In terms of performance, the hardware in the NES is designed to use as little CPU as possible. It's graphics processor uses tile-based graphics, so all the NES has to do in order to redraw the display is to update a few parameters. In contrast; all the major graphics cards for the PC (up to VGA) are based on bitmapping, so PCs will have to use CPU to redraw every single pixel that changes during a game. This leaves a much smaller ratio of CPU power to actually run the game.
Thanks, per! When I think about it, the way a game tells the CPU to continue to load the tile for a given level or when to stop must have been ingenious.
Continue, Mario jumped over the pipe at co,ords then stomped the koopa at co,ords.
STOP!, Mario jumped over the pipe at co,ords then was killed by the koopa at co,ords. Reset level to beginning. Minus one life.
It's just ingenious also in how what direction you come into contact with an enemy depends the outcome of the collision. Mostly if you land on top an enemy who isn't spiked, you kill or injure it (depending on what it is). But if its a water-based enemy inside a water level, you take damage even if you hit on top.
So obviously a lot of math and thought was put into even something like a "simple" side-scroller. You couldn't literally compare the machines. Also, it isn't what the raw tech of the chips were in the machine that count, it's how they were programmed to work!
Thank you, tile-based programming! If it weren't for the genius of Nintendo and its many affiliates making games for its systems, it is unlikely we would be still in the middle of a gaming culture. Yes, Sony took the reigns to the kindgom, but even at third place Nintendo is still in the running. :D