It was all setup for a new battle: in one side, we have Nintendo, who brought the games back from the brink of extinction; in the other side, the contender Sega, with a good track of arcade releases, promising the same experience in your home with the new consoles, and the early 90 were the battlefield.
From a range of attacks on both sides (with a particular more enthusiastic advance on Sega’s side), each game release would be a stage for new ads on TVs and magazines.
At that early years, a few sequels to acclaimed games were released, such as Snake’s Revenge (NES). This game was a sequel from the port of Metal Gear to the NES, made without participation (or consent) from its creator, Hideo Kojima. The true sequel came as Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, on the MSX2, released a few months later. Needless to say that the version created by Mr Kojima is much superior in graphics and gameplay.
Also worth to mention that the Super Nintendo, the 16-bit machine to replace the NES was released in December 1990 in Japan, and it would follow to North América in 1991, packing Super Mario Bros and F-Zero in the release, guaranteeing huge sales on both years for Nintendo.
On Sega’s side, the Genesis was already on the market 2 years prior (released in 1988 in Japan, 1989 in North América), and was gaining a cult following with a few good releases, such as Altered Beast, Space Harrier and Alex Kidd in Enchanted Castle.
I want to talk about some interesting stories about that time, focusing in other games from this period. I won’t be talking about Sonic, Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: a LInk to the past here.
John Madden Football
Currently running as one of the longest franchises in history of Games, the first John Madden Football came from a good story. Trip Hawkins, one of the founders of the Electronic Arts, had to take a train ride with the NFL legend John Madden in order to secure the rights to use his name in this franchise, and define the actual gameplay. During the trip, both discussed the use of images and likeness from Madden to the game, and the idea of him coaching the player still stands as of today. Being released by EA Sports since 1988, the Genesis version helped pave a separation between the types of games for each console at the time: sports, racing and fighting (specially Mortal Kombat) received better praises in the Genesis, while RPGs and Adventures were better in the Super Nintendo.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
As of today, still the best TMNT game ever released. So good, that even a remake was made for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. Being a simple scrolling beat’em up for up to 4 players, the game has movements and interactions never seen before in a game in the same way, and the fact that you can attack your friends make the game even more interesting.
Developed and released by Konami, the game featured music from the original composer of the tv show, and received great praise upon the years. All turtles are there (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello), and the most famous villains (Shredder, Mr Kang, Rocksteady and Bebop).
Super Mario Kart
During the release of the Super Nintendo, Miyamoto was supervising the creation of both packed game for the console, Super Mario World, and F-Zero. Although both games can receive a second player, most of the times they play in separated turns. After releasing those games, Miyamoto was tasked to create a game where two players could participate at the same time, and decided to use F-Zero’s engine to start development.
After a few tryouts, it was clear that the speed the machine could process both player’s information on screen was way slower than the original F-Zero. One developer jokingly associated the speed to the same seen on go-karts, while placing Mario character sprites on them. Miyamoto saw in that change the perfect opportunity to release a new franchise, and convinced the board of directors to go with this new game. It was born Super Mario Kart.
Super Mario Kart became an almost instant classic, with a great use of the Mode 7 graphic ship, to scale the foes at a distance while you approach them. It generated a new sub-genre of games, with several sequels and spin-offs, and a lot of copycats in other companies.
The early 90’s were bringing a lot of franchises and new IPs that would shake the market for years to come. Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation also debuted at this era (both came out in 1994), and the next Nintendo Console was promised to 1994, being released in 1995. More games, more parties at play, and new technologies were getting ready for the next battle: the late section of the 90’s. But that is for my next post!