In today's gaming world, when you compare games to each other across multiple platforms, you focus on big things such as resolution, frame rate, and "HDR". One thing is solid and certain, regardless of the modern system you buy a game on, you will be playing the same thing as everyone else...
It wasn't always this way though! In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of the console wars from the 90's is how a game might be a different experience on another console. While one expects slight changes in visual fidelity, musical production, or even a few small features slightly altered, the differences we are talking about here are far more special.
The following list represents a gone-by game development practice of designing titles based on the differences in hardware, resulting in 2 or more unique titles using the same name.
A great example of this category is the oft-overlooked Beavis & Butt-head game. The first of this pair that we will take a look at is the Super Nintendo version. Developed by Realtime Associates, this version of the game is a side-scrolling platformer with a fairly linear progression. The game is fun but quite difficult, and it does a fair job of re-creating some of the show's locations as levels. It also has some odd, but entertaining features such as posing the characters for a photo at the end of every level.
Moving onto the Genesis version, as soon as you start playing you can immediately notice this is a different game. While still following the same overall plot of getting into the Gwar concert, this game is structured much more like an adventure title. Developed by Radical Entertainment, this game shows a far greater love for the source material. In fact, if you find yourself stuck on a certain part, watching the first few seasons of the show is sure to give you the solution in some form. The difficulty is steep, but the game design is solid and makes a great addition to any Mega-Drive collection.
If you've never played the Genesis classic "Rocket Knight Adventures", we highly recommend it. It's a great Genesis exclusive where you get to play as an anthropomorphic opossum geared up with a suit of armor, a sword, and a totally radical jetpack. Following the success of this title, Konami developed another entry titled "Sparkster" for the Mega-Drive. Serving as a follow-up, and a direct sequel, to the original title, this title gives you more of the fast-paced jetpack action from the original, but with a much more user-friendly boost mechanic.
Not wanting to leave sales for Nintendo's system to the side, Konami also developed another game. Using the same title and art as the Genesis sequel, this deceptive package actually contains an entirely separate plot from the other 2 games. With some slightly altered mechanics and the higher-resolution graphics of the Super Nintendo, this is another great example of 2 games that are completely different. The interesting thing here though is that both were developed by the same company; Konami.
Another example from Konami, a 3-way comparison this time, comes to us in the form of a Ninja Turtles fighting game. The developers really knew what they were doing with this style of cross-platform development here, and it shows. Each game not only has its own story, but the content is so different that even the levels, fighting system, and art style are completely unique to each version. In addition, each one of these game's rosters boasts one or more characters that neither of the other 2 have. So whether you prefer the cartoony style of the SNES version, the darker and grittier Mega-Drive version, or the rare example of an NES fighting game, there is certainly enough here to engage you in all 3 versions of the title.
In 1993 Beam Software developed an isometric action-RPG based on the "Shadowrun" property. The game's plot follows an amnesiac named Jake who is struggling to figure out who he is, and why someone wants him dead. For many, this would be the first time they would experience the world of Shadowrun which is a unique mixture of cyber-punk and fantasy.
The following year, the developers at BlueSky Software produced another game in the series also titled "Shadowrun" but this time for the Sega Genesis. In this version, the view is top-down rather than isometric, and the battles happen in real-time. The non-linear plot also differs, now revolving around a man named Joshua who arrives in Seattle seeking answers and vengeance for his brother's death.