Jump to:
Games // System Specs

Shinobi: (SMS, NES, PC-Engine, Arcade)
Comparison Page

Nintendo Entertainment System

"The purpose of poetry is to express the ineffable"

- Robert Frost

Gaming has always been somewhat quirky, but it is undeniable that what games do "click" with the public, do so in a way that remains virtually undefinable, and usually is not replicatable by subsequent reiterations of the same game. That is not to say that developers did not try to replicate their success, and they often times succeeded in even multiplying their profits in sequels and updated versions of the successful title. However, comparing Video Games to art is tenuous at best, and over the years the creativity and innovation would be squashed by the felt needs of business and marketing to have the biggest seller of the season.

This trend was not limited to software, but also included hardware, and it was an exclusive trend. By 1988 several of my 10-something year-old friends were buzzing about the Nintendo Entertainment System and had been given one by their parents. My lower middle-class family had owned several different Atari age consoles by then, and I had played and become bored with relatively good games like Adventure, Combat, Enduro, and Empire Strikes Back on the Atari 2600.

At the time I had no idea that these consoles my family had acquired were the droppings of any "great crash," and to this day I have never known anybody who ever stated anything that would lead me to believe there actually was a massive fall out of the Video Game Industry in the United States. In fact, it may have been between 1983 and 1985 that I had ever encountered an Atari 2600, and I had never heard of an Atari 5200 or a Colecovision until the advent of the Internet.

Even though all of my friends owned one, I had not felt an urge to pick up a Nintendo Entertainment System myself, and one way or another the idea of asking for one for Christmas or a Birthday never occurred to me. However, one evening early in 1988 my foster brother casually mentioned to my parents that he was leaving for "the Arcade."

I had never heard the word before, but for some reason my interest was piqued and I jumped up to ask him what he was talking about. Upon a brief description, my apparent excitement had convinced him to get permission to take me with him. The trip, to say the least, was phenomenal. I know that I played almost every game in the Diversions Game Room that night, but I only remember one, Sega's After Burner. The game was so fast and smooth, the joystick pulled and quaked when I crashed, and smoke trails from missiles were flying everywhere. Almost immediately I was throttling up the afterburner to make it all happen at true full speed, and I was hooked for the rest of the evening. It was the first time I had ever played a video game and actually been hooked by it. Great games like Super Mario Bros, Contra, Lifeforce and the like on the NES had held my interest, but none had completely innundated my senses the way After Burner did.

Later on, in 1989 I did end up purchasing a Nintendo Entertainment System, along with Zelda II, Bases Loaded, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ninja Gaiden. Yet, the time I spent with the console was relatively short lived, as it simply didn't have games of the speed and graphical prowess of arcade titles I enjoyed playing. I continued to play the major releases, like Dragon Warrior, TMNT 2: The Arcade Game, Wizards and Warriors, and Bionic Commando at friends houses. I always got my fill of whatever title my friends were playing after a few visits, or a weekend at best, and therefore never felt the compulsion to spend my hard earned, child laboring, dollars on the title I had already either completed or grown bored of. Unlike my friends, the NES was not my first console of choice, as I had previously saved up and purchased another 8-bit console that was offering something demonstrably different than most of what the NES had to offer.

Sega Master System

After that brief evening in the game room I knew I had to get a game console, and had acquired the lawn mowing job to make it happen as soon as possible. By the summer of 1988 I had saved up enough money to purchase my first game console, and I was determined to get the best one out there. By then I had seen several television commercials for a console none of my friends had, the Sega Master System, which had very cool looking arcade conversions of After Burner, Thunderblade, and Space Harrier. Some of which I had played in arcades, others I had not, but I was nonetheless impressed that another console existed that could actually handle such conversions. I vacillated between the NES and the SMS for weeks until I had earned the final dollars needed to actually make the decision. When the day arrived I actually told one of my friends that the console of choice would be the same NES all of my friends already had, for the reasons that Robocop had been announced, and it seemed like it had more games overall.

It wasn't the first or the last time that I said I would do one thing, and ended up doing another, but it would be one of the few times I would never regret changing my mind on the spot. As I was brought in to the general electronics store called The Federated Group of San Antonio, I discovered I could actually compare both the NES and the Sega Master System right next to one another. This was something that was not available at the time anywhere else, as most retail stores in the city didn't even carry the Sega Master System, even though it had been less than two years since its initial launch. This would be the first time I had ever played Space Harrier and Quartet, two games which remain favorites of mine to this day. Ironically, it was the Sega Scope 3D glasses which tipped me over the edge towards the Master System, but I never owned the peripheral during the system's lifecycle, even though I was tempted many times by Space Harrier 3D and its mighty $70 price tag.

