1990 in video games

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List of years in video games

1990 saw many sequels and prequels in video games, such as Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Dr. Mario, Dragon Quest IV, Final Fantasy III, Phantasy Star II, and Super Mario World, along with new titles such as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Magic Sword. The year's highest-grossing arcade games were Final Fight in Japan and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the United States. The year's best‑selling home system was the Game Boy, while the year's best-selling home video game was Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Financial performance[edit]

Highest-grossing arcade games[edit]

Japan[edit]

In Japan, the following titles were the top ten highest-grossing arcade games of 1990.

Rank Gamest[1] Game Machine[2][3]
Title Manufacturer Dedicated arcade cabinet Software conversion kit
1 Final Fight Capcom Super Monaco GP (deluxe) Tetris (Sega)
2 Tetris Sega Final Lap Final Fight
3 Super Monaco GP Sega Winning Run: Suzuka GP (deluxe) Tecmo World Cup '90
4 Columns Sega Special Criminal Investigation (S.C.I.) Columns
5 Parodius Da! Shinwa kara Owarai e Konami Big Run Adventure Quiz: Capcom World
6 Raiden Tecmo Beast Busters Super Formula: Chijou Saisoku no Battle
7 Bloxeed Sega Hard Drivin' Volfied
8 Final Lap Namco Out Run (deluxe) Adventure Quiz: Capcom World 2
9 G-LOC: Air Battle Sega Operation Thunderbolt Parodius Da! Shinwa kara Owarai e
10 Gradius III Konami G-LOC: Air Battle (deluxe) M.V.P.

United Kingdom and Australia[edit]

In the United Kingdom and Australia, the following titles were the top-grossing arcade games of each month.

Month United Kingdom Australia (Timezone) Ref
Dedicated cabinet Conversion kit
January Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Tecmo World Cup '90
Super Masters
Line of Fire
Un­known Un­known [4]
February
March
July Un­known Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tecmo World Cup '90 [5]
August Un­known Magic Sword [6]

United States[edit]

In the United States, the following titles were the highest-grossing arcade video games of 1990.

Rank AMOA[7][8][9] Play Meter
Dedicated arcade cabinet Conversion kit Title Manufacturer
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Final Fight Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles[10] Konami
2 Super Off Road,
Turbo Outrun,
Mercs
Capcom Bowling,
Big Event Golf,
Cyber Police ESWAT,
Badlands
Un­known
3
4
5

The following titles were the top-grossing arcade games on the monthly RePlay arcade charts in 1990.

Month Title Type Points Ref
January Golden Axe Software conversion kit 644 [11]
February Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dedicated cabinet 743 [12]
March 850 [13]
April 923 [14]
May 922 [15]
June 911 [16]
July 933 [17]
August 903 [18]
September 868 [19]
October 875 [20]
November 857 [21]
December 809 [22]

Hong Kong[edit]

In Hong Kong, the following titles were the top-grossing arcade games of each month on the Bondeal charts.

Month Dedicated arcade cabinet Arcade conversion kit Ref
January Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pang Burning Force Lady Frog [23][24]
February Hard Drivin' Big Run Roulette [24][25]
March Big Run Hard Drivin' Roulette Crude Buster [25][26]
April Hard Drivin' Big Run Final Fight Crude Buster [26]
May Big Run Rough Ranger [27]
June Big Run Hard Drivin' Alien Storm Mustang [27][28]
July Big Run Lightning Fighters Combatribes Smash TV [28][29]
August Hard Drivin' Big Run Smash TV Magic Sword [29][30]
September Big Run Hard Drivin' Magic Sword Smash TV [30][31]
October Big Run Smash TV Pit-Fighter [31][32]
November Big Run Hard Drivin' Pit-Fighter Hydra Pit-Fighter [32][33]
December Four Trax Cisco Heat Double Dragon 3 Pit-Fighter Super Pang [33][34]

Best-selling home systems[edit]

