The Greatest Years in Gaming History - 1990-1999
The 1990's saw significant evolutionary improvements both in games and the technology used to play them. Two years in particular stand out as highly notable – 1991 and 1997. These were the years that represented the peak periods of change – and were witness to some of the most memorable games of the decade.
• F-Zero (SNES) Showcased the system's Mode 7 graphics.
• Commander Keen (PC) Early shareware product. Popularized PC platform games.
• Wing Commander (PC) First in the series.
• Super Mario World (SNES) Significant sales - 20.6m. First appearance of Yoshi.
• SNK Neo Geo Multi-Video System. A multi-game arcade system that became the basis of the Neo Geo AES console the following year.
• Nintendo Super Famicom launched (Japan).
• Sega Game Gear. Key launch titles include Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Super Monaco GP, and Columns.
• Galoob Game Genie. A popular game cartridge modifying too.
• Companies founded this year: Eidos plc, Interactive Studios, Team17 Software Limited, Natsume Co., Ltd, Revolution Software.
• Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis) Significant sales – 15m
• Another World (Amiga) Benchmark game for seamlessly blending cutscenes and gameplay.
• Sid Meier's Civilization (PC) First of the series.
• Lemmings (Multi) First of the series. It's the most ported game of all time.
• Tecmo Super Bowl (NES) The most consistently-played and hacked Nintendo game of all time.
• Sega Mega CD (Japan). The CD-ROM add-on to the Mega Drive/Genesis goes on to sell almost 3m units –a 6.5% adoption rate.
• Philips CD-I launched (Europe) A CD-ROM machine, its key launch games include Defender of the Crown, Battleship, and Connect Four.
• Street Fighter II (Arcade) The biggest-grossing coin-op of the 90's established a fighting game format that remains largely unchanged today.
• Time Traveler (Arcade) Novelty coin-op with "holographic gameplay." In reality it's QTE scenes projected onto a curved mirror.
• Super Nintendo Entertainment System launched (US)
• Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy) Significant sales – 11m
• Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis) Significant sales - 6m
• Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy) First appearance of Kirby.
• Dune II (PC) Sets the template for the modern real-time strategy genre.
• Wolfenstein 3D (PC) Very early first person shooter genre.
• Super Mario Kart (SNES) First of the series.
• Star Control II (PC) Landmark PC game.
• Alone in the Dark (PC) Establishes horror-survival game mechanics.
• Zool (Amiga) Best-selling game on Amiga.
• Mortal Kombat (Arcade) Controversial and violent fighting game.
• Sega CD launched (US). One of its games, Night Trap, causes national controversy in the United States due to its perceived violence.
• Activision (then called Mediagenic) files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
• Donkey Kong Country (SNES) Significant sales - 10m
• Disney's Aladdin (Genesis, SNES) Significant sales - 4m
• Myst (PC) Significant sales - 6m. Widely regarded to be the "killer app" for CD-ROM hardware. Helped drive its mass-market adoption. 6m
• Star Fox (SNES) First of the series. Also, the first game to use the Super FX Chip
• X-Wing (PC) Landmark Star Wars game.
• Doom (PC) Set the template for the modern first-person shooter.
• The 7th Guest (PC) Key CD-ROM game. Its broad-appeal gameplay helped drive gaming beyond its core audience.
• 3DO launched (US) American console notable for its excellent technology, high price, and low sales.
• Virtua Fighter (Arcade) Fighting games go 3D.
• Atari Jaguar launched (US) The first "64-bit" console. The last US-made video game system until the Xbox.
• NBA Jam Midway (Arcade) A new take on arcade sports games is a huge hit with gamers.
• Companies founded: nVidia Corporation, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.
• System Shock (PC) Landmark first-person action RPG.
• Need for Speed (3DO) First game of the series. Becomes the most successful racing game franchise of all time.
• Mortal Kombat 2 (SNES) Notable for having uncensored content, a turn-up for the books for usually-conservative Nintendo.
• Warcraft (PC). First in the series. Landmark RTS.
• Marathon (Mac) First in the series. Landmark FPS. Introduced the concept of freelook.
• Super Metroid (SNES) Seminal action adventure game. Distributed on a 24-megabit cartridge.
• Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (PC) Notable for mixing full-motion video and space combat. Its budget of $4 million was far higher than most games of the period.
• 32X launched (US) Ill-fated Mega Drive/Genesis peripheral.
• Playdia launched (Japan)
• Sega Saturn launched (Japan)
• PlayStation launched (Japan)
• Neo Geo CD (Japan) home console
• Silicon & Synapse changes its name to Blizzard Entertainment.
• Commodore goes out of business.
• Companies founded: Neversoft Entertainment
• Chrono Trigger (SNES) Seminal JRPG.
• Earthbound (SNES) Conceptually advanced JRPG.
• Command & Conquer (PC): Landmark RTS.
• Rayman (PS1) First of the Series.
