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The Sega Genesis and colors

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There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the Genesis could and couldn't do in terms of color.

So lets sort out the facts:

Genesis has a 9-bit color palette, 512 colors to choose from
Most genesis games had between 40 to 60 colors on screen at a time
The genesis was capable of displaying 256 colors on screen at once using programming tricks
The genesis palette could be extended to about 4,096 colors using programming tricks

A lot of Genesis games that have muted colors were limited by the developer's skills and not the hardware.
Pyron ( )  has released a significant number of game patches that take them from this:

to this:

Just go to and look at the sheer number of color  improvement hacks available.
PL1 get your panties unbunched, there are no ROM downloads on that site just IPS patches.

and a neat video:

Toy Story was the most colorful genesis game by far having up to 105 colors on screen during game play and 171 colors on screen for the cut scenes.
Honorable mention to Vectorman running 88 colors on screen, another game that breaks the "61 color limit" myth.
Batman and Robin, Puggsy, and Castlevania really showed off some really awesome graphical effects on the Genesis.

Eternal Champions (cart) is a great example of what you can do with only 52 colors.

Thank you for coming to my TEDtalk and please feel free to reply with feelings, emotions, and anecdotal evidence rather than factual data.

I completely disagree.   The snes had a better color palette both on paper and in practice.  When I look at sonic vs smw, smw obviously has more colors on the screen.   Yes most of those colors are used for shading, adding depth that the average genesis game couldn't pull off without horrible dithering tricks.   I mean those hills in the background of that shot look further away since they are more muted.   Meanwhile Sonic is the exact same color as the ocean far off in the distance.   It's not so say Sonic looks bad, they use tricks in how the sprites are drawn to give the illusion of depth, but the limited color palette makes that necessary instead of optional.   Basically, the genesis is using a 9 pack of crayons and the snes has the big one with the sharpener on the side.   A good artist can make a great drawing with either but let's face it, not every game developer is created equal.   The fact that the snes has more color depth makes it the clear winner, at least in the graphics department.   

You can't say you completely disagree, then agree with some of my points :)
I edited the original post to remove any system that wasn't a Genesis to avoid this thread turning into a console war/comparison thread, its 2021 and time to get over that.

Not all Genesis games are dim, that was my point. Do you disagree with that?

Genesis got screwed, which is what all these rom hacks have demonstrated to me.  Apparently if programmers had spent 10 more minutes on their code things would have been a lot more interesting in the 90s.  Hyperstone Heist with the color fix is definitive.  Street Fighter 2 with the color and sound patches is incredible.  Borderline arcade perfect.

All that being said, I remember reading about ďprogramming tricksĒ expanding the Genesis palette in the 90s.  Is there an actual game with 256 colors?  I heard Eternal Champions back then but Iíve never seen it.

Anyway, itís a great time to dive into the console.  $5-10 gets you either an original or a bootleg of everything.


And hereís Water Margin, some Taiwan game that never got released here until recently.  Itís very early 90s fight and go right but has a nice soundtrack and very vivid.  Oddly this bootleg wonít boot on my minigen HD, but itís fine on my Genesis 2.


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