Rank System(s) Manufacturer Type Generation Sales
Japan USA Europe Korea Worldwide
1 Game Boy Nintendo Handheld 8-bit 3,100,000[35] 5,000,000[36] Un­known Un­known 10,000,000[37]
2 Nintendo Entertainment System Nintendo Console 8-bit 1,360,000[35] 7,200,000[38] < 655,000[39] 80,000[40] 8,640,000+
3 IBM PC IBM Computer 16-bit 2,840,000[41]
4 Sega Mega Drive / Genesis Sega Console 16-bit 900,000[42] 1,000,000[36] 193,000[43] 43,000[40] 2,136,000+
5 PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 NEC Console 16-bit 1,300,000[42] 450,000[44][45] Un­known Un­known 1,750,000+
6 Apple Macintosh (Apple Mac) Apple Inc. Computer 16-bit 1,300,000[46]
7 Sega Master System Sega Console 8-bit Un­known 300,000[47] 725,000[43] 180,000[40] 1,205,000+
8 NEC PC-88 / PC-98 NEC Computer 8-bit / 16-bit 1,100,000[48] Un­known Un­known Un­known 1,100,000+
9 Amiga Commodore Computer 16-bit 750,000[46]
10 Commodore 64 (C64) Commodore Computer 8-bit 700,000[46]

Best-selling home video games[edit]

Japan[edit]

In Japan, according to Famicom Tsūshin (Famitsu) magazine, the following titles were the top ten best-selling 1990 releases, including later sales up until 1992.[49]

Rank Title Developer Publisher Genre Platform Sales
1 Super Mario World Nintendo EAD Nintendo Platformer SFC < 3,550,000[50]
2 Dragon Quest IV: Michibikareshi Monotachi Chunsoft Enix RPG Famicom 3,000,000[51]
3 Final Fantasy III Squaresoft Squaresoft RPG Famicom < 1,400,000[52]
4 Dr. Mario Nintendo R&D1 Nintendo Puzzle Famicom Un­known
5 Game Boy
6 Final Fight Capcom Capcom Beat 'em up SFC < 860,000[53]
7 SD Gundam: SD Sengokuden Bandai Bandai TBT Game Boy Un­known
8 F-Zero Nintendo EAD Nintendo Racing SFC
9 SD Hero Sōkessen: Taose! Aku no Gundam Interlink Banpresto Platformer Famicom
10 Qix Minakuchi Nintendo Puzzle Game Boy

The following titles were the best-selling home video games on the Japan game charts published by Famicom Tsūshin (Famitsu) and Family Computer Magazine (Famimaga) in 1990.

Month Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Ref
January Makai Toushi SaGa (Game Boy) [54]
February Dragon Quest IV (Famicom) [54][55]
March Dragon Quest IV (Famicom) Mōryō Senki Madara (FC) [54][56]
April Dragon Quest IV (Famicom) Final Fantasy III (FC) [54][57]
May Final Fantasy III (Famicom) Tetris (Game Boy) [54][58]
June Tetris (Game Boy) Dragon Quest IV (Famicom)
July Tetris (Game Boy) Dr. Mario (Famicom) [54]
August Dr. Mario (Famicom) [59][60]
September Dr. Mario (Famicom) Famista (Game Boy) [60]
October Un­known Dragon Ball Z: Kyôshū! Saiyan (FC) [54]
November F1 Race (Game Boy) Super Mario World (Super Famicom)
December Super Mario World (Super Famicom) Un­known

United States[edit]

In the United States, Super Mario Bros. 3 was the best-selling home video game of 1990.[61][62] The following titles were the best-selling home video games of each month in 1990.

Month Standalone Bundle Sales Revenue
Weeks 1-2 Weeks 3-4 Nominal Inflation
January Tetris (Game Boy / NES)[63] Un­known Un­known Un­known
April Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[64] Un­known Un­known 250,000+[65] $12.5 million+[65] $26 million+
May Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[66] Tetris (Game Boy)[66] Un­known Un­known Un­known
June Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[67] Tetris (Game Boy)[67]
September Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[68] Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt (NES)[69]
November Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[70][71] Un­known
December Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[72] Tetris (Game Boy)[72]
1990 Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)[61][62] 8,000,000[73][74] $500 million[75] $1,040 million

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the following titles were the best-selling home video games of each month in 1990, for various home computer and game console platforms.

