Summer seems like the perfect time to play videogames. Every kid is out of school for three whole months, with zero homework and zero responsibilities. Every adult is searching for an excuse to stay indoors and avoid the oppressive heat of the tyrannical sun. And as a result, nearly every big-budget, blockbuster movie is shown within the sanctuary of air-conditioned theaters during this season.
Yet for whatever inexplicable reason, summer is almost always a neglected wasteland for games. Just look at 2010 – our rundown of releases for July and August was so barren we were forced to include a fan-made King's Quest sequel, the fifth Harvest Moon on DS and ten different examples of DLC.
Surely, it doesn't have to be this way… and sure enough, while searching for solace from this extremely dull summer, we remembered seven summers that weren't nearly as bad. In fact, they were pretty damn great. Care to journey back with us?
Summer of 1987
The games that made it memorable: While Nintendo had conquered the home console market by the fall and winter of 1985, the company's full and lasting legacy wasn't born until the summer of 1987. Sure, the first Super Mario was out, and the second was over a year away, but name any other classic 8-bit franchise that's still going strong today. Zelda? Metroid? Released just a week apart in August – Metroid on the 15th and The Legend of Zelda on the 22nd. Not enough? The original Kid Icarus arrived on US shelves in July, and Konami's original Castlevania came out in early May. And if you were already a teenager or adult in 1987? Well, forget about Nintendo… you had Sierra On-Line's Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards to keep you, ahem, occupied.
The big summer movie:
The commercial you saw over and over:
Summer of 1989
The games that made it memorable: This summer had something for practically everyone. June's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES may not have been as fun as the earlier arcade version, but every kid we knew played the hell out of that game. At least until July, when what many now consider the greatest of Capcom's old-school platformers – Mega Man 2 – arrived in stores. In August, those who weren't content to sit at home could buy the original Game Boy (plus Tetris and Super Mario Land!) while those who were ready for the next generation of consoles could opt for a new Sega Genesis (with Altered Beast, perhaps?) or TurboGrafx-16. Gamers more interested in thoughtful strategy than button-mashing action were catered to as well – this was the summer that legendary designer Peter Molyneux introduced his first God game, Populous, to the world. And should we mention the release of Dragon Warrior? Nah, because no one played that until Nintendo Power shipped it free with subscription in 1990.
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