Genesis fan: “In the 16-Bit generation, the SNES lost the sports game players to SEGA.”
Super NES fan: “LOL, WHAT sports games?”
Genesis fan: “The SNES is lacking in the sports category.”
Genesis fan: “Do you guys have Mutant Football? No? Then SHUT UP! You lose!”
It’s that same ole’ song and dance: Either the SNES has no sports games, or the SNES lacks sports games, or the SNES cannot compete with SEGA in the sports category. As a matter of fact I’m willing to bet that it’s all three …
Well ladies and gentlemen, I’ve had it with this talking point! While it may be true that the Genesis has MORE, that does not mean that it has better content than the Super Nintendo. So let’s explore this argument a little bit more and take a look at why this perception becomes reality. IS the SNES really a terrible platform for virtual sports enthusiasts? Let’s find out!
Did The SNES Lose The Sports Gamers?
With the NES, there was almost no competition from other platforms in Japan and North America. If you wanted to play ball on consoles, you really only had one place to go, and Nintendo’s terms for playing were considered brutal. Licensees were not permitted to release the same game for a competing console until two years had passed, and Nintendo would decide how many cartridges would be supplied to the licensee. Worse, there was a minimum number of cartridges that had to be ordered by the licensee from Nintendo. The worst restriction came in the form of an annual five-game limit on developers.
This changed with the arrival of the Sega Genesis to the marketplace. SEGA came onto the scene and quickly became known as a much more friendly place to develop for and do business with. With no annual limit and less censorship involved, we all watched as the Genesis disrupted the console market. One of the spoils SEGA received was the flood of quality sports titles from third parties, along with the fans that came with them. Nintendo eventually reversed these policies in 1993, but by then the damage had already been done. (1)
Further cementing this advantage was the reverse-engineering of Genesis hardware by Electronic Arts, the largest distributor of sports games in the world. (2) This allowed them to cheaply produce carts for the system without the typical licensing fees normally associated with consoles. This also contributed to their support of the SEGA Genesis since they made much more money on each cart sold. So in this instance we have to conclude that the critics are right: There WAS an exodus of sports gamers to the competition.
Now saying that the Super Nintendo LACKS compelling material of its own is a different matter entirely …
Are There No Good Quality Sports Games on SNES?
The short answer to this is: OF COURSE THERE ARE SOME GOOD ONES!!!! It may be one thing to state that the Genesis had MORE, but to say that there is a vast difference in general quality is just not true. Let me say this with clarity: There is a quality SNES game for almost every sport you could be into. Let’s take a look.
Baseball: Who can say with a straight face that Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is not quality? Endless league play, home run derbies, and accurate stadiums all contribute to a stellar performance. I cannot think of a better baseball game that appeared on the Genesis, and I am not kidding when I say that this is the ONLY baseball game I choose to play.
Football: Okay, I get it. The Genesis had a much larger selection when it comes to the Grid Iron. AND they do have Mutant League Football. But to anyone who says that there is not a comparable football offering, I point you to Tecmo Super bowl 3: Final Edition. Nostalgia aside, this is the best game in the Tecmo Bowl series, and while I cannot say for sure whether it’s a better game than Joe Montana or Quarterback Club, It stands amongst them. Give it a try.
Basketball: Proof positive that the Genesis lost its sports game advantage in the later years of the console wars. NBA Jam: Tournament Edition is better than its Genesis counterpart in every way. Plus, you can do this one with four-players if you have a Multi-Tap! BOSS!!
These games aren’t even the end of the rainbow. Do you like tennis? Try Super Tennis! Then there are the later Madden games. There’s NHL Hockey! Soccer is also well represented with titles such as Sensible Soccer. You see, it really is ignorant to claim that the SNES has no sports games worth mentioning. There is a wealth of opportunity for the sports enthusiasts out there, and since many sports fans never owned a SNES, this is my call to them to give it a second chance! If you’ve never played Ken Griffey or Super Tennis you really are missing out on some of the best sports games of the era! So what do you say? Let’s give the SNES a fair play!
*1) Game Over by David Scheff
Story by Ben Kuchera