Sega Genesis vs Super Nintendo

1 2 3 4


Lifespan: 1989-1996
CPU: 7.67 MHz 16/32-bit 680005
Co-Processors: 3.58 MHz Z80 (Audio/SMS):
Can write to 68000's Work RAM6
Can access cartridge's ROM data7
Texas Instruments 76489 (PSG Audio):
4 Channels 8
Yamaha 2612 (FM Audio):9
6 Channels:
One 8-bit Stereo Digital Audio Channel (DAC) replaces one FM channel 10
10 Audio Channels total
Output Frequency: 52 kHz
Video Processing: VDP
Master System Compatibility 11
Hardware Shadow and Lighting 12
Direct Memory Access (DMA):
Transfer Rate: 7.2 KB per 1/60th second13
 Resolutions: 256x224, 320x224, 320x448 14
Work RAM: 64 KB
Video RAM: 64 KB
Video RAM Bandwidth: H32 Mode: 166.0 bytes per line1516
H40 Mode: 204.0 bytes per line1718
Audio RAM: 8KB
Color RAM: 72 Bytes 19
VSRAM: 40 Bytes 20
Colors On Screen: 61 (30-75 in game, average 50) 21 22
Color Palette: 512
Sprite Max & Sizes: 80 sprites at 320x224
64 sprites at 256x22423
Sprite Sizes:
8x8, 8x16, 8x24, 8x32
16x8, 16x16, 16x24, 16x32
24x8, 24x16, 24x24, 24x32
32x8, 32x16, 32x24, 32x32 24
Sprites per Scanline: 20 at 320x224, 16 at 256x224 25
Background Planes: 2 layers with 16 colors per 8x8 pixel tile26
VDP handles scrolling as single planes, independently scrolling 8 line rows, and independently scrolling lines.27
Each 8 line row can can be displayed over or under others. 28
Storage: Cartridge up to 32 Mbit (4 MByte)
Bankswitch method allows more than 32 Mbit of storage.29

Capacity chronology30:
1988: Osomatsu-kun: Hachamecha Gekijou (2 Mbit), Space Harrier II (4 Mbit).
1989: Daimakaimura (5 Mbit),

Phantasy Star II (6 Mbit).

1990: Columns (1 Mbit), Strider Hiryu (8 Mbit).
1991: Star Control (12 Mbit).
1992: LandStalker (16 Mbit).
1993: Street Fighter II': Special Champion Edition (24 Mbit).
1994: Panorama Cotton (20 Mbit), Saturday Night Slam Masters (32 Mbit), Sonic 3 & Knuckles (32 Mbit) (Lock-On Technology), Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (40 Mbit) (Bankswitching Method).
2010: Pier Solar and the Great Architects (64 Mbit).

Revenge of Shinobi - Genesis - 1989

  31 32 33 34 35


Lifespan: 1991-1997
CPU: 3.58 MHz 16-bit 65c816 36
6502 Compatibility (unused)
Co-Processors: SPC700 (Sound CPU)
S-DSP (Sound Generator)
8 Digital Audio Channels
Independent Stereo Panning (per channel)37
Filters for audio smoothing and echo 38
Compressed audio decoding 39
Output Frequency: 32 kHz
Video Processing: PPU 1
PPU 2 (On the same chip) 40
Transfer Rate: 5.72 KB per 1/60th second shared by 8 Channels 41
Used for per line updates 42
Resolution: 256x224, 256x448, 512x224, 512x448 43
Work RAM: 128 KB
Video RAM: 64 KB
Video RAM Bandwidth: 170.5 bytes per line44
Audio RAM: 64 KB
Sprite RAM: 512 + 32 bytes 45
Color RAM: 512 Bytes 46
Colors On Screen: 240-256 47 48
(90-150 average in game)
Color Palette: 32,768
Sprite Max & Size: 128 sprites at:
8x8 & 16x16, 8x8 & 32x32, 8x8 & 64x64, 16x16 & 32x32, 16x16 & 64x64, 32x32 & 64x64, 16x32 & 32x64, 16x32 & 32x32 49
Sprites per Scanline: 32, 34 8x8 tiles, 256 sprite pixels per line 50
Background Planes: Eight Modes Numbered 0 - 7
4 (96-colors, 24 per background, 3/tile)
3 (two 120-colors, one 24-colors)
2 (120-colors)
2 (240-colors, 120-colors)
2 (240-colors, 24-colors)
2 (120-colors, 24-colors, interlaced)
1 (120-colors, interlaced)
1 (255-color, scaled, rotated, etc) 51
Storage: Cartridge up to 32 Mbit (4 MByte)
• Tales of Phantasia (1995) (48 Mbit)
• Star Ocean (1996) (48 Mbit)
Average: 8 Mbit ('91), 16-32 Mbit ('92-'97)




SUPER Castlevania IV - SNES - 1991

      It is demonstrable that the SNES could actually display 2-3 times the colors on screen, while the Genesis could display 2-3 times the sprites and independently scrolling 2D planes. The SNES also could scale and rotate one 256 color plane, which could be made to look like large objects such as Bowser in Super Mario World or the Bomber in the first level of Contra IV.  Alternately, games on the Genesis typically ran with less slowdown, featured faster scrolling levels, "tilted" sprites and backgrounds, and featured more custom special effects like scaling backgrounds and fully polygonal gameplay without any cart loaded processors. The Genesis' software effects are best seen in Contra Hard Corp, Castlevania Bloodlines, Batman and Robin, Ranger X, Sonic 3D Blast's bonus levels, LHX Attack Chopper, and Red Zone, for starters.

     Much as was the case with the NES library, the Super Nintendo saw full fledged releases for several years after the Genesis was discontinued.  Combined with the SNES's dominance in Japan, the system consequently had a larger worldwide library by the end of its cycle. Because Square and Enix released their titles exclusively, the SNES has a greater number of  RPGs available for it in the US. 

     Despite superficial marketing tactics, the battle between NEC, Sega and Nintendo produced a wide variety of exclusive and critically acclaimed games for each platform.  The Genesis has the largest library, and eventually gained the most third party support, of any Sega console. The Genesis' action genre is packed with arcade ports and unique home offerings like the Shinobi and Streets of Rage series.  Yet the Genesis was also home to exclusive Sega RPGs like Sword of Vermillion, Phantasy Star 1-4, Shining in the Darkness, and Shining Force 1+2, amongst other notable series like Super Hydlide, Ys, and Dungeons & Dragons. Lunar the Silver Star, Lunar Eternal Blue and Vay, along with other Working Design’s localization efforts of Game Art’s games, were also released on the Sega CD.

     Regrettably, popular history uses the same measuring stick for all success stories. Sales is what most ill advised people look to in order to validate or invalidate their purchase decisions and sales is what the media is biased towards. The Genesis outsold the SNES in the US overall up until its discontinuation in 1995. The SNES managed to more than catch up in the two years before the Nintendo 64 took hold. The SNES clearly won out in sales worldwide and software sales in every region.

     The truly important thing is that the war between the two companies produced some of the best games to ever be made. The game player that has only owned one system to the exclusion of the other has definitely lost out. What is worse is that in the new millenium the entire industry is bent toward anti-competative corporations.  The preference for Mega-Corporations and Mega-Publishers are reflected by the media's excessively positive portrayal of the Super Nintendo. 


