East vs. West – whose consoles looked better?

In the late 1980s Japan well and truly conquered the video game market but no doubt they were quite fearful of a repeat of the 1983 North American video game crash (click here for my article on that event) because they must have felt that their console, the Famicom, was too Japanese for Americans. As such they redesigned its look and this was a fashion that Nintendo followed up with the Super Famicom and indeed so did their main rival Sega. In this article I am going to compare the looks of the Japanese versions of consoles to their western counterparts and then offer an opinion as to which looked better. Please bare in mind this is MY opinion only.

So let’s go…

Famicom vs. Nintendo Entertainment System 

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The Famicom (Family Computer) was launched a full two years before the NES but let’s be honest for a minute it certainly looked better. The NES’ design is Nintendo clearly playing it safe again most likely as a result of the 1983 crash. Three tones of grey (see, I managed to avoid a 50 Shades of Grey reference) gave the NES  rather bland look compared to its Japanese brother and it is for that reason that Japan wins this round. It seems as I am not alone here in thinking the NES could have done with a splash of colour. Just click here to view my article on custom NES consoles.

WINNER – Famicom


Sega Mark III vs. Sega Master System

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Nintendo’s biggest rival, Sega, also felt their 8-bit answer to the Famicom, the Mark III, needed to be westernized. They too must have thought their console was too bright for North American and European eyes because the Master System emerged in a rather menacing black and red colour with a front cover designed to emulate the trend in VCR designs. In fact the Master System wouldn’t look too out of place on a TV cabinet with the VHS or Betamax player alongside it and that was probably the intention. In choosing a winner I have to say the Master System looked the better of the two designs. It was meaner looking than either the Mark III, Famicom or the NES.

WINNER – Master System


Super Famicom vs. Super Nintendo (US)

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This is an American-only affair. Somehow Nintendo North felt only North Americans needed a redesigned Super Famicom. Everyone else such as Europe had the same design of Super Famicom (rebranded as the Super Nintendo or SNES) as the Japanese did. Instead of the rounded and smooth design of the Japanese/European model, American consumers got a clunkier looking machine with hard straight surfaces. In this instance its kind of like comparing a Toyota Supra with an American muscle car. The winner here is obvious.

WINNER – Super Famicom


By this point Sega had decided on adopting a universal design for its answer to the Super Famicom/SNES. The 16-bit Mega Drive did have to change one thing however and that is it was rebranded as the Sega Genesis. As far as I can tell even in the States a large number of people refer to the console as the Mega Drive so was it really necessary? Who knows?

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Thanks for reading…

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