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In the history of computer and video games, the fourth generation (more commonly referred to as the 16-bit era) of game consoles began on October 30, 1987 with the Japanese release of NEC Home Electronics' PC Engine (known as the TurboGrafx-16 in North America). Although NEC released the first console of this era, sales were mostly dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo's and Sega's consoles in North America: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES; the Super Famicom in Japan) and the Sega Genesis (named the Mega Drive in other regions). Handheld systems released during this time include the Nintendo Game Boy, released in 1989, and the Sega Game Gear, first released in 1990.
The TurboGrafx-16, known in Japan and France as the PC Engine, is a cartridge based home video game console manufactured and marketed by NEC Home Electronics, and designed by Hudson Soft. It was released in Japan on October 30, 1987 and in the United States on August 29, 1989. It also had a limited release in the United Kingdom and Spain in 1990, known as simply TurboGrafx and based on the American model, while the Japanese model was imported and distributed in France in 1989. It was the first console released in the 16-bit era, although it used an 8-bit CPU. Originally intended to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it ended up competing with the Sega Genesis, and later on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. Nintendo is one of the world's largest video game companies by market capitalization, creating some of the best-known and top-selling video game franchises of all-time, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.
Sega Games Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California and London. Sega's arcade division, once part of Sega Corporation, has existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd. since 2015. Both companies are subsidiaries of Sega Holdings Co., Ltd., which is in turn a part of Sega Sammy Holdings.
Nintendo was able to capitalize on its success in the previous, third generation, and managed to win the largest worldwide market share in the fourth generation as well. Sega, however, was extremely successful in this generation and began a new franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog, to compete with Nintendo's Super Mario series of games. Several other companies released consoles in this generation, but none of them were widely successful. Nevertheless, there were other companies that started to take notice of the maturing video game industry and begin making plans to release consoles of their own in the future.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a media franchise owned by Sega, centering on a series of high-speed platform games. Sonic, the protagonist, is an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog with supersonic speed. Typically, Sonic must stop antagonist Doctor Eggman's plans for world domination, often helped by his friends, such as Tails, Amy, and Knuckles.
The video game industry is the economic sector involved in the development, marketing, and monetization of video games. It encompasses dozens of job disciplines and its component parts employ thousands of people worldwide.
The emergence of fifth generation video game consoles, circa 1994, did not significantly diminish the popularity of fourth generation consoles for a few years. In 1996, however, there was a major drop in sales of hardware from this generation and a dwindling number of software publishers supporting fourth generation systems,which together led to a drop in software sales in subsequent years. Finally, this generation ended with the discontinuation of the Neo Geo in 2004.
The Neo Geo, stylised as NEO・GEO, also written as NEOGEO, is a cartridge-based arcade system board and fourth-generation home video game console released on April 26, 1990, by Japanese game company SNK Corporation. It was the first system in SNK's Neo Geo family. The Neo Geo was marketed as 24-bit; its CPU is technically a 16/32-bit 68000-based system with an 8/16-bit Z80 coprocessor, while its GPU chipset has a 24-bit graphics data bus.
Some features that distinguish fourth generation consoles from third generation consoles include:
In computer architecture, 16-bit integers, memory addresses, or other data units are those that are 16 bits wide. Also, 16-bit CPU and ALU architectures are those that are based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. 16-bit microcomputers are computers in which 16-bit microprocessors were the norm.
A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. The microprocessor is a multipurpose, clock driven, register based, digital integrated circuit that accepts binary data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory and provides results as output. Microprocessors contain both combinational logic and sequential digital logic. Microprocessors operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary number system.
A game controller, or simply controller, is an input device used with video games or entertainment systems to provide input to a video game, typically to control an object or character in the game. Before the seventh generation of video game consoles, plugging in a controller into one of a console's controller ports were the primary means of using a game controller, although since then they have been replaced by wireless controllers, which do not require controller ports on the console but are battery-powered. USB game controllers could also be connected to a computer with a USB port. Input devices that have been classified as game controllers include keyboards, mouses, gamepads, joysticks, etc. Special purpose devices, such as steering wheels for driving games and light guns for shooting games, are also game controllers.
