1986 in video gaming
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- New companies: Acclaim, Majesco Entertainment, Ubi Soft, Bethesda Softworks, Tradewest
- Defunct: Imagic.
- June 13 - Activision merges with Infocom.
- Activision acquires Gamestar Software.
- Sinclair Research Ltd. is acquired by Amstrad.
- February - Namco releases Sky Kid Deluxe, their first game to use a Yamaha YM2151 FM sound chip.
- February - SNK releases Ikari Warriors, which shares many elements with Taito's Front Line from 1982, but adds two-player simultaneous play and visuals closer to 1985's Commando. It's SNK's breakthrough game in the US.
- April - Sega releases Wonder Boy, the first in the series.
- August - Taito releases Bubble Bobble.
- July 8 - Namco releases The Return of Ishtar, which is the sequel to The Tower of Druaga.
- July - Ten years after Atari's Breakout, Taito releases Arkanoid, which adds power-ups and unique levels and generally reinvigorates the concept.
- September 20 - Sega releases the Out Run racing game.
- October 1 - Namco releases Genpei Tōma Den.
- November 1 - Sega releases Alex Kidd in Miracle World, It is the first game in the Alex Kidd series created for this character, and the most popular of all Alex Kidd games.
- December - Namco releases Rolling Thunder, distributed outside Japan by Atari Games.
- February 21 — Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda (designed by Shigeru Miyamoto for the Family Computer Disk System), the first game in The Legend of Zelda series.
- May 27 - Enix releases Dragon Quest for the Famicom, which is usually considered the foremost Japanese role-playing video game, and is the first game in a series that has been phenomenally successful in Japan.
- June 3 - Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels as the sequel to the Super Mario Bros. The game was not released in North America, partially because it was deemed too difficult.
- August 6 — Nintendo releases Metroid by Makoto Kano, the first in the Metroid series.
- September 12 - Hudson Soft releases Adventure Island.
- September 26 — Konami releases Akumajō Dracula for the Famicom Disk System, the first game in the Castlevania series.
- December 10 - Namco releases Pro Baseball: Family Stadium for the Famicom, the first in the Famista series.
- December 19 - Nintendo releases Kid Icarus.
- January 1 - Commodore releases Mind Walker for the Amiga. It keeps running, unmodified, on all versions of the Amiga hardware and OS.
- May 6 - Infocom releases the highly-regarded Trinity.
- August 15 – Electronic Arts releases open-ended space exploration adventure game Starflight, which goes on to sell a million copies.
- October - Sierra On-Line expands their "Quest" line with King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human and Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter.
- New World Computing releases Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum for the Apple II, the first installment in the Might and Magic series.
- Activision releases Labyrinth: The Computer Game. Developed by Lucasfilm Games, this is the first of the LucasArts adventure games.
- September, Apple releases the final computer in the Apple II line, the 16-bit Apple IIgs with professional synthesizer-quality audio.
- Namco releases the Namco System 86 arcade system board.
- Atari Corporation releases:
- The 1040ST personal computer, the second in the ST line. With a megabyte of RAM and a price of US$999, it's the first computer with a cost-per-kilobyte of under $1.
- The Atari 7800 console two years after its original test market date.
- A smaller model Atari 2600 for under US$50. The TV campaign proclaims "The fun is back!"
- Sega releases the Master System console in the US.
- Sharp releases the Twin Famicom home console only in Japan.
- Nintendo releases the Family Computer Disk System (an add-on for the Famicom) in Japan only.
- Texas Instruments releases the TMS34010, a CPU with graphics-oriented instructions. Eventually it powers arcade games such as Hard Drivin', Smash TV, Mortal Kombat, and NBA Jam.