Nintendo Years - 1992

Published: 17 Feb 2022

1992 was an important year for Nintendo, the Super Famicom and SNES were going strong in Japan and the USA respectively, however at the beginning of the year Nintendo was still relying on the NES and Game Boy in Europe. Sega’s Mega Drive was gaining more and more of the market share and Nintendo needed the Super Nintendo’s influence to get its foothold back into Europe and spread the word of Mario once more.

Fortunately it wasn’t too far away, and the SNES was finally launched in Europe in April 1992. Having already been launched in Japan for 18 months, the system quickly gained traction in the UK market, with games Mario World and F-Zero amongst many others as launch titles.

At this point however, top-notch releases were still thin on the ground for Nintendo's flagship console in the west. The next essential purchase came in the form of A Link to the Past, having been released in Japan in late 1991, it reached US shores in April 1992, and the European release followed in September. Super Mario Kart was also launched between August in Japan and September in the USA.

There were plenty of great third party releases to complement Nintendo's games. Super Star Wars kicked off the SNES’s trilogy as it launched in the USA in November 1992. Konami provided a port of their arcade beat 'em up Teenage Mutant Ninja (or  Hero) Turtles IV: Turtles in Time as well as the North American version of Japanese Action/Adventure The Legend of the Mystical Ninja - although it wouldn't arrive in Europe for another two years. Contra IV also launched in all regions between February and September.

Japan was still getting plenty of releases, with plenty of obscure titles to sink your teeth into and brand new accessories and innovations too. One of the biggest was Mario Paint, arriving in all markets by the end of the year, this launched with its own mouse, allowing you to expertly control your pen and paints. Over 400 Japanese games were released in 1992 when you look at all three consoles combined!

The super scope was launched in the western market, acting like a more advanced version of the zapper light gun - but it was much bigger and bulkier, as it was advertised as sitting on your shoulder like a bazooka. The scope came bundled with Super Scope 6, which was a pack of six basic games including a light gun version of Tetris! Unfortunately the scope didn't sell particularly well, with the only half decent game developed for the scope being Yoshi's Safari which launched in mid 1993.

With focus on the SNES, The global NES market at this point was in a definite decline, but there were still a few new games worth playing, with older games such as Mario Bros 2 and 3 still selling well despite their age. The puzzle game Yoshi (aka Mario and Yoshi in the UK) was one of the holiday hits, hitting both the NES and Game Boy in December 1992 - although the SNES would have been at the top of most gamers' Christmas lists.

Meanwhile, the Game Boy was well on its way to conquering the portable market, having already pretty much seen off SEGA’s Game Gear and Atari's Lynx. In1992 Super Mario Land 2 showed how good the Game Boy could be, with a much grander scale and wider scope compared to the first game. The game was heavily marketed in the UK as Wario’s head showed up everywhere, and truly got into peoples heads - I can remember many a school friend having the game. The first Kirby game was also launched in August, with Dreamland giving a short but sweet introduction to the Kirby universe.

In the magazine world, Super Play was launched in October of 1992 to great acclaim, and at a similar time EMAP launched the officially licensed Nintendo Magazine System, splitting off from the highly praised Mean Machines. Back then, the magazine market was rather crowded with 6 or 7 Nintendo magazines available at any one time, some lasting longer than others. As well as that, Games Master was also launched - both in print and on TV, proving that the games market was on a massive upswing. CVG was still going strong, having just marked it's tenth anniversary at the end of 1991 and a fully redesigned magazine hit the shelves for May 1992.

In general 1992 was a good year for Nintendo, but there was still a lot left to prove - especially in Europe. With the Mega Drive having a near two year headstart it was crunch time. 1993 would need to have plenty of hit games to keep gamers interest levels high.