1989: the timeline
This timeline is a work-in-progress, mostly because it turns out solid release dates for video games weren't really a thing in the United States back then.
originally started August 2, 2023
January 27: Sega's Golden Axe storms into Japanese arcades and Dengeki Big Bang! (a.k.a. Clash at Demonhead) by Vic Tokai hits Japanese Famicoms.
February 10: Alex Kidd jumps to the Japanese Mega Drive in Arekkusu Kiddo Tenkū Majō (later dubbed Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle for North American audiences).
March 7: the CPS1 system version of Strider hang glides into arcades.
March 31: the debut of Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine (and I still have that first issue). While there wasn't much about Mega Man 2 inside the book, I didn't hold that against them and bought later issues. *shrugs* Even then it was a really good game magazine.
also in March: Ninja Gaiden (NES) by Tecmo
NINJA IN USA released in the United States.
April 21: the Nintendo Game Boy debuts in Japan
April 25: Kunio and Riki set aside their rivalry as Technos' Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (later known in the U.S. as River City Ransom) for the Nintendo Famicom fights its way onto Japanese store shelves.
also in April: the debut of GamePro Magazine. I specifically remember getting that first issue of GamePro from the Toys 'R Us at the Eastwood Mall in Ohio, and this was back when it was in its own little building near the front of the mall's main body. TRU was promoting it heavily either at or near the mythical booth where you took your paper ticket and got your game after paying for it. I still have that first issue, but the cover fell off early.
May ?: Sega's Golden Axe arrives in North American arcades.
June 19: The day that the media campaign known as "Batmania" was leading up to finally happens as Tim Burton's Batman movie, starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger, has its world premiere. The film will be adapted into a dizzying array of games from various developers, though most of the best-known versions won't arrive until 1990.
June 25: Ultra (Konami, if you're nasty) releases its NES game based on the animated version of Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in North America.
July 2 or July 11?: Multiple release dates have been given for the North American debut of Mega Man 2 (NES), but most of the dates hover around June and early July (the 2nd and the 11th).
July 31: the Nintendo Game Boy debuts in the United States, along with Super Mario Land, Tetris, Alleyway, Tennis, and Baseball. Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti for the Nintendo Famicom arrives in Japan.
August 3: The Mega Drive port of Capcom's arcade hit Dai Makaimura (also known as Ghouls 'n Ghosts) makes its debut.
August 14: The arrival of the 16-bit Sega Genesis, the North American version of Sega's Mega Drive system. The system has a port of Sega's 1988 arcade hit Altered Beast as a pack-in title. Launch titles are all Sega games, including the 1P side-scrolling beat 'em up Last Battle (a thinly-veiled localization of Hokuto no Ken: Shin Seikimatsu Kyuuseishu Densetsu), Space Harrier II, Super Thunder Blade II, Thunder Force II, and Tommy Lasorda Baseball.
August 29: NEC's Turbografx-16, the North American verison of their Japanese PC Engine, hits stores. The pack-in title is Keith Courage in Alpha Zones (by Hudson), a localization of the anime-based Mashin Eiyūden Wataru.
September 4: Video game cartoons make their triumphant return to U.S. television starting with the debut of DiC's "The Super Mario Bros. Super-Show" weekday syndicated cartoon show, with segments based on the Legend of Zelda airing on Fridays. Oddly enough, one of the last U.S. cartoons based on a video game was DiC's Pole Position, which only shared the game's name and use of cars, but was still a lot of fun.
September 9: The "Captain N: the Game Master" cartoon by DiC makes its Saturday morning debut.
September 11: Batman (based on the 1989 movie) by Ocean for the Commodore 64 released in the UK.
September 12: Avengers Spotlight #26 is released. Why is this comic so important? Because it's the beginning of the Acts of Vengeance story arc, a company-wide event that led villains to fight heroes unfamiliar with their tactics. Due to the timing of these comics, some of these unusual match-ups, like the Punisher fighting The Reavers (X-Men villains) and Bushwacker (a Daredevil foe) or the Wizard and the Mandarin battling the Avengers, found their way into various 90s Marvel video games. It is also the story that led to the ninja version of Psylocke seen in nearly all of her video game appearances, except for Paragon Software's "X-Men II: Fall of the Mutants," based on a real storyline that took place years before Acts of Vengeance.
September 16: The pilot episode for what should have been an ongoing X-Men cartoon appeared in the syndicated Marvel Action Universe, a show that usually played episodes of Dino-Riders, RoboCop, and the 1981 Spider-Man series. While you'll see the pilot described on the internet and in interviews as a failure, I had absolutely no idea it even existed until it was on my TV. I didn't see any TV ads or even mentions in comics to let you know it was happening and it was in a syndicated show that I was mostly watching for the cool intro and hope of seeing some Spider-Man reruns. Anyway, it seemed like Marvel got licensing together for it early because multiple games had X-Men rosters either based on (Konami's arcade game
September 27: Batman (based on the 1989 movie) by Ocean for the Commodore Amiga released in the UK.
Also in September: The Atari Lynx debuts in the United States. The launch titles were all created by Epyx, the original developers of the system, and include Blue Lightning, Chip's Challenge, Electrocop, Gates of Zendocon and a port of their smash hit California Games. Capcom brings their Duck Tales game for the NES to North America.
October 3: Jordan Mechner's original Prince of Persia, a masterpiece of rotoscoped pixel animation and adventure platforming, debuted for the Apple II.
October 11: Konami's arcade game based on the animated version of Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits North American arcades.
October 14: Ocean's Batmania continues when Batman (based on the 1989 movie) is released for the Atari ST released in the UK.
also in October: A port of Capcom's Ghouls 'n Ghosts arrives in North America just in time for Halloween. Not that I see a date for it, but any day in October is just in time for a holiday that's on the 31st day, right? Right.
November 18: Japanese Mega Drive owners are treated to another Capcom port, Forgotten Worlds.
December 2: Japanese Mega Drive and North American Genesis owners are united in a single release date for the Joe Musashi's second game, titled as the Super Shinobi in Japan and The Revenge of Shinobi in North America.
December 15: The Wizard, starring Fred Savage and Super Mario Bros. 3, premieres in U.S. theaters. Meanwhile, Castlevania: the Adventure begins to haunt the Game Boy in North America.
December 22: Sega's Genesis port of their arcade hit Golden Axe reaches North American shelves and Batman: The Video Game and Konami's Akumajō Densetsu (a.k.a. Castlevania III) for the Nintendo Famicom debuted in Japan.
December 23: Japanese Mega Drive owners get their shot at Sega's port of Golden Axe.
also in December: North American Sega Genesis owners get their chance at the system's port of Capcom's Forgotten Worlds, along with Mystic Defender, Rambo III, Super Hang-On and Toaplan's Truxton. The Uncanny X-Men (NES) by LJN are unleased on unsuspecting North Americans.
Paragon Software releases its first two Marvel-based action games for home computers (because that's what you called them back then): "The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge!" and "X-Men: Madness in Murderworld." The X-Men's line-up is based on the 1989 "Pryde of the X-Men" pilot episode. It'd be interesting to know exactly when these games debuted to determine whether or not Madness in Murderworld beat LJN's NES game to store shelves to be the first X-Men game ever released.
sources: Wikipedia (I know, I know, but still), Moby Games, Batman UK home computer release dates ACE Advanced Computer Entertainment from here, the Disney Afternoon Collection extras by Digital Eclipse.
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