Rob Fulop, William Grubb and several other former employers of video game giants Atari and Mattel Electronics founded Imagic as a third-party developer of Atari 2600 games. The company put its name on the map when it released the iconic arcade game Missile Command.
Atari consolidated of its home computer and video game divisions in an attempt to streamline the company in the face of the infamous video game crash of 1983, during which the company will suffer losses totaling over half a billion dollars.
Nintendo unveiled its Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) at the Consumer Electronics Show trade show. The new 16-bit game system featured cartridges and (later) compact discs co-developed with Philips N.V. Nintendo announced that the system would hit shelves in September.
Sunsoft released The Death and Return of Superman for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The game was based on the best-selling DC Comics mini-series Death of Superman.
U.S. video game developer Maxis, the creator of the blockbuster game SimCity, goes public. Two years later, it will be acquired by Electronic Arts.
Nintendo released a Camera accessory for its Game Boy in the U.S. Price: US$49.95
Nintendo released a Printer accessory for its Game Boy in the US. Price: US$59.95
The 3DO Company released the turn-based strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia for Windows in the U.S. This, the third game in the series, will largely be received as the best of the series, and it will outsell both of its predecessors. (ESRB: E)
THQ released the real-time military tactics game Full Spectrum Warrior for the Xbox in the U.S. The game was notable for U.S. Army’s involvement in its development. The US Army Science & Technology community assisted in the game development in order to determine whether commercial game platforms could be complement and enhance established training methods. Among the Army’s contributions to the game was the decision not to give the game a first-person shooter mode despite the popularity of the genre at the time. Instead, users’ first-person actions were limited to issuing orders to Fire Teams and Squad members as a commander. The decision flew in the face of conventional market wisdom, but the game would garner a great deal of publicity due to its unconventional gameplay. The game would be exceptionally well-received, but controversy arose after the game’s release. After sinking money into the project, the Army did not use the game because it wasn’t “realistic enough,” leading many to protest that the project was a waste of government funds. (ERB: M)
Valve Corporation released the first-person shooter Half-Life 2: Episode One for Windows, the PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game, the first in a trilogy, debuts a number of new animation technologies and techniques. (ESRB: M)
Vic Tokai released the Top Gear 2 racing game for the Sega Genesis in North America.
Sony publicly announced that it would market the chipset of its PlayStation 2 video game console to other hardware manufacturers.
Walt Disney launched its Toontown Online massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for Windows. The game was marketed as the first MMORPG safe for children. It was designed with a host of kid-safe restrictions, including limited hours of operation, a chat system strictly restricted to a limited dictionary of approved words, and a prohibition on in-game violence, including PVP gameplay. The game will earn a number of family-oriented awards, but will ultimately fail due to a lack of popularity. (ESRB: E)
MGM released the film WarGames, starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. In the film, a computer gamer begins playing games with the computer responsible for operating NORAD, inadvertently triggering a count-down to a missile launch. The film is the most popular of a string of films highlighting gamer culture to be released in the early eighties. It is most notable for being the first to introduce the hacker sub-culture into mainstream media. To prepare Broderick for his role, the studio gave the actor Galaga and Galaxian arcade units to help him get into the mindset of his character.
Nintendo filed a lawsuit against Lewis Galoob Toys, the manufacturer of Micro Machines, in an attempt to obtain an injunction to prevent the company from releasing the Game Genie “game enhancement system” from being released to market. Ultimately, the suit will be unsuccessful.
Nintendo announced that its next game console (later revealed as the Nintendo 64) would feature a top-loading cartridge slot at the International Summer Consumer Electronics Show. Price: US$49.95
Nintendo released the 3D shooter Star Fox for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe as “Star Wing.” It was the first title feature the Super FX chip, a coprocessor used as a graphics accelerator. The three-dimensional models made possible by the chip will draw a great deal of attention, and the game will ultimately become one of the console’s best-selling titles.
Acclaim released a port of the Mortal Kombat arcade game for the Sega Mega CD in Japan.
Capcom released Resident Evil Gaiden for its Game Boy Color in the U.S. The game is only title in the popular Resident Evil series to star Barry Burton in the lead role. (ESRB: T)
Namco released a Nintendo DS port of the popular Nintendo 64 title Ridge Racer, Ridge Racer DS, in Europe.
