Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Mega Drive vs. SNES

GameCentral readers debate the fiercest rivalry in all gaming and ask what’s better, the Super Nintendo or the Mega Drive?

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Alek Kazam and was inspired by the recent release of the Mega Drive Mini and the existing Classic Mini SNES.

Since the UK is one of the few countries where the Mega Drive was originally more popular than the SNES we expected it to be the winner but in the end slightly more people chose the SNES, citing its superior games that have generally aged better than Sega’s.


Changing allegiances

I’m very torn on this, because if you’d asked my 10-year-old self this question the answer would’ve been the Mega Drive, no question. At the time Sega were by far the cooler company and even though it was grudgingly admitted that the SNES had better graphics it always had green blood and basically it was thought of as a console for babies.

Looking back on at it now though, and owning the Classic Mini SNES, I think it’s pretty obvious that Nintendo’s console is by far and away the best. So much so that I tend to agree that it’s probably the best console ever made.

Not only were its graphics and sound objectively better than the Mega Drive but for me its line-up games was deeper and more interesting. The Mega Drive had nothing to compare with games like Zelda and Metroid and Mario will always be a better platformer than Sonic, even if it’s less flashier. Most Sega games were very shallow arcade games that, while fun for 5 minutes and 10p, have no lasting value behind nostalgia. The best SNES game though, I think we’re still be playing those even when have holodecks.


Adult entertainment

It’ll always be Mega Drive for me. It certainly was for me and even now I find myself struggling to enjoy most Nintendo games. I just find them too twee and much more enjoy the less-child-orientated Mega Drive games like Streets Of Rage and Shinobi.

I will be getting the Mega Drive Mini for Christmas but I’ve always seen the Xbox as the natural successor to Sega and have generally stuck with them since their exiting the hardware business. It’s a real shame that they don’t really make anything but PC games anymore but if there’s not the market for it there’s nothing you can really do.

I’m hopeful Streets Of Rage 4 will be a hit though and then maybe we can get more indie made sequels by people that enjoy the games before.


In hindsight

I do not have either of the mini retro consoles, although I fully understand the appeal of both and have bought various compilations throughout the years.

I had a Mega Drive II at the time, purely due to Sonic 2 which is easily the game I have replayed the most. It is also the only 16-bt game I had played prior to asking for the console for my birthday.

I was happy with the Mega Drive and amassed a reasonable collection of games. I also had a few other mates with Mega Drives, so had a decent network of people to borrow games from.

I only had one friend who had a SNES. The graphics of his games were clearly superior, but his library of games seemed very childish and cutesy by comparison. In hindsight, although the Mega Drive had a few ‘mature’ titles like Mortal Kombat my friend’s games collection was actually a reflection of his personality.

I did end up questioning my console decision before the end of the generation. Firstly, my mate that had shown me Sonic 2 had long since sold his Mega Drive for an Amiga which had vastly superior versions of Cannon Fodder and Theme Park on it. And secondly, my favourite game, Earthworm Jim, looked better on the SNES. And was not even the SNES’ best platformer.

Given the number of people I knew with Mega Drives and the relative prices of the games, the Mega Drive was the better choice for me. However, my friends and I concluded that the SNES was objectively superior and we decided we did not want an inferior console in the next generation. So we all bought N64s at launch…


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Alternate version

I love the Mega Drive vs. SNES console war, you’ll never get the likes of that again. Nowadays the difference between consoles is so minor you can’t tell the difference when it’s a multiformat game, with examining frame rates and counting pixels and all that nonsense.

With the SNES and Mega Drive though there was clear difference, from green blood to some games being almost completely different. I always remember RoboCop Versus The Terminator for some reason, as the best example as those games were completely different. And in that case I felt the Mega Drive version was best as it had red blood and had a better story.

You never tend to get those arguments nowadays though, just complaining about exclusive DLC that nobody particularly wanted in the first place. I guess that’s probably an improvement but it’s not as fun.


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