Despite its relatively young age, the gaming medium doesn’t lack for landmark moments and game releases. If you pulled any date between 1985 and today out of a hat, there’s probably at least one reason why it’s special to gamers.
Of course, some years just happen to be stronger than others. Whether they introduced our favorite franchises or perfected them, these are the years that we think helped to shape video games into the juggernaut industry that it is today. If you have a fondness for any other particular year, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.
1987: Open the Floodgates
You could make an argument for 1985 being the greatest year of the 8-bit era, as that’s the year that the NES launched and just about single-handedly saved an entire industry. And hey, let’s not underestimate the greatness of Oregon Trail on the Apple II computer. When it comes right down to it, though, there’s no question that 1987 was more prolific.
Many of the most popular and influential franchises in gaming today got their start in 1987. Final Fantasy was a last-ditch effort that saved a struggling developer. Metal Gear laid the foundation for stealth games. Contra, Castlevania, and Mega Man were early examples of brilliant action platforming. Phantasy Star and Street Fighter kicked off what would become two critically acclaimed series. Last but not least, The Legend of Zelda made its way to North America.
Except for that original Street Fighter release — it really is a miracle that Street Fighter II was even greenlit — each of these games still holds up today. So as important as the release of Super Mario Bros. was in 1985, it doesn’t hold a candle to the flood that hit just two years later.