Additionally, in specific cases, fourth generation hardware featured:
The two-and-a-half-dimensional perspective is either 2D graphical projections and similar techniques used to cause images or scenes to simulate the appearance of being three-dimensional (3D) when in fact they are not, or gameplay in an otherwise three-dimensional video game that is restricted to a two-dimensional plane with a limited access to the third dimension. By contrast, games using 3D computer graphics without such restrictions are said to use true 3D.
3D computer graphics or three-dimensional computer graphics, are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be stored for viewing later or displayed in real-time.
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains data. Computers can read—but not write to or erase—CD-ROMs, i.e. it is a type of read-only memory.
The PC Engine was the result of a collaboration between Hudson Soft and NEC and launched in Japan on October 30, 1987, under the name PC Engine. It launched in North America on August 29, 1989.
Initially, the PC Engine was quite successful in Japan, partly due to titles available on the then-new CD-ROM format. NEC released a CD add-on in 1990 and by 1992 had released a combination TurboGrafx and CD-ROM system known as the TurboDuo.
In the United States, NEC used Bonk, a head-banging caveman, as their mascot and featured him in most of the TurboGrafx advertising from 1990 to 1994. The platform was well received initially, especially in larger markets, but failed to make inroads into the smaller metropolitan areas where NEC did not have as many store representatives or as focused in-store promotion.
The TurboGrafx-16 failed to maintain its sales momentum or to make a strong impact in North America.The TurboGrafx-16 and its CD combination system, the Turbo Duo, ceased manufacturing in North America by 1994, though a small amount of software continued to trickle out for the platform.
The Mega Drive was released in Japan on October 29, 1988.The console was released in New York City and Los Angeles on August 14, 1989 under the name Sega Genesis, and in the rest of North America later that year. It was launched in Europe and Australia on November 30, 1990 under its original name.
Sega built their marketing campaign around their new mascot Sonic the Hedgehog,pushing the Genesis as the "cooler" alternative to Nintendo's console and inventing the term "Blast Processing" to suggest that the Genesis was capable of handling games with faster motion than the SNES. Their advertising was often directly adversarial, leading to commercials such as "Genesis does what Nintendon't" and the "'SEGA!' scream".
When the arcade game Mortal Kombat was ported for home release on the Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo decided to censor the game's gore, but Sega kept the content in the game, via a code entered at the start screen. Sega's version of Mortal Kombat received generally more favorable reviews in the gaming press and outsold the SNES version three to one. This also led to Congressional hearings to investigate the marketing of violent video games to children, and to the creation of the Interactive Digital Software Association and the Entertainment Software Rating Board.Sega concluded that the superior sales of their version of Mortal Kombat were outweighed by the resulting loss in consumer trust, and cancelled the game's release in Spain to avoid further controversy. With the new ESRB rating system in place, Nintendo reconsidered its position for the release of Mortal Kombat II , and this time became the preferred version among reviewers. The Toy Retail Sales Tracking Service reported that during the key shopping month of November 1994, 63% of all 16-bit video game consoles sold were Sega systems.
The console was never popular in Japan (being regularly outsold by the PC Engine), but still managed to sell 40 million units worldwide. By late 1995, Sega was supporting five different consoles and two add-ons, and Sega Enterprises chose to discontinue the Mega Drive in Japan to concentrate on the new Sega Saturn.While this made perfect sense for the Japanese market, it was disastrous in North America: the market for Genesis games was much larger than for the Saturn, but Sega was left without the inventory or software to meet demand.
Nintendo executives were initially reluctant to design a new system, but as the market transitioned to the newer hardware, Nintendo saw the erosion of the commanding market share it had built up with the Nintendo Entertainment System.Nintendo's fourth-generation console, the Super Famicom, was released in Japan on November 21, 1990; Nintendo's initial shipment of 300,000 units sold out within hours. The machine reached North America as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on August 23, 1991, and Europe and Australia in April 1992.
Despite stiff competition from the Mega Drive/Genesis console, the Super NES eventually took the top selling position, selling 49.10 million units worldwide,and would remain popular well into the fifth generation of consoles. Nintendo's market position was defined by their machine's increased video and sound capabilities, as well as exclusive first-party franchise titles such as F-Zero , Starfox , Donkey Kong Country , Super Mario Kart , Super Mario World , The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Metroid .
