SMASHING The Myth About Speed and Power

     SMASHING: The Myth of Speed and Power was a Nintendo print advertising campaign in 1994 against Sega's Blast Processing Television commercials. The advertisement was designed to look like a regular magazine article, and focused heavily on the Genesis not having any kind of special chip called the "blast processor" or a special chip that produces "blast processing."  Nintendo elevated its custom processors and Dynamic Memory Access (DMA) design, above what was already found in the Sega Genesis, while pointing out other marginally advantageous, misleading, or vague to meaningless hardware specifications.  SMASHING is simply a case of ill-phrased self promotion. 

     As the Blast processing TV commercial clearly shows, Sega only stated the Genesis "has blast processing." Sega even admitted to the press that Blast Processing was just a marketing buzz word.  Endless discussion ensued about whether Blast Processing emphasized the Genesis CPU's speed over the Super Nintendo's, DMA, or some software technique for moving objects faster than the screen would scroll.1  Debate over each technical aspect of that argument will be covered more thoroughly in a review of the Blast Processing advertising campaign, Nothing from Sega ever claimed there was a special chip in the Genesis that was called or produced "blast processing".  Interestingly, it was Nintendo that created the notion of a Blast Processor and the game media ran with it. 

     The average consumer would have seen the actual Blast Processing commercial (4.4 MB) by the time of seeing this fake editorial:2

Column one, titled "A Blast of Hot Air," also includes Nintendo's first fallacy that the SNES could handle Sonic or any game character while scaling him "so large that you'd see each individual hedgehog hair (not a pretty sight) and ... rotate his background until he really turned blue."  The Super Nintendo could not scale sprites.  In the SNES' seventh background mode, it could only scale a single 256 color background.  Within said mode, no object would enhance in detail as it approached the screen.  Any object or background, when zoomed in, would only show the pixels that were always there until all that was visible was a few different colored squares.  The reader may decide whether or not that was a pretty sight, but no SNES game would ever show enhanced detail for any background as it scaled into the screen.  Column two and three begin Nintendo's real thrust with this advertisement, poorly fact checked promotion of customized processors.

     Notably omitted under "True Power Processing" was an admission that Nintendo waited too long or failed to deliver on its promises with the Super Nintendo.  The gaming media in early 1992 showed Nintendo only slightly less in favor than usual.3  After the release of Street Fighter II on SNES in late 1992 critique of anything on a Nintendo platform was hard to find.  This 1994 article returned to Nintendo's pre-launch hype by emphasizing the Super Nintendo's "six customized chips," DMA, and of course Mode 7, over Sega's "mainly off-the-shelf parts."

     As proof, Nintendo claimed to have revolutionized sports games without any specific examples.  Column two similarly runs into factual errors.  Comparing 32,000 colors for the SNES to 256 for the Genesis, with 256 colors on screen simultaneously to only 64, Nintendo's advertisement stumbles first in its most obvious way.  The Genesis actually has a 512 color (9-bit) master palette to choose from, and the Super Nintendo could only actually display 256 colors in the single background Mode 7.4  Similarly, Nintendo compares the SNES' total on screen sprite limitation of 128 to the Genesis' 80 while failing to mention the sprite size limitations.  No admission or explanation is made here as to why SNES games usually had fewer objects on screen than similar Genesis titles. 

     One reason as to why is Sega's Genesis has a more flexible sprite size limitation.  Any object from 8x8 to 32x32, in increments of 8 pixels wide or tall, can be displayed on screen simultaneously.  Conversely Nintendo limited the SNES by only allowing one of two sizes on screen at once, such as 16x16 and 32x32.5  Due to this and other more technical factors, actual games were more likely to fill up the screen with the Genesis' sprite table than with the SNES' limitations.


     "Superior NES" continues Nintendo's self promotion by means of a bullet list attempting to show how much "more" the SNES has than the Genesis.  Listed here are two Picture Processing Units (PPUs), which are actually just one chip with two processors on one die that would not function without one another, as opposed to the Genesis' single VDP.  Nintendo also claims "6 custom designed chips for video games as opposed to only 2" are necessary for more effects, colors and "better sound".  Also included but not explained are "almost twice the internal memory" and a very obscure claim of "data retrieval" supposedly being "88% faster than Genesis."  Without considering other factors, like the SNES' limited bandwidth and its choice for planar graphics, it's hard to understand why, even with more memory and supposed faster "data retrieval", SNES games like Mickey Mania, Mr.Nutz, Out Of This World, Phantom 2040 have noticeable loading times when compared to their Genesis versions.

     SNES's signal to noise ratio was also inexplicably "2.5 times better."  Wrapping up, Nintendo felt the need to point out twelve buttons on the controller to eight on the Genesis 6-button pad, which strangely counts each direction on the directional pad as a button.  Jumping to the bottom of the first column, Nintendo selected screenshots of Alien 3, The Lost Vikings and Nigel Mansell's World Championship Racing to exemplify the SNES' graphics fidelity over that of the Genesis.  Not one of these games would go on to be considered typical examples of art inspired Genesis titles. 

     Nintendo's second to last column, titled "For The Super NES Only," begins by claiming Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is only worth one fast play through.  Somehow the SNES also exclusively provides game designers "more meat to sink their teeth into."  Thirty four SNES titles are then rattled off that somehow could never be replicated on the Genesis.  Finally, "Get Real, Get Nintendo" claims that the Genesis simply does not have the best games.  Once again Nintendo digressed here by listing off more games and game developers, some of which were exclusive to Nintendo and some that were also on Genesis. 

     The final column concluded Nintendo's fake editorial with another list of mostly irrelevant facts.  Titled "Q&A: The Questions That Count," these irrelevant questions only cede to Sega the color of the console being black and its mascot being a "European porcupine."  The rest of the list, like the fake editorial in its entirety, over emphasized and simplified the number of special chips in the SNES.  

     Only speculation can answer why game magazines of the day, which unabashedly claimed to be free advertising for the biggest publishers,6 failed to print this fake article as one their own.  To the present day one will occasionally see game magazine editors or gamers online say that Sega lied about blast processing, or that Sega claimed that there was a special chip within the Genesis.  The source for that emotional opinion is right here in Nintendo's own 1994 anti-Sega advertising campaign.

  1. 1. "sheath", "Sega Genesis vs Super Nintendo," (November 8, 2009, accessed August 12, 2013) available from
  2. 2. Thanks to 
  3. 3. "sheath," "1991, Hype vs Reality," (November 8, 2009, accessed August 12, 2013) available from
  4. 4. "sheath", "Sega Genesis vs Super Nintendo," (November 8, 2009, accessed August 12, 2013) available from, Super Nintendo Background Planes.
  5. 5. "sheath", "Sega Genesis vs Super Nintendo," (November 8, 2009, accessed August 12, 2013) available from, Sega Genesis Sprite Max & Sizes.
  6. 6. Semrad, "insert coin: The Power of Rumors...," Electronic Gaming Monthly, April 1991, 8.