1988 in video gaming
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- June — Nintendo releases the last issue (#7) of Nintendo Fun Club News.
- July — Nintendo releases the first issue of Nintendo Power magazine.
- Out Run wins Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards, for the year 1987.
- New companies: Eurocom, Image Works, Koeo, Stormfront, Visual Concepts, Walt Disney Computer Software
- Defunct: Sente Technologies, Aackosoft and Coleco.
- Activision renamed to Mediagenic.
- Nintendo vs. Camerica lawsuit: Nintendo sues Camerica over the clone production of an Advantage joystick controller for the NES console.
- April, Namco releases Assault, which may be the first game to use hardware rotation of sprites and the background.
- August, Sega releases Altered Beast, later ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis where it was packaged with the console in North America and Europe.
- December, Capcom releases Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins.
- December, Namco releases Winning Run, the first polygonal 3D arcade racing game.
- December, Technōs Japan releases Double Dragon II: The Revenge, the first sequel to Double Dragon, released during the previous year.
- Namco releases World Stadium, Berabow Man, Marchen Maze, Bakutotsu Kijuutei, which is the sequel to Baraduke, Ordyne, Metal Hawk, World Court, Splatterhouse, which is the first game to get a parental advisory disclaimer, Mirai Ninja, Face Off and Phelios.
- Williams releases the violent, drug-themed NARC, beginning a run of major hits for the company.
- January 2, Electronic Arts releases Wasteland (video game)
- January 5, shareware game The Adventures of Captain Comic is one of the first NES-style scrolling platformers for the PC, setting the stage for a subsequent shareware platformer boom.
- January 8, Konami releases Super Contra.
- February 10, Enix releases Dragon Quest III.
- July 20, Capcom releases Bionic Commando, for NES/Famicom based on the 1987 arcade game of the same title.
- September 1, Nintendo revamps Doki Doki Panic and releases it as Super Mario Bros. 2, for the Nintendo Entertainment System in America and the PAL region. Birdo made her debut in this game and released in Japan as Super Mario USA in 1992.
- October 5, Origin Systems releases Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny. This was the first game in the Ultima series to implement a time-of-day system with day/night cycles and daily schedules for non-player characters.
- October 23, Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Famicom in Japan. First appearance of the Koopalings.
- December 1, Nintendo releases Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in America. The game had been released nearly two years earlier in Japan on the Famicom Disk System, before America even saw the first The Legend of Zelda.
- December 9, Tecmo releases Ninja Gaiden for the NES/Famicom.
- December 17, Square Co. releases Final Fantasy II for the Famicom Disk System as the second installment of the Final Fantasy series.
- December 24, Capcom releases Mega Man 2 in Japan, eventually becoming the highest-selling installment of the entire Mega Man franchise with a total of 1.5 million copies sold.
- Pool of Radiance the first of the SSI Gold Box games is released, the first computer RPG officially based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
- Superior Software release Exile on the Acorn Electron and BBC Micro. A complex arcade adventure, it is the first with a full physics engine.
- Sega releases Phantasy Star outside Japan for the Sega Master System, the first in the company's most successful series of role-playing video games.
- Electronic Arts releases John Madden Football for the Apple II, starting its highly successful line of American football games.
- Micronics releases '89 Dennou Kyuusei Uranai in December; which allows players to predict what their lives will be like in the following year of 1989.
- Martech releases Rex on the ZX Spectrum, a run-and-gun style game with multiple weapon power-ups