From studying the specifications, it looks as though Commodore's new Amiga 1200 is the winner. The 16 million colours and 640x512 resolution prove this.
The standard Amiga graphics look sharp enough with the 4096-colour palette, but because games usually only use 32 colours on screen at once, the results don't look too colourful. There are ways around this, like utilising the copper (co-processor) chip (the shaded skyline in Robocod uses this method, for example), but a lot of programmers prefer to just have many shades of a few colours (the Bitmap Brothers use this metallic method particularly).
MegaDrive games, because of the measly 512 palette, have loads of primary colours on screen (as seen on Sonic), but the lack of palette and reasonably low resolution prevent a lot of MegaDrive games having that 'clean-cut' look (Ecco contradicts this theory, however).
SNES games can look very nice, but this is mainly down to the parallax/Mode-7 effects. Unfortunately, the resolution isn't really that wonderful, so graphic definition on games can sometimes look a touch blocky (using the palette to the full helps a lot though).
Sprite and Scroll Handling:
Mainly what the consoles were made for. The SNES and MegaDrive are very competent and both can allow many layers of colourful parallax and fast, detailed, large sprites
(although, of course, programmers can't go too OTT because of flicker and slow-down etc.).
The SNES theoretically can produce 4 layers of 32-colour parallax; although, to be honest, I can't see much evidence of this (write to me if you can prove me wrong).
Just look at Strider on the MegaDrive if you want a demonstration of the machine's brilliant sprite capabilities, then laugh at the dire Amiga version. (Actually, we can't blame the Amiga too much for its version of Strider - it may be hopeless, but remember that it was a straight port over from the appalling ST version). The Amiga can't cope too well with masses of fully coloured sprites; well actually, it can, but only if there isn't any parallax on the screen. Parallax on the Amiga simply slows everything down and reduces the amount of colours, so you don't see too much of it. This doesn't mean that games can't look impressive though, because they can (Z-Out, Project X, SWIV or Switchblade 2 anyone?).
The A1200 has full sprite abilities with fabulous parallax and scrolling. See the A1200 feature for more.
For all of you who aren't quite sure what the CPU is, check out the feature elsewhere in this mag.. Briefly though: For all vector games, the CPU is very important, which is why these type of games don't run as fast as you might like on the standard Amiga, SNES or MegaDrive. The new 32-bit Amiga 1200 and Super FX chip
for the Super NES grant simulators the ability to become smoother. They still won't be perfectly smooth (you need, say, an accelerated Amiga for a perfect sensation of speed), mainly because 3-D eats up speed faster than I can get through a hamburger - but the improvement is significant. For more details, refer to the aforementioned CPU article.
The Blitter (BLock Image T(T)ransfER) helps to boost the speed of both of the Amigas allowing an increase in smoothness and speed when sprites are shifted all over the place. It is rumoured the A1200 Blitter is 4 to 5 times the speed of the standard A600 one.
Both the Amigas have true polygon abilities allowing proper 3-D. The standard SNES and MegaDrive struggle to generate polygons, but the Super NES does have its own Mode-7 chip allowing scaling and rotation at a high speed (as seen in F-Zero or Pilot Wings).
Oh yes, and there's the Super FX chip, so that's a double bonus for the Super NES.
Both the SNES and MegaDrive have 'Turbo Nutter Chips'. This is the main chip that has to cope with all that parallax, and all those sprites you see on games like Sonic The Thing-a-me-jig and Super Smash TV.
Apparently, the Amiga 1200 has more speed extras (mainly for sprites etc.), although some of these are kept hidden for reasons beyond us.
For more information about speed extras and polygons etc., turn to the 3-D and CPU features in another section of the mag..