Month Home computers Master System NES Mega Drive PC Engine Ref
January Chase H.Q. California Games Super Mario Bros. 2 [76]
February Paperboy Un­known Un­known [77]
March Un­known Un­known Ghouls 'n Ghosts Chase H.Q. [78]
April Fantasy World Dizzy Wonder Boy III Un­known New Zealand Story PC Kid [79][80]
May Un­known Un­known Final Blow Atomic Robo Kid [81]
June Italy 1990 Un­known Un­known Thunder Force III Formation Soccer [82]
July Un­known Un­known Ghostbusters Don Doko Don [83]
August Pro Boxing Simulator Golden Axe Super Mario Bros. 2 Batman Super Star Soldier [84][85]
September Shadow Warriors Super Monaco GP Devil Crash [86][87]
October Guardian Angel Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Strider Splatterhouse [88][89]
November Out Run Devil Crash [90][91]
December Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Golden Axe Aero Blasters [92][93][94]

Top-rated games[edit]

Major awards[edit]

Japan and United Kingdom[edit]

Award 4th Gamest Awards
(Japan, December 1990)[95]
5th Famitsu Best Hit Game Awards
(Japan, February 1991)[96]
8th Golden Joystick Awards
(United Kingdom, April 1991)[97]
Arcade Console 8-bit computer 16-bit computer 8-bit console 16-bit console
Game of the Year Final Fight Dragon Quest IV (Famicom) Rick Dangerous 2 Kick Off 2 Mega Man (NES) John Madden Football (MD)
Handheld Game of the Year SaGa 2 (Game Boy)
PC Game of the Year Railroad Tycoon
Coin-Op Translation / Conversion Gradius III (Super Famicom) Rainbow Islands Golden Axe
PC-to-Console Translation Populous (Super Famicom)
Best Scenario / Story Final Fantasy III (Famicom)
Best Graphics R-Type II Castle of Illusion (Mega Drive) Midnight Resistance Shadow of the Beast 2
Best BGM / Sound Gradius III Dr. Mario RoboCop 2
Best Album Darius II
Best Production Parodius! From Myth to Laughter
Special Award / Most Talk Neo Geo Super Famicom
Best Game Company / Manufacturer Namco Sega
Software House of the Year Ocean Software
Best Character / Character Design Mike Haggar (Final Fight) Yoshi (Super Mario World)
Best Action Game Final Fight F-Zero (Super Famicom)
Best Shooting Game Parodius! From Myth to Laughter Super Star Soldier (PCE)
Best RPG Megami Tensei II (Famicom)
Dragon Quest IV (Famicom)
Best Action RPG Ys II (Famicom)
Sorcerian (Mega Drive)
Best Adventure Game Urusei Yatsura: Stay With You
(PCE)
Best Simulation / Strategy Game Fire Emblem (Famicom) F19 Stealth Fighter
Best Puzzle Game Dr. Mario
Best Sports Game Formation Soccer (PCE)

United States[edit]

Award Electronic Gaming Monthly
(United States, October 1990)[98]
VideoGames & Computer Entertainment
(United States, February 1991)[99]
Console Console Computer
Game of the Year Strider (Sega Genesis) Phantasy Star II (Genesis) It Came from the Desert
Game of the Year (Nintendo) Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
Game of the Year (TurboGrafx) Ninja Spirit (TurboGrafx-16)
Handheld Game of the Year Blue Lightning (Atari Lynx)
Coin-Op Translation / Conversion Columns (Genesis) N.Y. Warrior
Best Graphics Strider (Sega Genesis) Phantasy Star II (Genesis) Mean Streets
Best BGM / Sound Ys I & II (TurboGrafx-CD) Loom
Best System Sega Genesis
Best New System TurboExpress
Game Company / Manufacturer Natsume, Sega, Capcom,
Konami, Nintendo
Software House of the Year
Best Sequel to an Existing Game Mega Man 3
Innovative Game / New Theme Bonk's Adventure Super Glove Ball DragonStrike
Best Action Game Bonk's Adventure (TG16) Prince of Persia
Best RPG Ys I & II (TurboGrafx-CD)
Best Adventure Game Ys I & II (TG16)
Phantasy Star II (Genesis)
Conquests of Camelot
Best Simulation Game Devil's Crush (TG16) LHX Attack Chopper
Best Strategy Game Populous (Genesis) Spot: The Video Game
Best Military-Strategy Game Herzog Zwei (Genesis)
Military Madness (TG16)
Battles of Napoleon
Best Action-Strategy Game Klax Pipe Dream
Best Sports Game Super Monaco GP (Sega Genesis) TV Sports: Football (TG16) TV Sports: Basketball
Best Sports Simulation PGA Tour Golf
Best Board Game Clue: Master Detective
Best Science-Fiction Game Whip Rush (Genesis) Star Control
Most Challenging Video Game Phantasy Star II (Sega Genesis)
Best Peripheral of the Year Game Genie
Best Movie to Game Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Best Ending in a Game Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

