1986 in video games
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- February – Namco releases Sky Kid Deluxe, their first game to use a Yamaha YM2151 FM sound chip.
- February – SNK releases Ikari Warriors, which shares many elements with Taito's Front Line from 1982, but adds two-player simultaneous play and visuals closer to 1985's Commando. It is SNK's breakthrough game in the US.
- April – Sega releases Wonder Boy, the first in the series.
- August – Taito releases Bubble Bobble.
- July 8 – Namco releases The Return of Ishtar, which is the sequel to The Tower of Druaga.
- July – Ten years after Atari's Breakout, Taito releases Arkanoid, which adds power-ups and unique levels and generally reinvigorates the concept.
- September 20 – Sega releases the Out Run racing game.
- October 1 – Namco releases Genpei Tōma Den.
- December – Namco releases Rolling Thunder, distributed outside Japan by Atari Games.
- February 21 – Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda (designed by Shigeru Miyamoto for the Family Computer Disk System), the first game in The Legend of Zelda series.
- May 27 – Enix releases Dragon Quest for the Famicom, which is usually considered the foremost Japanese role-playing video game, and is the first game in a series that has been phenomenally successful in Japan.
- June 3 – Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels as the sequel to the Super Mario Bros. The game was not released in North America, partially because it was deemed too difficult.
- August 6 – Nintendo releases Metroid by Makoto Kano, the first in the Metroid series.
- September 12 – Hudson Soft releases Adventure Island.
- September 26 – Konami releases Akumajō Dracula for the Famicom Disk System, the first game in the Castlevania series.
- November 1 – Sega releases Alex Kidd in Miracle World. It is the first game in the Alex Kidd series created for this character, and the most popular of all Alex Kidd games.
- December 10 – Namco releases Pro Baseball: Family Stadium for the Famicom, the first in the Famista series.
- December 19 – Nintendo releases Kid Icarus.
- January 1 – Commodore releases Mind Walker for the Amiga. It keeps running, unmodified, on all versions of the Amiga hardware and OS.
- May 6 – Infocom releases the highly regarded Trinity.
- August 15 – Electronic Arts releases open-ended space exploration adventure game Starflight, which goes on to sell a million copies.
- October – Sierra On-Line expands their "Quest" line with King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human and Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter.
- New World Computing releases Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum for the Apple II, the first installment in the Might and Magic series.
- Activision releases Labyrinth: The Computer Game. Developed by Lucasfilm Games, this is the first of the LucasArts adventure games.
- Froggy Software releases La femme qui ne supportait pas les ordinateurs, one of the first video games about cyber harassment and female experience on the internet, and one of the first games with an overtly feminist message.
- September, Apple releases the final computer in the Apple II line, the 16-bit Apple IIgs with professional synthesizer-quality audio.
- Namco releases the Namco System 86 arcade system board.
- Atari Corporation releases:
- The 1040ST personal computer, the second in the ST line. With a megabyte of RAM and a price of US$999, it is the first computer with a cost-per-kilobyte of under $1.
- The Atari 7800 console two years after its original test market date.
- A smaller model Atari 2600 for under US$50. The TV campaign proclaims "The fun is back!"
- Sega releases the Master System console in the US.
- Sharp releases the Twin Famicom home console only in Japan.
- Nintendo releases the Family Computer Disk System (an add-on for the Famicom) in Japan only.
- Texas Instruments releases the TMS34010, a CPU with graphics-oriented instructions. Eventually it powers arcade games such as Hard Drivin', Smash TV, Mortal Kombat, and NBA Jam.
- Hoffman, Erin (January 19, 2010). "When the Stars Align". The Escapist. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- Jankowski, Filip (April 15, 2019). "The Presence of Female Designers in French Video Game Industry, 1985–1993". Games and Culture. 15 (6): 5. doi:10.1177/1555412019841954. ISSN 1555-4120. S2CID 150836593.
- Jankowski, Filip (2017). "Political and Social Issues in French Digital Games, 1982–1993" (PDF). TransMissions. 2: 167.
- Robinson, Philip; Edwards, Jon R. (March 1986). "The Atari 1040ST". BYTE. p. 84. Retrieved July 4, 2014.