The CD-i format was announced in the late '80s, with the first machines compatible with the format being released in 1991. The Phillips CD-i's main selling point was that it was more than a game machine and could be used for multimedia needs. Due to an agreement between Nintendo in Philips about an abortive CD add-on for the SNES, Philips also had rights to use some of Nintendo franchises. The CD-i was a commercial failure and was discontinued in 1998, selling only 1 million units worldwide despite several partnerships and multiple versions of the device, some made by other manufacturers.
Released by SNK in 1990, the Neo Geo was a home console version of the major arcade platform. Compared to its console competition, the Neo Geo had much better graphics and sound, however the prohibitively expensive launch price of US$649.99 and games often retailing at over $250 made the console only accessible to a niche market. A less expensive version, retailing for $399.99, did not include a memory card, pack-in game or extra joystick.
Nintendo, NEC and Sega also competed with hardware peripherals for their consoles in this generation. NEC was the first with the release of the TurboGrafx CD system in 1990. Retailing for $499.99 at release, the CD add-on was not a popular purchase, but was largely responsible for the platform's success in Japan.The Sega CD was released with an unusually high price tag ($300 at its release) and a limited library of games. A unique add-on for the Sega console was Sega Channel, a subscription-based service (a form of online gaming delivery) hosted by local television providers. It required hardware that plugged into a cable line and the Genesis.
Nintendo also made two attempts with the Satellaview and the Super Game Boy. The Satellaview was a satellite service released only in Japan and the Super Game Boy was an adapter for the SNES that allowed Game Boy games to be displayed on a TV in color. Nintendo, working along with Sony, also had plans to create a CD-ROM drive for the SNES (plans that resulted in a prototype version of the Sony PlayStation), but eventually decided not to go through with that project, opting to team up with Philips in the development of the add-on instead (contrary to popular belief, the CD-i was largely unrelated to the project).
The fourth generation was also the era when the act of buying imported US games became more established in Europe, and regular stores began to carry them. The PAL region has a refresh rate of 50 Hz (compared with 60 Hz for NTSC) and a vertical resolution of 625 interlaced lines (576 effective), compared with 525/480 for NTSC. This means that a game designed for the NTSC standard without any modification would run 17% slower and have black bars at the top and bottom when played on a PAL television.[ further explanation needed ] Developers often had a hard time converting games designed for the American and Japanese NTSC standard to the European and Australian PAL standard. Companies such as Konami, with large budgets and a healthy following in Europe and Australia, readily optimized several games (such as the International Superstar Soccer series) for this audience, while most smaller developers did not.
Also, few RPGs were released in Europe because the market for the genre was not as large as in Japan or North America, and the increasing amount of time and money required for translation as RPGs became more text-heavy, in addition to the usual need to convert the games to the PAL standard, often made localizing the games to Europe a high-cost venture with little potential payoff.As a result, RPG releases in Europe were largely limited to games which had previously been localized for North America, thus reducing the amount of translation required.
Popular US games imported at this time included Final Fantasy IV (known in the USA as Final Fantasy II), Final Fantasy VI (known in the USA as Final Fantasy III), Secret of Mana , Street Fighter II , Chrono Trigger , and Super Mario RPG . Secret of Mana and Street Fighter II would eventually receive official release in Europe.
