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Nintendo vs Sega: A recap of the ’90s console battle

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Nintendo vs *****: A recap of the ’90s console battle

In 2022, ***** released the Genesis Mini 2, a sequel plug and play system that uses emulation to play games from the ***** Genesis/Mega Drive, the 16-bit powerhouse from the early ’90s. Nowadays ***** doesn’t compete in the major console business. That task has been left to Sony,

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, and Nintendo.

Nintendo tends to do its own thing, and it could be argued that it doesn’t directly compete with Sony and

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because its machines are based on innovation, rather than raw power (take the Wii as a good example of this). However, times were once much different.

In the early 1990s and continuing until the end of the millennium, ***** and Nintendo were the companies that produced powerful consoles. The third-parties including Square, Capcom, EA, and Ubisoft released its most ambitious games sometimes exclusively on consoles produced by Nintendo and *****. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was the ***** Master System vs. the Nintendo Entertainment System, then from the early 1990s onwards, it was the SNES vs. the Mega Drive/Genesis.

The ***** Master System was a classic late ’80s machine that was home to many great games, such as Alex **** in Miracle World, Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe Warrior, and more. It was also home to many arcade ports, and this was an admirable effort considering the Master System was an 8-bit machine, whereas 16-bit machines, such as the SNES, often struggled with arcade ports. Mortal Kombat on the Master System is a prime example. The game recreates the arcade original really well for an 8-bit machine, the game is easy to pick up and play, and it is a great technical achievement for the ***** Master System. The Nintendo Entertainment System, the main rival for the Master System (the NES sold more consoles than the Master System in all territories apart from South America and Europe) arguably couldn’t ******** arcade ports as well as the Master System, and for this reason it is mainly remembered for home console games such as Super Mario and Metroid.

The introduction of the NES to the gaming scene in the mid 1980s was nothing short of a revolution, and a lifeline for the industry in terms of quality control. With the Atari that preceded the NES, misleading games were produced in which people were consistently being disappointed with the quality of the products. The Atari 2600 consoles were early gaming’s version of a shovelware based system, with a software library mainly comprising shovelware. Because of this, the video game ****** of 1983 occurred. However, this ****** didn’t affect some parts of the world, including the *** where consumers were busy playing their ZX Spectrum (released in 1982) and ***** Master Systems (released in 1985).

In North America, where the Video Game ****** had hit the hardest, a redesigned Famicom (released in Japan in 1983) named the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES for short) was released in 1985 in New York (1986 in the rest of the continent). The NES had great, fun, high-quality software and was powerful for its time. Nintendo introduced the now famous Seal of Quality. This meant that companies “wouldn’t” release poor-quality products that tricked consumers with misleading box art.

The NES had many great games, including platformers such as the three Super Mario games, the Castlevania games, and the Mega Man games. The NES had a great diversity of genres in its software library. It beats its rivals the Master System and the Turbografx-16/PC-Engine in that regard. However, the Master System beats the NES in terms of ambition of arcade ports and the Turbografx-16/PC-Engine beats the NES in terms of raw power (it could even run Street Fighter 2 to a decent level)!


By 1991/92 people were getting tired of the limitations that came with the 8-bit generation. New, more powerful systems were releasing, and the ***** Genesis/Mega Drive was released early in its generation. This gave ***** a head start against its main rival, Nintendo and the SNES. Developers were keen to develop for ***** since there were less restrictions placed on them compared to when developing for Nintendo. Ironically it was Nintendo’s strictness when it came to its releases and quality that may have saved the industry. Yet it also limited the amount of good third-party games that released on its systems.

In Europe, and the ***, the Master System did quite well in comparison to other regions. The Mega Drive (as the Genesis was known in many parts of the world outside the US) continued the trend of ***** systems doing well. It could be argued that this was primarily due to the amount of good sports games, good licensed games, and cheap deals for games. Today, we often pay a premium for Nintendo products and it was similar in the days of the Genesis and SNES (although I remember in the GameCube era you could often get Nintendo games for cheap). The rivalry was intense at the time. My national Nintendo magazine clearly had bad blood for both ***** and Sony. I feel a lot of this was in jest, but there were some moments and some personal battles that were fueled by a real dislike of one another. It’s funny to think about now, as the magazine format has been made irrelevant by the internet.


The ***** vs. Nintendo console battle was a rivalry that was embedded in ’90s culture. Being a **** around this time, as there was no Internet, you had a few options: go out and play sports, learn something like a musical instrument, or stay in and be engrossed by playing a video game console. This last option was great because these boxes of wires, components and batteries were like portals into other worlds. Just like reading a good book, or watching a good movie, video game experiences transported us out of our living rooms and into the world on screen. Nintendo had Mario, with his precise platforming games. ***** on the other hand was much more cool. Sonic was created as a direct competitor to Mario. Although Sonic’s games weren’t as precise in their platforming, the games had a real sense of speed and a style that ran (almost literally) past Mario when it came to being cool.

Since Zelda was a popular game on NES, ***** used Golden Axe as its iteration of a Zelda-like game for ***** consoles. The evidence for this includes the existence of Golden Axe Warrior on the Master System (a game that uses the original Legend of Zelda as a template, and arguably improves upon it), and the existence of Axe Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe for the Game Gear (A Zelda 2 ‘clone’). However, these games never reached the popularity of The Legend of Zelda, and eventually the Golden Axe franchise was abandoned.

The rise of 2D fighters in the early ’90s was part of the console battle between the Genesis and SNES. Mortal Kombat, which was notorious for its gore and blood in arcades, released on both platforms. However, blood was absent on the SNES (and Game Boy versions). Even on the ***** releases of Mortal Kombat (Master System, Game Gear, Genesis/Mega Drive), blood was only applied after you had entered a secret code. Street Fighter 2 was released earlier for the SNES compared to the Genesis Mega Drive and sold more copies on the SNES.


Overall, ***** put up a good ****** against the Nintendo machines. The Master System was great for arcade ports and had some ambitious titles, but the sheer diversity of games, and specifically the number of great platformers on the system meant that the NES won the battle. In the next generation, ***** pushed the boundaries even further, and with great licensed and sports titles it was even closer to beating Nintendo. The great brands and number of iconic franchises meant that Nintendo won, again.

The ***** Genesis has over 1,000 games that have been released for it. To this day it ******** one of the best platforms for 16-bit games, and for sprite based games more generally. ***** continues to release iterations of the Genesis, for example, the Genesis Mini released in 2019, and the Genesis Mini 2 released in 2022. Nintendo also has legacy content available that relates to the NES and SNES. This includes NES and SNES games being available on the Nintendo Switch Online service and the SNES Classic Edition (released in 2017). While the war may be over, its effects are still very much present with us.

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#Nintendo #***** #recap #90s #console #battle

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