A Look Back: July 1991 – The Plumber vs the Hedgehog
Too Long; Didn’t Read
July 1991 proved to be one of the greatest years in the history of gaming. Incredible titles like Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Street Fighter 2 ruled our video gaming lives. It would also be the start of the coveted console wars between a lowly plumber and an arrogant little hedgehog.
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1991 will go down as one of the greatest years in all of video gaming history. Many incredible titles were released during that time, including Sid Meier’s Civilization and LucasArts Monkey Island 2 for the PC. Both of these games were considered to be the best of the best and to this day, rank among the greatest PC games ever made.
On the console front, Nintendo’s stranglehold on the home market was threatened for the very first time since the release of the 8-bit NES in 1985. Playing David to Nintendo’s Goliath, was SEGA and its formidable little warrior, the Genesis. Released in 1989, the Genesis was slowing taking a foothold amongst gamers with their strong lineup of platformers and role-playing games. Add to that SEGA’s impressive sports lineup and you can see why gamers were slowly gravitating to the other side.
Super Mario World, Final Fantasy 2, Street Fighter 2, Streets of Rage, and Lemmings were the Top Games in 1991.
Sonic’s Boom vs Mario’s Fireball
Despite strong showings in sales, advertising, and collaborations with top developers, SEGA’s software library had been pretty average especially during the first two years of the Genesis release. Even Michael Jackson’s Moon Walker, which many insiders believed would spell the end of SEGA’s competitors, failed to entice the casual gamers to give up on Nintendo and cross over.
That would all change, however, in June 1991, when famed developer Yuji Naka released Sonic the Hedgehog to an awaiting crowd who clamored for a mascot that not only brought frantic and fresh gameplay but an attitude of arrogance to an industry that longed to break away from its ‘kiddie’ roots. And Sonic did just that. By appealing to a much older population, the home console industry was slowly advancing and growing up.
Sensing that their grip was slowly loosening, Nintendo countered with the early September launch of the Super NES, which they hoped would blow the SEGA and Sonic out of the proverbial water. Instead, it resulted in what would be the closest and most competitive console war in the history of gaming.
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