I did walk out of that store with a Sega Master System, along with Hang On/Safari Hunt and the requisite Zillion "Light Phaser", Quartet, Wonder Boy, and After Burner, the game that had hooked me into buying a console in the first place. I had no idea that doing such a thing would be the object of such scorn over the years, nor would I care until some years later. At the time I had the best system on the planet and my favorite game, all as my first major purchase.

From then on I was hooked on arcade/action games, and was basically on a quest to find the next, most advanced videogame. I was not disappointed to pick up titles such as Zillion, and find its sequel Zillion 2: Triformation to be an entirely different gameplay style. In fact, on the Master System, one could expect each release to be something completely different from any other game, and still be at least a good game on its own. That is, of course, not to say that there were not bad games on the SMS. In fact, being an 8-bit system, the Master System actually didn't handle any of its arcade conversions anywhere near faithfully, and I always found that somewhat irksome. This caused me to purchase a Sega Genesis in 1989, mere months after its release, for the simple pleasure of playing games like Golden Axe and Ghouls N Ghosts, which actually featured the exact gameplay of the arcade originals.


At the same time as the Genesis' release, NEC released its own 16-bit console, the TurboGrafx-16, which featured many superior versions of Master System games that the Genesis did not have available to it. As 1990 rolled along I found the time and the income to save up for a TurboGrafx-16, and eventually sold both my NES and my SMS to purchase one. I regret ever selling any console I've owned from this era, and have since gone back and collected them and the games I originally owned, and played at friends houses. Nevertheless, had I not been able to sell my SMS and NES, I likely would have remained just as ignorant of the great games on the TG16 as most people were and are today. Similarly, a year-and-a-half later I sold my TG16 in order to purchase the Sega CD, which is also very underappreciated, and a good add-on for the Genesis.

That is not to say that the Turbo didn't have its day in the shade. Keith Courage was nothing but a disappointment, and I never did pick up the game I actually bought the system for, R-Type. The Legendary Axe and Ninja Spirit are among my favorite games, and if I had been a little bit more open to RPGs and space ship Shooters, I would definitely have been in gaming heaven. Bomberman offered unique multiplayer simultaneous gameplay that wouldn't be matched before Doom LAN parties in the mid 90s, and games like Bonk's Adventure, Legendary Axe II, Bloody Wolf, and others definitely made the system worth the purchase.

Yet, as time went on, heresay and the game magazines cried out in unison against the TurboGrafx, right down to accusing it of not actually being a 16-bit console. It is true that many of the TG16's games feature gameplay little improved over 8-bit titles in the same genres, this is actually indicative of the fact that the system was released in 1987 in Japan, and was a direct competition to the Famicom (Japanese NES), and not the later released Megadrive, which would become the Sega Genesis in the US. This is just about when hype and the gaming media started functioning in full force, and the demise of any console not endorsed by the public at large, along with the media incidentally, would soon follow. Regardless of what great or good games were actually available for the Sega Master System and the TurboGrafx-16, and their technical superiority in hardware, it was the NES that achieved over ninety percent domination of the US game market, and most of the 3rd party exclusive titles. Whether or not this eventuality was caused by Nintendo's monopolistic licensing contracts, preventing the same game made for the NES to be made for another platform, or the blind brand name following that would eventually lead the Playstation 2 to its success is something worthy of further study.


People were not trying out different consoles before their initial purchase, as I did. San Antonio rental stores never carried Master System or TurboGrafx games, and that meant the only way to try them was to buy them or borrow them. Since I was the only kid in my school to have either, I know for a fact that nobody else bothered to play anything but the Nintendo brand console. This remained true in San Antonio, even during the Genesis' biggest years I only knew of two or three people who owned one. Even the Sega Genesis was not supported by the rental Industry until years after its launch, while the SNES was available for rent a month before its initial launch. This, when combined with hype and 'letters' in game magazines supporting the popular console, made for a market which was exclusive, and a monopoly for Nintendo.

