Think arguing over a Playstation 4 Vs. XBox One is a rough go? Pish posh, my good friend. Try the early 1990s console wars of the Super NES vs. Sega Genesis. Things got real, one might say. It was bitter battle with friendships tested and loyalties divided. It’s been reported that Nintendo and Sega executives even got into fist-fights in public. VOTE BELOW:
While Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the game market with the NES, when it came to upgrading to 16-bit by the early 90s for most people, things got a lot dicier. The Super NES should’ve probably have been the easy decision, but Sega had no intention of making things so easy.
The Genesis (known as the Mega Drive in Japan and Europe) had launched two years prior to the Super NES in the West. And while it was finding a bit of traction, the Genny was still deemed a non-threat to Nintendo. In 1991, just as the Super NES was gearing up to launch in North America, Sega would finally land a blow on Nintendo. Sonic the Hedgehog, which was the first successful “rival” to Mario, and it became a big hit.
Not that the Super NES was any push over. It had one of the greatest game libraries of all time, with Nintendo themselves and partners like Rareware and Squaresoft operating at peaks that are still looked at in awe today.
Sega countered with great games of their own and flashy MTV-centric “90s-attitude” marketing that attacked Nintendo relentlessly. So what ensued was a harsh, neck and neck battle between the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
The Super NES had Street Fighter II. Until the Genesis got Street Fighter II Champion Edition. But wait, the Super NES got Super Fighter II Turbo. And on it went.
Sega had Mortal Kombat with blood and fatalities. The censored Super NES version only had sweat and lame finishers. But wait, Nintendo just a year later would relent and allow full blood in Mortal Kombat II and introduce their own hyper-violent fighter in Killer Instinct.
Of course that put kids in a tough position. You didn’t want to have a console different from your buds, because then you couldn’t borrow games from each other (particularly important with games routinely being $70+ a pop … which would be $1029 in today’s currency).
I guess you could have bought both, but the reality for most gamers at that time was your parents were buying you only one or the other. You were damn lucky to get either one at all since your parents would be quite happy with you just be playing “your old damn Nintendo” from 1988 for the rest of your childhood (at which point you were presumably supposed to stop playing silly video games and go get a real job).
SO WHICH SYSTEM WAS BETTER?
OK this is a tough one, even with hindsight. The Genesis might arguably have left a larger legacy foot print by being the first system to really try to market at a somewhat older audience, something Nintendo would themselves copy with their “Play It Loud” ad campaign later on, and the Playstation and XBox brands would also pick up on.
And the Genesis certainly had a spectacular library, tons of great games. Plenty of third party games available on both systems.
But in a “you’re-stuck-on-a-desert-island-and-can-only-have-one” winner takes all, our pick is the Super NES. Not only was Nintendo pumping out classic after classic from Super Mario World to Earthbound, but you also had Squaresoft and Rareware making their impact felt and Nintendo still had primary support of companies like Capcom and Konami. The relative lack of success for the Sega CD and especially the ill-fated Sega 32X was problematic for Sega as well.
The best answer would be to own both but that as we said wasn’t an option for most of us growing up at that time. But if you could have done that, more power to ya.
Of course, today Mario and Sonic are the best of the pals, something that would’ve been unthinkable back in those days. Sega would eventually bow out of the console race by the early 2000s, and eventually Sonic himself would not only show up on Nintendo systems but even team up with Mario in certain games.
But we still miss those Nintendo Vs. Sega battles. We hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to get back to trying to find a damn Super NES Classic … LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD! TAKE THE POLL AND LEAVE A COMMENT!