The Best-Selling Video Game of Every Year (1985-1999)


We here at Retro Wreck Room provide monthly subscription boxes filled with awesome old-school video games for our growing subscriber base. Oftentimes, we select surprising, hard-to-find cult favorites to be sent out to our members.  But, to get that definitive dose of nostalgia - it’s also great to fill our subscription boxes with the most popular, blockbuster games. That is why we created this list of the best selling video game of every year from 1985 to 1999.

1999: Pokemon Gold/Silver Version

Platform: GameBoy Color

Release Date: November 21, 1999

Developer: Game Freak

Copies Sold: 23 million

"If you've never played Pokémon, you really ought to go out right now and pick up a copy of either Pokémon Gold or Pokémon Silver. If you're a fan of Pokémon, the same goes for you...You really can't go wrong with 251 monsters, two main adventures, countless side quests, and a baseline of 60 hours of gameplay." - Frank Provo, GameSpot Review

1998: Pokemon Yellow Version

Platform: GameBoy

Release Date: September 12, 1998

Developer: Game Freak

Copies Sold: 14 million

"Pokemon Yellow is the definitive iteration of the original Game Boy installments, and a argument can be made that it plays just as well as Pokemon X or Y - perhaps even better solely thanks to the simplified premise, modes, roster, and resulting arsenal of attacks." - Riley Little, Game Rant Review

1997: Gran Turismo

Platform: PlayStation 1 (PS1)

Release Date: December 23, 1997

Developer: Polys Entertainment Cyberhead

Copies Sold: 11 million

"The experience of racing is simply awesome - the controls are precise (especially with the analog controller), the physics are realistic, and the sense of pure speed is palpable...No matter what flavor of racer you favor, Gran Turismo will take you for a ride you won't soon forget." - Vince Broady, GameSpot Review

1996: Pokemon Red/Blue Version

Platform: GameBoy

Release Date: February 26, 1996

Developer: Game Freak

Copies Sold: 31 million

"Pokemon really is worthy of being one of the Game Boy system's greatest games - it's not just a fad, a craze, or trend. If you don't have this game in your library, pick one up - it doesn't matter if you pick Blue or Red, they're both the same game. You'll just have to make sure you've got a friend with the other version if you want to catch 'em all." - Graig Harris, IGN Review

1995: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Release Date: August 1, 1995

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 4 million 

"Yoshi’s Island is a brilliant follow-up to Super Mario World. Though its cartoon graphics may suggest otherwise, the game is fantastically deep, going far beyond the simple run-and-jump type of platformer. It packs a good challenge and flawlessly integrates exciting platforming action with light puzzle-solving" - Ben Lee, Thunderbolt Review

1994: Donkey Kong Country

Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Release Date: November 21, 1994

Developer: Rare

Copies Sold: 9 million

"Donkey Kong Country isn't as mind-blowing as it was in '94, but it's still a great platformer. It's unique atmosphere, its buddy-tag system, and its excellent soundtrack all add up to an SNES experience that's not stellar, but it's as solid as a vest made from real gorilla chest." Nadia Oxford, US Gamer Review

1993: Super Mario All-Stars

Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Release Date: July 14, 1993

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 11 million

"Amazing! This four-in-one cart will keep fans occupied for hours if not days! This is a must-have for anyone with a Super NES! Everything is here, even the glitches and secret levels! The 16-Bit conversion, graphically, is fantastic, and the stereo sound enhances the overall effect. My favorite is Dream Factory!" - Steve Harris, Electronic Gaming Monthly Review

1992: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Platform: GameBoy

Release Date: October 21, 1992

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 11 million

"The original Super Mario Land was a solid start for the series on Nintendo's Game Boy system, but nothing could prepare gamers for what the developers were able to do with this sequel. They managed to improve every aspect of the game and even made the adventure a much longer and more rewarding experience this time around." - Corbie Dillard, Nintendo Life Review

1991: Sonic the Hedgehog

Platform: Sega Genesis

Release Date: June 23, 1991

Developer: Sonic Team

Copies Sold: 22 million

"Sonic the Hedgehog was a great game in its day, and though some of Sonic's subsequent games substantially improved on the formula created by the original, this first game still holds up nicely. It can be really tough, demanding that you repeatedly replay and gradually memorize its different stages. However, its precise and purely challenging action is easy to appreciate all these years later." - Greg Kasavin, GameSpot Review

1990: Super Mario World

Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Release Date: November 21, 1990

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 21 million

"Looking beyond the amazingly original storyline Super Mario World is a fantastic platformer...Between the precise controls, diverse environments and awesome music I cannot recommend this game any stronger.  Super Mario World stands the test of time and has easily claimed a spot in my personal top 10 games of all-time list." Ryan Engstrom, Game Tyrant Review

1989: Tetris

Platform: GameBoy

Release Date: June 14, 1989

Developer: Bullet-Proof Software & Nintendo

Copies Sold: 30 million

"It's a brilliant game. Nintendo made one of the best moves in the history of the gaming industry by pairing the new portable with this spectacular puzzler, as Tetris was a perfect fit for play on the go – tons of people got hooked on this game 20 years ago. Seriously, it was a phenomenon." - Lucas M. Thomas, IGN Review

1988: Super Mario Bros. 3

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Release Date: October, 23 1988

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 18 million

"Super Mario Bros. 3 is still a spectacular adventure today, and the best representation of the Mario universe to come from the NES." - Lucas M. Thomas, IGN Review

1987: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Release Date: January 14, 1987

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 4 million

"It's an interesting adventure that, in some respects, paved the way for concepts and mechanics found in the modern Zelda games." - Alex Navarro, GameSpot Review

1986: The Legend of Zelda

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Release Date: February 21, 1986

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 7 million

"Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, it's an open-ended action-adventure game the likes of which had never been seen before, back in 1987." - Lucas M. Thomas, IGN Review

1985: Super Mario Bros.

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Release Date: September 13, 1985

Developer: Nintendo

Copies Sold: 40 million

"Super Mario Bros. was Nintendo's first Killer App, and a game that helped move a bounty of NES consoles." - Mark Birnbaum, IGN Review


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