Critically acclaimed titles[edit]

Famitsu Platinum Hall of Fame[edit]

The following video game releases in 1990 entered Famitsu magazine's "Platinum Hall of Fame" for receiving Famitsu scores of at least 35 out of 40.[100]

Title Platform Score (out of 40) Developer Publisher Genre
Dragon Quest IV: Michibikareshi Monotachi Family Computer 37 Chunsoft Enix Role-playing
F-Zero Super Famicom 37 Nintendo EAD Nintendo Racing
Final Fantasy III Family Computer 36 Squaresoft Squaresoft Role-playing

English-language publications[edit]

Notable video game releases in 1990 that have accumulated overall critical acclaim from at least three contemporary English-language sources include:

Title Genre Publisher Platform Source(s)
Air Inferno Combat flight simulator Taito Arcade [101]
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World Hack & slash Sega Sega Master System [102][103][104][105][106]
Aliens Run & gun shooter Konami Arcade [101]
Alien Storm Action Sega
Buster Bros. (Pang) Action Mitchell
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse Platformer Sega Sega Mega Drive/Genesis [107][108][109][110][111]
G-LOC: Air Battle Combat flight simulator Sega Arcade [101]
Golden Axe Beat 'em up Sega Sega Master System [112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120]
Virgin Games Amiga [121]
GP Rider Motorbike racing Sega Arcade [101]
John Madden Football Sports Electronic Arts Sega Mega Drive/Genesis [122][123][124][125][126][127]
Klax Puzzle Atari Games Arcade [101]
Mercs Run & gun shooter Capcom
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker Action Sega
Out Zone Run & gun shooter Toaplan
Quarth (Block Hole) Puzzle-shooter Konami
Railroad Tycoon Business simulation MicroProse DOS [128][129][130][131][132][133]
SimCity City-building Maxis Atari ST [134][135][136][137]
Smash TV Multi-directional shooter Williams Electronics Arcade [101]
Strider Hack & slash Sega Sega Mega Drive/Genesis [138][139][140][141]
Super Mario Bros. 3 Platformer Nintendo NES [142][143][144][145][146]
Super Mario World Platformer Nintendo SNES [147][148][149][150][151]
The Secret of Monkey Island Graphic adventure Lucasfilm Games DOS [152][153][154][155][156][157]
Two Crude (Crude Busters) Beat 'em up Data East Arcade [101]

Events[edit]

Hardware releases[edit]

  • Camerica releases Codemasters' Game Genie adapter in Canada and the UK (In the US, it was released by Galoob).
  • NEC releases the TurboExpress handheld console.
  • Nintendo releases the Super Famicom 16-bit console in Japan.
  • SNK releases the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System (AES) home console.
  • September 28 – Nintendo releases the Game Boy across Europe. It became a huge success and a wide phenomenon over the continent, particularly in Germany and the UK.
  • October 6 – Sega's Game Gear color handheld is released in Japan. It is launched in North America in 1991 and Europe and Australia in 1992.
  • November 30 – Sega's Mega Drive released in Europe.
  • Amstrad halts production of the ZX Spectrum, ending that platform's 8-year dominance of the UK home computer market.
  • Amstrad introduces its only console, the Amstrad GX4000, which fails to garner interest and is discontinued the following year.

Game releases[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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