Atari unveiled the Portable Entertainment System handheld game system with a color display at the Consumer Electronics Show. Price: US$149.95
Nintendo unveiled introduced the Game Boy handheld game device at the Consumer Electronics Show. The monochrome device came bundled with the hit game Tetris. Price: US$89.95
Video game developer Electronics Arts announced that it would acquire Maxis Software, the creator of the hit game SimCity, for $125 million in stock. EA will complete its acquisition on July 28, 1997. Maxis was absorbed into EA slowly, and games were sold under the Maxis brand and logo for years to come.
Atari founder Nolan Bushnell rescinds his endorsement of the Classic Gaming Expo trade show and withdraws from attending the event.
Taito released its classic arcade game, Space Invaders, throughout Japan. The game, which was one of the earliest arcade shooters, would also go on to become one of the earliest blockbuster successes of the game industry, influencing video games design for decades to come. By 2007, the game had netted Taito over half a billion dollars in revenue, setting a Guinness World Record for the world’s top-grossing arcade game.
Bullfrog Productions released Populous, which would go on to become the first commercially successful “god game,” for the Amiga, Atari ST, and PC-compatible computers. The game garnered both critical and popular acclaim, and it’s popularity would later be cited as the birth of the “god game” (or world-building) genre. Games that would succeed Populous, drawing heavily upon it for inspiration, would include SimCity, The Sims franchise, the Tycoon franchise, and Spore, all bestsellers, despite the relative obscurity of Populous itself.
Philips Media released the side-scrolling adventure game Zelda’s Adventure for personal computers. It was the third game in the series, but the first in which players were cast in the role of princess Zelda herself, rather than Link.
California-based Electronic Arts announced that it had agreed to purchase game developer Maxis, best known for its SimCity games.
Ian Hetherington, the founder of game developer Psygnosis, resigned his position due to conflict with the management of Sony, which had acquired the company in 1993.
DVD International released of two new NUON compatible games, Space Invaders XL and Iron Soldier 3, for DVD players.
News outlet Fastest Game News Online reported that Mad Catz Interactive had developed a prototype of a device dubbed the “Bioforce” for the PlayStation 2. The device was designed to give a mild electrical shock to players during games. However, the game will never be released to the consumer market.
Sega Corporation and Sony Corporation jointly announced plans to allow users of Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 game consoles to play games cooperatively through the Internet.
Nintendo released the puzzle game Big Brain Academy for the Nintendo DS in the U.S. Within two years, the title will sell over five million copies globally.
Atari released the Anti-Aircraft coin-operated arcade game.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, media conglomerate 20th Century-Fox Film announced its intention to expand into video game development with the formation of a division to create games for the Atari VCS.
The MMOG first-person shooter World War II Online goes live after a long beta period. Its launch was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the historic invasion of Normandy as a marketing gimmick, but unlike the success of the real invasion, the game’s launch would become a disaster of legendary proportions in the game industry. The game’s initial release was riddled with technical difficulties. The game required new users to download a 70MB patch before going online, which, with a 56k modem, required as long as three hours. Three days prior to its release, a fiber optic failure at the game’s hosting facility reduced the player capacity of the company’s servers from 10,000 to a mere 1,200. Attempts to create a work-around resulted in dramatically degraded online gameplay. Worse, many features promised on the game’s packaging, which had been designed far ahead of the game’s actual release, were Consumer complaints and scathing reviews sharply curtailed the game’s sales. Despite all of these problems, World War II Online pioneered a large number of groundbreaking features, and it would be considered the first massive multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMOFPS).
Nintendo released the side-scrolling platform game Donkey Kong Country for the Game Boy Advance in Europe. The game would be one of the Game Boy Advance’s best-selling games, going on to sell over eight million copies.
Mud Duck Games released the platform game Malice for the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox in the U.S. The game was notable for featuring voiceovers from members of the popular band No Doubt, including Gwen Stefani.
Vivendi Universal released the fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft for the personal computer in China. The expansion required a number of modifications to Blizzard’s normal practices. Because a large portion of Chinese users playing the game at Internet cafes, Blizzard was forced to sell the CD keys required to create a WoW account separately from the original software. Thus, each player was required to buy their own key, in addition to prepaid game cards. The Chinese government also imposed several changes upon the game. In China, the game places flesh on skeletal characters and depicts character corpses as small, neat, graves to “promote a healthy and harmonious online game environment.”
