Super Nintendo versus Sega Genesis. There’s no better pair of things that the word “versus” has ever come between. It’s truly a nostalgic battle. We were talking about it 20 years ago, and we’re still talking about it today.
So ever since I started doing the “Nerd” series, I always felt like it would make a great subject for a video, but I’ve always held back because I’ve felt that the whole thing is so much bigger than I am. How could I do it justice? To really do a proper analysis of both systems would take months and months of concentrating on just that. So the only thing I can give is an opinion. So I figured I might as well take the approach of just taking you back to the past, because that’s what I do best. And there’s no better way to go back to the past than to hear it from my past self at age 11.
[clip of Young James’s video]
That’s right. I already made a video about this topic. I might as well just sit back. “Nintendo versus Genesiss.”
Young James: In The commercials they say that Genesis is better than Nintendo.
[The video is very dark]
James: Where am I?
Young James: This is Nintendo…
James: Can’t see a damn thing.
[Young James adjusts the lighting]
James: Thank you!
Young James: Okay now, the Genesis always brags about how cool it is…
James: As you can tell, I’m talking about the Genesis commercials. I’m sure everybody’s seen them by now, but if you haven’t, here’s a refresher.
[“Genesis Does” commercial]
Commercial: Genesis Does what Nintendon’t.
Young James: “You can’t do this on Nintendo,” they said. “Genesis does what Nintendo doesn’t.”
James: See? Even as a kid, I couldn’t bring myself to say “Nintendon’t.” But in hindsight, it was a great commercial. Just the fact that we’re talking about it now means it really left an impression. It worked! I’m sure that commercial alone sold many Genesises … Genesi … Mega Drives.
But back then, that commercial was the bane of my existence. How dare you talk about Nintendo like that?! They took a cheap shot! I took it personal, as if one of my best friends just got bullied. So there I am, pissed off, making a video about it. I guess nothing’s changed.
So little Jimmy, tell us why the Nintendo is brand is better than Sega.
Young James: It has more games, like, uh … wait a minute, wait right there. [Young James leaves the frame]
Young James: [returns to the frame] Well, um, the pocket video games [mumbles] Actually, this is from Tiger. But they got the ideas off of Nintendo’s Simon Quest, and they got—
James: Wait, wait, wait! If we’re talking about great classic games made by Nintendo, how about Super Mario Bros. 3, or something like that? But no … the Tiger handheld version of Simon’s Quest? [holds up the Tiger game] I still have it.
Young James: Nintendo has posters like uh, here’s a Nintendo poster.
James: Ahh, take that, Sega! Nintendo’s got posters!
Young James: And Nintendo has guide books.
James: You mean strategy guides?
Young James: Here, see a Nintendo guide books.
James: Or, Nintendo Power.
Young James: These were made from—these are Nintendo characters. These awesome labels on controllers.
James: [holds up 2 NES controllers with the same stickers] I still have those, and they ARE awesome!
Young James: The “Power Gun!” Allows you to shoot at characters on the Nintendo screen.
James: That’s the Zapper, but they should’ve called it the Power Gun, like the Power Glove and the Power Pad.
Young James: The Power Pad.
James: Yeah, you got it.
Young James: A giant controller.
James: Okay, you got that? Reasons why Nintendo is better than Sega: Tiger Handheld Simon’s Quest, posters, guidebooks, characters, controller stickers, Power Gun, and Power Pad. Boom! In your face, Sega! Obviously, I was showing a lot of faith to the Nintendo brand. I was what you might call a fanboy. But in truth, I was envious over the 16-bit glory of the Genesis. The graphics they showed in that commercial, you COULDN’T do that on Nintendo.
Young James: Ehh! Wrong! You CAN do that on Nintendo!
James: Oh yeah!
Young James: They invented a Super Nintendo with 16-bit graphics.
James: Now that’s what we’re talking about. The Super Nintendo felt like Nintendo’s answer to Sega. But did the battle stop there? Nope, it only started.
