Other than yours truly joining civilisation, 1989 was a busy year amongst gamers. Many big name titles were released, some of which would be the start of great series’ which are still around today. It was also a year when new consoles would join the market, including hand held devices which were rapidly growing in popularity.
Game of the Year
At the Golden Joystick Awards, Operation Wolf and Speedball took the awards for best 8-bit and 16-bit games, respectively.
The Atari Lynx is released in September. The Lynx is a 16-bit handheld console that was ahead of its time by supporting 18-player networking through Comlynx. The resolution was 160×102 which in context is less than ten times what we have today. It sold less than 500,000 units and was the first handheld platform to boast a colour LCD screen.
The Sega Mega Drive was released in North America under the name Sega Genesis on 14th August. Sega couldn’t secure legal rights for the name “Mega Drive” in North America and as a result were forced to change the name. The Mega Drive was released in Europe the following year. The last licensed game to be released for the console wasn’t until 2002 when a new game was released in Brazil. When Mortal Kombat was released there was a huge uproar about its violence which led to Sega creating the Videogame Rating Council that would put an age on every game released from then on.
Originally bundled with the classic Tetris game, Nintendo releases the Game Boy, an 8-bit handheld device and the first to support cartridges. It would become the first in a series of great handheld consoles from Nintendo. It isn’t the first handheld console from Nintendo though, they released the Game & Watch in 1980. The Game Boy combined features from both their previous console as well as their mainstream console, the NES.
Nintendo releases Zelda on the Game & Watch in August. It was one of the last games to be released for the platform before Nintendo focused purely Gameboy games. It was heavily inspired by Zelda II on the NES but had an original story that was explained in the games instruction manual.
In October, the first game in the Prince of Persia series was released and it was greatly praised for it’s innovation in gaming animation. It was released on the Apple II Computer and was a 2D side-scroller, as was the sequel, before the series jumped to 3D ten years later.
The first in the “Sim” series was released in October by Maxis in the form of Sim City on 3rd October. It was Maxis’ first product and has since been ported to a wide variety of computers and game consoles spawning several sequels and spin-offs along the way, eventually leading to the very popular The Sims in 2000.
In June Bullfrog Productions releases Populous which was one of the first god based games that was commercially very well received. It led to several sequels including Populous: The Beginning on the original PlayStation console.
Solitaire and Minesweeper were written and were bundled with Microsoft Windows from version 3. These two games had multiple make-overs over the years but are still both included with Windows to this day.
In December, one of the first fantasy turn-based strategy games was released in the form of Warlords. Created by Strategic Studied Group it featured eight “clans” battling it out for the mythical land of Illuria. What also made it stand out was that, since it was turn based, it could be played by eight players taking it in turns to control their clan. It was very well received by the public and got impressive reviews from the gaming community.