  1. 1. Sam Pettus, "SegaBase Volume 3 - Megadrive / Genesis 'Sega MK-1601'," (January 23, 2007, accessed March 31, 2010) available from ( November 7, 2007).
  2. 2. Samuel N. Hart, A Brief History of Home Video Games: Sega Genesis, Geek Comix ( June 16, 2008).
  3. 3. Legacy Sega Consoles: Sega Genesis, Sega of America ( December 8, 2002).
  4. 4. PC Vs Console - Console Specs (4th Generation), ( March 15, 2008).
  5. 5. Up to 32-bit processes internally, 16-bit data bus, Programer's Reference Manual M68000PM/AD Rev.1.
  6. 6. Are we sure MD Z80 can't write to M68K RAM? NCS does it....
  7. 7. Sega Genesis Manual.
  8. 8. 3 tone generators and 1 white noise, "Nemesis," GENESIS Technical Overview 1.00, (accessed April 1, 2010),  119.
  9. 9. Frequency Modulation is synthesized audio like PSG but considerably more complex.
  10. 10. Must be timed correctly  in software to allow 5 FM Channels to play with digital audio (Street Fighter II:CE plays multiple digital audio channels simultaneously), "Nemesis," GENESIS Technical Overview 1.00, 92.
  11. 11. Charles MacDonald,  E-mail || Homepage, Sega Genesis VDP documentation Version 1.5f (genvdp.txt)  $01 - Mode Set Register No. 2, (August 10, 2000, accessed March 11, 2010), available from; internet.
  12. 12. MacDonald,  genvdp.txt, 16.) Shadow / Hilight mode.
  13. 13. Speed at which data in RAM can be transferred to VRAM,"Nemesis," GENESIS Technical Overview 1.00, 45.
  14. 14. Interlaced double resolution mode, used in Sonic 2 splitscreen 2-player.
  15. 15. Advantages of SNES hardware vs. Genesis hardware
  16. 16. Advantages of SNES hardware vs. Genesis hardware
  17. 17. Advantages of SNES hardware vs. Genesis hardware
  18. 18. Advantages of SNES hardware vs. Genesis hardware
  19. 19. 64x9 bits, MacDonald,  genvdp.txt, 9.) CRAM.
  20. 20. Vertical scroll RAM, 40x10 bits, MacDonald, genvdp.txt, 10.) VSRAM.
  21. 21. four 15-color palettes plus one background color
  22. 22. Direct 9-bit RGB (512 colors) available at half horizontal resolution, 160x224 or 128x224 visible, "Oerg866," "Nemesis" and "Chilly Willy," "Direct Color Demo using DMA,", accessed March 1, 2013,
  23. 23. MacDonald, genvdp.txt, 15.) Sprites
  24. 24. "Nemesis," GENESIS Technical Overview 1.00, 13.
  25. 25. MacDonald, genvdp.txt, Sprite Drawing Limitations.
  26. 26. Each tile shares colors from four 15 color palettes between the background and sprite layers, MacDonald, genvdp.txt, $0B - Mode Set Register No. 3.
  27. 27. MacDonald, genvdp.txt, $0B - Mode Set Register No. 3.
  28. 28. Hardware function of the VDP, MacDonald, genvdp.txt,  14.) Priority.
  29. 29.
  30. 30. game sizes chronology & first 32 meg cart?
  31. 31. Samuel N. Hart, A Brief History of Home Video Games: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Geek Comix ( February 7, 2008).
  32. 32. Nintendo - Super NES - Detailed Specs, Nintendo of America ( June 27, 2001).
  33. 33. PC Vs Console - Console Specs (4th Generation), ( March 15, 2008).
  34. 34. Usenet, Rec.Games.Video, Ralph Barbagallo, SNES Hardware (January 19, 1992, accessed April 2, 2010) available from; internet.
  35. 35. Super NES Programming/SNES Specs, (October 29, 2007, June 14, 2008) available from
  36. 36. 1.56 MHz or 2.68 MHz in some software,  Hardware.txt, available from, 65c816
  37. 37. SPC-700 Programming Information.
  38. 38. Anomie's S-DSP Doc version WIP (e-mail) (apudsp.txt), (October 13, 2005, accessed April 8, 2010).
  39. 39. "Ledi" and "Peekin", Super Famicomm Sound Manual NOA-SFX-04/15/90 (sfsound.txt), (October 15, 2001, accessed April 9, 2010), available from
  40. 40. PPU is is called a single processor in all other documentation, Kevin Neviksti, SNES memory map and MAD-1 chip information (SNES_MemMap.txt), (accessed April 23, 2010) available from
  41. 41. 2.68MB divided by 8 (channels) divided by / 60 (frames per second), DMA occurs during VBLANK, Super NES Programming/SNES Specs, Direct memory access unit.
  42. 42. Uses DMA channels, Hardware.txt,  H-DMA
  43. 43. 448 and 478 line modes are interlaced, Qwertie, Combined Registers Document (combined.txt), Screen mode/video select register [SETINI] (accessed on April 8, 2010).
  44. 44. Advantages of SNES hardware vs. Genesis hardware
  45. 45. Super NES Programming/SNES Specs, Video RAM.
  46. 46. Each color uses 2 bytes, David Piepgrass, Qwertie's SNES Documentation Plus DMA Revision 6 (2.1),  Color Palettes, (1998, accessed April 5, 2010) available from ( July 12, 2007).
  47. 47. eight 15 color background palettes, eight 15 color sprite palettes in most common graphic modes, Charles MacDonald,  E-mail || Homepage, SNES hardware notes (snestech.txt), CGRAM, (September 17, 2003, accessed March 11, 2010), available from
  48. 48. 2048 Colors are technically possible using Direct Color Mode, Hardware.txt, Direct Colour Mode.
  49. 49. snestech.txt, Sprites
  50. 50. Super NES Programming/SNES Specs, Maximum onscreen objects (sprites).
  51. 51. 4 backgrounds limits colors per tile (8x8 pixels) to 3-colors whereas other modes are 15-colors per tile, adapted from Qwertie's SNES Documentation, Register $2105: Screen mode register (1b/W).

1989-1990: Competing with Speculation

      Super Monaco GP - 4 Megabit - Genesis - 1990Summer 1989, before NEC and Sega launched their 16-bit consoles, "Shooter" meant flying an advanced space craft against an evil armada and Nintendo, which owned ninety percent of the worldwide video game market, signified "video game."1  Before Fall, NEC focused its audience on the technical prowess of its newly dubbed TurboGrafx-16 and the merits of "16-bit gaming."2 NEC was not alone in advertising the generational leap, Sega also focused on a single characteristic turned marketing term for its new console, "16-bit."3  Undaunted, Nintendo Power, a magazine owned and operated by Nintendo, continued as it had for more than a year promoting Nintendo Entertainment System and then Gameboy portable games.  Video game magazine start-ups Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and Gamepro, however, mutually thrived on rumors and speculation about new hardware.  In the same issues that extolled, for the first time, the soon-to-be released Genesis and TG16, both magazines devoted equal space to a "super" system from Nintendo.4 5  This represents an unprecedented public relations campaign for a game console that barely existed as a prototype. 