Young James: And in the commercials, they keep bragging about Genesis; they said that Genesis is even better than the Super Nintendo. But they’re both 16-bit.
James: Sega had a point before, but now it’s like a bully who’s gonna pick on an even bigger kid.
Commercial: The Sega Genesis has Blast Processing. Super Nintendo doesn’t. So what’s Blast Processing do?
[Clips of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with rock music]
James: It was ingenious! Blast Processing! Every kid who saw that commercial remembered that term. Sega fanboys now had some new ammunition to use. So Sega’s marketing team was like, feeding all these arguments in the school cafeteria with, like, all these new words to use. I remember being on the school bus trying to tell one of my friends Super Nintendo’s better, and he kept saying “Blast Processing.” It worked! The term caught on like wildfire. It worked so well, that even to this day we’re still talking about it. The internet is a new playground to continue all these old arguments. It picked up just like before with everyone debating whether or not Blast Processing is real or not. I’ve seen it on message boards. It’s real, it’s not real, it’s real, it’s not real. What’s the story? Well, I looked into it.
According to the technical specs, the Genesis is faster. I can’t find many great side-by-side comparisons to really demonstrate it. The Sonic the Hedgehog games seem to be the classic example. The term “Blast Processing” was made up for the commercial. Because that sounds way cooler than pointing out the facts. Imagine if the commercial said “the Sega Genesis has a 7.6 MHz processor. The Super Nintendo, only 3.6.”
That’s not as catchy. Commercials aren’t about stating the facts, they’re about just, what are people gonna remember? Say “Blast Processing,” and every kid is gonna start using it, even if they don’t know what it means. Like, I used to say “bits” all the time, and I never knew what that meant. And it’s hilarious that if you look at the rest of the specs, the Super Nintendo outshines the Genesis in almost every other detail, but they found that one thing to exploit, and that’s the nature of marketing.
One time I had a playful argument about chocolate milk. And this is two grown adults, I might add. I was working at a convenience store, and every day I’d drink this milk mixed with a chocolate mix, and my friend would always drink the regular chocolate milk out of the bottle. I told him mine was better, so we compared nutrition facts. And turns out, mine had less sugar, more vitamins, and was better in just about every way, but his had a little more Vitamin D in it, so every day then, he would come into work, sipping his chocolate milk, and go, “Love that Vitamin D!” Yeah, we got bored at work a lot.
Also, notice the game they chose to make fun of was Super Mario Kart.
Commercial: And, uh, what if you don’t have Blast Processing?
[Super Mario Kart footage]
James: Have you played Super Mario Kart? That’s a great, fun game! So they’re comparing it to Sonic just to show how much faster the Genesis is. But what are we comparing here? Vertical speed versus straight-on racing? It doesn’t scroll as fast because it’s a totally different kind of game! I’m looking into it way too deep, but the point is, it’s another marketing strategy. Make your product look as cool as possible, and make the competitor look like crap. It’s easy. I’m gonna make my own Genesis commercial right now.
[Fake commercial; James portrays a kid excitedly playing Super Mario World]
Voice: Hey kid, you still playing that Super Nintendo? Look at what Sega Genesis has got!
[Sega Genesis footage with rock music; “kid” flies backwards into the back of the couch, his face turns into a skull]
Voice: Super Nintendo has got this.
[Footage of Yoshi’s Island with Baby Mario crying]
Voice: So what’s the choice?
Kid, still with skull face: SEGA!
James: That was fun. You see, you could make anything look as good or as crappy as you want. And I think as a kid, I saw that in the commercials, and I felt that these commercials were brainwashing other kids, and that’s what pissed me off. I felt like it was just manipulating other kids to think whatever they wanted them to think. The whole “Blast Processing” thing was almost like an act of desperation from Sega, just trying to get through the point that the Genesis was better, and using any tactics they could. Almost like me as a kid trying to defend the NES because of stickers on the controllers. I was just trying to speak up how I felt, and didn’t really know how to.