For whatever reason the Video Game Industry remains one of the few in which consumers will not shop for their products, but rather only buy what everybody else is getting after little or no research. Despite this, all three of these game systems have available for them some of the best video games the Industry has ever produced. Moreover, the early 90s brought with them the increasing viability of importing titles from other regions. This is especially worthy of note for the Sega Master System, as its support in Europe was much greater, and many superior ports of NES games exist which will play on a stock US Master System. The TurboGrafx-16 could also be made to play imports with the purchase of a rather expensive game card adapter to play Japanese cards, and Turbo CD games were never region locked in the first place. With that said, the importing Industry would not become a serious matter soon enough to be practical for the average consumer, and thus the system with the most games wins. Actually, the system with the most games wins in sales every generation, regardless of whether most of its games were even worth looking into.

Annual games

These lists are representative of what came out on each console on a yearly basis that people considered worth mentioning for unique gameplay, or highly polished gameplay. Both lists were checked by whether two or more reviews on sites like gamefaqs.com mentioned unique or particularly highly polished gameplay. As such, these lists are not definitive. They are comparable to each other only because they were made in the same way, from reviews on the same site, and from exposure to Usenet gamers.

Looking at the lists as a race to which console got the most "good", "fun", or "best" titles is not the way they are intended to be looked at, and is a flawed way of thinking. These are not lists of games that you will think are great, these are not lists of games that everybody does or should think are great, these lists do not have every game worth noting on them, and these lists have games many may feel are not worth noting on them. To the later two of which I say E-mail me and let me know what you think about the game in question, and why I should add it/remove it.

// Year 1 // Year 2 // Year 3 // Year 4 //Year 5 // Year 6 // Year 7 // Year 8 // Year 9 // Year 10 //
|| Fact MIJIN || Game Info || Comparisons || Links ||
Nintendo Entertainment System
// Next Year //


Clu Clu Land
Hogan's Alley
Kung Fu
Lunar Pool
Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros.
Track & Field
Urban Champion
Wild Gunman
Wrecking Crew

End year 1: 16 Titles

// Previous Year // Next Year //


Adventure Island
Balloon Fight
Donkey Kong
Duck Hunt
Ghosts 'n Goblins
Lode Runner
Spy vs. Spy
Zanac (Powerstrike/Aleste?)

End Year 2 : 13 Titles
30 Titles total

// Previous Year // Next Year //


3D World Runner
Air Fortress
Burger Time
Double Dribble
Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode
Goonies II, The
Kid Icarus
Kid Niki
Legend of Zelda
Life Force
Mega Man
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!
Pro Wrestling
Rad Racer
R.C. Pro-Am
Section Z
Solomon's Key
Spy Hunter
Stadium Events (Power pad)
Top Gun
Ultima: Exodus
Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
Wizards & Warriors

End Year 3: 29 Titles
58 Titles Total

// Previous Year // Next Year //


Adventures of Bayou Billy
Alien Syndrome
Bases Loaded
Battle of Olympus
Bionic Commando
Blades of Steel
Blaster Master
Bubble Bobble
Bump & Jump
California Games
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Donkey Kong Jr.
Double Dragon
Freedom Force
Guardian Legend, The
Gun Smoke
Ice Hockey
Iron Tank
Legendary Wings
Metal Gear
Nobunaga's Ambition
Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom
Rainbow Islands
RBI Baseball
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Skate or Die
Super Mario Bros. 2
T & C Surf Designs
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Zelda II: The Adventures of Link

End Year 4: 39 Titles
97 Titles Total

// Previous Year // Next Year //


8 Eyes
A Boy and His Blob
After Burner
Bad Dudes
Baseball Simulator
Baseball Stars
Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle
Burai Fighter
Captain Skyhawk
Clash at Demonhead
Cobra Triangle
Defender of the Crown
Desert Commander
Destiny of an Emporer
Dragon Warrior
Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements
Fantasy Zone
Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll
Genghis Khan
Guerilla War
Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II
Legacy of the Wizard
Magic of Scheherazade
Marble Madness
Mega Man 2
Ninja Gaiden
Operation Wolf
P.O.W. Prosoners of War
Rescue: Embassy Mission
River City Ransom
Road Blasters
Rolling Thunder
Short Order / Eggsplode (Powerpad)
Snake Rattle 'n Roll
Super Dodge Ball
Tecmo Bowl
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Time Lord
Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
WCW Wrestling