     F-Zero - 4 Megabit - SNES - 1991Marketing hype did not only affect video game related magazines.  Journalist David Sheff, who authored Game Over in 1993, described most of the TurboGrafx game library as "not fun" or "unexceptional" to explain why the system's sales lagged behind competitors.  Sheff also stated "the best entertainment-software companies were too busy making Nintendo games to bother making ones for TurboGrafx."6 Dismissing the early Genesis library as "sports games and arcade knockoffs," Sheff explained that Genesis developers created "great-looking games ... but not great-playing games."7  Sheff's analysis reflects the majoritarian view in the game industry from the late 1990s on, and is probably a result of his many developer and executive interviews rather than personal play time.  Yet game reviews, and press coverage in general, were consistently more positive of the Genesis and TG16 than they were of Nintendo's NES from 1989 and 1990.

     Emblazoned on the November 1989 cover of EGM was a close up screen image of Sega's award winning Ghouls n' Ghosts conversion for Genesis and a stamp reading "SEGA * SEGA: More Master System More Genesis."  Steve Harris, Editor and Publisher of EGM, was pressured enough by readers to introduce his fourth issue excusing his magazine's tendency for Nintendo content.8  Harris also dedicated one fifth of his editorial to "owners of other machines" such as the TG16, and Atari systems.  David White, an Associate Editor for EGM, maintained in the same issue that a "video game system is only as good as the games it plays" and asserted the TurboGrafx was the one system that stood above the crowd in this respect.9  In addition to reminding his audience of the ease of localizing successful PC-Engine titles to the TG16, White also began his Sega Genesis editorial with a full page about Sega Master System compatibility.10

      Fall 1989 issues of Game Player's, a long running electronics magazine, dedicated dozens of pages to NES software and news, but had much to say about 16-bit consoles and their games.  In a multi-page spread, Editor-In-Chief Tom Halfhill argued the merits of Sega's Altered Beast, which was a pack in game for the Genesis.  Among his qualifications for "true arcade quality in your living room" Halfhill listed detailed and colorful screens that include multiple scroll layers, which he asserted "create an illusion of three dimensions."  Smoothness and speed of character animation, "voice synthesis and stereo sound," and two player cooperative play were also listed as next-generation advantages due to "advanced computer chips inside the Genesis."11  Halfhill used similar terms when discussing the TurboGrafx CD-ROM add-on.12  Like EGM's David White though, Halfhill reasoned the merits of 16-bit gaming primarily in the context of game quality and reminded his audience that licensed games boosted console sales more than graphic and sound quality.13 

     Even in the new millennium, gameplay related comments on the Internet shine a dim light on at least three dozen worthwhile games released for the Genesis and nearly sixty for the TG16 by the end of their first full year.14  Among these games' developers were Data East, Hudson, Irem, Namco, NCS, and Victor for NEC's console and Asmik, Sunsoft, Electronic Arts, and Renovation for Genesis.  Even without NEC and Sega's own offerings, these early third parties contributed greatly to the launch and first year libraries of both 16-bit consoles.  Nintendo's NES had a monopoly on software developers and sales during these formative years, but exclusive and well received software was shared by all three of these game consoles. 

After Burner II - 4 Megabit - Genesis - 1990     Gamepro accordingly progressed from its premier issue moniker "The Nintendo, Sega, and Atari Video Game Magazine," to include TurboGrafx, Genesis and Gameboy by the beginning of 1990.  All game magazines were still subject to the dominant force in the industry.  The majority of all game magazine advertisements in Gamepro and EGM during 1990 were for NES software, but majority rule affected EGM far more than Gamepro.  EGM's Steve Harris contended, in summer of 1990, for his magazine's multi-platform objectivity even while he defended its position that the Genesis had proven itself "better" than the TurboGrafx-16.15  In the same issue that Harris argued EGM's judgments were exclusively about published games, EGM declared the still unnamed Super Nintendo "superior to anything that has every (sic) before been created." 16 

     Nintendo's brand and largely incorrect hardware specifications was the only proof EGM needed of the SNES's preeminence.  Harris' magazine listed the rarely used 512x448 interlaced resolution and 256 color modes for the SNES as though they would be used in the average game.  A six page spread printed in EGM's December issue dubbed the Super Nintendo as "the ultimate in 16-Bit gaming" even before its Japanese launch.17  Gamepro, which had a special section every issue titled "The Cutting Edge," notably lacked any pre-launch editorials of the "ultimate" 16-bit console after its second issue back in 1989. 

After Burner II
- 4 Megabit - PC-Engine (Japan) - 1990     Notable hardware, like NEC's portable TurboGrafx-16 the Turbo Express, were given full attention by Gamepro but suffered attached editorials about the Super Nintendo in EGM.18 19  As a result of these two magazines' competing views all three console manufacturers received much needed free publicity.  EGM reasonably presumed that the next Nintendo console would take over when it was eventually released.  Gamepro, which apparently was not sending representatives to Japan at the time, represented a more impartial exposition of new games and hardware.  Only the next year could tell what the American public actually wanted, but it was evident by the end of 1990 that Nintendo was losing its hold on the US game console industry.

  1. 1. David Sheff, Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children (New York: Random House, 1993), 349.
  2. 2. Sheff, Game Over, 351.
  3. 3. Steven L. Kent, The Ultimate History of Video Games (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001), 401.
  4. 4. Steve Harris, "The Amazing Super Nintendo," Electronic Gaming Monthly, August 1989, 39.
  5. 5. Steve Massey, "The Cutting Edge: Super Famicom. The Next Generation from Nintendo," Gamepro, July 1989, 13.
  6. 6. Sheff, Game Over, 351-52
  7. 7. Sheff, Game Over, 355
  8. 8. Steve Harris, "insert coin: You Asked For It, You Got It... More Sega!!!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1989, 6.
  9. 9. David White, "Turbo Champ: TurboGrafx Explodes With Games!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1989, 64.
  10. 10. David White, "Outpost: Genesis, The Master System Lives On!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1989, 70.
  11. 11. Tom R. Halfhill, "Altered Beast: Arcade Action On The Genesis," Game Player's, October 1989, 42-44.
  12. 12. Halfhill, "NEC's TurboGrafx-16 CD: Plenty Of Potential," Game Player's, October 1989, 18-22.
  13. 13. Halfhill, "The EDITORS VIEW," Game Player's, November 1989, 4.
  14. 14. Notable Games: 1989-1990,
  15. 15. Steve Harris, "The Genesis/Turbo Debate Concludes...," Electronic Gaming Monthly, July 1990, 6.
  16. 16. "Super Famicom Update ... 16-Bit Nintendo Close To Production!!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, July 1990, 29.
  17. 17. "Super Famicom Special," Electronic Gaming Monthly Presents the 1991 Video Game Buyer's Guide, December 1990, 28.
  18. 18. "The Whizz," "The Cutting Edge: The TurboExpress Handleld System," Gamepro, August 1990, 18.
  19. 19. NEC To Show Turbo Express at CES...First On-Hands Tests Reveal Superiority," Electronic Gaming Monthly, July 1990, 30.