• Atari Jaguar CD launched (US)
• Nintendo Virtual Boy launched (Japan)
• Sega Saturn launched (US)
• Sony PlayStation launched (US)
• The first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is held in Los Angeles, California
• Companies founded: Interworld Productions, which is renamed Mythic Entertainment, BioWare.
• Mario Kart 64 (N64) Significant sales - 10m
• Pokémon Red, Blue and Green (Game Boy) Significant sales –23.6m
• Super Mario 64 (N64) Significant sales - 11.6m
• Tomb Raider (Multi) Significant sales - 8m
• Crash Bandicoot (PS1) Significant sales - 6.8m
• Duke Nukem 3D (PC) Notable for being vaporware.
• Super Mario RPG (SNES) First of the series.
• Quake (PC) Notable FPS.
• Resident Evil (PS1) Landmark horror-survival game.
• Star Ocean (SNES) First of the series.
• Wipeout XL 2097 (PS1) Landmark sci-fi racing game.
• Bubsy 3D (PS1) Notable lesson in how not to execute a character-driven game.
• Diablo (PC) Notable action-RPG dungeon crawler.
• Nintendo 64 launched (US)
• Nintendo Game Boy Pocket launched (US)
• Midway Games, Inc. acquires Atari Games Corp
• Companies founded: Valve Corporation, Firaxis.
• CUC International, Inc purchases Sierra On-Line, Blizzard Entertainment and Davidson & Associates.
• Technos Japan Corporation, goes out of business. Assets acquired by Atlus Corporation.
• Guitar Freaks (Arcade) Notable music/rhythm game.
• GoldenEye 007 (N64) Significant sales - 8m
• Gran Turismo (PS1) Significant sales - 11m
• Final Fantasy VII (PS1) Significant sales - 9.7m
• Tomb Raider II (multi) Significant sales -2 8m
• Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) Notable Arcade adventure.
• The Last Express (PC) Conceptually advanced realtime adventure game.
• Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter (PC) Notable space combat simulation.
• Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1) Conceptually advanced turn-based strategy game.
• Fallout PC First of the series.
• Ultima Online (PC) First major MMORPG
• Grand Theft Auto (PS1) First of the series.
• PaRappa the Rapper (PS1) Innovative rhythm game.
• Game com launched (US)
• Electronic Arts Inc. acquires Maxis
• Companies founded: Crave Entertainment, Inc., Irrational Games LLC founded
• Dance Dance Revolution (Arcade) Innovative dance game.
• Metal Gear Solid (PS1) Significant sales - 7m
• The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) Significant sales - 7.6m
• Pokémon Yellow (Game Boy) Significant sales - 9m
• Sonic Adventure (Saturn) Biggest-selling game on Saturn– 2.5m
• Tekken 3 (PS1) Significant sales - 8.5m
• Crash Bandicoot: Warped (PS1) Significant sales - 7m
• StarCraft (PC) Significant sales - 11m
• Unreal (PC) First of the series.
• Banjo-Kazooie (N64) First of the series.
• Spyro the Dragon (PS1) First appearance of Spyro.
• Thief: The Dark Project (PC) First of the series.
• Mario Party (N64) First of the series.
• The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) Seminal arcade adventure.
• Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus (PS1) First of the series.
• Rogue Squadron (N64) The first Expansion Pak game.
• Half-Life (PC) Landmark first-person shooter.
• Sega Dreamcast launched (Japan)
• Nintendo Game Boy Color launched (US)
• Bandai WonderSwan launched (Japan)
• Sega Dreamcast launched (US)
• Eidos Interactive acquires Crystal Dynamics.
• Electronic Arts Inc. acquires Virgin Studio and Westwood Studios, Inc.
• Companies founded: Rockstar Games.
• Havas/Vivendi acquires Cendant Software, whose holdings include Sierra On-Line and Blizzard Entertainment
• Square Co. and Electronic Arts form Square Electronic Arts LLC.
• Shenmue (Dreamcast) Landmark storytelling action adventure game.
• Pokémon Gold and Silver (GBC) Significant sales – 23m
• Gran Turismo 2 (PS1) Significant sales - 9.3m
• Final Fantasy VIII (PS1, PC) Significant sales - 8m
• Unreal Tournament (PC) Notable multiplayer first-person shooter.
• Medal of Honor (PC) First of the series.
• Asheron's Call (PC) Early MMORPG.
• Everquest (PC) Notable MMORPG.
• Soulcalibur (DC) First of the series.
• Silent Hill (PS1) Conceptually advanced horror game.
• Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (Multi) Landmark skateboarding game.
• Pokémon Snap (GBC) Unusual execution of a first-person shooter concept.
• Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (PC) Landmark turn-based sci-fi strategy game.
• Nintendo 64DD launched (Japan)
• SNK Neo Geo Pocket Color launched (US)
• Sega Dreamcast launched (US)
• Infogrames Entertainment, SA acquires Accolade, Gremlin Interactive, GT Interactive Software (GTIS), and Ozisoft
• Activision acquires Elsinore Multimedia, Expert Software, and Neversoft Entertainment