Young James: Remember, when you play Nintendo, you’re playing with power. When you play Game Boy, you’re playing with portable power. When you’re playing Super NES, you’re playing with ultra-power, and Genesis, no power.
James: Well, there you go! Now you got yourself a slogan! Needs a little work, but you’re thinking. Or I’m … still thinking. Yeah, I’ve come a long way in being able to articulate myself, and I’ve never thought about it until now, but I think those Sega commercials played a part in teaching me how to edit; how to make videos, because when I’m doing a “Nerd” video for example, and I’m trying to tell you how bad the game is, I’m gonna be selecting all the parts that are bad, to show you; and if it’s awesome, I’m gonna show you all the parts that are good. So, unless you see the original product for yourself, you can’t really take an objective view because that’s the way the media is, it’s always through someone’s opinion.
So, who am I to make a judgment of Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis? Have I really played enough of both consoles to really make a fair assessment? But hey, it’s an opinion, and I gotta give you what you want. You click on a video that says “Super Nintendo Vs. Sega Genesis,” you’re expecting a throwdown. So, let the throwdown begin!
James: Let’s start with the most obvious: the look of the console. The Genesis has a more modern shape. It looks cool. The Super Nintendo looks like a blocky kid’s toy, with purple switches. And for some reason, lots of Super NES consoles turn yellow over time. I don’t know why; maybe everyone pisses on ‘em. I don’t piss on mine, and it’s one of the best-aged Super Nintendos I’ve ever seen. The Genesis looks more slick. Not counting all the different models and all that crap that gets attached to it; just the original.
The Genesis controller is straightforward and simple. Four buttons if you count Start. The Super Nintendo, eight buttons if you count Start and Select. That makes it way easier to play fighting games like Mortal Kombat. On Genesis, there’s not enough buttons. You have to use start to block, and both high punch and low punch are on the A button. With games like Street Fighter that require six buttons, you have to hit Start to select between punches and kicks, or get another controller. But we’re comparing the basic controller that came with the console. The Super Nintendo has all the buttons you need, in all the right places. I can easily press L or R, and my thumbs are still free. In a Mario-type game, I can hold down Y to run, and push the rest of my thumb onto B to jump. It helps that the buttons are all on an angle. On Genesis, they’re all in a straight line. I have to hop my thumb back and forth. The Super Nintendo feels more comfortable. That rounded dog-bone shape fits in your hands perfectly. I guess one plus about the Genesis is that you can plug in an Atari controller. That’s pretty cool, right?
Winner: Super Nintendo.
This may seem like a minor thing, but isn’t it nice to have something to put your game in? The Super Nintendo games had the standard cardboard boxes. But the Genesis boxes weren’t boxes at all; they were plastic cases that snap open. That’s a good idea. In retrospect, it’s great for collecting, too. It’s much easier to find a Genesis game complete in the box. With the Super Nintendo, the boxes just got in the way. So most people threw them out. The Genesis cases were progressive, and it’s now what every console uses.
Being able to play your old games on your new console is a great feature to have. The Super Nintendo has the Super Game Boy, which allows you to play your Game Boy games. The Genesis has no such adapter for the Game Gear, although it did have the Power Base Converter, which was for playing Sega Master System games. This was an official contraption from Sega, but Super Nintendo had an unlicensed version of the same thing called the Super 8, which played NES and Super Famicom games. That makes things pretty even, but thanks to the Super Game Boy, the winner is Super Nintendo.
Graphics is a hard one. I’ve already mentioned the Super Nintendo is technically superior, with a greater color palette and all that, and it makes sense to me that a newer console would be more advanced. But look at them. They both look pretty good to me. It really depends on which games you’re comparing.
All right Jimmy, so help us out with the graphics. The Super Nintendo just came out. So what do you think?
