It was the year that SEGA joined the 16-bit console era, Alexey Pajitnov’s super-puzzler Tetris hit the west, a new powerhouse Nintendo developer made their mark, and both arcade and home manufacturers really doubled down on the joys of the money-spinning sequel…
A new racing game from UK developer Rare, R.C. Pro-Am, impressed the socks off players the world over, and also those at Nintendo who’d contracted them. In subsequent years, the partnership went on to spawn some of the most-loved games ever on Nintendo consoles, with Rare titles including Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, Golden Eye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and STACK favourite Blast Corps.
While NEC had launched the PC Engine in 1987, it was SEGA’s Mega Drive – or Genesis, if you’re American – that packed in true 16-bit power and really went big worldwide. First released in Japan in October of 1988 (Australia finally got it two years later), it was based around the company’s System 16 arcade board. The Mega Drive really was built for games, and home versions of many SEGA arcade hits were the closest that you’d get to having to pop coins into slots to play.
When you’re on a good thing, stick to it. Never was this mantra more apt than with games manufacturers in 1988. The practice of releasing sequels went wild – and hasn’t abated since. In the arcades we had the likes of Double Dragon II: The Revenge from Technōs and Capcom’s Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, while home gamers played Dragon Quest III, Super Mario Bros. 2 (a reskinned Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic), Super Mario Bros. 3, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Final Fantasy II, Mega Man 2 and more.