1988 in video gaming
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- New companies: Eurocom, Image Works, Koeo, Stormfront, Visual Concepts, Walt Disney Computer Software
- Defunct: Aackosoft, Coleco, Sente, Spectravideo
- Activision renamed to Mediagenic.
- Nintendo vs. Camerica lawsuit: Nintendo sues Camerica over the clone production of an Advantage joystick controller for the NES console.
- April, Namco releases Assault, which may be the first game to use hardware rotation of sprites and the background.
- August, Sega releases Altered Beast, later ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis where it was packaged with the console in North America and Europe.
- December, Capcom releases Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins.
- December, Namco releases Winning Run, the first polygonal 3D arcade racing game.
- December, Technōs Japan releases Double Dragon II: The Revenge, the first sequel to Double Dragon, released during the previous year.
- Atari Games releases an official arcade version of Tetris as well as Cyberball and Toobin'.
- Namco releases World Stadium, Berabow Man, Marchen Maze, Bakutotsu Kijuutei, which is the sequel to Baraduke, Ordyne, Metal Hawk, World Court, Splatterhouse, which is the first game to get a parental advisory disclaimer, Mirai Ninja, Face Off and Phelios.
- Williams releases the violent, drug-themed NARC, beginning a run of major hits for the company.
- January 2, Electronic Arts releases Wasteland (video game)
- January 5, shareware game The Adventures of Captain Comic is one of the first NES-style scrolling platformers for the PC, setting the stage for a subsequent shareware platformer boom.
- January 8, Konami releases Super Contra.
- February 10, Enix releases Dragon Quest III.
- March 1988, R.C. Pro-Am is released and becomes a hit for the NES, drawing attention to UK developer Rare.
- July 20, Capcom releases Bionic Commando, for NES/Famicom based on the 1987 arcade game of the same title.
- September 1, Nintendo revamps Doki Doki Panic and releases it as Super Mario Bros. 2, for the Nintendo Entertainment System in America and the PAL region. Birdo made her debut in this game and released in Japan as Super Mario USA in 1992.
- October 5, Origin Systems releases Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny, which includes a time-of-day system and daily schedules for non-player characters.
- October 23, Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Famicom in Japan. First appearance of the Koopalings.
- December 1, Nintendo releases Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in America. The game had been released nearly two years earlier in Japan on the Famicom Disk System, before America even saw the first The Legend of Zelda.
- December 9, Tecmo releases Ninja Gaiden for the NES/Famicom.
- December 17, Square Co. releases Final Fantasy II for the Famicom Disk System as the second installment of the Final Fantasy series.
- December 24, Capcom releases Mega Man 2 in Japan, eventually becoming the highest-selling installment of the entire Mega Man franchise with a total of 1.5 million copies sold.
- Pool of Radiance the first of the SSI Gold Box games is released, the first computer RPG officially based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
- Superior Software release Exile on the Acorn Electron and BBC Micro. A complex arcade adventure, it is the first with a full physics engine.
- Sega releases Phantasy Star outside Japan for the Sega Master System, the first in the company's most successful series of role-playing video games.
- Electronic Arts releases John Madden Football for the Apple II, starting its highly successful line of American football games.
- Interplay's animated chess program Battle Chess is released for the Amiga, then widely ported.
- Pioneer Plague makes use of the Amiga's 4096 color Hold-And-Modify mode, something not thought possible for animated games.