Young James: It’s perfect. Look at these graphics. And rotation like in F-Zero, you curve around the racing turns and you can—and it feels like you’re really moving. And it has smooth animation like, uh, suppose someone is waving their hand, and it moves it just a notch—just a notch, takes 16 notches to move the hand down, and another 16 notches to move it up. So that means it’s smooth animation.
James: I’m talking about scaling?!
Young James: For instance, a car racing away, it shrinks. Super Nintendo has great—um, things with this, it shrinks as it falls. It has great “resoluation”—
Young James: It’s a very impressive 512 times 448. That’s twice the “resoluation” of other 16-bit video games. Color layering, big characters, and multi-scrolling backgrounds—
James: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I think my younger self just went way over my head. So, how does it all stack up today? Well, I think both systems are very comparable, but the Super Nintendo impresses me still, just a little bit more.
Young James: I think the 16-bit Super Nintendo is a bit better than Genesis. Ha, get it? A bit better?
James: [Shakes his head, amused]
One thing to help push it over the line was the FX Chip used in games like Doom and Star Fox, which helped to render 3-dimensional shapes. This was a new achievement later in the Super Nintendo’s life span, which made it exciting that our 16-bit console could improve itself. The Genesis, on the other hand, was on life support, using hardware add-ons like the Sega CD and the 32X, just to accomplish the same thing the Super Nintendo already could.
[Sega CD commercial clip]
Angry Black Guy: Hey! You still don’t have a Sega CD? What are you waiting for, Nintendo to make one? There is no “Nintendo CD.”
James: I never understood the purpose. You have to own a Genesis to play a Sega cd or a 32X.
Winner: Super Nintendo.
When it comes to sound, there’s no question about it. The sound effects on the Super Nintendo were far superior.
[Clips of Battletoads & Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat on both consoles]
And the music on the Super Nintendo just got me so pumped up!
[Clip of Star Fox]
It is fair to say that they’re both two different things, and each consoles both have their own distinct styles.
[Interspersed music clips from various games on each console: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Final Fantasy III, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, Super Castlevania IV, Sonic the Hedgehog, Battletoads & Double Dragon, and F-Zero]
I will say, as much as I love the orchestral, cinematic sound of the Super Nintendo, I also love the gritty, heavy-metal sound of the Genesis.
[Music clip from Road Rash 3]
Games like Earthworm Jim sounded better on the Genesis.
[Clips of Earthworm Jim from both consoles]
So there are exceptions, but most of the time the Super Nintendo rocks the competition.
[Music clip from Donkey Kong Country]
It’s the first console I ever heard where it crossed the line of video game and just started to sound like real music.
[Clip of Killer Instinct main title theme]
The Super Nintendo has some of the greatest video games ever.
[Music clip from Super Metroid]
Winner: Super Nintendo.
Both consoles had a great library of games. Genesis had Altered Beast, Moonwalker, the Shinobi games, Strider, Toe Jam & Earl, and the best version of Ghostbusters that existed back then. Super Nintendo had Pilotwings, the Mega Man X games, and the best version of Sim City around.
A lot of the same games that crossed over to both consoles came out almost the same and are hard to compare. Aladdin is an example where both versions are completely different from each other. In this case, the Genesis version is way better. All the Konami games are different, such as Ninja Turtles. Genesis got The Hyperstone Heist and Super Nintendo got Turtles in Time. These games are similar, but you can’t beat Turtles in Time.
Genesis got Contra: Hard Corps, while Super Nintendo got Contra III. Again, both are similar, but on the Genesis version you could choose to play as different characters including a wolf. And it didn’t have that annoying overhead stage like in the Super Nintendo version. What were they thinking?
Genesis got Castlevania: Bloodlines, while Super Nintendo got Castlevania IV. Both are great, but Castlevania IV blows my mind with its smooth control and creepy graphics. One of my favorite games of all time.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Both versions have awesome graphics that resemble the animated TV series that it’s based on. But the Genesis version just nails it this time. It has the cutscenes that the Super Nintendo version’s missing, and the stage graphics have a lot of 3-dimensional depth.
