Happy 25th birthday, Sega Genesis

Twenty-five years ago this week, the Sega Genesis made its way to stores in North America. Helping to usher in the 16-bit era with classic characters such as Sonic and Sonic & Tails and Sonic & Tails featuring Knuckles. And more non-Sonic-related characters, of course!

Too many memories could be shared about our time growing up with the Sega Genesis, but the most important thing about it was its library of games. Here are a few of our favorites – for a bigger list of favorites (by no means all of them), check out our Sega Genesis Anniversary Gallery.

What are your favorites?

As a Genesis kid I spent a lot of time jealous of the RPGs my SNES-owning friends were receiving, but Shadowrun's apt recreation of Jordan Weisman's cyberpunk pen and paper game went a long way toward changing that. Granted, it was far from perfect and in hindsight lacked a lot of polish, but it had atmosphere in spades and was utterly unlike the high fantasy epics so typical of the genre. – Earnest Cavalli

Ecco the Dolphin
Surreal, beautiful, haunting, and really frickin' hard, Ecco the Dolphin made the impossible possible by turning a dolphin – a dolphin! – into a total freaking badass. On his quest to rescue his friends, this powerful porpoise travels through time, fends off giant octopi, fights sharks in the open ocean and eventually travels through an alien spaceship before blasting the queen extraterrestrial apart using his sonar. Damn! – Sam Prell

The Sega Genesis was a haven for hardcore shoot-'em-ups, and M.U.S.H.A. led the charge with screen-filling enemy swarms, imposing bosses, and an arsenal of explosive player weaponry. Hardware-pushing bravado aside, it also had a keen sense of pacing, challenging players with new enemy types and inventive level design throughout. M.U.S.H.A. set a high standard for shoot-'em-ups in the 16-bit era, and its utterly ridiculous asking price on eBay (you're looking to pay $100 minimum for a genuine copy...and that's without a box or manual) is a testament to its legacy. – Danny Cowan

ToeJam & Earl
A great couch-co-op game with unforgettable enemies like crazy dentists, nerd herds, and chickens. It even had Santa Claus! Thanks to randomly-generated levels, finding all the pieces of ToeJam and Earl's spaceship so they could make it back to Funkotron was sometimes literally impossible, but trying was always a blast. Plus, who can deny that ToeJam & Earl were the true masters of funk? No-one, that's who. – Susan Arendt

Phantasy Star 2
Before the Phantasy Star series became synonymous with MMOs, Phantasy Star 2 was one of the great RPGs of the 16-bit era. The large, animated characters were more engaging than the minimalistic fare seen in games like Final Fantasy. The music was poppy and wonderful, and the adventure – which spanned two entire planets – was huge. – Richard Mitchell

That's not all! See more of our Sega Genesis Favorites here!
(Of course, that's not all. Tell us your favorites and why in the comments below and we'll add it as a Community Choice selection in the gallery of this feature!)

[Images: Wallpaper Panda, Sega, Seismic]