Ah, the ’90s – a golden era for video gaming filled with nostalgia, unforgettable moments, and some of the most iconic games in history. In this list, we’re taking a trip down memory lane, revisiting the best video games of the ’90s that captured our hearts, our imaginations, and countless hours of our free time. With groundbreaking visuals, gripping storylines, and countless sequels that followed, these games defined the decade and left a lasting impact on the gaming world.
So put on your favorite pair of jeans, crank up that ’90s playlist, and join us on this journey as we reminisce about the remarkable games that stole many a ’90s kid’s heart (and spare change). From sprawling RPGs to addictive arcade classics, this list has a little something for everyone. Let the nostalgia train commence!
Super Mario World
Released as a launch title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Super Mario World took the iconic Mario platforming formula and expanded upon it with new power-ups, a larger world, and the introduction of Yoshi. The game's colorful graphics, tight controls, and memorable music made it a standout title and one of the best-selling games of the 1990s.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
This installment in the popular Legend of Zelda series introduced many of the franchise's core elements, such as the parallel worlds of Light and Dark, as well as a vast array of weapons and items. The game's top-down perspective, engaging puzzles, and epic adventure resonated with players, making it a critical and commercial success.
Final Fantasy VII
As a defining entry in the popular Final Fantasy series, this game captivated players with its epic story, memorable characters, and richly detailed 3D graphics. The game's innovative materia system and engaging turn-based combat helped it become one of the best-selling RPGs of all time.
Based on the James Bond film of the same name, GoldenEye 007 set a new standard for first-person shooters on consoles with its engaging single-player campaign and groundbreaking split-screen multiplayer. The game's diverse missions, stealth elements, and wide array of weapons made it a must-play title for the Nintendo 64 and a critical and commercial success.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Developed as a mascot and rival to Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog became a cultural icon in the 1990s with its fast-paced gameplay and colorful, detailed graphics. The game's unique speed-based platforming mechanics, catchy music, and memorable level design made it a standout title for the Sega Genesis.
As a pioneer of the first-person shooter genre, Doom introduced fast-paced, visceral action, pitting players against hordes of demons in a sci-fi/horror setting. Its groundbreaking 3D graphics, extensive modding support, and networked multiplayer helped it gain immense popularity and solidified its status as a classic.
This action-adventure game introduced the iconic character of Lara Croft and popularized the 3D adventure genre. Combining exploration, platforming, and combat, Tomb Raider's expansive levels, cinematic presentation, and strong female protagonist contributed to its immense success.
This groundbreaking first-person shooter combined a compelling narrative with immersive gameplay, putting players in the shoes of scientist Gordon Freeman as he navigated the alien-infested Black Mesa Research Facility. Half-Life's seamless storytelling, advanced AI, and varied level design set it apart from other shooters of the time, earning it numerous awards and a lasting legacy in the gaming industry.
This atmospheric point-and-click adventure game captivated players with its surreal environments, immersive sound design, and challenging puzzles. Myst's groundbreaking use of pre-rendered 3D graphics and its emphasis on exploration and storytelling made it one of the best-selling PC games of the 1990s.
Super Mario 64
As the first 3D installment in the Mario series, Super Mario 64 revolutionized the platforming genre with its open-world design, responsive controls, and nonlinear level progression. The game's groundbreaking use of 3D graphics, exploration-based gameplay, and memorable music made it a standout title for the Nintendo 64.
Street Fighter II
As a groundbreaking fighting game, Street Fighter II refined and popularized the genre with its diverse roster of characters, each with their unique moves and playstyles. The game's competitive nature, deep gameplay mechanics, and influential combo system led to its widespread success in arcades and home consoles, spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs.
Developed by a dream team of Japanese RPG creators, Chrono Trigger combined a compelling story, memorable characters, and innovative gameplay mechanics, such as a unique time-travel system and combination attacks. The game's detailed graphics, engaging narrative, and iconic soundtrack contributed to its widespread acclaim and popularity.