30 Years Ago in Gaming :: January 1989 | Report

30 Years Ago in Gaming :: January 1989 | Report


A brand-new game, coming from also the brand-new
developer Krisalis, is Prison, an arcade adventure for the Atari ST and the Amiga which challenges
the player to escape from a penal colony on a planet deep in space. Sections of a hidden ship have to be found
and then assembled before escape is possible. For 8-bit home computers and from Elite Systems,
comes Storm Warrior that offers hack n’ slash fantasy combat through caves, ruined
cities and inhospitable terrain during the quest to overthrow the Queen of Darkness. Also from Elite Systems, SuperTrux is making
its debut with frenetic race action in another scrolling road driving game which puts the
player behind the wheel of a souped-up truck. Whilst every other developer released their
newest games by Christmas, System 3 Software opted to skip that crazy sales’ season and
pushed a bit forward their newest shoot ‘em up Dominator, now scheduled for release during
this month of January. Tusker is another title from System 3 that
is coming soon, an action adventure game in where we control an Indiana Jones style of
character trying to find what mysteries lies within an African elephant’s graveyard. After the release of BAAL, Psygnosis is thrilled
to bring AquaVentura featuring fast-moving solids in another shoot ‘em up style of
gameplay with eight-way scrolling. A curious thing is that some of the aliens
are harmless until we start shooting at them, and that’s when things start to get crazy. And, talking about crazy, Crazy Cars II, from
French developer Titus, is also arriving on 16-bit home computers. We race a Ferrari F-40 across four American
states in pursuit of corrupt police officers that are involved in a stolen car racket. Obviously that they will try to stop us with
road blocks, but we have ways of avoiding those to try and complete our goal. Staying in the racing genre, the coin-op conversion
of WEC Le Mans is also arriving from the masters in the business, Imagine Software, and under
Ocean Software’s umbrella. It’s obviously based on the real 24-hour
Le Mans race in where our only goal is to run around this one circuit taking out all
competition. And, staying with games based on real motorized
events, from the Spanish developer Made in Spain comes Paris-Dakar, that tries to replicate
the adventurous aspect of the real race with randomly generated stages every time we launch
the game. It also introduced the road-book with instructions
to follow if we want to even dream on finishing one of the many stages present. In a time when getting licenses to create
videogames based on movies was insignificant, there was this British company, Ocean Software,
who’s prime directive was: “the key to sell games is to make them identifiable
to the public”. So, Ocean tried to secure the rights not only
for the most popular movies and TV shows, but also arcade coin-op games. The story of Robocop is slightly different,
though. Ocean made a huge bet attaining the rights
in a very early development stage of the movie itself. After reading the script for Robocop, Gary
Bracey, software development manager at Ocean, left a note to commercial director Jon Woods
saying: “Get this. I think it could be big”. And it was! Data East came late to discover that the rights
for Robocop were already in the hands of Ocean Software, company with whom they had already
done business with in a recent past. Realizing that Robocop would make an amazing
coin-swallower arcade game and even a pinball machine, Data East had to sub-license the
movie rights from Ocean, which they kindly accepted and would base their home versions
on. After playing the extremely difficult arcade
original, I couldn’t wait to play Robocop at home, on my ZX Spectrum. The ads for the home versions were popping
out all over the press coming from the United Kingdom and Spain, and Ocean’s logo was,
for me, a symbol of quality. It was also quite awesome to see Ocean’s
logo stamped on the arcade cabinet and the licensing being mentioned in-game. Though, the conversion to home systems had
their own exclusive content. The 8-bit versions were tweaked a bit. While maintaining the arcade coin-op original
side-scrolling concept, many things were improved and a lot new stuff was thrown in with such
a clever way and to a pretty damn good effect! The first time I tried it, on my brand-new
ZX Spectrum 128K+2A, I was immediately blown away! The very first thing I remember saying was: “the computer just spoke! It’s just like the arcade coin-op game”!! What an incredible moment! So, for the home versions of Robocop, puzzle
elements were introduced like this photofit scene and this hostage situation that would
be replicated in The Untouchables, from 1989. Also, the 128K Spectrum version is well-known
for Johnathan Dunn’s incredible music that was also available on other home systems,
like the C64 and the Amstrad CPC. The Game Boy title music was even used in
an advertising campaign by the European home appliance company Ariston and in a couple
other situations. The greatest 8-bit home computer version is,
for me, though, the one for the Amstrad CPC. It has the best from both the ZX Spectrum
and the C64 games: amazing sound, gorgeous and colorful graphics
and is extremely playable! But, probably, the closest coin-op conversion
was the one released in ‘89 for the Atari ST and the Amiga, compliments of Peter Johnson,
being the Amiga game strangely, identical. Usually the Amiga takes advantage of its superior
sound capabilities, but, this time around, that simply didn’t happen, leaving the feeling
that this particular port should have been better than it ended up being. The PC also had its own game, but the CGA
one, released in Europe, was the worst! I recall playing this one at school and comment
with friends that my 8-bit ZX Spectrum version was way better! This was a pretty awful attempt that made
Data East develop a brand-new DOS game exclusive for the US market. And it is, in fact, a pretty decent one, with
awesome and colorful EGA graphics! Also from Data East came the NES version that
is, surprisingly, the one that less resembles the arcade original developed by Data East
themselves! That’s really weird! And, on top of that, Robocop for the NES is,
in my opinion, the worst of them all. And if I tell you that the Game Boy version
is one of the best, would you believe me? Graphics are extremely detailed and the music
is freakin’ amazing for an 8-bit handheld! The bad side is that we only have 1 live to
complete the game. A practically impossible mission to accomplish
with success. There were a couple other ports available
for other systems, the MSX, the Apple II and even the TRS-80 CoCo, but none of those really shined
enough to grab the spotlight. Don’t get me wrong, these weren’t bad
games… nor good games, for that matter. It’s something in between… At the arcades, Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, Heavy
Unit, Toobin’ and Mr. Heli were taking all the credits. On the Nintendo Entertainment System, Pro
Wrestling was making the delight of fans and, on the Sega Master System, Shinobi was grabbing
all the attention and moving up on sales’ charts. Christmas of 1988 was when Sega and Nintendo
tried to conquer Europe with their 8-bit home based systems by a time when Japan was already
looking towards the second generation of their games machines. Japan was always lightyears way in what video
game culture is concerned. The coin-op arcades were respectable places
and far more comfortable and well-maintained than on the rest of the world. And that was what popularized the games console
as opposed to the home computer in that country. In Europe a games console was seen as an expensive
toy, whereas, by buying a computer, parents would be contributing to their children’s
education. Now, let’s take a look at the most iconic
adverts from January of ’89. By January of 1989, these were the best-selling
games on 8-bit Home Computers: Aspar GP Master, from Dinamic Software; Commando, from Elite Systems; Bomb Jack, by Elite Systems; Joe Blade 2, by Players Software; And Last Ninja 2, by System 3 Software. On 16-bit Home Computers: Hostages, from Infogrames; Menace, from DMA Design; OutRun, from US Gold; Nebulus, from Hewson; And Speedball, from The Bitmap Brothers.

