Gamers of the 90s era had to make a choice, SNES or Genesis, and whichever console they chose, they defended it to the death. Even to this day, there are many debates over which 16-bit console is superior.
Well in this guide, we are going to compare the two legendary consoles, and see if we can crown one as the winner of the GOAT battle.
We are going to talk about:
Let’s get started.
A Full Comparison Of SNES and SEGA Genesis
The right combination of hardware can make a console run against powerful, but unbalanced counterparts. And that’s the approach Nintendo took with SNES, it was powered by a 3.58MHz CPU. Which alone itself is not very powerful, but combined with a higher-end graphics, 128KB of RAM and better sound. SNES was the king of hardware specs. It was built like an i3 paired with a GTX 2060, perfectly balanced giving developers more room to work with.
On the other hand, the SEGA Genesis’ hardware was very unbalanced. It was running on a significantly powerful Motorola 68000 CPU running at 7.67 MHz. But it was like pairing an i7 with a GTX 1030. It only had 64KB of RAM and lacked graphical performance when compared to the SNES.
The SNES had a bigger library of games. In any region, almost 700 titles were available to the gamers. The quality of games Nintendo provided is no doubt superior. The SNES already had the Mario franchise, other than that, its games were mostly RPG/Fantasy. These RPGs and platformer heavy hitters were a huge success especially because of the console’s better graphics.
The Genesis shined in having more sport titles, shooters and beat’em ups. If you preferred fighting and sports games, then the Genesis was your console of choice. It’s library had a total of almost 1000 games, which was quite a lot back in the 90s. Sega also had a subscription service called Sega Channel which worked more like present day’s Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now. It was ahead of its time and failed due to Sega’s rush to launch anything.
In terms of graphical performance, the SNES was miles ahead. It had a resolution of 256×224 to 512×448 and could produce 32,768 colors. Along with its higher resolution, it’s sprite size was 64×64 with 128 on screen sprites possible. The SNES was more visually popping with 256 simultaneous colors. It made use of better transparency effects and parallax scrolling.
The Genesis lacked graphical performance on paper, it only had a 320×224 resolution and could display just 512 colors. It’s sprite size was 32×32 with only 80 on screen sprites possible. Genesis was capable of producing no more than 64 simultaneous colors. The sheer amount of CPU power made Genesis feel smoother, but it fell behind the SNES visually.
The SNES controller was Nintendo’s home run. In terms of just aesthetics, the gray and purple controller went well with the console. But it was the button layout that made it a success. The four cross-styled buttons, paired with the two shoulder buttons, made the controller revolutionary. The controller’s unique design is still used as a framework on which modern controllers are designed.
Sega improved a lot on the Genesis controller after learning from the NES’ mistakes. It dropped the “select” button of the NES and added a “C” button. The six buttons were great for fighting games but the controller’s layout was overall poor. Many games required pressing multiple buttons at once to perform an action which was difficult to do with this linear layout.
The SNES came with a multi chipset sound system developed by Sony. It was capable of producing 8 channels which was a leap forward coming from NES’ 4 channels. The SNES could produce actual samples. However, the quality of those samples was quite questionable as they were compressed to fit into tiny cartridges and ended up sounding muffled. But still gamers could hear violins, timpani, and other instruments in their games which was a big deal.
The Genesis came with a Yamaha YM2612 chip, a six channel FM synthesizer which produced a much harsher sound and lacked realism in samples. The Genesis sound came across more cleaner and sharper as compared to the SNES. Drums, guitars, synths and overall clarity were its strengths.
With its budget spent on sound and graphics, Nintendo didn’t make SNES very backward compatible, so you couldn’t play NES titles on SNES. There was one forward compatibility in terms of hardware, SNES, N64, GameCube, and Wii all used the same video connector. So swapping between these consoles was convenient.
Sega Genesis was launched with an accessory called the Power Base Converter. With this accessory you could play the entire library of Master System games, including obscure chip games. The support for this accessory was dropped once the Master System was discontinued
Nintendo released the SNES on 9th September, 1991 with a launch price of $199. After 8 years and 49.1 million units sold, Nintendo discontinued the SNES in 1999. Today, you can pick up a Super Nintendo for 180$.
Sega Genesis was released on 14th August, 1989 for 189$. Its titles were also cheaper when compared to the SNES, which makes the Genesis a compelling choice today. It also ran for 8 years and had impressive sales figures at 29 million copies sold. Today, Genesis is being sold for about 140$ which still gives it the edge on pricing.
Overall the SNES was far more superior. It’s better graphics and sound were like nothing else. It outsold Genesis almost 3 to 1. The console gave developers more flexibility which ultimately meant better games for us. The success of RPG games gave the SNES more staying power.
This doesn’t mean Genesis was a flop. It’s sport titles and fighter games were a huge success and are something gamers still talk about. Its competition with the SNES pushed the gaming industry forward and gave us exciting releases and titles.
FAQs About SNES and Genesis
Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on 9th September, 1991 nationwide. Two years earlier, SEGA Genesis was launched on 14th August, 1989 for the North American market.
The SNES vs. Genesis battle sides with SNES when we look at sales figures. Nintendo sold 49.1 million Super NES Consoles while Sega stood 20 million behind with 29 million Genesis sold.
Nintendo does not own Sega. However, they have rights to many Sega games. That’s why you can play some Sega games on Nintendo Switch as well as other Nintendo devices.
Super Nintendo’s advanced music system, developed by Sony, gave it a more realistic sound which was better than Genesis.
Looking at the facts and figures, we believe that SNES is superior to Genesis. It has more games, it looks visually good, sounds more realistic, and its industry-leading controller is the cherry on top.
But still it’s always about the games, playing Street Fighter and Mutant League Hockey on Genesis is still a one of a kind experience. So it doesn’t matter which console is better, both Genesis and SNES gathered a never dying fandom which loves to talk about them to this day.