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) brings a lawsuit against the state of Minnesota to challenge a new bill that proposed fines for minors who buy or rent mature or adults-only video games. The ESA argues that the proposed law would violate the First Amendment, and in July, the court will strike the law down as unconstitutional.
Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PlayStation 2 in North America. The game would sell over a million copies by February of the following year. (ESRB: M)
Activision released the roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption, based on the popular pen-and-paper roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade, for Windows. Though the game received only a lukewarm reception, it was notable for including a number of pioneering graphic effects, including the use of multiple shadows dynamically rendered according to in-game light sources. (ESRB: M)
Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, the eleventh game in the Legend of Zelda series, for the GameCube in North America. (ESRB: E)
Sega released the platform game Sonic Advance 3 for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. The game would sell over 1.5 million units and win the Golden Joystick Award for the best handheld game of 2004. (ESRB: E)
EA Games released the first-person shooter Medal of Honor: European Assault for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox in North America. It was the eighth game in the popular Medal of Honor series. Its gameplay is essentially unchanged from that of its predecessors, but it included a number of interface improvements and weapons upgrades. (ESRB: T)
Marvelous Interactive released the simulation game Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility for the Wii in Japan.
Square Co. released Final Fantasy Adventure as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden for the Game Boy in Japan. The game was the first in what would become the highly popular Mana series of games, which roughly paralleled the gameplay of the successful Legend of Zelda series with advanced roleplaying elements and set against a much stronger story.
Sega released the platform game Chakan: The Forever Man for the Sega Mega Drive. The game was notable for having a dark premise and atmosphere in a time when the prevailing trend in gaming was bright cartoon-based platform games marketed towards children. The game’s story was based on a Robert A. Kraus comic in which a warrior so confident in his martial abilities that he declares even Death can’t defeat him is challenged by Death himself.
Game producer Infogrames, which had just acquired Atari home game properties, announced that it would officially change its name from Infogrames to Atari in order to appeal to gamers across generations.
Konami released Castlevania: Circle of the Moon for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. The game would widely be regarded as the best installment in the popular Castlevania series. (ESRB: T)
Sony Computer Entertainment released the survival horror game Extermination for the PlayStation 2 in Europe. It was the first game in the survival horror genre to be released for the PlayStation 2, and it drew heavily from the classic horror film The Thing. However, upon its release it garnered little praise. (ELSPA: 15+)
THQ released the racing game GT Advance Championship Racing for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. The game was notable for featuring the licensed likenesses of real-world vehicles from Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and other Japanese car makers.
Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance in China along with Wario Land 4.
Nintendo released the side-scrolling platform game New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS in Australia. (OFLC: PG)
Mindscape released Mario Is Missing! for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S. It is notable for being the first game in the extensive Mario franchise to feature Luigi but not Mario as a playable character.
Virgin Interactive released Earthworm Jim for the Sega Mega Drive. The game will spawn on of Sega’s most popular series.
Nintendo released a port of the Super NES game Donkey Kong Country for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. (ESRB: E)
Crave Entertainment released the puzzle game Puzzle Challenge: Crosswords and More for the Playstation 2 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) in North America. The game included over a thousand puzzles, including: codebreakers, crosswords, and word searches.
Nintendo released the puzzle game Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! for the Nintendo DS in Europe. While the game won’t be received quite so well in Europe as it was in Japan, Brain Age topped Nintendo DS sales charts and sold over half a million units within two months. (PEGI: 3+)
Electronic Arts releases the motorcycle street racing game Road Rash 3D for the PlayStation. The game will be one of the most highly-rated racing games released for the PlayStation.
Titus Software released Virtual Chess 64 for the Nintendo 64 in North America and Europe. The game will be among the very least popular Nintendo 64 games ever released, both due to its limited gameplay and its difficulty. (ESRB: K-A)
Nintendo released a remake of the 1988 NES game Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Advance, for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. The game failed to live up to its predecessor, Super Mario Bros. 2, which sold seven million units. Not only was the game not as popular, the game’s mechanics differed so far that some critics called it the “black sheep” of the Mario series and “a lie.”
Nintendo released the puzzle game Mario vs. Donkey Kong, the sequel to the first Donkey Kong game for Game Boy, for the Game Boy Advance in Japan. This game revived Mario and Donkey Kong’s humorous former rivalry.
Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the XBox and the personal computer in Australia and Europe. It was the third 3D game in the popular Grand Theft Auto series, and the eighth in total. (OFLC: MA15+)