1991: Hype vs Reality

  Streets of Rage - 4 Megabit - Genesis - 1991   Not until March 1991 did issues of Gamepro and Game Players dedicate an editorial to the Super Nintendo.  Unlike EGM's numerous articles comparing specifications provided by marketing departments, both Gamepro and Game Player's focused on the games that had already been released in Japan.  Gamepro exhibited pictures of Super Mario World, F-Zero and Final Fight, while pointing squarely at the "massive support by third-party licensees" as the system's biggest advantage.1  Game Player's Tom Halfhill argued similarly that launch games for the Super Famicom, which was the console's final name in Japan, could have been made as well on the Genesis and TG16.  Crassly dismissing exaggerated maximum color count and resolution differences for each system, Halfhill concluded "quality software and clever marketing are more likely to carry the day." 2  Marketing influenced more than the sales of these consoles or their games, it created the popular perception about the machines' capabilities and the quality of their libraries.

    Super Double Dragon - 8 Megabit - SNES - 1992All game magazines that mentioned the Super Nintendo prior to its US launch noted something about its games displaying more colors on screen, but they disagreed on how significant the gap was.  This disparity in journalist reviews was probably most influenced by the outputs and target of each of these system's graphics.  TurboGrafx, Genesis and SNES consoles were packaged with RF cables intended for the coaxial cable input of an NTSC television, which was the standard in the US and Japan.  Answering one Phil Kennington in the February 1991 issue, EGM ranked all available output cables for game consoles from RF, to Composite, and finally RGB.  The editor also explained that EGM had to modify the hardware of all of their game consoles to support RGB monitors.

     A consumer who wanted to view their console of choice with anything better than RF cables in 1991 had to buy a brand new television if they wanted to connect with AV Composite cables (Yellow video, with Red and White audio cables).  Composite cables required an investment of twenty dollars in addition to a new television that would also improve cable and VCR quality.  Obtaining a cable compatible with an RGB monitor required an investment of around one hundred dollars and a specialized monitor that cost significantly more than the new televisions being sold in electronics stores.3 EGM admitted that game companies targeted the lower quality outputs that the mass market could buy in stores, which severely impacted how many distinct colors could appear on the consumer's screens.4  Answering similar questions, Gamepro warned one Spanky Smith of Greensville South Carolina that Japanese RGB cables could have been incompatible with US equipment.5

     Unencumbered by pertinent facts, EGM proceeded to advocate the "Super Famicom."  Showing computer generated shots of three dimensional trees in a preview for Hole In One Golf, immediately following a four page promotion for Super Mario World, EGM explained "The Super Fami, with its large color palate(sic), can show shadings that give the illusion of 3-D."  When Hal's Hole In One Golf was actually published that Fall it was notably absent of any three dimensional objects as shown in EGM's preview.6  Hole In One Golf actually does exhibit a unique feature of the Super Nintendo in the same manner of other launch titles.  The SNES's Mode 7 allowed Hole in One Golf a fly by of a very low color two dimensional still image of the courses.  Hole in One's courses were strictly overhead and two dimensional, with a special angled view that rendered the landscape in low detail to show elevation.7 

     During any generation of hardware, effects that the systems handled with the least programming effort are employed in games more often and more uniformly than effects that developers had to hand code.  Mode 7 was marketed by Nintendo, and their allies, to become synonymous with real time scaling and rotation.  Scaling is the term used for simulated zooming of backgrounds or characters, rotation allows the same to turn like a wheel.  Mode 7 could only scale and rotate a single two dimensional background layer, no SNES game scales characters or objects in a Mode 7 scene.  The effect was most often used to "jazz up" certain non-gaming scenes and racing games.  Mode 7 offered nothing that was not technically already being done in similar scenes on other consoles, and was totally trumped by arcade machines from the late 1980s.  The effect had a distinctive look, however, and its frequent use was the most obvious characteristic of Super Nintendo games.  These facts gave Nintendo the ability to easily point out the look and sound of Super Nintendo games and made rumors about the system's technical superiority seem true.

  Reversed TG16/GEN specs, February 1991    Introducing his April issue of EGM, Ed Semrad explained the importance of rumors to his readers and explained game magazines' function as free advertising for game companies.  Semrad was also one of the first editors to print the term "vaporware" in regard to the Nintendo-Sony CD-ROM add-on for the affectionately abbreviated "Super Fami." 8  Even while Semrad lamented that "a very short nondescript press statement" tore the industry's attention from real consoles and games, the editor failed to note how similar that was to EGM's constant coverage of the SNES for the previous two years.  In the previous issue's letter section, one T. Jones wrote that four different Nintendo representatives denied the accuracy of EGM's Super Famicom coverage so vehemently that their words were not fit for print.  EGM responded that everything it had written about the SNES was correct regardless of the facts that the system name, its specifications and even the appearance of its games were significantly different in the final product.9 

     Hardware specifications in the game industry are only the product of marketing.  It is evident from the published comments in all game related media that even the companies themselves were unsure of the technical limitations of their hardware.  Advertising for the "consolized" NEO GEO arcade machine demonstrated the disparity between engineers and marketers very well.  While SNK tried to convey that its arcade-machine-turned-console had "more" of everything, the TurboGrafx and Genesis specifications are reversed in two out of three categories. 

     Nintendo's public relations people out of Japan used similar terms to successfully, if inadvertently, convince EGM's publisher and editor to advertise the Super NES for several years in advance of its launch.  As much as one million of the game industry's core demographic were exposed to EGM's Super Nintendo promotions every month. 10  By tossing out theoretical specifications without regard for television output, and knowing its audience did not have adequate programming knowledge of any system, Nintendo succeeded in establishing its upcoming console as "better" than anything else. 

     As a result of the Super Nintendo's preconceived superiority, the gaming media, retailers and public took an entirely different approach to Nintendo's second console than they did for the 16-bit consoles released two years prior.  Instead of the usual skeptical "wait and see" consumer approach, the SNES might as well have already been a smashing success in all respects.  The Genesis and TurboGrafx saw a couple of months of coverage prior to their US launch, which merely showed off the difference between their graphics and those of 8-bit consoles.  The Super Nintendo, thanks largely to EGM, had seen monthly exposure for two years prior to its launch and enjoyed a full fledged buyer's guide in the August issues of Gamepro and EGM.  Similar guides, that contained reviews, previews and pictures for every game announced for the US were finally published for the two existing 16-bit consoles the same year, which was two years after their US launch.  Unfortunately for Nintendo, the hype failed to carry the NES' dominance into the new generation.

  1. 1. "The Unknown Gamer," "The Cutting Edge: Super Famicom Software," Gamepro, March 1991, 14.
  2. 2. Halfhill, "The Editor's View," Game Player's, March 1991, 4.
  3. 3. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, RGB For Genesis!..," Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1991, 10.
  4. 4. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, SFX, too good for TV??..," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1991, 10.
  5. 5. "The Mail, Making the Connection," Gamepro, December 1991, 14.
  6. 6. "The Super Famicom Times: Hole In One Golf," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1991, 86.
  7. 7. "Fanatic Fan," "Overseas ProSpects," Gamepro, July 1991, 14.
  8. 8. Semrad, "insert coin: The Power of Rumors...," Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1991, 8.
  9. 9. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, No SFX in US.," Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1991, 10-11.
  10. 10. Semrad, "insert coin, 1,000,000 Readers!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, June 1991, 8.

1991: Part 2, Value Propositions

Populous - 4 Megabit - SNES - 1991     Gamepro referred to the SNES library as "fully three-quarters ... upgrades from 8-bit programs," even while it referred to Super Ghouls N Ghosts as a "new generation." 1 Previews of the SNES library over the next five pages were oddly broken up by advertisements, the first two of which featured Genesis games prominently along with their prices.  Over thirty five SNES games were previewed in typical promotional fashion however and almost all of them are made by third parties that owners of Nintendo's first console recognized. 

