We know, we know, we know. How can we possibly narrow this down to just ten great video games of the 90s? And how could we miss your favourite game? And why exactly wasn’t this list just Heroes of Might and Magic III, listed in all ten slots?:
With that said, here we go . . .
Myst was a landmark in so many ways. Its photo-real graphics offered a glimpse into the future of gaming, and the difficulty of Myst puzzles pointed towards a future where games like Portal and The Witness. Also, the creators of Myst were so popular in the 90s that they appeared in a GAP commercial.
It’s funny to think that this game once terrified teachers and talk-show hosts. Sure, it’s a game where you’re a Space Marine brutally killing the forces of hell who’ve invaded a space station on Mars. But looking back, it’s amazing that anyone took this cartoonish violence seriously. The game still holds up though. It’s fast-paced, full of secrets, and is worth a replay.
The art is amazing, the music is beautiful, the story manages to span thousands of years back and forth through time, and there are more than a dozen interesting and wonderful characters to love and cherish. It’s not just one of the best games of the 90s, its’ one of the best games of all time, period. Also, ChronoTrigger is the last time someone did a time travel story that made any kind of sense.
Super Mario 64, 1996
Super Mario 64 was the first great 3D game ever made and was the best Mario until Galaxy came along. You could beat the game relatively easily, but if you wanted to pick every single star you really had to delve deep into levels and push your platforming skills to the limit. Each level was a joy to explore.
You’re not allowed to pick OddJob and if you’re playing with your little brother it’s cheap to choose proximity mines in Complex. And if that was nonsense to you, we assume you didn’t spend your sleepovers playing this most classic of shooters.
Final Fantasy VII, 1997
Receiving a high-definition remake, Final Fantasy VII was one of the most influential games of a highly influential series. The plot is complicated but almost beside the point; the real beauty in Final Fantasy VII is the friendships players develop with the characters on screen, which led to one of the most shocking moments in gaming. Either you know what scene we’re talking about or you haven’t played it and should pick up the remake right away.
Grim Fandango, 1998
The amazingly creative point-and-click adventure that set a film noir adventure in an afterlife based on Mexican Day of the Dead motifs, Grim Fandango is some of Tim Schafer’s best work. His humour continues to exist in the industry, but that kind of point-and-click adventure game is very much a creature of the 90s.
Confession: we played so much StarCraft multiplayer that we’d hear the words “You Must Construct Additional Pylons” in our sleep. WarCraft II may have put RTS games on the map, but StarCraft brought the game online in a huge new way. Also, it was the cause of so many all-weekend-long LAN parties. That has to count for something, right?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, 1998
Is Ocarina the best Zelda game of all time? All we know is that we’ve never forgotten the music, the big Goron sword was the most convoluted thing ever, and the water temple still makes the vein in our head temple twitch something fierce.
Half-Life towered over every other FPS of the 90s. Most were simple shoot-em-up affairs. Half-Life decided it was going to tell a story, and that story would be really well paced, and the world would tell pieces of the story. The enemies behave differently than other types of enemies and they all exist in a coherent ecosystem that you can take advantage of when you fight them. Each level is beautifully crafted, ranging from dark horror basements to massive set piece battles. There’s a reason that they’re still making these games, and that reason isn’t just Valve Time.
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