The History of Video Games: 11 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know: Page 7 of 11

A journey through the ages!
A journey through the ages!

7. 1986 – 1992:

The Nintendo-Sega Console War, the 16-Bit Invasion

The years 1986 to 1992 were a wondrous time for video games for home consoles and personal computers.

On computers, RPGs entered a Golden Age with games like 1985’s Bard’s Tale, 1986’s Might and Magic Book One, as well as several entries into the aforementioned Ultima and Wizardry series.

In 1986, Sega debuted the 8-bit Sega Master System. It would serve as the Nintendo Entertainment System’s direct competition. A heated war between the two giants would ensue – one that would last more than a decade!

In 1986, The Legend of Zelda was released for the NES, and would become one of the most important action-adventure games of our time.

In an attempt to stay relevant in the industry, Atari unveiled the Atari 7800 in 1986. It was priced at $140.

1987 would see the release of the very first Final Fantasy game. Contrary to developer Square’s expectations, the game did extremely well both critically and commercially. It would go on to spawn a multitude of equally acclaimed sequels, spin-offs, and clones. The success of the franchise would further popularize JRPGs, ensuring itself a global audience for many years to come.

1987 was the year LucasArts released their first point-and-click adventure game, Maniac Mansion.

1987’s Street Fighter was the first fighting game to introduce command-based special attacks.

Metal Gear, by legendary creator Hideo Kojima, was released in 1987 for MSX2, then for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988. This action-adventure title starred series hero Snake, who had to infiltrate enemy facilities using stealth.

In 1988, a post-apocalyptic computer game called Wasteland was released. This would later inspire the seminal Fallout franchise.

1988 was when the first game in the John Madden Football series was released for personal computers. Its realism was highly praised, and would cement the franchise’s place in history as one of the best-selling sports video game brands in the game industry.

Herzog Zwei, the first real-time strategy (RTS) game, was released in 1989 for the Sega Genesis. Because of its RTS mechanics, it was also the early precursor of the multiplayer online battle arena. (MOBA)

In 1988, BioWare’s fantasy RPG Baldur’s Gate was released for the PC. The game was critically lauded for its gameplay, exploration, character development, dialogue options, and visuals, and was responsible for reinvigorating the computer RPG genre.

In 1989, Peter Molyneux’s Populous was released for personal computers. Many regard it as the first god game.

Will Wright’s SimCity was launched in 1989. Its huge success would put the city building and construction and management simulation genre on the map, and generate several sequels, spin-offs, and clones.

1989 saw Nintendo’s release the Game Boy, the first cartridge-based handheld console to achieve worldwide success. The Game Boy, which cost $89.95, came bundled with Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris, which popularized both the game and the console. The Game Boy, and its 1998 update, the Game Boy Color, would, in combination, sell over 118 units globally, making them the third best-selling consoles in history.

Later that same year, Atari launched the handheld gaming device Lynx for $189.99. Unlike the Game Boy, the Lynx was in color. This feature was its major selling point.

Perhaps the most important development on the home console front was the arrival of the fourth generation consoles, or the 16-bit systems. The first among these was the TurboGrafx-16 in 1989. The TurboGrafx-16, which cost $199.99, was also the first console to use compact discs in order to run games.

That same year, Sega introduced the Genesis, or Mega Drive, to the world, and for the first time since it entered the gaming industry, Nintendo found itself losing a considerable portion of its market to its competition. The Genesis cost $189.99.

Nintendo would fight back, however, releasing its own 16-bit home console, the Super Nintendo (Super NES), in 1990. It also cost $199.99.

Not one to surrender, Sega responded to Nintendo’s move by introducing its own video game mascot, the anti-Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, in 1991. Sonic’s edgy attitude and face-burning velocities made him an instant hit and a popular alternative to Mario. The Nintendo-Sega war was at its peak.

Sega also launched its own handheld, the Sega Game Gear, in 1991. It cost $149.99, and was also in color.

The spectacular success of 1991’s arcade fighting game Street Fighter II was responsible for the fighting game explosion of the 1990s. Along with future hits such as The King of Fighters and Mortal Kombat, it would also rejuvenate interest in arcade games.

In 1991, the first true MMORPG was released, allowing over 90 players to interact with each other in online and in real-time in a vast, graphical open world. The game was Neverwinter Nights.

That same year, Sid Meier’s Civilization was introduced to the gaming world. An award-winning 4X strategy game, it is considered by many to be one of the most important and influential strategy games of all time. It would go on to spawn numerous equally profitable, critically lauded, and ridiculously addicting sequels and spin-offs.

SNK released its own home console, the Neo Geo, in 1991. It cost between $399.99 and $699.99.

Dune II popularized the RTS genre in 1992. This would stimulate the development of some of strategy gaming’s most phenomenal series, such as Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and Total War.

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, a spin-off of Richard Garriott’s Ultima series, was released in 1992. This critically acclaimed PC game was a trailblazer, being the first RPG to feature a first-person perspective in a true 3D environment. It was also the first first-person game that let players move the camera up and down, allowing them to examine the entirety of their surroundings. This RPG masterpiece would inspire future games such as Deus Ex and BioShock.

In 1992, the Infogrames-developed Alone in the Dark was released for the PC. An early example of the survival horror genre, it was also one of the first games to feature polygonal characters over static, pre-rendered backgrounds. It made it to the Guinness World Records as the First Ever 3D Survival Horror Game.

Writer, Gamer, Dreamer
Gamer Since: 1986
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Bloodborne, Mortal Kombat X, Tera Online
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls II, Bioshock Infinite, Dragon Age: Inquisition
This article makes me feel:

More Top Stories