     Never to be upstaged, EGM dedicated twelve pages to the SNES Buyer's Guide within their August 1991 issue, which posted review scores for sixteen games and previews for thirty four more.  EGM's review system had four separate reviewers rank a game on a scale of one to ten.  The SNES buyer's guide ranked three games with nines and eights, five games scored eights and sevens, and eight more were scored four through six.  That is, half of the SNES games reviewable at launch came recommended by EGM's reviewers, and half were relegated to mediocre or worse.2  

     Populous - Super CD ROM - PCE CD - 1991In addition to amassing a large game library for the Genesis, Sega had debuted two things that summer which stole these magazine's spotlights from Nintendo.  Sonic the Hedgehog and the Mega CD-ROM add-on combined with one hundred and fifty nine other Genesis games were impossible for game magazines, and by reflection consumers, to ignore.3  Sega's CD add-on for the Genesis will be dealt with in more detail in its own section, but its show floor debut in summer of 1991, months from its Japanese release, lent Sega significant media coverage.  Sega also managed to spend more on advertising than ever before, as EGM's October issue contained a 96 page promotion for everything that was licensed for release on the Genesis.4 

     During the Christmas season of 1991 EGM and Gamepro printed reader letters and 16-bit buyer's guides Act Raiser - 8 Megabit - SNES - 1991that defined the game industry as a three way race with Sega and Nintendo roughly equal in all respects.  Reader letters showed a disparity rarely seen in the US game industry over which system carried absolute superiority.  One William Miller of Lawndale California simplistically compared popular Genesis and SNES games, the two system's central processors, and included the Sega CD to conclude "the S-NES is totally lame."  Meanwhile Brian McSwain of Sanford Florida felt that the Sega CD would merely bring the Genesis to equality with the SNES' "graphics, sound, play control and Mode 7."  John Sikes of Detroit Lakes Minnesota assumed that most of the advantages that the Sega CD would provide were already offered by the TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM attachment.  EGM itself responded to Ron Ward of Newark California to point out that the Sega CD would have more RAM than the Turbo CD and would be more proficient at scaling and rotation than the SNES' Mode 7.  Noah Freer of Los Angeles just wrote in to compliment Sega's 96 page advertisement in EGM's October issue.5

     Jewel Master - 4 Megabit - Genesis - 1991Despite the incongruity of comments EGM held nothing back in favor of the Super Nintendo.  In EGM promotion speak the SNES was "unlike any other consumer game system," and it captured "the crisp color and detailed graphics that today's players are demanding."  The magazine also listed the system's advantages as scaling, rotation and audio and its disadvantages as slowdown, flicker, and limited objects on screen.6  That objects on screen observation is particularly important, as the Super NES is supposed to have the strongest "sprite engine" of the three 16-bit consoles by a wide margin.  Whether the cause be its slower CPU or poor programming, SNES games always struggle to put as many characters and objects on screen as top TG16 games.  Genesis games handily beat both the TG16 and SNES libraries in the category of sprites on screen.  In order for the SNES to live up to its prelaunch hype as a "16-bit Mega Monster" and the "Ultimate in 16-bit gaming" these deficiencies needed to be ironed out. 

     Hyperzone - 4 Megabit - SNES - 1991Instead of listing hardware specifications and eyeballing graphical glitches Gamepro listed the prices, described the game libraries and controllers, and forecasted what each system's library would be like in 1992.  The Genesis was listed at $149 with Sonic The Hedgehog and one control pad, another controller brought the total cost to "only $30 less than a Super Nes."  Sega's game library was described as "a terrific mix of licensed character games...sports simulations...arcade action carts...and Weird Funko-Dudes Lost in Outer Space."  Game costs were $45-$60 although "8-megabit role playing games" were $75.  Special note was given to the Power Base Converter, listed at $35, which allowed "backward compatibility with dozens of great 8-bit Master System titles."  Wrapping up, Gamepro assured its readers that the next year would provide even more of the same qualities to the Genesis library, and numbered the total release list at one hundred and fifty nine.7

     Galaxy Force II - 8 Megabit - Genesis - 1991NEC's console was by contrast introduced with a zinger about its 8-bit CPU making it "less advanced" than the Genesis or SNES.  The Turbo CD attachment was brought up only to mention that it was not selling well and that Sega and Nintendo would likely release something similar. The TurboGrafx  retail package cost $99 with one controller and Keith Courage in Alpha Zones.  To which Gamepro complained about why Keith Courage, released in 1989, had not been replaced with the $50 "Mario equivalent" Bonk's Adventure.  Also of note is that the TurboGrafx required an expensive peripheral called the Turbo Booster or Turbo Booster Plus, $35 or $60 respectively, to hook up with newer televisions using Composite A/V cables.  In addition, to play multiplayer games on the TG16 one had to purchase an extra controller at $20 and a TurboTap 5-Player Adapter at $20.8  Assuming that Gamepro was correct to compare the value proposition of each system, the Turbo Booster, TurboTap and an extra controller alone brought the total starting cost to the same as a Genesis with an extra gamepad.  Adding any game from 1991 to the mix sent the total cost of the "entry level" TG16 over $200.9  Gamepro proceeded to trash the TG16's library as limited and quirky to US audiences, before explaining that it had "bottomed out" for players without the CD add-on.  The Turbo CD itself was priced at $299 and its games cost between $19 and $62.  The total library for the TurboGrafx-16 and the Turbo CD at the end of 1991 was reported to be sixty-seven "regular games" and fourteen CD games.10

     Hole in One Golf - 8 Megabit - SNES - 1991The Super Nintendo segment placed it at the "top-of-the-line price of $199.95," which included Super Mario World and two controllers.  The Genesis and TG16 controllers were described in the previous sections, with the Genesis pad having a total of three "fire buttons" a start button and a directional pad and the TG16 pad being "the same as the NES."  The SNES pad was conversely called "the most advanced anywhere" and potentially "too complex" for children.  Nintendo's 16-bit library was presented as updates to NES games, with the cons being disappointing sequels and no NES compatibility.  Gamepro's final analysis boiled down to "price, games, hardware power, and future expansion."  The TurboGrafx was relegated to the "low end" inexpensive entry system with "psuedo 16-bit" shooters and multiplayer games.  The TG16 was clearly excluded from Gamepro's consideration, which consumers had apparently already done, so the value proposition left only Nintendo and Sega products.  The Genesis and SNES were portrayed as roughly equal in hardware capabilities, with the SNES' Mode 7, higher colors and "stronger sprite engine" being offset by being "only half the speed of the Genesis."  In terms of library the Genesis was unequivocally found to have won by a landslide in 1991.11

     Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf - 4 Megabit - Genesis - 1989Much more prone to hyperbole, EGM asserted that "1991 saw the first real explosion of 16-bit interest, spurred largely by Nintendo and the long-awaited release of their Super Nintendo Entertainment System." Editor Ed Semrad also mentioned that price drops by both NEC and Sega and slowing NES game sales were defining characteristics of the year.12  Reducing thousands of letters each month to a few pages, EGM spent two columns of its December letter section over when the newly released Street Fighter 2 arcade game would be brought home to the Super NES.13  Street Fighter 2 is thought to have been responsible for revitalizing the arcade industry in the US, so its exclusive release on the SNES would have been very significant.  Yet the battle for 16-bit supremacy was no longer one sided.  D.J. Thomas of Houston Texas wrote EGM to ask which system and games won awards that year.  EGM responded that it had released an entirely separate issue for the purpose of its annual awards stating "as to who won the best game of the year, and the best system of the year ... they're either Nintendo or Sega products."14 