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35 thoughts on “30 Years Ago in Gaming :: January 1989 | Report”

  • Great job! I know this must be an enormous amount of work to compile. I really enjoyed it and it is greatly appreciated. I hope you are able to continue this reporting for a long time to come. Thank you!

  • Absolutely brilliant video, this really took me back in time. Great to see the game adverts from CVG magazine and the coverage of the computer, console and arcade games of 1989 too. Great editing on this video which I'm sure takes a lot of time and hard work. Cool video 🙂

  • Best episode yet! I must have seen that artiston advert tons of times but never clicked it was for robocop on the Gameboy

  • Batman + Last Ninja 2 + Commando soundtrack was and still is brilliant (C64).. Some of the best in game soundtracks of all time..

  • Thanks for this awesome video, who brings back so many good memories. Would like to see more like this one  – February, March, etc…

  • Pedro….. que grande vídeo amigo!! Grandes memórias, joguei a grande maioria desses jogos na altura! Em 89 tinha nada menos do que 18 anos…. foi nesse ano que o meu pai comprou as duas primeiras máquinas 'Arcade' para explorar no café com os jogos Dragonninja (Bad Dudes) e P47. Muito obrigado por mais estes momentos de nostalgia e pela história…. Já estou a aguardar pelo próximo vídeo! Grande abraço 😉

  • I really enjnoyed that report mat!soo many good games in there!are you planning to make more?i would love to! hope you are well mate :)!

  • Grande vídeo amigo,e já agora,grande robocop.
    Bom trabalho na recilha de informação e claro 1989 com o surgimento da Megadrive fora do Japão, foi o meu primeiro ano de escola.
    Parabéns pelo fantástico vídeo como é apanágio

  • Wow awesome video! I totally forget the game hostages existed! So many forgotten good games! Love this format! Great work 🎮

  • @10:48 "The Pepsi Challenge Game of the Year!"… remember the Pepsi Challenge to win a Harrier Jump Jet or some such that they couldn't make good on? lol

    A precursor to the love of evil imagery such as their logo and Taco Bell's having the Eye of Horus and 666 on 3 sides of every restaurant. The more you know…

  • Melhor serie de videos no youtube. Quem viveu nesta epoca e vê estes videos ate apetece chorar. Tantas memorias. Adorava Esse Paris Dakar. Continua esta serie de videos , sinceramente do melhor que ha no youtube. 1 milhao de views nisto imediatamente!!!!!

  • Living in Costa Rica most of the games and experiences you talk about about in this video are quite new and fascinating to me
    … thanks for this gift.

  • Boas Pedro…
    ainda nao era bem a minha epoca,so tinha 4 anos :D,mas é sempre bom recordar estes tempos,e ate alguns viemos a conhecer e jogar mais tarde 😉
    muito obrigado por nos trazeres estas memorias e fazer recordar no tempo 😉
    Grande Abraço Pedro!

  • Bom video…já arranjaste o cabo partido do joystick do player 1 hehe
    Quando vires no video analytics visto de Angola já sabes quem foi 😉
    Abraço do teu "novo" amigo

  • Amigo top joguei robocop da nes na altura muito bom relembrar jogos desse tempo ninja 2 joguei do top 5….;)

  • Wec Le Mans é um favorito, já fiz vídeo sobre ele.
    E, a OCEAN era ótima, muito melhor que a US Gold. US Gold era uma piada, ferravam com todos os jogos que eles tocavam a mão.