun here.
Super Monkey Ball is another classic arcade game that's been perfectly ported to mobile. Tilt your phone to control your monkey ball as you navigate through a ton of courses spread across multiple game modes
After Burner Climax
After Burner Climax is the latest game in the After Burner franchise, best known as an arcade combat flight simulator series that featured a moving seat and an integrated flight stick for greater immersion. It originally landed in arcades back in 2006 and was added to the Sega Forever lineup in April 2019.
You get to choose between four supersonic aircraft and embark on a 20-stage arcade story where you've been scrambled to prevent the launch of a nuclear weapon. This game gives a good sense of speed as you burn through the sky doing barrel rolls to avoid incoming attacks while locking on to enemy aircrafts with homing missles.
Of all the free-to-play Sega Forever titles, this one is most marred by awful ad integration. It sometimes feels like you spend more time watching ads than actually playing the game. That can all be solved with a one-time payment of $2 to remove all ads, so if you love the high-flying action it's well worth the price to make the game more enjoyable to play.
After Burner Climax is a combat flight game with frantic arcade action, great graphics, and your choice of four elite Boeing military aircraft.
For hardcore fans only
So the best games are featured above, but there are some other Sega Forever game titles that you might get a kick out of if you played them as a kid, but they just don't cut the mustard in 2020. They're here for reference purposes only, as sad as that is to say. You might find that you have a good time with them, but the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia are often quite deceptive (I really wanted to love Phantasy Star Classics, but alas).
As you'd expect, each is free to play with ads with ad-free versions available for $1.99.
- Shining Force Classics
- Altered Beast Classic
- Phantasy Star Classics
- Space Harrier II Classic
- Golden Axe
- ESWAT: City Under Siege Classic
- Virtua Tennis Challenge
- Decap Attack Classic
- Dynamite Headdy Classic
- Gunstar Heroes Classic
What are your favorite Sega games?
Are there any Sega titles you want to be added to Sega Forever (cough Sonic 3 and Knuckles cough)? What do you think of the games they've released thus far? Let us know in the comments!
Get the most out of your Android gaming experience
SteelSeries Stratus Duo ($60 at Amazon)
A great Bluetooth controller for use with Android games that offer gamepad support that also includes a wireless USB dongle for gaming on PCs. Highly recommended!
Ventev Powercell 6010+ Portable USB-C Charger ($37 at Amazon)
This battery pack from Ventev is recommended so often because it's so compact and convenient. You get a built-in USB-C cord, built-in AC prong for charging the unit, and 6000mAh battery capacity.
Spigen Style Ring ($13 at Amazon)
Of all the phone mounts and kickstands we've tested, the most consistently reliable and sturdy is the original Spigen Style Ring. It also has a minimalist hook mount for your car's dashboard.
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