     Pilotwings - 4 Megabit, DSP (helper) in Cartridge - SNES - 1991The SNES' primary weakness came up again as Doug Erickson of Chehalis Washington mused to EGM about why Nintendo went with a "slow processor" instead of a "80386 or 68000 series processor."  Ignoring the ignorance over which x86 series processor was equivalent to the Genesis' CPU, Erickson's question is substantial for several reasons.  Erickson's letter shows that EGM's readers had been bombarded by technical specifications enough to actually start questioning the engineering of a proprietary device as though they were qualified to do so.  His assertion also shows that consumers in 1991 were comparing games across platforms and manufacturers.  Nobody would have felt that the SNES was slow if they only compared it to Nintendo's NES.  That is in contrast to what will happen in future generations where entire markets migrate to a new console without shopping other manufacturers' products.  EGM revealed that "a lot of letters" like Erickson's were questioning Nintendo's engineering "wisdom," eliminating the likelihood that this letter was not representative of a typical consumer.  The Japanese market's preference for slower moving Role Playing Games and that game developers would learn to better exploit the SNES' hardware were offered by EGM as alternative views to Erickson's and others.15  It should not be ignored, though, that this kind of exchange of generally negative comments would not have happened if Nintendo and its game advertising was still the dominant force in the industry.

  1. 1. "Pizza X," "Super NES Made In Japan, The Raw and the Cooked: Pizza X at the Famicom Space World Show," Gamepro, August 1991, 26-27.
  2. 2. "Super NES Video Game Buyer's Guide," Electronic Gaming Monthly, August 1991, 59-72.
  3. 3. "Slasher Quan," "So You Want to Buy a 16-Bit System...," Gamepro, December 1991, 48.
  4. 4. Electronic Gaming Monthly, October 1991, 4.
  5. 5. "Interface: Letters to the editor, The Great Debate:..Super-NES vs Genesis vs Turbo," Electronic Gaming Monthly, 14.
  6. 6. "Super Nes Buyer's Guide, Insert Coin, Super 16-Bit Hardware! Super Charged Games! Super Nintendo!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1991, 160.
  7. 7. "Slasher Quan," "So You Want to Buy a 16-Bit System...," Gamepro, December 1991, 48.
  8. 8. "Totally Turbo: The Total Source for TurboGrafx-16," Electronic Gaming Monthly, August 1991, 91.
  9. 9. "Slasher Quan," "So You Want to Buy a 16-Bit System...," Gamepro, December 1991, 49.
  10. 10. "Slasher Quan," "So You Want to Buy a 16-Bit System...," Gamepro, December 1991, 50.
  11. 11. "Slasher Quan," "So You Want to Buy a 16-Bit System...," Gamepro, December 1991, 50.
  12. 12. Ed Semrad, "insert coin: The EGM Difference," Electronic Gaming Monthly, December 1991, 8.
  13. 13. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, Street Fighter 2 for S-NES," Electronic Gaming Monthly, December 1991, 10.
  14. 14. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 1992 Awards???," Electronic Gaming Monthly, December 1991, 12.
  15. 15. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, Slow S-NES," Electronic Gaming Monthly, December 1991, 12.

1992: Composite Market

     At the beginning of 1992 it was clear that Sega had pulled a coup on Nintendo's highly anticipated launch.  While Super Ghouls n Ghosts was referred to as a "new generation" in Gamepro's August 1991 issue, by February 1992 it was described as "basically an upgrade of the Genesis version" that suffers "from slow-down when there are multiple sprites on screen." 1  Even though Gamepro's description of two entirely different games is wildly inaccurate it does reflect a shift in public opinion based on the SNES' in game performance.  As a result of popular perception and respective sales, longtime NES developer/publishers Acclaim and Gametek only signed on as Genesis licensees after Spring of 1992.2  Validating the fact that Sega's edge in game library, and Nintendo's concern over their own licensees turning multi-platform, Nintendo finally changed the annual limit of game releases for third parties from three to six.3  Nintendo also promised one hundred and fifty SNES games by the end of 1992, which was "a number equal to the current Sega Genesis library."4

     EGM's Steve Harris admitted that the SNES' eventual introduction coincided with "other systems like the Sega Genesis" coming into their own.  The same editor and publisher of EGM also revealed that Sega saw "sell outs across the board" during the critical Christmas season of 1991 and that Sega would enter the Winter Consumer Electronics show on top for the first time.  Harris subsequently told his readers that both Sega and Nintendo would have to create greater quantity and quality of software to compete in 1992.5  Gamepro described retailer reports that the "Genesis outsold the Super NES often two to one over the Christmas season."  Sega themselves cited a potential library of "more than 350 titles ... for the Genesis system by the end of 1992" as the reason why they would "hold more than 55% of the 16-Bit market."6  Perhaps in response, or due to the relatively low sales of TurboGrafx consoles, Namco announced that it would be releasing the sequel to Splatterhouse exclusively on the Genesis.7  BlockBuster Video, though, only reported the top ten 8-bit Nintendo rentals for the month, which indicates that they were still not carrying Genesis titles in all of their stores.8 

     Competition between hardware manufacturers created significant confusion.  Trevor Paton of Nashville Tennessee misunderstood the SNES' highly publicized 32,768 color palette as the system's on screen capability.  The reader subsequently called Genesis players to "give it up" and gloated that "all the great companies like Konami, Capcom and Acclaim" exclusively supported Nintendo. Mark Peters of Phoenix Arizona claimed that the SNES's actual game library made him forget its "overhyped specs" and Mode 7 capabilities to conclude that CD-ROM games were the real future.  EGM responded to correct the SNES' on screen color limit and pointed out that Nintendo sales in 1991 had already caused an SNES price drop.9  By contrast Sega and NEC's 16-bit consoles were not discounted for over one year after their 1989 launch, which was during the NES' most dominant sales years. 

