Saturday, 25 April 2015

What a Year - 1992

We all played this baby
Article written by Clint "ThoRn" Thornton

Ahhhhh.... 1992, a year in video gaming that changed the industry forever.  So put on your Hypercolor T-shirt, join me and i'll tell you about it.

In 1992 the video gaming industry was still heavily targeted towards the youth and games were seen as a fairly innocent form of entertainment.  Sure, parents had already coined the phrase "Those video games will rot your brain" but that was really as far as it went.  But that all changed when a small team of developers released a innocent little game called 'Mortal Kombat' to arcades all over the globe.  Street Fighter II was released the year before so the 'one on one' fighting craze was well under way but nothing could compare to the realistic violence of Mortal Kombat.  

The Pioneer - MK
Gamers couldn't get enough of it and parents wanted nothing more than to see it banned.  Good thing the game was only in the arcades and not in peoples homes *wink wink*.  Well, with the attention Mortal Kombat was receiving in the arcades there was another game being introduced to the video game world but this time it was in homes and only seven days after the release of MK.  Night Trap by Digital Pictures made its way on to the Sega CD and although didn't share the same bloody violence of Mortal Kombat, it used female abduction and murder as its key element to gain access in to the category of violent gaming.  

The scene that started it all
These two games caused such an uproar in the coming years there was a congressional hearing demanding the withdrawal of such games from the market.  The outcome of the hearing was the birth of the Video Games rating system which was initially adopted in the US, UK and Australia and soon followed by the rest of the world.....  Fun times had by all!  1992 wasn't all gloom and doom though, Street Fighter II won two 'Game of the Year' awards and the court case between Nintendo of America, Inc and Galoob Toys, Inc was finally over and the Game Genie became a part of our collections.

Flat shaded polygons at their finest
Apart from Mortal Kombat entering in to the arcades, Sega introduced their new Model 1 system board that really gave a boost to 3D polygon games with AM2's initial release Virtua Racing turning lots of heads.  Unfortunately the Model 1 wasn't the easiest to program for so only 6 games in total were released but among those 6 were Virtua Fighter (1993) and Star Wars Arcade (1994).  Sega weren't the only company introducing 3D polygons in to the arcades.  Although the first game release wasn't until 1993, Namco had officially released their 'System 22' board which was the first board to introduce texture mapping and would be the horse power behind future games such as Ridge Racer and Time Crisis.

It was a privilege to play
Another arcade game that was released in 1992 definitely stood out from the crowd as it was a cabinet people had never seen before.  It was a duel monitor setup creating a wide screen effect, had up to 6 player simultaneous co-op action and took up as much real estate as two standard arcade cabinets side by side.  Yep...  It was X-Men by Konami.  Cabinets housing more than two players was nothing new to the arcade scene but 6 players was just unheard of.  It might have been an extremely difficult game but if you had five buddies with you, you could certainly do some damage.  1992 was certainly a good year for Konami in the arcades.  Alongside X-Men we were also treated to Lethal Enforcers and G.I. Joe.  Capcom continued their successful Street Fighter II franchise with Champion Edition and Turbo Hyper Fighting which gave us the ability to play as the four Grand Master characters.

Model 1 Sega Genesis & CD
Even though Night Trap didn't fill the home video game market with sunshine and lollipops there were plenty of great games and new pieces of hardware being introduced to family rooms and children's bedrooms world wide.  To start with the Sega CD's North American release was a complete success with some great launch titles like Night Tra...errrrr?... I mean Marky Mark: Make my Video....No?  What about Sewer Shark?  Ok...  So the Sega CD didn't have the greatest launch line up but it's still a great piece of kit with some solid games and any retro enthusiast will tell you the same.

The birth of Kart Racing
The Super Nintendo was finally released in Europe and Australia and sported the same sleek design as the Japanese Super Famicom.  The Super Scope was also released at the the same time world wide. Turbo Technologies Inc. released the Turbo Duo to help simplify the Turbo Grafx CD setup.  And Philips entered in to the video game war with their ever successful CD-i with an array of Mario and Zelda games whose names shall never be spoken.

Sonic 2 - 3D Special Stage
TMNT IV - Arguably the best home
Beat 'em Up of all time
The two biggest console games released in the year had to be Super Mario Kart for the SNES which popularized the Kart Racing genre and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive.  Sonic 2 introduced us to Miles "Tails" the fox and some really neat pseudo 3D special stages and is arguably the best Sonic game on Sega's 16-bit platform.  They were not the only stellar games to be released on to the home consoles, no sir!  Konami might have had a good year in the arcades, but they had a great year with their console releases.  TMNT IV: Turtles in Time, Contra III, Axelay and Cybernator were all available on the SNES.  The Genesis / Mega Drive finally got its Konami licence and launched TMNT: Hyperstone Heist and Sunset Riders on to the platform.  

Little Samson - If only we knew

Let's not forgot about the mighty NES yet, it might have been in its final years but still produced some high quality gaming for those still dedicated to the system.  Darkwing Dark, Mega Man 4 & 5, TMNT III: The Manhatten Project (another great Konami title) and the undisputed king of rare games - Little Samson.

Wolfenstein 3D

Those who were fortunate enough to have a PC back in the early 90's got a taste of 'id' software and their latest game Wolfenstein 3D which  although not the first, basically paved the way for first person shooters as we know them today.  LucasArts unveiled Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis which is one of LucasArts best adventure games and a must play for anyone who enjoys this genre.  
Fate of Atlantis - It's a must play

Star Control II also graced us with its presence on to the PC and is seen by many as not only one of the best PC games ever released but one of the greatest games of all time on any platform, period.

Commodore released their third generation Amiga computer, the Amiga 1200.  It was bundled with Zool which was Commodore's runner to enter in to the race with Mario and Sonic (although relates closer to Sonic).  It might not have been the winner but it was certainly the killer app and went on to to be the best selling game in the Amiga computer range.

Zool - Such a good game!
Well....  I hope you enjoyed the look back at 1992 as much as I did.  It certainly was a big year in gaming and greatly shaped the industry in to what it is today.

Until next time...  Stay Retro.

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, what a year. I was only 15 back then and had plenty of time for gaming :)

    I've never played Night Trap on the Sega CD - is it any good?

    Being an Amiga gamer I guess I should love Zool, but I somehow never really liked him. If you want a great fast paced platformer on the Amiga, take a look at Tearaway Thomas instead :)