Review by RCoker

Reviewed: 08/07/01 | Updated: 08/07/01

What a great system by the Arcade Kings...

The Sega Genesis came out in the United States in 1989. It was the first ''True'' 16-bit system to hit the market. This review will assess the various elements of the Sega Genesis:

Hardware Design:
The black color gives this console a pretty cool look. In my opinion, the design of the Genesis looks better than the design of the SNES. The headphone jack and volume control is a great idea by Sega. The first units shipped had the ''High Definition Graphics Written On The Top'' and did not have the block out code to prevent unlicensed games from being played. In 1991, Sega reissued the Model 1 Genesis with the block out code to prevent play of unlicensed games; now, some of the earlier games by companies like EA couldn't be played, which was a disadvantage for some. On the other hand, the hardware tends to last many years. However, the cartridge slot will eventually get a little dusty causing after many years of use causing the game not to start up properly. It's nothing like the NES, though. With a good cleaning every once in a while, the Genesis can last for a very long time. The system is very easy to hook up. If you have the Sega CD, Sega 32X, and Genesis all hooked together, then you will have one monstrous system. In 1993, Sega designed the Model 2 Genesis, which was smaller in size. The headphone jack on that model was removed. This model didn't take up as much room as the first one did. In 1995, Sega made the Nomad, which was a portable Genesis. This was a great idea, but it didn't really catch on. In 1997, the Model 3 Genesis came out, and it wasn't too much bigger than a portable CD player. Overall, the Sega Genesis has a great design, with the 1989 Model 1 being best one.

Grade: 89 / B+ (8/10) Very Good

The Sega Genesis 3-button controller is good and has an adequate number of buttons for the most part. The batarang shape gives a good grip making it great for platformers, action games, shooters, sports games, etc. The control pad diagonals make controlling a game even better. However, the 3-button controller tends not to be best for fighting games like Street Fighter II, etc. Later on, Sega created a 6-button controller, which proved to be a better fighting controller than the SNES controller with the shoulder buttons. Consumers had to buy the controller separately; however, the model 2 Genesis came with one. The 6-button controller also fit in the hands comfortably. On the other hand, many Genesis games tend to have good play control, but sometimes gameplay can be somewhat too fast. There is rarely any slowdown on Genesis games due to the faster Motorola MC68000 CPU at 7.6 MHz (twice as fast as SNES). Overall, the controls for the Genesis are pretty good despite a very few flaws.

Grade: 85 / B (7/10) Good

Graphical Capabilities:
The Sega Genesis can display 64 colors onscreen out of a total pallete of 512 colors. The screen resolution is 320x240. The total number of sprites onscreen is 80 with each sprite being the size of 32x32. Scaling and rotation were possible with clever programming (Contra Hard Corps, etc.) despite there being no hardware support for it.

The graphics on the Genesis weren't that great compared to other 16-bit video game systems. However, some games like Gunstar Heroes, Vectorman, Sonic games, Ristar, etc. made 64 colors look good. A lot of Genesis games featured some astounding graphical effects and parallax effects of some kind. Generally, when games were released on Genesis and SNES, the graphics on the Genesis version often looked washed out and dull compared to the SNES version. Overall, the graphics are OK, but they aren't the greatest either.

Grade: 77 / C+ (6/10) Satisfactory

Audio Capabilites:
The Sega Genesis uses an FM synthesis sound chip made by Yamaha, a well-known company of music, audio equipment, and motorcycles. The sound chip is labeled as YM2612. The sound chip has 6 FM channels with the ability to switch FM channel #6 to a PCM channel for 8-bit sample playback at a somewhat low samplerate. Additionally, the Genesis has a Texas Instruments PSG (Programmable Sound Generator) with 3 square wave channels and one noise channel (tones and white noise similar to some sounds on TG-16/PCE, GameBoy, NES, SMS) for extra parts of the music and sound effects. The 8-bit Z80 CPU at 3.58 Mhz controls the sound hardware.

Like the graphics, the Genesis' audio capabilities aren't very impressive. Many sound effects don't sound right because they are often FM synthesized. Voices and other sampled sound effects often sound somewhat grainy and scratchy because of memory limitations and space limitations. However, some games have relatively clear voices and digitized sound effects. The music, on the other hand, is usually good. The FM synthesizer, if programmed well, can produce really cool sounds as well as synthesizing most acoustic instruments fairly well. Basically, it was more creativity. The music in some games can be tinny at times and even sound more like NES music. On the other hand, when games are made for both Genesis and SNES, the SNES versions usually (but not always) has the better music. Overall, the sound capabilities of the Sega Genesis aren't bad at all, but they aren't that good either.

Grade: 75 / C (5/10) Moderate

Overall Musical Composition/History:
Many Genesis games such as Streets of Rage series, Sub-Terrania, Gunstar Heroes, Phantasy Star II & IV, and much more feature exellent music despite the relatively limited FM-based sound chip. The Sega Genesis has an excellent history in terms of music with excellent soundtracks by Yuzo Koshiro, Jesper Kyd, Tommy Tallarico, Motoi Sakuraba, and many others.
Overall, the Genesis has some of the best game music around.

Grade: 92 / A (9/10) Excellent

Overall Quality of Games:
The Genesis really shines in this category. Many great games and classics have been released on this system. Many examples include the Sonic series, Streets of Rage series, Ristar, Gunstar Heroes, Thunder Force Series, MUSHA, Contra Hard Corps, Alien 3, Light Crusader, Shining series, Lanstalker, Phantasy Star series, and countless others. However, the Genesis, like many other systems, has its share of poor games but not near the magnitude of the Sony PlayStation or NES. Overall, this system boasts many great titles.

Grade: 93 / A (9/10) Excellent


Hardware Design = 89 x .10 = 8.90
Controls = 85 x .20 = 17.00
Graphical Capabilities = 77 x .10 = 7.70
Audio Capabilities = 75 x .15 = 11.25
Overall Musical Compostion/History = 92 x .15 = 13.80
Overall Quality of Games = 93 x .30 = 27.90

TOTALS = 87 / B+

= 8/10 Very Good

Overall, the Sega Genesis is a really good system by Sega. The overall design is pretty cool as well as the redesigns. The controls are good for most games except fighting games need the separate 6-button controller. Even though the graphics aren't the best, many games still pull off some nice visuals. A lot of Genesis games have provided great music despite the limited sound system. Taken as a whole, the Sega Genesis is a great system with a lot of fantastic games that should not be missed by any gamer.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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