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History of video game consoles (fourth generation) facts for kids

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green - NTSC, blue - PAL, or switching to PAL, orange - SECAM, olive - no information

The fourth generation of video game consoles began on October 30, 1987. The fourth generation (also called the 16-bit generation) began with the release of Nippon Electric Company's (NEC) PC Engine. Although NEC released the first fourth-generation console, this generation was dominated by Nintendo and Sega. Nintendo became the largest worldwide market share in the fourth generation. Sega was also successful in this generation. It began a new franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. This was done so Sega could compete with Nintendo's Mario series of games. Many other companies released consoles in this generation. However, none of them were successful, except for Neo Geo from SNK.

The first handheld game console released in the fourth generation was the Game Boy, on April 21, 1989. The Game Boy became the most popular handheld game console. The Game Boy's screen had no color. However, many of its leading competitors did. Three major franchises were introduced for the Game Boy. These include: Tetris, Pokemon and Kirby. Many of the popular games in this generation originally started in the 8-bit generations. These titles include Mario, Metroid, Zelda, Star Fox, Kirby, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Seiken Densetsu (Secret of Mana), Sonic the Hedgehog, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Mega Man X.

The next generation would be the one that changed everything.

Home video game consoles


Name PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16 Mega Drive/Genesis Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System Neo Geo AES
Manufacturer NEC/Hudson Soft Sega Nintendo SNK
Console PC-Engine-Console-Set.jpg
Sega-Genesis-Mod2-Set.jpg Nintendo-Super-Famicom-Set-FL.jpg
Launch prices (USD) US$199.99 US$189.99 US$199.99 US$649.99 (Gold version)

US$399.99 (Silver version)

Release date
  • JP October 30, 1987
  • NA September 1, 1989
  • JP October 29, 1988
  • NA September 15, 1989
  • EU November 30, 1990
  • JP November 21, 1990
  • NA August 23, 1991
  • EU April 11, 1992
  • JP July 1, 1991
Media HuCard (card-shaped cartridge)

CD-ROM (Turbo CD add-on)


CD-ROM (Mega-CD add-on)
Data card (Power Base Converter add-on)


Magnetic disc (Japan only)


Data card (Europe/Japan)

Best-selling games Bonk's Adventure Sonic the Hedgehog (15 million) Super Mario World, 20 million (as of June 25, 2007) Samurai Shodown
Backward compatibility No Sega Master System (using Power Base Converter) Game Boy (using Super Game Boy) No
Accessories (retail)
  • Neo Geo Controller Pro
  • Neo Geo Memory Card
CPU HuC6280A (modified 65SC02)
1.79 or 7.16 MHz
Motorola 68000
7.67 MHz (7.61 MHz PAL)
Zilog Z80
3.58 MHz
Nintendo-custom 5A22
(based on 65C816)
3.58 MHz (3.55 MHz PAL)
Motorola 68000
12 MHz
Zilog Z80
4 MHz
Memory 8 KiB work RAM
64 KiB video RAM
64 KiB main RAM
64 KiB video RAM
8 KiB audio RAM
128 KiB main RAM
64 KiB video RAM
64 KiB audio RAM
64 KiB main RAM
74 KiB video RAM
2 KiB audio RAM


Worldwide sales

Console Units sold
Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System 49.10 million
Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis 40 million
PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 10 million
CD-i 570,000

List of handheld consoles

Console Game Boy Atari Lynx Sega Game Gear TurboExpress
Manufacturer Nintendo Atari Sega NEC
Image Game-Boy-Original.jpg Atari-Lynx-I-Handheld.jpg Sega-Game-Gear-WB.jpg TurboExpress-Front.jpg
Launch price ¥12,500
US$189.99 ¥14,500
Release date Japan April 21, 1989
United States August 1989
European Union 1990
United States September 1989
European Union 1990
Japan October 6, 1990
European Union April 26, 1991
United States April 26, 1991
Australia 1992
Japan November 16, 1990
United States 1991
Units sold 118.69 million (as of December 31, 2009), including Game Boy Color units 5 million (as of July 30, 2007) 15 million (as of July 30, 2007) 1.5 million
Media Cartridge Cartridge Cartridge Datacard
Best-selling games Tetris, 35 million (pack-in / separately).

Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green, approximately 20.08 million combined (in Japan and the US) (details).

Unknown Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Bonk's Adventure
Backward compatibility No(Original Cartridges compatible with later models) No Sega Master System (using Cartridge Adapter) No


Popular games


Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Videoconsolas de cuarta generación para niños

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