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Super Nintendo VS. Sega Genesis – Specs

Super Nintendo VS. Sega Genesis – Specs

Whether you do or do not remember the Great Console War of the early 1990s is irrelevant. The sad part is that your grade school history books failed to educate you on this ever-public yet widely forgotten bloody battle. Families lost their mothers and fathers to extended hours, marketing wars, and overtime labor. Yet you sit on your couch everyday playing your PlayStation 4s and Xbox Ones without a single care for the countless war heroes who fought for the future of video gaming. Shame on you.

But if you are like me, and you remember the school bus and playground battles over Sonic vs Mario, then you understand the importance of this very specific and most epic hardware battle. Recently these events have resurfaced and people are beginning to remember again. Books, documentaries, and even a big budget movie keep the war’s rich history relevant and alive. If you weren’t there when it was going down, that’s okay, there are plenty of opportunities for you to learn.


To be fairly honest, I don’t really feel like diving all that deep into the whole history of The Console War. It’s pretty intense. It’s a rich story with plenty of jaw-dropping moments. While Nintendo would be the eventual victor, numerous companies battled valiantly. NEC with their Turbografx/PC Engine, Sega with their Mega-Drive/Genesis, Nintendo with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, SNK with the costly Neo Geo, and although released a little late in the game, Atari with their “64 bit” Jaguar system (which is arguably an early fifth generation entry instead of a late fourth generation).

The Atari was a complete flop, so that’s not even going to be in discussion here. NEC’s Turbografx-16 (TG16) – AKA PC Engine and PC Engine Duo – are very impressive pieces of hardware. The TG16 may have been a commercial failure in the US, but it was a smash success in Japan and remains a loyally beloved gaming system to this day. The SNK Neo Geo was easily the most powerful home system of the bunch, but at $600+ for the console and $200+ per game, it was a longshot to outsell its competitors. Regardless, the Neo Geo sold modestly well and actually received support all the way into the mid/late 2000s! So while each system had their successes in their own special ways, we will be focusing on the main battle between Sega and Nintendo. None of the other systems could even touch the worldwide success of Sega or Nintendo in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And if you want a full detailed history, there are some great documentaries you can watch and online articles you can read. For all intents and purposes here, I will be focusing on the specs of the Genesis and the SNES.

snes opened up


CPU Bits 16 16
CPU Speed Approx. 2.68 MHz 7.67 MHz
RAM 128 KB 64 KB
Internal ROM No 1 MB (later models only)


Colors Possible 32,768 512 (flickering allows illusion of more)
Simultaneous Colors Possible 256 64
Onscreen Planes 1 – 4 layers with varying uses, depending on mode in use 2 scrolling layers, 1 sprite layer, 1 window plane
Maximum Sprite Size 64×64 32×32
Maximum Simultaneous Sprites 128 80
Display Resolution From 256×224 to 512×448 320×224


Sound Processor Bits 8 8
Sound RAM 64 KB 8 KB
Audio 8 channels, stereo 6 channels, stereo
Synthesizer No Yes


Headphone Output No Yes, Model 1 only
Backward Compatibility No Yes, with converter
Add-ons capability Yes, although none were released for public sale. Yes: Sega CD, 32X


The verdict on which system was the best is truly one’s own opinion. Sega bested Nintendo in some intangibles such as marketing, but Nintendo stuck to their guns and continued churning out quality game after quality game. The Genesis was famous for its “blast processing” which allowed the hardware to handle faster action games like Sonic and Streets of Rage, but that whole gimmick really just allowed Sega to claim the Nintendo was “slow.” But if you play SNES games like F-Zero or Street Fighter II Turbo, you can see that it was anything but slow. The SNES was just a little slower than the Genesis, that’s all. “Blast Processing” aside, the Super Nintendo pretty much dominated the Genesis in just about every other category.snes_vs_sega___toy_story___by_elias1986

If hardware technical specs were the only measuring point of a manufacturer’s prowess, the Neo Geo and 3DO would probably be thought of as the best systems of their time. Hell, even the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx were in some respects “better” than the Nintendo Game Boy! But the point I’m trying to make here is that a gaming system is ONLY as good as its games. And the Super Nintendo EASILY dominated the entire market when it came to quality games. Hell, you can find at least TEN Super Nintendo games on any Top 100 Best Games of All Times lists, which is an impressive feat! That’s 10% of the list… Out of tens of thousands of video games made! The Sega Genesis cannot say as much.

Despite the final sales numbers which saw Nintendo outsell Sega by almost 2 to 1 (approximately 50 million sold vs 30 million sold), Sega put up a remarkable fight. The Genesis is home to many great games and franchises, and had Sega actually stayed on their current path instead of creating shoddy add-on peripherals the likes of the 32X or Sega CD, it is very possible that those numbers could have been much closer. I still believe the Super Nintendo would have won regardless due to their abundance of legendary games.

This is the mess you deal with when you have a Genesis, Sega-CD, 32X, and TV hooked up at once.... WTF SEGA

This is the mess you deal with when you have a Genesis, Sega-CD, 32X, and TV hooked up at once…. WTF SEGA

Overall, it is widely believed that the Super Nintendo was the better of the two systems, but the truth of the matter is that it is solely based on opinion. When I say “widely believed,” I am referring to the people I have asked. I have asked industry professionals, gaming enthusiasts, retro game collectors, and your everyday casual fan, and just about every single person is in favor of the Super Nintendo. I am a big Sega nerd, and I absolutely LOVE me some Sega Genesis, but I can’t deny that the Super Nintendo is really a fantastic piece of hardware with some of the best games I have ever played. Just about every great SNES game is better than just about every great Genesis game. Despite the back and forth battle of which system is better, the real victor is the fans! Competition fuels greatness!

*I’m not even going to pretend that I am capable of determining any of this information with my own investigation. I play the systems and I occasionally take them apart to fix random parts. That’s pretty much it. So this information was gathered from a variety of websites via my research. What I looked for in determining that the information was factual was by comparing it to multiple credible sources. PLEASE INFORM ME IF ANYTHING IS INACCURATE AND PROVIDE RESOURCES SO I CAN UPDATE THIS MESS.


Winning the Console Wars – An In-Depth Architectural Study

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Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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One Comment

  1. Great and objective review, I like it! I’m not very fond of the mainstream Nintendo fanboyism, however you’re entirely right; SNES had some truly awesome games (the graphically improved NES Mario series, for example). I like Genesis more, though, like all underappricated consoles.


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