Month of the Week: September 1993 in Games

I was still in single-digits back in 1993, and I don’t think we even owned a game console yet. We had a Game Boy that my parents had picked up for cheap at a yard sale, and I’d played some games on a borrowed NES, but beyond that I don’t remember much. I certainly wasn’t old enough to be allowed to experience the defining gaming moment of September 1993, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

30 years ago, the console wars were in full swing. Nintendo and Sega were the two biggest names in gaming — in the US and Canada, at least. In Europe, the Commodore Amiga line of family computers had enjoyed a great deal of success, spawning a whole world of games that most North Americans could only experience through console ports. And in September 1993, Commodore released the Amiga CD32 console, a piece of hardware that had similar specifications to the Amiga 1200 computer and was, the box proudly proclaimed, the world’s first 32-bit CD games console. (It wasn’t — the FM Towns Marty was.) Unfortunately for Commodore, component supply problems meant that they weren’t able to meet demand for the console. The CD32 was discontinued just eight months after its release as Commodore announced bankruptcy.

September 1993 in Games Sonic CD

Commodore wasn’t the only company experimenting with CDs, though. While Sony was preparing for the release of the PlayStation, Sega had already come out with the Sega CD add-on to the Genesis/Mega Drive. In September 1993, it got its defining title — Sonic CD. Well, in Japan, anyway — everyone else had to wait a couple more months. But North American Genesis owners weren’t left twiddling their thumbs — they were enjoying Treasure’s masterpiece, Gunstar Heroes. I remember that I picked the game out for a friend’s birthday in October of 1993, and it became one of the most-played titles in their household.

Things were a little quieter on the Nintendo front, with the company having had a big summer and a few big titles coming on the horizon. But September 1993 did see the release of Yoshi’s Safari in the US, one of the few titles that used the Super Scope and one of the few times that Mario has ever had a gun. It’s not a tremendous game, and the Super Scope overall made much less of an impact than the NES Zapper, but it was a neat curiosity.

Early computer gamers had an incredible month in September 1993. Not only did they get Master of Orion, the Civilization-inspired sci-fi strategy title, they got Myst. I didn’t understand Myst at all as a child — it all seemed very adult to me, very sophisticated and beyond my immature little mind. My uncle had it installed on the machine in the dedicated computer room in his elegantly-carpeted suburban home (it was the early 90s, remember) and my few attempts to play it all ended in confusion. But still, it was Myst, and if you were a little older than I was at the time and had access to a Mac (or later, a PC), you probably have some kind of complex about it. Unless you’re John Walker, I mean.

September 1993 in Games Mortal Monday

Speaking of things I wasn’t old enough for, and returning to my cryptic remarks at the beginning of this piece, September 1993 in games was notorious for the console release of Mortal Kombat. The one-on-one fighter had swept arcades the year prior with its secrets, colorful characters, and, yes, notorious violence. The game caused a full-on moral panic, and looking back now it’s kind of funny — it’s all pretty tame compared to the nauseating fatalities of today’s Mortal Kombat.

Yes, the SNES and Genesis ports of Mortal Kombat were watered down, stripped of the gore, and couldn’t compare to the original. But it didn’t matter. On Mortal Monday, September 13 1993, kombat-hungry kids poured into the streets and screamed the game’s title to the skies. Getting to play Mortal Kombat at home, without having to cough up quarters or jockey for the joystick with bigger kids, must have been a huge thrill. As best I remember, I got to play it a year or two later at a friend’s place whose parents were a great deal more permissive than mine.

Outside of games in September 1993, Pete Sampras won his second US title at the US Open Men’s Tennis; the Oslo accords were signed by Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas; the late Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” was released; Frasier premiered on NBC; Melissa Etheridge released her album “Yes I Am”; and Nolan Ryan pitched his last game. Speaking of baseball, Irem released an arcade title called Ninja Baseball Bat Man in October 1993, but that’ll have to wait for a future installment of this column.