1987: Gaming's Greatest Year?
What do Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Metal Gear and Street Fighter all have in common? I mean apart from them all being Video games. Or Japanese, obviously. Did you guess? All of these games turned 25 years old in 2012- and they're not alone.
Last year, it seemed barely a week went by without some major game or franchise celebrating a big anniversary, and in most cases it seemed to have been their 25th. Which begs the question, what's so special about 1987? Could this actually be Gaming's Greatest Year?
The irony of a series called Final Fantasy still producing sequels a quarter of a century later can't have been lost on many. As you may well already know, the reason the title was chosen, was that Hironobu Sakaguchi made it as a last-ditch attempt at success, fully expecting it to be his final game. That couldn't have been further from the truth, and more than 13 sequels later, it's still going strong.
Final Fantasy was only one of the long running franchises that started that year, making '87 easily one of the most important years in the industry’s history. The original Street Fighter, released in 1987 in all honesty didn't make all that much of an impact at the time. It was it's sequel, the legendary Street Fighter II, that would go on to define the 2D one-on-one Beat-'em-up. Yet, without the success of the original, that wouldn't have been possible, so still the seeds were laid in 1987. Similarly Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear would lead on to the classic Metal Gear Solid much later in 1998, but it too was born in that ridiculously productive year.
The list of classics that were released that year goes on. The blue bomber made his début, as Capcom's Mega Man (better known in his native land as Rock Man) arrived on the scene- captivating and frustrating gamers in equal measures. Those who preferred punching people in the face were also catered for as Double Dragon made it's first appearances in Arcades that year too.
Ah... yes the humble arcade. Some of you may remember that quaint invention, when you could sample the most advanced gaming of the time in exchange for a shiny coin. And in 1987 the arcade scene was at it's peak and Double Dragon and Street Fighter were joined by much loved platformer Rainbow Islands, Bionic Commando and classic shoot-em-up R-Type.
Even in the realm of sequels, 1987 presents a roll-call of gaming classics. The Legend of Zelda II, Mario Bros 2 and Castlevania II all appeared on the NES that year.
Hardware wise too it was a good year. Sega's Master System arrived in Japan, along with the PC Engine (known Stateside as the Turbo Grafx). For Europeans particularly , Commodore's Amiga 500 was a big deal, and would remain so well into the 90's.
Frankly, it's crazy how many fantastic games came out in that year. Gamers were spoilt for choice and so many games came out that year that would go on to be an important part of our gaming heritage. Compare it to today and it's a little depressing. Look at last year's biggest selling games and almost every one is a sequel or yearly update. Dishonored was one of the few new IPs to break through, and now that too is set to become a franchise.
So I present for your edification, a list of just some of the games than came out in 1987, and be prepared to be amazed. Do you agree that it's gaming's greatest year or do you have another year you'd like to nominate? Let us know in the comments.
Games of 1987
- After Burner
- Alien Syndrome
- Bionic Commando
- California Games
- Digital Devil Story : Shin Megami tensei
- Double Dragon
- Dragon Warrior 2 (Dragon Quest 2)
- Dungeon Master
- Double Dragon
- Final Fantasy
- Full Throttle
- The Great Giana Sisters
- The Last Ninja
- Maniac Mansion
- Mario Bros. II
- Mega Man
- Metal Gear
- Phantasy Star
- Sid Meier's Pirates!
- Rainbow Islands: Bubble Bobble 2
- Spy Hunter II
- Street Fighter
- Zelda II: The Adventures Of Link