Oh, we're going there, together.
As a 25 year old who had access to most consoles out there during his youth, and grew up to be working at a retro video game store for 5+ years and counting, this is a very passionate subject for me. There are wars in real life, in politics, in peoples own personal lives, but none of those matter. The only war that matters is the 16-bit war, because even after 24 years since it started, it's still not over.
You'd have thought this would have been talked to death after 2 decades, but within the retro gaming community, this is a fire no one can contain. Now I'm not here to say that I have the absolute conclusive answer, but I do feel I have more experience with both
consoles than anyone else I've seen talk about this matter (including many Youtube celebrities in the retro gaming community).
It seems in every discussion, everyone remembers most of the great SNES titles, but struggle to think of amazing Genesis titles aside from Sonic, Phantasy Star, and Shinobi. Their lack of experience with the Genesis harshly sways their favour on this matter. This isn't to say that if they had played more amazing titles on the Genesis that it would automatically sway that favour to Sega, but it would definitely make the decision more of a fair fight. Everyone respects the Genesis, but they don't seem to actually know why.
So with all that said, I give you my rundown on the greatest war to ever war into wartown.
We all know the Super Nintendo has much more graphical power and superior audio compared to the Genesis, but the one advantage the Genesis has is it's processor. It's CPU is clocked in at 7.6 MHz, which is more than twice that of the Super Nintendo's 3.6 MHz. This is important to note. Having a faster processor means you can have more things happening at once, and at faster speeds without having to worry about slowdown as much, which is obviously why Sonic exists. While most people just give the SNES an easy victory because of it's superior graphical power and audio, this is a compromise for having a much weaker CPU. Plus when it came to producing bass guitar or drum tracks, then Genesis had a much stronger tone than the SNES in this regard thanks to it's "twang".
This is where it gets real tough. The Super Nintendo controller is the most influential controller to this day, and for good reason. The extra face button placement, the shoulder buttons, the comfort and stability, the SNES controller really was the full package back then. Now I'm a fan of the original Genesis controller, due to it's shape. Gone are the stabbing corners of the NES and SMS style controller, and now it's actually formed with ergonomics in mind. I feel the real challenge here is the 6 button Sega Genesis controller. I personally think it uses the best directional pad ever made. Not to mention having 6 face buttons, which for a fighting game fanatic that I was back then, made a big difference for me. So it comes down to influence vs. preference, and considering that current gen consoles still have a SNES controller build to them, well history speaks for itself.
Getting this out of the way right now, the SNES looks like a shitty box that was designed by someone who still drives a fucking station wagon. Very unappealing, as are the cartridges. The Genesis on the other hand looks sleek and futuristic with it's black case, and "High Definition Graphics" written above the cartridge slot, and a big "16-Bit" right on it, telling you you're experiencing the future of video games.
Now for the main event
Old picture of my main game room.
This is the hardest part, because the library of games defines a console. You could be the most powerful console on the block, but if your games are shit, then you're shit.
There's only one way to really settle this, a game off. I'm going to list all the good SNES/Genesis games that comes to mind, but with a few rules.
1) Only exclusives, or
2) If multiplatform, must have differences (Such as Aladdin, Jurassic Park, or TMNT IV, etc)
Super Nintendo (44)
Act Raiser, Act Raiser 2, Axelay, Batman Returns, Breath of Fire, Breath of Fire II, Chrono Trigger, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Demon's Crest, Donkey Kong Country,
Donkey Kong Country 2, Donkey Kong Country 3, Earthbound, F-Zero, Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Gradius III, Illusion of Gaia, Killer Instinct, Kirby's Dreamland 3, Kirby Superstar, Mega Man X, Mega Man X2, Mega Man X3, Pilotwings, Pocky & Rocky, Secret of Evermore, Secret of Mana, Shadowrun, Sparkster, Starfox, Sunset Riders, Super Castlevania IV, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario RPG, Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Super Metroid, Super Punch-Out, Super Smash TV, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Wild Guns
Aladdin, Alien Soldier, Alien Storm, Alisia Dragoon, Altered Beast, Beyond Oasis, Castle of Illusion, Castlevania Bloodlines, Comix Zone, Contra: Hard Corps, Crusader of Centy
Darius 2, Decap Attack, Desert Strike, Dinosaurs For Hire, Dragon's Fury, Dynamite Headdy, Earthworm Jim, Earthworm Jim 2, Elemental Master, Fatal Labyrinth, Golden Axe
Golden Axe 2, Golden Axe 3, Grind Stormer, Gunstar Heroes, Jungle Strike, Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition, Kid Chameleon, Landstalker, Light Crusader, Lightening Force, McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure, Moonwalker, Musha, Mutant League Football, Mutant League Hockey, Outrun, Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star IV, Phelios, Pier Solar, Quickshot, Ranger X, Rings of Power, Ristar, Road Rash, Road Rash II, Road Rash 3, Rocket Knight Adventures, Shadow Dancer, Shadowrun, Shining Force, Shining Force 2, Shining in the Darkness, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, Splatterhouse 2, Splatterhouse 3, Streets of Rage, Streets of Rage 2, Streets of Rage 3, Strider, Super Hang-On, Sword of Vermilion, Taz-Mania, Taz In Escape From Mars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Hyperstone Hiest, The Revenge of Shinobi, Thunder Force, Thunder Force 2, Thunder Force 3, Toejam & Earl, Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkatron, Truxton, Urban Strike, Vectorman, Vectorman 2, Virtua Racing, Wonder Boy In Monster World, World of Illusion, X-Men 2: Clone Wars
I cheated and looked at my SNES/Genesis collection after getting to 30 or so for each console, but I believe a point has been made. The Genesis has a lot of great games on it, and while they all might not of A+ quality, they're still good games, and I find that's what it was like back in the 16-bit era. With the Genesis, you were always getting good games, but with the SNES, you always had to wait longer, but you generally got a longer experience with the game. So it's more games which take less time, or less games that take more time.
At the end of the day, both consoles are on equal footing. That was the best thing about the 16-bit war. If you went with SNES, you were a winner. If you went with Genesis, you were a winner. Your console had clear advantages over the competition, and the industry truly thrived on it. This is why most older gamers claim this was the best era in video games, and why some youngers gamers are more attracted to the retro consoles. Nowadays, consoles are so similiar, and play similiar (aside from Nintendo, of course) that the console war of this generation doesn't really seem like a war at all, just a mild teenage arguement.
Sigh, I want the 90s back.