The 16bit console war may be the original fanboy war in videogame culture. At least, it is the first one which resonated with many people, and that is reflected in its legacy today. Despite the Genesis and SNES being replaced by their successors more than 20 years later, this topic will still incite controversy whenever it happens.
So, I predict that this blog will also get the same reactions, and I actually welcome that. The impassioned argument for fans sometimes gets you to look at things from different perspective.
In the playground, we saw blood
After reviewing a top 100 list of the SNES and a top 100 list of the Genesis, I think I am now qualified to make a fairly objective judgment on this chapter in the ridiculous console wars. While I confess my bias towards the SNES, I have probably put in more hours reviewing Genesis games than I did for Nintendo’s console. I have no cause to be biased here, and my judgment is based purely on the games.
Yes, this comparison has nothing to do with the technical aspects between the two consoles. The 16bit generation is already over, and we do not care what each console was capable off. This comparison is based purely on the games released on each console.
In my opinion, console can be compared on three categories:
Top 10 Games:
Personally, I believe that any console with 10 must play games is a worthy purchase. That belief is why I don’t regret buying a Wii U. It is also why a console can have an edge over others. Simply, I think that especially for adults, time is the most valuable resource. Which is why the top 10 games of a system can be a bigger attraction to those with limited time.
I already chose a top 10 list for the SNES and another for the Genesis.
After reviewing these lists again, it is very obvious that the top 10 games for the SNES are simply superior. Other than Shining Force II, and maybe Sonic 2, I wouldn’t put any other Genesis game in a shared Top 10 list.
The above image doeasn't even have enough representation of the top games in the system
Games like Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World, Super Mario RPG, Mega Man X and Terranigma are unequaled on the Genesis. Both in scope and execution, the games on Nintendo’s console showcased a timeless design that makes the must play games even today.
In the other hand, the top 10 Genesis games are undoubtedly very good games. However, they lack the ambition of the SNES’s best games, and now appear to be more dated as a result.
The Rest of the Library:
Outside of the top 10, you are looking at a console’s variety of games as well as the number of good games out there. Generally, a console would struggle to get 100 good games, and that shows in my review of the top 100 games of the Genesis and the SNES. Even in their famous Genesis does what Nintendon’t commercial, Sega featured games that are fairly forgotten now.
Seriously, none of these games are remotely good reasons to choose the Genesis over the SNES
Yet, even in this comparison, the SNES comes out top. A shared top 200 games list may have equal number of SNES and Genesis games, but the SNES games would average higher. Nintendo, Capcom, Squaresoft, and Konami all had very good games on the SNES that were exclusive to it.
In the other hand, Sega did not get the same level of quality 3rd party support, and Sega simply were not as good a developer as Nintendo was.
Ports generally went either way; some being better on the Genesis and some markedly worse. Arcade ports were usually much better on the Genesis, but I consider those games to be less priority in the grand scheme of things.
The real killer is that the SNES’s top games can go up to 30 games, while I thought the Genesis really stops at 20 top games (if even that).
This final category is to see how well the console caters to different people and different tastes. There is no escaping the fact that your console of choice is probably more a subjective choice than an objective one. One reason for that is maybe how well the console caters to your specific case.
In this case, these two consoles do not overlap much in terms of genre focus.
A similar poster for the SNES would showcase focus on different genres
The SNES is clearly better in Platformers, RPGs, Action Adventure games. While the Genesis is clearly better with Arcade Ports, Action games, and Shmups. In other genres, there is more overlap. I think that the SNES has an edge in Fighting games for example, but both consoles have nothing against the Neo Geo.
Ultimately, since I have not reviewed other genres of games, I can’t definitely say that the SNES has better variety of genres than the Genesis. Clearly, Sega effectively catered to a different audience.
Considering its amazing library of great games, the SNES manages to clearly be better than the Genesis. Its games are more ambitious, and it has a higher number of high quality titles. Games like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, and Super Mario World are all time greats, and that’s truly the edge between the two consoles.
The 16bit generation probably wouldn’t be remembered as much if not for the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega. I think that Sega’s excellent marketing contributed greatly to making this probably the closest console war we would ever see, which was then undone by some pretty terrible decisions in their end.
As for Nintendo, the whole thing greatly exposed the chinks in their armor that Sony would then effectively stab through. If anything, the SNES actually failed to reach its full potential and effectively succeed the NES.
It was a great generation with plenty of great games, regardless of which side in the isle you are. Note though, that there is really one correct position to stand in, and there are no loop-de-looping around in it.
Mario and Sonic would never be in a game togethe, NEVER