Top 10 Video Games of the 1990s

Hey Dudes, today we will look at the games of the 1990s. This will be the second entry into our top 10 video games of the decade series.

It’s not until you take a look back on a particular period in gaming’s history like the 90s, that you realise just how incredibly productive, progressive and thoroughly fruitful a time it really was. Additionally, it was likely a time that many gamers were coming of age, not unlike myself. Video games were starting to become the norm in the 90s, with many adults also getting involved in the play. It was also the start of games on discs, the move from 16-bit to 64-bit architecture and from d-pads to dual analogs.

 

10. Super Mario World

 

The character that’s arguably the most iconic video game hero of all time, this game was named Super Mario World. It was named this for good reason because it introduced us all to Yoshi, 70 intricate levels and more powerups than ever along with a fantastic soundtrack. All of this whilst further refining a difficulty curve that was oh-so close to perfect in the first place. Levels were more difficult than the original and improvements to the graphics brought this game into a new age. Additionally, Mario himself even felt like he moved with an increased fidelity that would go on to influence essentially every 2D platformer to date.

9. Oregon Trail II

 

That’s right. We picked Oregon Trail as one of the greatest games of the 90s. So this game is not necessarily the most refined in terms of graphics but, it’s significance in North American culture is widespread. 65 million copies have been sold over the 40 odd years that this series has been around. This game came bundled with many IBM, Apple and Windows computers that were sold into schools making it one of the earliest video games many millennials have played. As initially stated, this game was no trailblazer (pun intended) graphically, gameplay wise or much else, compared to the other games on this list, but, It was a huge upgrade from the original Oregon Trail release. However, it is probably one of the most important games to be created in the 1990s.

8. Tekken 3

 

Personally, I am not the type of gamer who loves fighting games, but, I can recognize greatness when I see it. In the world of fighting games, Namco’s Tekken 3 stands alone. At first glance of the PlayStation version, Tekken 3 looks just like it did in the arcade. The animation speed is impressive, and the textures are cunningly crafted to make the lower-resolution models look as good as possible. Tekken’s fighting system is arcade-perfect. Arguably, it still is one of the best on the PlayStation. For those new to the series, Tekken uses two punch buttons and two kick buttons to simulate the left and right sides. It a fighting system that’s worked extremely well for Tekken over the years, and it’s just gotten faster and better. Tekken 3 on the PlayStation is the most well-rounded fighting package on the market. Not only does it provide an excellent fighting game, but the extra modes and practice features make it the benchmark for fighters to come.

7. Final Fantasy VII

 

This has not aged very well graphically, which is why it is got an update in 2015. However, in terms of gameplay, story and nostalgia this RPG might be the greatest of them all. Getting straight to the point, Final Fantasy VII remains a masterpiece almost 20 years after its launch. The story of Cloud Strife and his ragtag band of allies hasn’t been diminished by time – it’s still an extremely well-paced tale that effortlessly chops and changes its tone to suit the situation. Whether you believe that Final Fantasy VII is the greatest entry in the series or not, the truth is that it’s still an excellent role-playing game. A superbly paced plot, a brilliant cast of characters, and a punchy battle system combine to create a fantasy that remains an absolute classic, and a game that’s well worth playing all over again. All in all, it is impossible to not recommend Final Fantasy VII to anyone who is even vaguely interested in RPGs.

 

6. Goldeneye 007

 

The first-person shooter that turned an entire generation onto the delights of blasting their friends in the face, the N64’s GoldenEye is still many peoples’ finest FPS experience ever – simply down to it being the first time they ever got to grips with the genre itself. The great thing is, the game’s seminal multiplayer mode was thrown in as an afterthought by developers Rare, even without clearing it with the executives. So easy was it to develop the mode that the coding department did so of their own accord, cobbling it together in a very short time frame purely because they knew it’d be fun, the publishers not realising until it was on store shelves. It might be a little unwieldy by today’s standards thanks to the advances we’ve made in control schemes (and the controllers themselves), but considering the unique feel of aiming ‘within the screen’ that few titles have emulated, 007 is still one of the best shooters you’ll ever have the pleasure of playing.

5. Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid – a true masterpiece, and arguably the best game in the long-running franchise. This oft-acknowledged classic deftly jumps from solemn to silly and back again without a second’s thought. Perhaps surprisingly, the title’s graphics actually hold up in a modern context; it’s clear that the limitations of the hardware were used as a means of informing the art style rather than hindering it. This can also be chalked up to game developer/magician Kojima and his trademark brand of oddly specific detailing. The fact that you (the protagonist) can catch a common cold is utterly hilarious. While ultimately inconsequential, nods like this make the title’s world feel rich and full. MGS features a tonally inconsistent plot, stodgy and outdated stealth gameplay, and a string of frustratingly impenetrable progress blocks. And yet, the title remains a 90s triumph from start to finish.

4. Super Mario Kart

 

Super Mario Kart, the game with the red shell that tore friends and family apart. This game was a large part of my early childhood with my two significantly older brothers. It became the thing that bonded us across our age gap, then, abruptly made us mortal enemies. Super Mario Kart is all about racing for the checkered flag through a variety of cartoonish landscapes inspired by the Mario universe. The trademarks of the Mario Kart series, of course, have little to do with one player attacking courses on his own — it’s all about the mayhem that happens when several different racers are all trying to rule the road at the same time, and jockeying for position with the help of tons of different weapons and power-ups. But, you knew that already. Because you’ve very likely already played this game before — you may even be one of the over eight million individuals who bought a copy of the SNES cartridge in the ’90s, a sales total that made it the third-best selling game of all time for Nintendo’s 16-bit machine. That sales total, though, isn’t the only important thing about this classic. It led to a large number of racing games and helped to create a loyal fanbase to Nintendo and to gaming as a whole.

 

3. Resident Evil

 

I have never been a fan of horror games, mostly because they traumatize me and I don’t like that. But, I did enjoy this one, even though it traumatized me. Every time I remember this game, I see those dogs crashing through the window, and good god does it still scare me. At the heart of Resident Evil lies its basic, graphic-adventure premise. Zombies have come alive, and you (as one of two story-specific characters) must investigate the freaky goings-on. The graphics for the time were gorgeous, combining polygon-modelled characters with pre-rendered backgrounds. Camera angles for Resident Evil are limited but allow for a greater degree of detail on the characters. You really do identify with the protagonists, something lacking in many games of the era. The game moves along at a brisk pace, with enough action sequences to balance out the relatively easy puzzles. Resident Evil is a masterpiece and a game that still is fun but can scare the daylights out of you til this very day.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

 

For many, Ocarina is absolutely unbeatable in terms of present-day nostalgia factor and in-its-day world exploration. Told over the course of multiple timelines, its approach to narrative took the tried n’ tested “Young child goes on an adventure away from their village” trope. Your mission as the young Link is stopping the evil Ganondorf from recovering the Triforce. This mission will take you from the innocence of the Kokiri Forest and far away, into infuriating Water Temples and beyond. When all is said and done, you have experienced a huge chunk of main character’s life. In a time when game narratives were known for playing second fiddle to the act of getting on with the mechanics of the experience, Ocarina of Time took the bold step of synching them both up in an incredibly impactful way.

1. Mario 64

 

It is doubtful that any game has made more leaps and bounds in terms of graphics than Mario 64. In a 1996 review on IGN.com, it was stated that “SM64 is the greatest video game to date and one which all games, regardless of genre, will be judged henceforth”. It is the jump from 2D 16 bit games of old on the SNES to the 3D, 64-bit world that makes this title the innovator of the 90s. With nearly 50 hours of gameplay and a large world to explore, coupled with your old pal Mario, it is incredible to think that the predecessor to this title, Super Mario World, was released only 5 years prior. SM64 is the father of the open world video games of today. I get excited every time I see the gameplay or hear the soundtrack of this game and in my mind, it will live on in immortality.

 

 

Thank you for reading, if you want to read more articles like this then please leave a comment below or you can check out our list of the 10 best games from the 1980s.

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