End Year 5: 53 Titles
150 Titles Total

// Previous Year // Next Year //


Adventures of Lolo
Adventures of Lolo 2
Arch Rivals
Bad News Baseball
Barker Bill's Trick Shooting
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers
Code Name: Viper
Conquest of the Crystal Palace
Deja Vu
Demon Sword
Dig Dug II
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Dragon Fighter
Dragon Spirit: The New Legend
Dragon Warrior II
Dr. Mario
Duck Tales
Final Fantasy
Formula 1: Built to Win
Gilligan's Island
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Immortal, The
Journey to Silius
Kickle Cubicle
Last Ninja, The
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Low G-Man
Maniac Mansion
Mega Man 3
Mendel Palace
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Nintendo World Cup Soccer
Nobunaga's Ambition II
Pac-Man (NAMCO)
Pinball Quest
Rad Racer II
Snake's Revenge: Metal Gear II
Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship
Star Tropics
Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight
Super C
Super Mario Bros. 3
Swords & Serpents
Target: Renegade
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Game
Vegas Dream
Wall Street Kid
Werewolf: The Last Warrior

End Year 6: 56 Titles
206 Total Titles

// Previous Year // Next Year // Top //


Adventure Island 2
Adventures of Lolo 3
Base Wars
Batman Return of the Joker
Blue Marlin
Bomberman 2
Death Race
Die Hard
Dragon Warrior III
Flying Warriors
Fun House
Galaxy 5000
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Isolated Warrior
Jackie Chan's Action Kung-Fu
Laser Invasion
Little Mermaid, The
Little Ninja Brothers
Lone Ranger, The
Mega Man 4
Mermaids of Atlantis
Micro Machines
NES Open Tournament Golf
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Power Blade
RBI Baseball 3
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rockin' Kats
Romance of the Three Kingdoms II
Shadow of the Ninja
Snow Bros.
Space Shuttle Project
Tecmo Super Bowl
Tiny Toon Adventures Cartoon Workshop
Uncharted Waters
Vice Project Doom
Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego
Whomp 'Em
Wizardry II: Knight of Diamonds
World Champ
Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth

End Year 7: 55 Titles
261 Total Titles

// Previous Year // Next Year // Top //


AD&D: Dragonstrike
AD&D: Pool of Radiance
Adventure Island 3
Bucky O'Hare
Contra Force
Crash'n the Boys: Street Challenge
Darkwing Duck
Dragon Warrior IV
Felix the Cat
Fire 'n Ice
Gargoyle's Quest II
Kick Master
King's Quest V
Legend of the Ghost Lion, The
Little Samson
M.C. Kids
Mega Man 5
Metal Storm
Mig 29 Soviet Fighter
Monster in my Pocket
Prince of Persia
R.C. Pro-Am II
Super Spy Hunter
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III : The Manhattan Project
Town & Country II: Thrilla's Surfari
Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros Visions of Power

End Year 8: 28 Titles
289 Total Titles

// Previous Year // Next Year // Top //


Battletoads & Double Dragon
Bible Buffet
Bubble Bobble 2
Kirby's Adventure
Ms. Pac-Man

End Year 9: 5 Titles
294 Total Titles

// Previous Year // Top //


Mega Man 6
Star Tropics II: Zoda's Revenge
Wario's Woods

End Year 10: 3 Titles
297 Total Titles

// Previous Year // Top //
Sega Master System


Action Fighter
Alex Kidd: Miracle World
Astro Warrior
Black Belt
F-16 Fighting Falcon
Fantasy Zone
Ghost House
Hang-On / Safari Hunt
Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting
My Hero
Ninja, The
Pro Wrestling
Rambo: First Blood Part 2
Space Harrier
Spy vs. Spy
Supper Tennis
Teddy Boy
World Grand Prix

End Year 1 : 19 Titles


After Burner
Alien Syndrome
Enduro Racer
Fantasy Zone II
Gangster Town
Global Defense
Great Baseball
Great Golf
Great Ice Hockey (Sports pad)
Great Volleyball
Kung-Fu Kid
Maze Hunter 3D
Miracle Warriors
Missile Defense 3D
Penguin Land
Phantasy Star (First US Console RPG)
Shooting Gallery
Sports Pad Football
Zaxxon 3D

End Year 2 : 25 Titles
44 Titles Total


Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
Aztec Adventure
Blade Eagle 3D
Bomber Raid
Captain Silver
Cyborg Hunter
Double Dragon (2 Ply Simultaneous)
Fantasy Zone: The Maze
Golvellius: Valley of Doom
Lord of the Sword
Parlour Games
Poseidon Wars 3D
Power Strike
Rambo III
Reggie Jackson Baseball
Rescue Mission
Space Harrier 3D
Thunder Blade
Time Soldiers
Walter Peyton Football
Wonderboy in Monster Land
Y's: The Vanished Omens
Zillion 2: Tri-Formation