|Name||TurboGrafx-16||Mega Drive/Genesis||Super NES||Neo Geo|
|Manufacturer||NEC, Hudson Soft||Sega||Nintendo||SNK|
|Launch prices (USD)||US$199.99 (equivalent to $404in 2018)||US$189.99 (equivalent to $384in 2018)||US$199.99 (equivalent to $368in 2018)||US$649.99 (Gold version) (equivalent to $1,196in 2018) |
US$399.99 (Silver version) (equivalent to $736in 2018)
|Best-selling games||Bonk's Adventure||Sonic the Hedgehog (15 million)||Super Mario World , 20 million (as of June 25, 2007)||Samurai Shodown (video game)|
|Backward compatibility||N/A||Master System (using Power Base Converter)||Nintendo Entertainment System (unlicensed, using Super 8)||N/A|
| Sony APU (Audio Processing Unit) ||Yamaha YM2610|
|Stereo audio with: |
|Stereo audio with: ||Stereo audio with:|
|Super Nintendo Entertainment System||49.1 million|
|Mega Drive/Genesis||35.25 million|
|Philips CD-i||1 million|
|Neo Geo AES||980,000|
The first handheld game console released in the fourth generation was the Game Boy, on April 21, 1989. It went on to dominate handheld sales by an extremely large margin, despite featuring a low-contrast, unlit monochrome screen while all three of its leading competitors had color. Three major franchises made their debut on the Game Boy: Tetris , the Game Boy's killer application; Pokémon; and Kirby. With some design (Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light) and hardware (Game Boy Color) changes, it continued in production in some form until 2008, enjoying a better than 18-year run.
The Atari Lynx included hardware-accelerated color graphics, a backlight, and the ability to link up to sixteen units together in an early example of network play when its competitors could only link 2 or 4 consoles (or none at all),but its comparatively short battery life (approximately 4.5 hours on a set of alkaline cells, versus 35 hours for the Game Boy), high price, and weak games library made it one of the worst-selling handheld game systems of all time, with less than 500,000 units sold.
The third major handheld of the fourth generation was the Game Gear. It featured graphics capabilities roughly comparable to the Master System (better colours, but lower resolution), a ready made games library by using the "Master-Gear" adaptor to play cartridges from the older console, and the opportunity to be converted into a portable TV using a cheap tuner adaptor, but it also suffered some of the same shortcomings as the Lynx. While it sold more than twenty times as many units as the Lynx, its bulky design – slightly larger than even the original Game Boy; relatively poor battery life – only a little better than the Lynx; and later arrival in the marketplace – competing for sales amongst the remaining buyers who didn't already have a Game Boy – hampered its overall popularity despite being more closely competitive to the Nintendo in terms of price and breadth of software library.Sega eventually retired the Game Gear in 1997, a year before Nintendo released the first examples of the Game Boy Color, to focus on the Nomad and non-portable console products.
Other handheld consoles released during the fourth generation included the TurboExpress, a handheld version of the TurboGrafx-16 released by NEC in 1990, and the Game Boy Pocket, an improved model of the Game Boy released about two years before the debut of the Game Boy Color. While the TurboExpress was another early pioneer of color handheld gaming technology and had the added benefit of using the same game cartridges or 'HuCards' as the TurboGrafx16, it had even worse battery life than the Lynx and Game Gear – about three hours on six contemporary AA batteries – selling only 1.5 million units.
|Console||Game Boy||Atari Lynx||Game Gear||TurboExpress|
|Launch price||¥12,500 |
US$89.95 (equivalent to $179.89 in 2019)
|US$189.99 (equivalent to $382.01 in 2019)||¥14,500|
US$149.99 (equivalent to $274.08 in 2019)
A$155 (equivalent to $249.00 in 2019)
|US$299.99 (equivalent to $550.01 in 2019)|
|Units sold||118.69 million, including Game Boy Color units||0.5 million||11 million||1.5 million|
|Best-selling games|| Tetris , 35 million (pack-in / separately). ||RoadBlasters||Sonic the Hedgehog 2||Bonk's Adventure|
|Backward compatibility||N/A (Original Cartridges compatible with later models)||N/A||Master System (using Cartridge Adapter)||TurboGrafx-16 (HuCard only)|
|CPU|| Sharp LR35902|
| MOS 65SC02|
4 MHz maximum, average 3.6 MHz
"Suzy", custom CMOS chip
| Zilog Z80 |
| HuC6280A (modified 65SC02)|
1.79 or 7.16 MHz
|Memory||8 KiB internal S-RAM, up to 32 KiB|
8 KiB internal video RAM
|64 KiB DRAM||8 KiB main RAM|
16 KiB video RAM
|8 KiB work RAM|
64 KiB video RAM
4 shades of olive green
16 simultaneous colors per scanline; can be increased by changing palettes after each scanline
4096 color palette
32 simultaneous colors
4096 color palette
64 sprites, 16 per scanline
482 simultaneous colors (241 each for backgrounds and sprites)
512 color palette
|Audio||Stereo audio (using headphones), with: ||Stereo audio with: ||Stereo audio (using headphones), with: ||Stereo audio (using headphones), with: |
A handheld game console, or simply handheld console, is a small, portable self-contained video game console with a built-in screen, game controls, and speakers. Handheld game consoles are smaller than home video game consoles and contain the console, screen, speakers, and controls in one unit, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), also known as the Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South Korea, 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Australasia (Oceania), and 1993 in South America. In Japan, the system is called the Super Famicom (SFC). In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. The system was released in Brazil on August 30, 1993, by Playtronic. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent the different versions from being compatible with one another.
