1990 in video games
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- August – Publication of Swedish language video game magazine Nintendomagasinet begins.
- March 8 – the Nintendo World Championships begins.
- Nintendo v. Color Dreams lawsuit: Nintendo sues Color Dreams over unlicensed production of Nintendo video games.
- Toy Headquarters merges with Trinity Acquisition Corporation forming THQ.
- New companies: Eidos, Interactive Studios, Team17, Natsume, Revolution Software
- Defunct: Tynesoft
- Bonk's Adventure is released for NEC's TurboGrafx-16 and is the first US appearance of Bonk, the mascot of the TurboGrafx-16.
- Namco releases Kyuukai Douchuuki, World Stadium '90, Final Lap 2, Pistol Daimyo no Bouken, which is a spin-off from Berabow Man, Souko Ban Deluxe, Dragon Saber, Rolling Thunder 2, Steel Gunner and Golly! Ghost!.
- February 12 – Nintendo releases the NES game Super Mario Bros. 3 in North America. It sells 17.28 million copies, making it one of the best-selling stand-alone video games of all time.
- April – Konami releases Snake's Revenge, a sequel to Metal Gear for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, developed without the involvement of Hideo Kojima.
- April – Williams releases Smash TV in arcades, a twin-stick shooter about an ultra-violent game show.
- April 20 – Nintendo releases Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light in Japan, innovating the tactical role-playing genre.
- June 1 – Origin releases Ultima VI: The False Prophet
- July 12 – Nintendo of America publishes Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America. This game started Square's popular and long-running Final Fantasy series.
- July 20 – Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the MSX2 computer, is released exclusively in Japan. It is Konami's last major game for the hardware.
- July 27– Nintendo releases Dr. Mario for 3 Nintendo platforms.
- August – Pit Fighter from Atari Games introduces digitized sprites to arcade fighting games.
- September 26 – Origin releases the first Wing Commander game.
- September 28 – Capcom releases Mega Man 3 for NES in Japan, introducing the characters Rush and Proto Man, Mega Man's slide is introduced, and Capcom's character cameos.
- November 9 – Sierra On-Line releases King's Quest V.
- October 15 – LucasArts releases The Secret of Monkey Island
- November 1 – Mega Man 3 is released in the US.
- November 21 – Nintendo releases Super Mario World and F-Zero in Japan as launch titles for the Super Famicom. Super Mario World introduced Yoshi and F-Zero introduced Captain Falcon.
- December 14 – Commander Keen is released as shareware, the first major platformer on a PC.
- Sega releases the G-LOC: Air Battle R-360 arcade game, featuring the first 3D – 360° gameplay that physically rotated the real world player.
- Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, the first of the "Tycoon" games, is released by MicroProse.
- Infogrames releases Alpha Waves, the first 3D platform game.
- Mindscape publishes Captive.
- Konami releases Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Arcade Game, on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
- 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.
- 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.
Critically acclaimed titles
Notable video game releases in 1990 that have accumulated overall critical acclaim from at least three contemporary English-language sources include:
- Christophe de Dinechin (November 9, 2007). "Grenouille Bouillie: The dawn of 3D games". Grenouille-bouillie.blogspot.com. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (October 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (174): 57–64.
- Brooks, M. Evan (October 1990). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: Pre-20th Century". Computer Gaming World. p. 11. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
- Mark Caswell (June 1990). "Reviews: Railroad Tycoon". The Games Machine. pp. 46–47.
- Julian Rignall (August 1990). "Review: Railroad Tycoon". Advanced Computer Entertainment. p. 50.
- Kati Hamza (June 1990). "Review:Railroad Tycoon". The One. pp. 37–38.
- Gordon Houghton (July 1990). "Review: Railroad Tycoon". Computer and Video Games. pp. 38–39.
- "Sim City". Atari ST User. September 1990. p. 54.
- Mark Higham (July 1990). "Sim City". ST Format. pp. 34–36.
- Tony Dillon (August 1990). "Updates: Sim City". Advanced Computer Entertainment. p. 64.
- "Reviews: Shorts". The Games Machine. August 1990. p. 52.
- Richard Leadbetter (February 1991). "Review: Mickey Mouse". Computer and Video Games. pp. 84–85.
- Julian Rignall and Matt Regan (February 1991). "Mega Drive Review: Castle of Illusion" (PDF). Mean Machines. pp. 16–19.
- Les Ellis (March 1991). "Stop Press Review: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse". Raze. pp. 6–7.
- "Review Crew: Mickey Mouse" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly. December 1990. p. 20.
- The Bohemian (February 1991). "Genesis ProView: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse" (PDF). GamePro. pp. 66–67.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (April 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (168): 49–50.
- Glancey, Paul (December 1990). "The Secret of Monkey Island". Computer and Video Games (109): 112–114.
- "Review: The Secret of Monkey Island". Raze. January 1991. p. 92.
- Cooke, Steve (July 1991). "The Secret of Monkey Island". Advanced Computer Entertainment (46): 76–77.
- "The Secret of Monkey Island". The One (26): 129. November 1990.
- MacDonald, Duncan (November 1990). "The Secret of Monkey Island". Zero (13): 58.
- Matt Regan (January 1991). "Review: John Madden's American Football". Computer and Video Games. pp. 70–72.
- Matt Regan and Julian Rignall (December 1990). "Mega Drive Review: John Madden Football" (PDF). Mean Machines. pp. 16–19.
- Les Ellis (February 1991). "Reviews: John Madden American Football". Raze. p. 70.
- Rik Haynes (February 1991). "Review:John Madden American Football". Advanced Computer Entertainment. p. 67.
- "Review Crew: John Madden Football" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly. December 1990. p. 21.
- Fantastic Fan (January 1991). "Special Football Feature: John Madden Football" (PDF). GamePro. pp. 56–60.
- "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- "Out-of-Print Archive Mega Drive/Genesis reviews Strider". Outofprintarchive.com. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, Strider Review, issue 16, November 1990, page 20
- "File:VideoGameGreatestHits US 1991-07.pdf". Sega Retro. July 1991. Retrieved March 11, 2016.