There seems to be a myth that Genesis is more of an adult console. That may be true that Nintendo seems to target younger audiences, but it’s not all rainbows and flowers. All the hubbub comes from the first Mortal Kombat game. The Super Nintendo took out the blood, and altered some of the fatalities. The Genesis version also didn’t have the blood, until you turned it on with a secret code. Starting with Mortal Kombat II, Super Nintendo brought the blood back full-on, so now it’s a moot point.
Super Nintendo had blood in Doom Troopers, and in Doom, so there’s no way you can say it’s just a kiddie console. Even Nintendo’s own branded game, Super Metroid, was dark in tone, and overall badass.
Both had their share of fighting games, but Killer Instinct, come on! It wasn’t the same as the arcade, but it’s still the best exclusive 16-bit fighter by far.
The beat-em-up genre. Genesis had the Golden Axe games, Alien Storm, and Streets of Rage. Everyone always talks about Streets of Rage, but Super Nintendo had the Final Fight games. The first one didn’t have a 2-player option like the arcade, but they rectified that with the sequels. I don’t know what it is, but beat-em-up games always feel more fun on the Super Nintendo. On the Genesis they’re a little bit clunky. On Super Nintendo, the action is smooth and it just feels right when you hit people.
Genesis has more sports games. I’ll give you that any day. You can keep your sports games, so if that’s your thing, your console is Genesis.
The RPG department. Super Nintendo just kills it! Final Fantasy III, which is actually VI, is one of the best games ever made. You can’t compete with that. And that’s not to say Genesis didn’t have its share of RPGs. There was the Phantasy Star games, of course. But Super Nintendo also had Chrono Trigger, another masterpiece. That’s a one-two punch. And also, there’s Super Mario RPG. It may seem gimmicky to make an RPG just to include Nintendo characters, but it’s a really fun game, and much better than what most people may expect.
Both consoles had their share of BAD games. Super Nintendo had Wizard of Oz, Genesis had Action 52, and both consoles were unfortunate enough to have Shaq Fu.
Then of course, there’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World. Which is better? It’s all a matter of preference. I will say, Sonic 2 was the game that made me buy a Genesis. But even with all the Sonic games, I still could never live without Super Mario World. It may not have the fast-speed action, but it has lots of powerups, fun challenge, and an incredible world to explore. After all, it is Super Mario WORLD. I love Sonic, but I feel with a good Mario game, there’s just a little bit more to it.
If there’s one platformer that can top Super Mario World, it’s the Donkey Kong Country games. They’re so addicting that just trying to record the footage here, I had trouble turning it off. I wanted to keep playing!
Between the Super Nintendo and Genesis, it all depends on what kind of games are your favorites. Possibly my favorite game of all time is Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The puzzle-solving, the storyline, and the action that goes in that game is so phenomenal, I’m at a loss for words. It never gets old. I can still play it any day. I think this game just nukes the entire competition. If you ask me, “Why do you like Super Nintendo better?” My answer is “Link to the Past.” And if that’s not enough, Super Metroid. I recommend it hardcore. This is a must-play game. It’s a giant maze that you can’t stop playing until it’s finished. It has a foreboding atmosphere that keeps you tense the whole time. Running around blowing stuff up has never been so much fun.
Take your pick, but the winner for me is Super Nintendo.
Young James: There you have it, Nintendo wins. It will take centuries to invent something that will top that.
James: Give it a few years, Jimmy.
So I just wanted to bring you back to a simpler time when there wasn’t a care in the world other than defending your favorite console. There’s always problems going on in the world and political issues and whatnot, but back then, all we cared about was, what’s better? Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo? [laughing] And one thing I do know, the world wouldn’t be complete without both of them. Long live the 16-bits.