The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis video game console designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and April 2, 1993 in Europe. The Sega CD lets the user play CD-based games and adds hardware functionality such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.
A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.
The Genesis Nomad is a handheld game console manufactured by Sega and released in North America in October 1995. The Nomad is a portable variation of the Sega Genesis home video game console. Based on the Mega Jet, a portable version of the home console designed for use on airline flights in Japan, Nomad was the last handheld console released by Sega. In addition to functioning as a portable device, it was designed to be used with a television set via a video port. Released late in the Genesis era, the Nomad had a short lifespan.
The fifth-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 1993 to May 2002. For home consoles, the best-selling console was the PlayStation (PS), followed by the Nintendo 64 (N64), and then the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a redesigned version, the PSOne, which was launched in July 2000.
Wisdom Tree, Inc. is an American developer of Christian video games. Originally founded in 1988 as Color Dreams, one of the first companies to work around Nintendo's lockout chip technology for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company changed its focus to Christian games in 1990, changing its name to Wisdom Tree the following year.
1994 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country and Sonic & Knuckles.
1992 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Art of Fighting, Super Mario Kart, and Mortal Kombat.
1991 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Mega Man 4, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Virtual Console, also abbreviated as VC, is a line of downloadable video games for Nintendo's Wii and Wii U home video game consoles and the Nintendo 3DS handheld game console.
The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, and later as the Genesis in North America in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.
Hayao Nakayama is a Japanese businessman and was the former President and CEO of Sega Enterprises, Ltd from 1983 to 1999.
A home video game console, or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.
The Super NES CD-ROM System, also known as the Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter, is an unreleased video game peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The add-on built upon the functionality of the cartridge-based SNES by adding support for a CD-ROM-based format known as Super Disk.
The history of Sega, a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher, has roots back to Standard Games in 1940 and Service Games of Japan in the 1950s. The formation of the company known today as Sega is traced back to the founding of Nihon Goraku Bussan, which became known as Sega Enterprises, Ltd. following acquisition of Rosen Enterprises in 1965. Originally an importer of coin-operated games to Japan and manufacturer of slot machines and jukeboxes, Sega began developing its own arcade games in 1966 with Periscope, which became a surprise success and led to more arcade machine development. In 1969 Gulf and Western Industries bought Sega, which continued its arcade game business through the 1970s.
Last weekend, months after video-game addicts started calling, Dave Adams finally was able to sell them what they craved: Super Nintendo. Adams, manager of Babbages in South Coast Plaza, got 32 of the $199.95 systems Friday.Based on the publication date, the "Friday" mentioned would be August 23, 1991.
The Long awaited Super NES is finally available to the U.S. gaming public. The first few pieces of this unit hit the store shelves on August 23, 1991. Nintendo, however, released the first production run without any heavy fanfare or spectacular announcements.
On Friday, area Toys R Us stores [...] were expecting Super NES, with a suggested retail price of $199.95, any day, said Brad Grafton, assistant inventory control manager for Toys R Us.Based on the publication date, the "Friday" mentioned would be August 23, 1991.
Base instalada: 5 milhões de Master System; 3 milhões de Mega Drive
One drawback to the Lynx system is its power consumption. It requires 6 AA batteries, which allow four to five hours of game play. The Nintendo Game Boy provides close to 35 hours use before new batteries are necessary.
While this feature is not included on the Game Boy it does provide a disadvantage – the Game Gear requires 6 AA batteries that only last up to six hours. The Nintendo Game Boy only requires 4 AA batteries and is capable of providing up to 35 hours of play.