Years in Gaming – 1990

Game releases

It seems I chose a relatively busy year to enter into gaming, Mobygames has catalogued 2106 game releases across 45 different platforms for 1990

At the time, PCs with DOS where rather popular with developers, as DOS leads the list with 564 game releases, followed by the Amiga as a close second (558 games), the Atari ST (444 games) and the C64 (322 games). Nintendo systems where going strong, the NES had 288 games released followed by 112 games on the Game Boy, SNES (Super Famicom) entered the market with 8 games. Though close to the end of its run, the ZX Spectrum still got 237 game releases as it had built up quite a bit of popularity in the UK. Sega systems where not quite so popular, the Genesis had 96 game releases to show, the Master System 35 and the Game Gear started out with 7 games on its release year.


The year saw several new hardware releases with the Super Famicom, Game Gear, Neo Geo AES and TurboExpress in Japan. So at this point all major systems of the 4th video game console generation where present and accounted for in at least one region. The Mega Drive expanded into Europe, making it available in all three major regions. The TurboGrafx also became available in Europe in limited quantities. But as some things start, others end… one of the ZX Spectrum models got its production halted, marking the beginning of the end for the Spectrum overall, as cliché as that may be. A rather well known peripheral was also released this year, the Game Genie, specifically in Canada, the US and the UK.

Launch Years

Since with each new release people complain that new systems don’t have a good launch lineup, let’s have a look at what the new systems had to offer during this year.

Super Famicom (SNES): ActRaiser, Bombuzal, F-Zero, Final Fight, Gradius 3, Pilotwings, Populous and Super Mario World. That’s actually a pretty good lineup for the short time the SNES was out in the year (only came out in November), not all great games, but definitely some strong ones in there. Super Mario World and F-Zero I’d say are at the top, but ActRaiser, Final Fight and Gradius 3 aren’t pushovers either.

Game Gear: Boxxle, Columns, Dragon Crystal, Pengo, Shanghai 2, Super Monaco GP and Wonder Boy. Definitely not as strong, though there is at least variation offered with puzzle games, a racing title, a roguelike and a jump-n-run.

The Neo Geo AES and the TurboExpress are special cases, the AES was not available to buy in shops until the year after, so no games in the year have official availability dates and the TurboExpress was essentially a mobile version of the TurboGrafx-16 which at that point had already been around for 3 years, would not be a fair comparison really.

Lastly, the Mega Drive got released in Europe: it had quite a few more titles available during 1990, but since it had already been released in 2 other major regions previously, making the games available was much easier in comparison as they only had to be localized.


1990 is the year of formation of THQ via a merger of Toy Headquarters and Trinity Acquisition Corporation.

Nintendo sued Color Dreams because of unlicensed games, one of them – Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu – was reviewed by the Angry Video Game Nerd. Some may know Color Dreams better from the company they formed later: Wisdom Tree, makers of several bible-themed NES games (also as seen on a few AVGN episodes).

Seems to have been a rather quiet year regarding this segment.

Notable games

Some of the titles among the long list that can be worth a mention I’d say would be Super Mario Brothers 3, Bonk’s Adventure, Snake’s Revenge, Final Fantasy, Ultima 6, Wing Commander, Dr. Mario, Mega Man 3, Kings Quest 5, Monkey Island, Commander Keen, Railroad Tycoon and Castle of Illusion (Mega Drive), though with the amount of releases there probably are more.

Games I played

  • Fatal Labyrinth (Mega Drive), though only rather recently. It’s from the same developers as Dragon Crystal and is very similar to it, but with a different setting
  • Monkey Island (PC), one of the classic adventures
  • Transworld (PC) – bundled with a game magazine a few years later
  • Columns (Game Gear) – came with the system
  • Dragon Crystal (Game Gear), sucked up a lot of hours
  • Wonder Boy (Game Gear)
  • Super Monaco GP (Game Gear)
  • Pengo (Game Gear) – borrowed from a friend for a while
  • Lander (Windows 3.x)
Series Navigation<< Years in Gaming – The Setup

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