1986 video game notes

The year after the Famicom came to the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System, the American video game industry finally started to heat up again. Here are all of their efforts.

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Dragon Quest [1986/05/27] |Nintendo Super Famicom, 1993/12/18| (x/Famicom) HONORABLE MENTION

A slime draws near! Command?

For this year’s Honorable Mention, let’s take a look at the grandfather of all Japanese RPGs. Dragon Quest, sometimes called “Japan’s national game” for its popularity, longstanding status as a classic, and its influence on the genre and industry.

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The Legend of Zelda [1986/02/21] |Famicom Disk System|

Every legend has a beginning. Some are more humble than others, but what almost all of them have in common is starting with a very rough first draft. The Legend of Zelda, on the other hand, seemed to hatch fully grown. Of course, it was still a first draft in that it established rules and conventions that later entries built upon, but a surprising amount of its structure began here. It seems to have everything: an open world that emphasizes exploration and secret-finding, items such as the ocarina and boomerang, the main cast of characters, and the instantly recognizable theme music that we couldn’t imagine going along with any other game. Let’s take a look at what made this first entry in the long-running series so legendary.

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Hang-On [1985] |Arcade| HONORABLE MENTION

Following in the footsteps of Pole Position, Sega’s racing game Hang-On gave the player a high-speed over-the-shoulder (or more accurately, behind-the-car) racing game with sharp turns and endless AI opponents. Hang-On added something new to the mix, though. The player sat on a motorcycle-shaped seat that they had to tilt to the left or right in order to steer in-game.

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Super Mario Bros. [1985/09/13] |Famicom|

I’m pretty sure you already heard that music in your head before playing the audio file. It is burned into all our brains! The impact that Super Mario Bros has had on modern culture is astounding. And why shouldn’t it be? SMB defined the platformer genre and inspired generations of games. Although not the first platformer, it stands in history as the iconic grandfather of platformers and is the earliest memory I have from my childhood. Before I could even speak full sentences I was already defeating Bowser. Click “read more” to go down the pipe and take a look.

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