End Year 3 : 31 Titles
75 Titles Total

1989 - Sega Master System

Alex Kidd: High Tech World
Altered Beast
California Games
Casino Games
Cloud Master
Dead Angle
Galaxy Force
Golden Axe
King's Quest
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
Montezuma's Revenge
Psycho Fox
R. C. Grand Prix
Spell Caster
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
Wonderboy III: The Dragon's Trap

1989 - TurboGrafx-16

Alien Crush
Blazing Lazers
Bonk's Adventure
China Warrior
Dragon Spirit
Dungeon Explorer
Fantasy Zone
Fighting Street CD-ROM
Final Lap Twin
Keith Courage in Alpha Zones
Legendary Axe
Military Madness
Monster Lair CD-ROM
Moto Roader [NCS]
Power Golf
Takin' It To The Hoop
Victory Run
World Class Baseball
World Court Tennis
Ys Book I & II CD-ROM

The Sega Genesis launched in August of 1989, backward compatible with SMS using the Power Base Converter. There were 12 notable Genesis titles released this year.

End Year 4 - Sega Master System : 18 Titles
93 Titles Total
End Year 1 - TurboGrafx-16 : 25 Titles

1990 - Sega Master System

Alex Kidd: Shinobi World
Castle of Illusion (starring Mickey Mouse)
Dick Tracy
Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Slap Shot
Super Monaco G.P.

1990 - TurboGrafx-16

Aero Blasters
Battle Royale
Bloody Wolf
Boxyboy (Puzzle game)
Crater Maze
Cyber Core
Devil's Crush
Double Dungeons [NCS RPG!]
Dragon's Curse
Drop Off
Final Zone II CD-ROM
Galaga '90
JJ and Jeff
King of Casino
Last Alert CD-ROM
Legendary Axe II
Magical Dinosaur Tour CD-ROM
Ninja Spirit
Sonic Spike
Space Harrier
Super Star Soldier
Super Volleyball
TV Sports Football
Veigues Tactical Gladiator [Game Arts]

End Year 5 - Sega Master System : 9 Titles
102 Titles Total
End Year 2 - TurboGrafx-16 : 25 Titles
58 Titles Total

1991 - Sega Master System

Bonanza Bros.
Golden Axe Warrior
Sonic the Hedgehog

1991 - TurboGrafx-16

Bonk's Revenge
Buster Brothers CD
Cadash [Working Designs]
Champions Forever Boxing
Cosmic Fantasy II CD-ROM
Dead Moon
Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes
Hit the Ice
It came from the Desert CD-ROM
J.B. Harold Murder Club
Jackie Chan Action Kung-Fu
Legend of Hero Tonma
Magical Chase
Neutopia II
Night Creatures
Parasol Stars
Raiden Trad [6 Meg HU-Card]
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Silent Debuggers
Ys III: Wanderers From Ys

End Year 6 - Sega Master System : 5 Titles
107 Titles Total
End Year 3 - TurboGrafx-16 : 21 Titles
79 Titles Total

1992 - TurboGrafx-16

Air Zonk
Chase HQ
Darkwing Duck
Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon
Exile CD-ROM [Working Designs]
Gate of Thunder [w/ Bonk 1+2 and Bomberman?]
Lords of the Rising Sun CD-ROM
New Adventure Island [Wonderboy]
Prince of Persia CD-ROM
Riot Zone CD-ROM
Shadow of the Beast CD-ROM
Shape Shifter CD-ROM
Soldier Blade
Somer Assault
Splash Lake
Time Cruise

End Year 4 - TurboGrafx-16 : 20 Titles
99 Titles Total

1993 - TurboGrafx-16

Beyond Shadowgate CD-ROM
Bomberman '93
Bonk 3 CD: Bonk's Big Adventure
Cotton CD-ROM
Davis-Cup Tennis
Dungeon Explorer II [Working Designs]
Dungeon Master: Theron's Quest
Dynastic Hero [Wonderboy in Monster Land]
Exile: Wicked Phenomenon CD [WD]
Forgotton Worlds CD-ROM
John Madden CD-Football
Lords of Thunder CD-ROM
Might and Magic III
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective 2
Sim Earth CD-ROM
Super Air Zonk CD-ROM
Sydmead's Terra Forming CD-ROM
TV Sports Basketball
TV Sports Hockey
Vasteel CD-ROM [Working Designs]

End Year 4 - TurboGrafx-16 : 22 Titles
121 Titles Total

Final - Master System : 107 Titles Total
Final - TurboGrafx-16 : 121 Titles Total