A glorious year in gaming history - Gaming in 92

John Argirovski,

May 26, 2022 10:24 PM

It is extremely difficult to believe that it has been 30 years since 1992, but let's take a trip down memory lane to bring us back to those strange times...

1992 was ahead of its time. AT&T introduced the video phone, IBM developed the first smartphone, the 10 millionth cell phone was sold and if you happened to be friends with one of those lucky cell phone owners, you were probably hanging out with a local celebrity.

The most viewed sitcoms were Roseanne, Home Improvement, and Murphy Brown and it was a time when Hot Pockets and Hawaiian Punch were cool dude.

But on the gaming front, both casual and avid gamers would probably agree that 1992 was a year to never be forgotten.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2, SEGA Genesis (November, 92’)

Sonic and his buddy Tails - US cover art by Greg Martin [Image source: Wikipedia]

Aren’t we all extremely thankful Sega of Japan decided to include Sonic the Hedgehog with their Sega Genesis console rather than the original proposed title of Altered Beast?

Don't get me wrong, The “Rise from your grave” game was awesome and I am sure we all have a great memory with the arcade classic known as Altered Beast… but I would imagine that these were mostly short memories…

Thanks to the success of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega got to work and came through on a sequel. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 which was the highest grossing entertainment product in 1992, grossing $450 million that year and went on to be the second best-selling game on the Sega Genesis console.

This game somehow managed to raise the bar from the original, with its visually appealing half-pipe stages which was graphically mind-blowing for its time.

Super Mario Kart, SNES (August, 92’)

Mario plays for keeps on Super Mario Kart [Image source: Retrogamesmaster]

“What if we take Mario, Luigi, the Toad dude, and all those other characters we got… and put them in a racing game with some 3D graphics?”

-Possibly someone from Nintendo

Whoever thought of this idea was an absolute genius!

For me, Super Mario Kart for the SNES brings back so many great memories. Competitive matches with an absolutely stellar soundtrack, with visuals that were graphically unique for its time.

Nintendo incorporated Mode 7 graphics in which the game attempted to simulate a 3D plane by rotating and scaling a background graphics. This is what creative 16-bit developers had to do in order to stimulate a 3D environment with the limited hardware available back in 1992.

Super Mario Kart went on to sell 8.7 million copies, and was the fourth-best selling title for the SNES.

Mortal Kombat, ARCADE (October, 92’)

Kano and Sub-Zero get ready to rumble [Image source: Wikipedia]

Midway creates a real threat to Capcom's Street Fighter 2 series, and the folks at Capcom are feeling the heat!

The idea for the game was inspired by an attempt to collaborate with action movie superstar Jean Claude Van Damme. The collaboration never came to fruition, but the idea for a fighting game with a new technology was still brewing at Midway.

Midway was a bit different than other game developers at the time. Midway used a unique technology to generate the characters, this trick being known as digitized sprites which were mostly based on filmed actors as opposed to hand-drawn characters. Jean Claude probably regrets he never filmed himself doing the splits for this one…

This method gave the characters of Mortal Kombat a very realistic look, much different than the cartoon look of the other Japanese one-on-one fighters at that time.

Mortal Kombat was inspired by all of those martial arts movies you grew up watching, and the developers took a gamble, and added some serious blood and Fatalities to the game to really spice things up! The violence was so intense that the ESRB rating system was developed shortly after.

This gamble ended up paying off, which resulted in one of the most exciting arcade experiences of all time. Imagine yourself going back to 1992, not knowing anything about this game… but one day you end up at one of those pizza smelling arcades, and you hear “Finish Him” on the speaker of an arcade cabinet surrounded by a crowd of hyenas waiting to insert their parents hard earned money to play… It was truly something else.

Mortal Kombat is now one of the best selling fighting franchises of all time.

Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, ARCADE (March, 92’)

Japanese advertisement flyer featuring Ryu and M. Bison [Image source: fightersnation.com]

Remember when Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior only had eight characters, and we all wished we could play as one of those boss characters? Balrog, Vega, Sagat or even M.Bison?

Enter Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition. It was an updated, new and improved release of Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior. The characters were more evenly balanced, and for the first time, players could both pick the same character allowing for “mirror matches”.

This was the best arcade game in 1992 in my humble opinion, as it was the first time a fighting game really felt “complete” to me. The improvements that were made in comparison to its predecessor were noticeable, which made it easy for players to go back to the machine that stole all their quarters, once again.

It is estimated that between 160,000-165,000 arcade units were sold between the US and Japan.

Final Thoughts

1992 was one hell of a year for gaming. These games are all still played today, with many of them being downloaded digitally daily. If you haven’t played any of these games yet, be sure to check them out.

Honorable Mentions

Of course there are other great titles from 1992, so here is a short list of some note-worthy ones:

Final Fantasy V
Contra III: The Alien Wars
Desert Strike
Streets of Rage 2
Dragon Quest V


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