1987: The first Australian mobile phone call is made, action movie fans lap up Lethal Weapon, Predator and RoboCop, Charlene from Neighbours tops the year’s Aussie pop charts with a cover of ’60s hit The Loco-Motion, and The Simpsons make their TV debut (man!).
October of that year also saw the debut of a new gaming console in Japan from massive electronics company NEC. Named the PC Engine, it was designed by Bomberman creators Hudson Soft and boasted seriously capable 8-bit and 16-bit combined hardware. A slew of top-quality arcade conversions – spearheaded by side-scrolling shooter R-Type – saw it gaining much success in its homeland, and an overseas release was slowly rolled out. Known in the US as the TuboGrafx-16 (clunky name much?) it didn’t arrive until 1989, finding stiff competition from SEGA’s Genesis (aka Mega Drive), and sales were less than stellar. A limited European release dropped the ‘-16’ but still failed to ignite the market. Masses of US units converted for PAL TV systems were warehoused at one point, only to be rediscovered years later and sold to many collectors who’d missed out originally – one unit of which is happily housed on our shelves. Even now, some of the arcade hits that made it to the machine are outstanding, from Galaga ’88 right through to SEGA’s landmark After Burner…
That latter title also made its western arcade debut in October of ’87. Inspired by the movie Top Gun, the aerial combat shooter was one of the first event video games, and hydraulic After Burner machines were an absolute thrill ride.
Speaking of event games, in October of 2003, Activision unleashed a title for PC that would be ground zero for one of the most successful game franchises ever: Call of Duty. The first-person shooter has become a typically annual affair, with its 17th main iteration, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, out next month.
Notable games released in October
Super Pac-Man (1982)
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987)
Mortal Kombat (1992)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (2001)
Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (2012)
The Evil Within 2 (2017)