If you’re a young gamer, then you might be thinking that the gaming landscape in 1993 looks positively primitive. With the fourth console generation well underway, pretty much all of the most popular games of 1993 were 16-bit pixel art-based titles. Still, there’s a huge wave of nostalgic love for these games that’s still underway today, and the pixel art look never quite goes out of fashion, so in many ways, games from 1993 have stood the test of time.
Gaming sales in 1993 were significantly lower than they were in 1992. That’s largely because Nintendo launched the SNES in 1992, which drove sales up hugely and persuaded many skeptics to invest in gaming. That’s not to say that games didn’t sell in 1993; nothing could be further from the truth. The 1993 best-selling video game might not come as a surprise, but there are some dark horses on the list, so without further ado, let’s take a look at the best-selling games in 1993.
Street Fighter II
Surprise, surprise. Street Fighter II continued its dominance in 1993, selling across multiple platforms after its initial success convinced Capcom to launch it on the Sega Genesis and other consoles. In total, Street Fighter II hit 5 million sales worldwide, which is impressive indeed. It continues to be one of the most-played fighting games of all time, so it’s fair to say that Street Fighter II has earned its place as the 1993 best-selling video game.
Looking back, the original Mortal Kombat seems almost quaint today. Given the highly realistic level of ultra-violence present in more recent Mortal Kombat games, the outrage inspired by the original seems a little cute. However, outrage there was, and where there is outrage, there is commercial success. Mortal Kombat would sell three million copies worldwide, bolstered in no small part by its controversies (but also by the fact that it’s a darn good fighting game).
Nintendo’s SNES-exclusive rail shooter was the beginning of another hugely successful franchise for the Japanese gaming giant. Again, by today’s standards, Star Fox looks positively primitive, but it was a huge achievement for the gaming industry at the time, providing SNES gamers with a fully 3D polygonal environment in which to participate in hugely engaging dogfights (and selling 1.7 million copies into the bargain). It holds up surprisingly well today, too, so make sure to check it out.
Believe it or not, there was once a time when licensed movie games weren’t either rushed cash-ins or barely-disguised mobile reskins. Disney’s Aladdin, which took different forms depending on the platform on which it appeared, was a Genesis Disney tie-in that also happened to be an excellent platformer in its own right. It took the beautiful visuals of the movie and transposed them successfully to the console world, racking up 1.6 million sales along the way.
Dragon Ball Z: Super But?den
Many games have been made using the Dragon Ball license. Some are RPGs, some are gacha titles, and some are fighting games. The latter of these would seem like the most obvious way to take a Dragon Ball video game, and it seems the creators of Super But?den agree, because this is a one-on-one fighter that aims to ape Street Fighter II and its phenomenal commercial success. To some extent, it succeeded; Super But?den sold 1.3 million copies in Japan alone, so while it’s not the 1993 best-selling video game, it certainly performed admirably.
Seiken Densetsu 2
The Seiken Densetsu games aren’t massively popular outside of Japan, but they didn’t need to be. This game would later be translated into English as Secret of Mana, where it would become an enduring classic, but in its original Japanese form, it still managed to sell over a million copies despite not being available anywhere else. That’s probably largely down to its innovative, compelling action RPG gameplay, great soundtrack, and unique approach to its genre.
Super Mario All-Stars
Released in Japan as Super Mario Collection, All-Stars is a compilation of four games in the Super Mario Bros series. This collection includes both Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, which was the original Super Mario Bros 2 in Japan, and the Western Super Mario Bros 2, which is a reskin of a game called Yume K?j?: Doki Doki Panic. All four games have been given a SNES facelift, so they’ve all got cleaner visuals and audio, which is presumably a big part of why this collection sold 877,000 copies.
Romancing SaGa 2
Now here’s an oddity. Romancing SaGa 2 did eventually make its way to the West, but it took many, many years; it didn’t get an official translation until 2016, when it was released for mobile devices. Despite that, this rather experimental non-linear JRPG managed to sell 823,000 copies in its native land of Japan. One imagines that it probably hasn’t performed quite as well outside of the East, but it’s still great that it’s available to play today.
Dragon Ball Z: Super But?den 2
If Super But?den 2 was released today, it would almost certainly be a patch adding new content to the original game rather than an entirely new title. At the time, however, it was impossible to create content updates as we can today, so Super But?den 2 was instead released as a sequel. It added new characters, new stages, and new tournament mode elements, but otherwise, it was the same fighting game it had always been, and it managed to sell 740,000 copies in Japan alone.
Super Mario Kart
A holdover from 1992, Super Mario Kart was still selling extremely respectably in 1993. It racked up 700,000 sales worldwide in 1993 alone, which might be partially explained by the fact that it launched in Europe in 1993. Still, this mainstay of the casual multiplayer circuit (no pun intended) launched one of the world’s most successful franchises, so Super Mario Kart’s success is definitely not to be sniffed at, especially given that it was a SNES exclusive.