     Yet three quarters of a column on the same page were dedicated to readers requesting information on Nintendo's newest iteration of the Zelda franchise.10  Robert Sorensen of Cedar Park Texas excitedly asked whether popular NES games, or the announced Street Fighter 2 port to SNES, would be released on Genesis.  Acclaim, Data East, Koei, and Vic Tokai were listed in response as new Sega licensees, but Capcom had not announced any intention of releasing games on "other" platforms.11  The SNES adaptation of the ultra violent arcade hit Smash TV meanwhile saw glowing reviews and was described as the "best home translation...on a video game system."  RPM Racing, which is one of the only SNES games to use its "high resolution" mode was panned by EGM reviewers for using an isometric overhead view rather than utilizing Mode 7's pseudo three dimensional effect.12 

     Bullet Proof Software, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Konami, NEC, Renovation, Sega, Square Soft, and Tradewest were the only companies to win Gamepro's Readers Choice Awards.13  Answering Matt Wales of Rhinelander Wisconsin Gamepro stated that the rotation effect in Sonic the Hedgehog's bonus rounds was only technically different from the SNES' Mode 7 rotation because the SNES used a helper chip.  In the same issue Winter Challenge, published by Accolade for the Genesis, was given a perfect graphics score for its excellent "scaling and rotation technologies."14  Matt Wales' question of whether this made the Genesis "equally capable" as the SNES shows how effectively marketed Mode 7 was regardless of whether it was a technically superior effect.15  Sonic the Hedgehog was given the "16-bit Game of The Year" award for its original character, graphics quality and game concept.  Konami's Castlevania IV on Super Nintendo received the "Sound Achievement" award for exemplifying the "one area" the SNES "really makes an impression."  Gamepro also admitted that the Sound award was the "closest race" and Castlevania IV only "edged out Actraiser [SNES] and ToeJam & Earl [Genesis]." 16 

    Coincidentally, Gamepro reported that the Genesis outsold the SNES in the 1991 Christmas season, citing unnamed retailers who "confirmed that the Genesis outsold the Super NES, often two to one, over the Christmas season."  Sega pointed to a potential game library of "more than 350 titles ... for the Genesis system by the end of 1992" as the reason they would "hold more than 55% of the 16-bit market." 17  On the same page Block Buster Video's Top 10 NES Video Game Rentals indicated that the rental chain was still only carrying NES software in most stores.18  Namco nonetheless announced that it would be releasing Splatterhouse 2, the sequel to an earlier TurboGrafx and Arcade game, exclusively on the Genesis.19

     Nintendo was the only console manufacturer with a substantial showing at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  According to EGM editor Ed Semrad, SNES licensees were doing "their homework as this new generation of carts have very little slow down or flicker."  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4 (TMNT 4), Out of This World, Street Fighter 2, Super Battletoads, Contra 3, and Bart's Nightmare were all of the noted examples of such improved SNES software.20  Apparently SNES developers at CES relied heavily, if not exclusively, on sequels, arcade ports or licensed games to impress attendees.  Accordingly, Sega's booth showing only drew remarks about its lack of sequels. 

     Semrad went on to describe why these games were so exemplary.  Pointing to TMNT 4's effect of throwing enemies at the screen as "Mode 7," even though it is actually a simple three frame animation with no scaling, Semrad shows how obsessed EGM had become with the SNES's nuances.  Out of this World was more objectively defined as a game with "extensive use of filled polygon graphics in a story book like adventure." 21  Nintendo apparently emphasized their SNES CD-ROM unit as having more RAM, better Full Motion Video, a special coprocessor and a cheaper price than NEC's or Sega's actual offerings.  Semrad's account of NEC's display claimed "very impressive" titles being brought over from Japan, confirmation of the DUO and Super System Card's U.S. release, and a 32-bit console.  Nintendo, according to Semrad, promised to sell six million SNES consoles in 1992, while not apparently limiting that number to just one region.

     Answering Pablo Ayala of Acapulco Mexico, EGM reported "Nintendo has stated that they sold 2.1 million Super Nintendos in 4 months ... Sega states that they sold out their inventory and that their install base is nearly 2 million systems." 22  A full column on the same page was dedicated to "S-NES Street Fighter 2."  EGM's editor claimed "hundreds of letters each week are pouring in..." for the SNES' "16 meg wonder." 23  EGM continued by promoting SNES Street Fighter II's accuracy to the Arcade original's gameplay.  Conversely, the SNES adaptation of Turtles in Time drew more attention for being two player and that "there is no sign of flicker when the action gets intense."  EGM also incorrectly attributed an effect in Turtles in Time that allows the player to throw enemy characters into the screen as "Mode 7" when it was in fact a simple three frame animation.24 

     One Gabe Pona of Hamilton, Ontario petitioned EGM for pictures and details of the new Battletoads game.  EGM responded by saying "There are new super moves and, of course, it is a two player cooperative game..." and dedicated a "special preview fact-file" to the one level beta they played at CES.  25 Emphasizing revolutionary screen rotation, EGM also assured Paul Kravitz of Fortuna, California with a preview of Equinox, a Sony published game released in early 1993.26 

     Gamepro's March 1992 issue asserted "Nintendo of America jump-started the video game biz back in 1985 with the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Over thirty million consoles and several billion dollars later, NOA launched the Super Nintendo Entertainment System last September."  Gamepro interviewed Bill White, Director of Advertising and Public Relations over "stacks of 'gripe' mail" regarding 8-bit compatibility, slowdown and CD-ROM development. Referring to an NES adapter for the Super Nintendo as "inappropriate," White explained that the supplied RF cables for both consoles would allow them to be hooked up to the same television at the same time.  Gamepro's introduction to the topic described NES owners as "mildly annoyed to furious" at the lack of backward compatibility in the SNES.  Naming Gradius II and Final Fight as examples, Gamepro also pressed Nintendo's Public Relations about why "'slowdown' plagues many SNES games."  White responded that the SNES' "four separate CPUs" could easily best the Genesis and blamed slowdown in SNES games on the quality of the programming.27

     According to Steve Harris, Capcom was aware that millions of people were anticipating the 16-Megabit Street Fighter II SNES cartridge adaptation that represented just as big of a technological leap as CD-ROM.  2 MegaBytes, or 16-Megabits, of ROM made Street Fighter II for SNES incomparable to any prior Arcade conversion in Harris' estimation.  Prior to Street Fighter II's home release the most critically acclaimed Arcade conversion was Sega's 8 Megabit adaptation of Capcom's Strider, half the size of Capcom's upcoming Street Fighter II conversion.  Ballistic's Star Control for Sega Genesis was the largest cartridge ROM at the time at 12 Megabits.  Harris continued "there have only been three other companies strongly committed to delivering new game formats to the market (a trend that doesn't seem to be changing much outside of CD-ROM)." 28

     Rubin Alanis of McAllen Texas wrote to EGM to say "we gamers use your ratings to see what games to buy and what to avoid." 29  Alanis went on to ask why Spiderman and Stormlord for Genesis, released in 1991 and 1990 respectively, were never reviewed.  EGM responded "there are a lot of bad games" and that "because our review crew is so honest some companies have stopped sending us review copies of their games."30  The editor went on to promote EGM's reviews with speculation about how their review scores affect game sales and how the reviewers each represent different genre preferences.  Finally, EGM admitted that some games "do fall through the cracks" due to release dates or sheer volumes of games to be reviewed.31  Missed release dates failed to to cause any shortage of coverage for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which received a full column dedicated to questions about its release date slipping by several months.

