Retrospective: Super Nintendo vs SEGA Genesis

"Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/ when I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this/"

Biggie immortalized both systems in his classic song, and the question has lingered for years. Today, we've had a bit of a DAR Gaming Day, with Batman: Arkham Knight being reviewed earlier, and now a discussion between myself and Speed. We here at DAR believe in acknowledging the past, while covering the present and prepping for the future, so we got a bit reflective on the consoles with a different format, as Speed makes the case for SEGA and Super Nintendo's case is made by True. First, we'll start off with Speed speaking for SEGA Genesis and then go to True for Super Nintendo.

SEGA Genesis(@speedonthebeat)

True has made the argument that the SNES was the superior console in the 90s. And while I had both on my Biggie shit (although years later, when PS1 was a thing), I've got to say that the Genesis was a better console. First, the Genesis had Sonic. Yeah, Mario was one of the first mascots to become an international icon, but every attempt to take Mario outside of the gaming world failed. Because Sonic was so simple (a blue hedgehog with speed-enhancing shoes trying to take down a fat evil genius), people gravitated towards it. He was the anti-Mario in many ways, because he was fast, he was anti-establishment and so on. Hell, you could almost argue that the Genesis was the "anti-establishment" console because of its edginess.

Ok, now that I've got the fanboy out, the Genesis' sports collection was often miles ahead of what was offered on the SNES. There were NFL and NBA games with actual teams and players. EA tended to go to the Genesis before SNES--and that's before Madden et al became copy-and-paste bullshit (more on that soon). Also, the Genesis had more of an eclectic gaming choice. You want a non-mascot platformer? Toe Jam and Earl existed. You wanted a JRPG that wasn't Final Fantasy? You got Phantasy Star. Finally, the console war that raged and the fact that Genesis' user base in the US was pretty high? One could argue that the Genesis, even though it lost the war, softened up Nintendo's defenses. No longer, after the Genesis actually came within earshot of the SNES in terms of sale, etc., was The House that Mario Built safe.

And in a couple of years, even though Nintendo was/is still formidable, more and more people went to non-Nintendo platforms. Plus, what other console do you know had "blast processing," even though that was just a gimmick like all hell.

SNES/Super Nintendo (@TrueGodImmortal)

-My first actual system was the original Nintendo system and I fell in love with it right away. When talking consoles, a lot of talk boils down to the numbers. In that regard, SNES already beats SEGA. Super Nintendo actually sold nearly 50 million consoles over the duration of the generation, while SEGA ended with around 30 million consoles. SEGA and their aggressive marketing seemed like a ploy to raise numbers desperately and while SEGA set the tone for the personal gaming and more edgy style of play, SNES was everything that a video game was initially designed to be: fun, mostly for the whole family.

The SNES system wasn't as adult-orientated as SEGA, and it didn't need to be. Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong, all the characters that Nintendo have been known for and are still known for have had amazing longevity. SEGA arrived and created an iconic series with the Sonic character, but the relevance of Sonic has gone down over the years, while Mario has maintained. Now, this has no true bearing on which system is better, but let's go back to the numbers for a moment. While SNES sold some 50 million consoles, they created best selling games such as the Mario series, Donkey Kong series, Star Fox, Zelda, and Street Fighter even did extremely well via SNES. The system represented much more fun than SEGA and had a larger depth game wise.

One of the huge selling points for me on SNES was the Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball game, which was the game I played most on the SNES, and a game that the Genesis didn't have access to. This game is honestly a top 10-15 all time personal favorite for me.

Now, graphics back then, it was really close and while Genesis likely was a bit better in some areas graphic wise, SNES always provided a clear picture as well. Truth be told, this all comes down to preference and what you wanted to get out of your gaming experience. For the majority, SNES provided everything you could want and more, while still keeping it fun for the whole family. A feat that SEGA attempted to do, but couldn't compare, thus the more aggressive stance later in marketing.

What's your choice? Feel nostalgic? Join the conversation below and on social media if you like.



  1. Hmm, I love Super Mario. A huge plus of this platform is that games are available for download for free. But I didn't even think that there are so many versions. And the history of the franchise is impressive.

  2. The Genesis was not graphically superior to the SNES. Main reason why is the low on screen colours. In terms of sound, the SNES had the better sound chip overall. Only a real master musician could showcase what the Genesis could do with audio, Streets of Rage (Yuzo Koshiro) being a prime example of this. What Sega did have, in terms of hardware superiority, was a faster clock speed, which translated into less flicker and slowdown in a lot of titles. However, once A list publishers figured out how to work around these issues on the Super Nintendo, they weren't longer much of a problem. I love both of these machines, and both had some really unique games that played to the brand image of both Sega and Nintendo. Overall however, the SNES takes the win hardware wise. As for software, it's a bit closer, but I still feel the SNES to be superior overall in this regard, as well.

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