Review by Saikyo Ki

"The Clash of the 16 Bit Titans, a battle that finally came to a draw..."

How can anyone who was a gamer during that time forget the mighty duel that the Genesis and the Super Nintendo had? Opinions on who won are completely random...some people say the SNES won...some say the Genesis...some say it was pretty much even. I am a firm believer of the third opinion. Sega had great ideas when the Genesis was made, and it shows. Yes, Sega did come up short in areas, but they are given well deserved credit for standing up to Nintendo and their also great 16 bit system and being able to walk away under their own power after it was all said and done.

Graphics Capabilities: 8
Many Nintendo buffs will call me mad, but I believe that Genesis was capable of doing some things that the SNES could not. One of it's advantages over the SNES was the fact that it had a higher screen resolution. Sprites were able to be much more detailed on the Genesis. For some reason, however, the Genesis didn't have as big of a color palette/max # of colors on screen as the SNES. This was probably due to the fact that the Genesis for some reason had a small amount of RAM (half that of the SNES). If the Genesis had just a little bit more RAM, then games would be higher res AND just as colorful. Like I said, Sega slipped up in places during the construction of this system.

One interesting feature that the Genesis has is the fact that it can actually perform FMV by itself without any coprocessors at all. The best example of this is Sonic 3D Blast. It was amazing to see a 16 bit cartridge system display a quite decent framerate. Sonic 3 also has a small FMV sequence, but it isn't as cool as 3D Blast's by far. Back when FMV wasn't used to make an entire game, it added to the enjoyment of games. I think more games should have taken advantage of this.

Genesis was left in the dust when Nintendo introduces the Super FX chip, but there was one game where this approach was used. Virtua Racing. It is uncertain whether the 3D was great because of the base system or the quality of the enhancement chip, but it was much faster than SNES 3D games. Why Sega didn't make more games like this is confusing.

Some people say that the Genesis's ''Blast Processing'' Campaign, which consisted of boasting how the Genesis had higher clock speeds than the SNES, was a stupid way of getting people to want to buy the system. These people are absolutely right. However, even though the SNES had hardware accelerated 2D, the Genesis's graphics chip was actually very powerful in it's own right. Multiple layering and backgrounds were not as difficult for the Genesis to manipulate in some cases. If only Sega advertised how the hardware made games fun...

Audio Capabilities: 5
This is the Achilles Heel of the system. The sound system was designed similarly to the SNES (i.e. a sound cpu and a DSP chip), but the DSP chip was extremely weak. Most Genesis songs sounded almost like 8 bit songs. Sometimes the one PCM channel that the system had provided percussion to songs in games, but that didn't save it (even the NES had a PCM channel and it was used to enhance music also). Digital voices in games usually sounded horrible because of the lack of RAM available to the sound system.

Controller Design: 6
The initial controller had three game buttons, a start button and a direction pad. This was not very innovative. 6 button pads came out because of consumer uproar (especially fighting game fans), but not all games were compatible with it.

Game Selection: 7
Unfortunately, when games were made for both systems, a lot of the SNES versions were more appealing, mostly because of the inferior audio and, at times, less smooth animation (yet again due to insufficient RAM). Genesis did have great games though. Many people enjoyed sports games on Genesis over the SNES. Platform action games also seemed more appealing on the Genesis and there were scads of fun ones (Vectorman and all the Sonic games to name a few). Genesis didn't have as many RPGs as SNES, but there were a few noteworthy ones (Phantasy Star being the most obvious). Although fighting games were not it's forte, hardcore Genesis fans enjoyed a few fighting games that were exclusive to Genesis (Eternal Champions to name one). There are other good games on this system, but I'm sure my point is proved.

Genesis Versions?
There were many iterations of the system. Version 2 improved over version 1 by being smaller and sleeker. Version 3 (dubbed the ''Genesis 3'') can fit in the palm of your hand, but you cannot attach a Sega CD to it. The Nomad is great if you wanna play Genesis games on the road, and it can also be hooked up to a TV. The Nomad unit itself acted as controller 1 and a second controller could be attached to it. Sadly Nomad was priced too high when it came out, and now that the GBA is here they will want to spend their money on new games. The Sega CDX is a compact Genesis/Sega CD system, but is very, VERY rare to find today. The Neptune...well...that's even rarer than the CDX.

Bottom Line?
A classic system. It's bad points are etched in history, but so are its good points. In this day and age, buying a Genesis is easy as pie, not to mention the games are cheap. It has been and always will be a controversial system, but it is a fact that the system can be and is entertaining, which is why I give it an 8.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/26/01, Updated 06/26/01

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