     Jake Thompson of Louisville Kentucky wrote EGM of his appreciation for the improvements to the magazine over the years, but pointed out that the NEO GEO coverage was lacking.  EGM replied that one page on NEO GEO game Soccer Brawl, which was tucked between Game Gear and Gameboy reviews, was superior coverage.32  Another column was dedicated simply to clarify which developers made popular shooter franchises Darius and Gradius, which would be Taito and Konami respectively.  Following that was two columns bent on exploits and glitches in the Arcade version of Street Fighter II.33  Two columns were dedicated to EGM's international coverage, and how readers could "play games for a living," followed by arguments for and against the Mega CD's regional lock out.  Street Fighter II Championship Edition rumors and more self promotion for having correspondents in Japanese trade shows took up the rest of the page.34 

     Reader letters about SNES Street Fighter II took up nearly one and two thirds columns in the May issue's "Interface: Letter's To The Editor," and the last quarter displayed positive reader letters about the SNES CD.35  On the next page Michael Andrejasik of Alberta Canada complained "I am sick of always hearing about the Sega Genesis.  What about the Super NES.  When Genesis first came out it hardly had any games and it was terrible."36  Andrejasik's letter was set on asking EGM to cover the SNES more, claiming that if they "give the S-NES a year or two" it would be the clear winner.37 

     Conversely Ronnie Boles of Winston-Salem North Carolina complained that some comments from EGM's March issue were too critical of Sega.  Claiming that the magazine forecast better futures for Nintendo and NEC, Boles confessed "I do believe that the Mega CD will leave the rest in the dust."38  Boles went on to question why the SNES coverage was greater than Genesis coverage the previous month.  EGM reminded its readers that Sega traditionally did not show much during the January CES, claiming "we ran pictures of everything that was there." 39  

     Gamepro's May 1992 issue opened up with a stark comparison of the Genesis and SNES game libraries in relation to Sega's recent Christmas sales victory:

"Retailers and gamers acknowledge that the biggest advantage Sega had over Nintendo in their recent 16-bit Christmas skirmish was a huge, diverse library of software - over 150 titles compared to 24 for the SNES."40

The rest of the article advocated better communication within the industry to ensure third parties could accurately predict how many games made in which genres would actually sell.41  So slim was the SNES library at that point that Gamepro considered it significant news that Innovation, a US based company, had apparently completed an adapter to play NES games on the Super NES.  The adapter was dubbed "The Super Eight Converter," and was expected to be released in the Summer of 1992.42 

     Any such converter for playing NES games on the SNES would have to be an NES in a cartridge.  The SNES' backwards compatibility was scrapped before its release and will never function like the adapters for Master System games on the Game Gear or Genesis, which rely mostly on compatible hardware in each base system.  Following that, Gamepro found it fit to print that yet another long time NES third party licensee had "announced plans to develop software for the Sega Genesis in the second half of 1992," Software Toolworks.43

     EGM's Steve Harris briefly described the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in his June issue, as "the definitive showcase for everything new in video games." 44  CES provided over one hundred booths, the opportunity to play test new games, and the chance to take the first pictures of games that would be released later on.  Summer CES of 1992 was apparently the first one to be opened to the public.  "Hot hits like Street Fighter 2, Turtles 4, Batman Returns and Sonic 2," Harris opined, would be the prime attraction for "the game player."45  "Special screenings" for new hardware, including the Sega CD, GameBoy Game Genie, Sony Play Station and TTI's Turbo DUO were listed along side the promise of never before seen "softs and hardware previews".46  Harris also promised an EGM booth with free samples of the July issues, a Street Fighter 2 tournament with an Arcade machine and "Super NES carts as prizes."47  For those who could not attend the Summer CES, Harris promised a special 32-page collector's magazine that highlights everything video games have to offer in the months to come!"48
     EGM printed a full page, three columns, on Street Fighter II in its June issue with only one negative letter in the bunch.  Naturally the only letter available was from a Sega fan, John Mulin of Bayport New York, who petitioned EGM to "spend your time on other stuff like the Genesis not the S-NES." 49  EGM simply explained "we really had to sarch long and hard through the mailbag to find a negative letter like John's."50  A letter from one Michael Owens, of Walls, MS, represented the only positive published letter about the Genesis or its upcoming games.  Owens was confident that Technosoft's "master pieces will be released in America," but wanted to know why Elemental Master had not been localized by then.  EGM replied that Elemental Master was released in Japan at a time when "everybody was bringing out a new shooter and Technosoft just didn't think it would do very well in the U.S."51  Thunder Force 4 being "very new" while "still to (sic) early to tell if it is going to live up to the Thunder Force tradition" was the editor's only other comment before promoting EGM's Summer CES coverage again.52




  1. 1. "The Mail, School Me on Ghouls," Gamepro, February 1992, 12.
  2. 2. "PRO Report News, Acclaim Becomes Sega Licensee...Gametek Joins Sega Too," Gamepro, February 1992, 130.
  3. 3. "PRO Report News, Nintendo OK's More SNES Games," Gamepro, February 1992, 130.
  4. 4. "PRO Report News, Here Comes Super Famicom (SNES?) Software!," Gamepro, February 1992, 130.
  5. 5. Steve Harris, "insert coin, It's That Time of Year Again...," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1992, 10.
  6. 6. "Pro News Report, Genesis Scores A Big Xmas," Gamepro, March 1992, 90.
  7. 7. "Pro News Report, Splatterhouse Cuts into the Genesis," Gamepro, March 1992, 92.
  8. 8. "Pro News Report, BlockBuster Video Top 10 NES Video Game Rentals March 1992," Gamepro, March 1992, 90.
  9. 9. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, System Wars... Part 2," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1992, 14.
  10. 10. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, More Zelda 3...!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1992, 14.
  11. 11. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, More Sega Licensees...!," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1992, 16.
  12. 12. "Review Crew," Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1992, 20.
  13. 13. "The Gamepros," "The Forecast: A Good Year for Games," Gamepro, March 1992, 8.
  14. 14. "Genesis Pro Review," Gamepro, March 1992, 42.
  15. 15. "The Mail: Busy Getting Dizzy," Gamepro, March 1992, 10.
  16. 16. "Team Gamepro," "1991 Reader's Choice Awards," Gamepro, March 1992, 18.
  17. 17. "Pro Report News, Genesis Scores a Big Xmas," Gamepro, March 1992, 90.
  18. 18. "Block Buster Video: Top 10 NES Video Game Rentals March 1992," Gamepro, March 1992, 90.
  19. 19. "Pro Report News, Splatterhouse Cuts into the Genesis," Gamepro, March 1992, 92.
  20. 20. Ed Semrad, "insert coin, CES Impressions...," Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 8.
  21. 21. Ed Semrad, "insert coin, CES Impressions...," Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 8.
  22. 22. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 16-Bit Wars..." Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 16.
  23. 23. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, S-NES Street Fighter 2," Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 16.
  24. 24. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, Turtles 4...?" Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 18.
  25. 25. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, Super Battletoads...?" Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 18.
  26. 26. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, Where is Solstice 2...?" Electronic Gaming Monthly, March 1992, 18.
  27. 27. "Nintendo Answers Your Questions," "The Gamepros," Gamepro, April 1992, 8.
  28. 28. Steve Harris, "Insert Coin, What Shape Will The Future Take?," Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 7.
  29. 29. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Missing Reviews,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 12.
  30. 30. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Missing Reviews,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 12.
  31. 31. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Missing Reviews,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 12.
  32. 32. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'More Neo-Geo,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 16.
  33. 33. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'More Neo-Geo,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 16.
  34. 34. "Interface: Letters To The Editor" Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1992, 18.
  35. 35. "Interface: Letters To The Editor" Electronic Gaming Monthly, May 1992, 12.
  36. 36. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Too Much Genesis Coverage,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, May 1992, 16.
  37. 37. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Too Much Genesis Coverage,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, May 1992, 16.
  38. 38. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Not Enough Genesis Coverage,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, May 1992, 16.
  39. 39. "Interface: Letters To The Editor, 'Not Enough Genesis Coverage,'" Electronic Gaming Monthly, May 1992, 16.
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