Review by Sour DieseL
"Nintendo's Greatest Rival!"
With the release of Nintendo's Super Entertainment System, Sega decided it was time to initiate the first really major console war, and what a glorious one it was. Whether you had a SNES or a Genesis, you weren't losing. Sega would continue to be Nintendo's greatest competitor for a couple more generations, but it all started here, with the Sega Genesis. Nintendo already had their flagship series, and Sega needed one of their own to help make their console appealing with a cool character. Thus, Sonic the Hedgehog was born, a series that continues to this day, despite Sega dropping out of the console business. Hopefully one day, we'll see them again. For now, however, we travel back in time to the first and perhaps greatest console war.
Game Library: 10/10: A lot of games at the time were being released for multiple platforms, so the Genesis had quite a few of the same games that the SNES had, was well as exclusives of it's own. The greatest and most well-known of which was the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Sonic the Hedgehog brought gaming to a whole new level, and a whole new speed. It had a few sequels on the Genesis alone, and is a series that continues today. While a lot of the games were multi-platform, Sega did have some better content, most notably in Mortal Kombat, the very first one. Nintendo of America felt they had to keep up their family-friendly image, and censored much of the game. The Sega Genesis version, however, featured the full arcade port in all it's glory, despite some shoddy sound and slightly worse graphics than the SNES. This was back before people really have a hoot about the amount of pixelation in a game though, it really wasn't a big deal back then. The Genesis also featured the awesome and almost as hard as Ninja Gaiden series, the Shinobi series. It also had Golden Axe, another exclusive, which was an arcade game beforehand. Golden Axe is arguably one of the best Genesis games of all time, as it wasn't too long or too short. It had three characters to choose from. The Genesis also carried the now rare Vectorman series, which were two of the hardest games ever to grace the Genesis. Sega didn't have Final Fantasy, but they did have Shining Force, which was a fantastic RPG. Then there was Streets of Rage, which nearly put Double Dragon to shame as far as side-scrolling beat-'em-ups go. Both Chester Cheetah games were also ported to the Genesis. The Genesis also brought us the diabolically hard Ecco series, which was both difficult and for some reason, a bit creepy. Overall, the Sega Genesis has a really impressive library, both with exclusives and ports.
Controls: 10/10: Sega sort of used the NES format for it's controller, but brought a third button into the mix. The regular input keys were A, B, and C. It also featured a Start button, which was above those three. The Start button was used mostly for that, starting your game. It could also be used in most games to pause them, just like every other console. They also had the D-Pad, and the buttons were pressure sensitive. For instance, holding the jump button longer and harder would make your character jump higher or farther. Eventually, they released a new controller when they realized that they didn't have enough buttons for some games, notably Mortal Kombat. They created a six-button controller, which were labeled A, B, C, and X, Y, Z. This six-button controller also featured a select button and a turbo option. This benefited Mortal Kombat players the most, allowing them to perform high and low kicks, high and low punches, run, and block. Like most controllers, the controls were easily to learn, yet difficult to master effectively. It's also worth noting that the buttons were indented to allow your fingertips to fit in them slightly, a nice display of ergonomics from Sega. Like the NES and SNES, it featured two controller ports for two-player support. There was also support for a light gun as well for shooting games. Overall, the controls are simple and shouldn't be hard for anyone to pick up and play, despite the buttons being in a slightly different arrangement.
Game Difficulty: 9/10: The Sega Genesis has a slightly more challenging library than the SNES did, nothing like that of the NES though. The Sonic games could actually be pretty tough, especially if you like to try and cruise through them in a speed run or semi-speed run. The Vectorman games were incredibly hard, rivaling the difficulty of several NES games. I'd liken it to Ninja Gaiden. The RPGs were also slightly more in-depth in some ways than the Final Fantasy series (not that I'm knocking FF). Sega most certainly wanted some pretty difficult games to give players the step up in challenge that the SNES wasn't able to provide. Zero Wing was also ported to the Genesis from the arcade, and brought many laughs to the shoddy translation, which suddenly became less funny when the game totally stomped you. Another worthy mention for difficulty goes to Altered Beast. Altered Beast is right up there with Battletoads in terms of difficulty. The Genesis generally had a fairly high challenge level without being totally ridiculous, Altered Beast aside.
Graphics: 8/10: This is where the console falls short if you judge games or consoles by the quality of their graphics. The Genesis is certainly more grainy and pixelated than the SNES, because of an inferior graphics card. Nothing looks horrible or anything, the pixels are just more obvious. The thing is that the graphics didn't make much progress over it's lifetime, whereas the SNES continued to get better and better with graphics with most of the major releases. Sega was more focused on the fun factor and didn't give too much thought to the graphics, they just wanted it to be playable. They may or may not have had the gall to try and one-up the SNES in terms of graphics, but if they did, the idea was probably abandoned. Still, it doesn't really affect the gameplay and doesn't hurt your eyes or anything, and it's easy to distinguish what's what.
Audio: 7/10: The quality of sound from the Genesis wasn't very good, and yet a lot of their exclusives still managed to have great soundtracks. The worst of it appears when sound or voice effects come into play. Those sound like they're coming from under water, or through a slightly damaged microphone. Same deal here with the graphics pretty much. The sound chip in the Genesis was inferior to that of the SNES. It's tolerable though and some of the games still have really catchy tunes, the Sonic the Hedgehog series for example. Nothing iss un-listenable, some things just sound somewhat distorted because of the inferior sound chip.
Overall: 9/10: The audio quality drags it down a point. The graphics really aren't bad at all, just slightly more pixelated than the SNES. The catalog of games available for the Genesis is really great and it's recommended to play the Genesis versions of any SNES games that got ported to it so you can at least look for differences (once again, I'm looking at you, Mortal Kombat). The Sonic series is also a milestone in gaming, considering that the franchise continues to this very day, as does Phantasy Star and Shining Force. The games will be pretty challenging, but you should be able to get the controls down just fine. If you can find a Genesis at a used game store, go ahead and buy one if you don't own one already!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/09/10
Game Release: Genesis Hardware (US, 08/14/89)
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