The 15 best games of the 90s that made us dream

The 15 best games of the 90s that made us dream

The nineties were a great time for video games. Between coin-operated cabinets, also called arcade, and games on PC and consoles, this decade has reserved great surprises and has impressed itself indelibly in the minds of many fans. Between SEGA, Nintendo, PlayStation and many top-level publishers, defining the best games of the 90s is really difficult, especially when nostalgia and personal tastes are involved. However, we have decided to create our own list, to retrace the avenue of memories and give some advice to the very young.

Let's discover the 15 best games of the 90s that made us dream in that magical decade.

Aliens (1990)

Aliens (1990) One of the great protagonists of arcades in the early 90s and in general one of the best tie-ins in the history of cabinets, Aliens was the result of a Konami in a state of grace, fresh from successes such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and extremely inspired with licenses. In this case we were talking about the transposition of James Cameron's 1986 film of the same name. The connections with the film, also revealed by frames taken directly from the film in the introduction, added charm to the whole, but in reality the title of the Japanese house was based only partly about the story. The first boss, to say, was a creature loosely inspired by the universe of H.R. Giger, but never seen in the movies, and the same thing was true for many other enemies, situations and scenarios.

The idea was that of a side scrolling shooter with great emphasis on the rich paraphernalia, also partly recovered from the film: exaggerated machine guns, plasma rifles and flamethrowers offered high offensive power, an element that allowed Konami to increase the enemies on the screen, thus setting up truly spectacular situations. We quickly realized that it was one of the best games of the 90s, even though it was only at the beginning of the decade.

Aliens was released in a cabin version.

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) When SEGA decided to truly rival Nintendo, it needed of a mascot that could stand side by side with Mario and overtake him in speed: the solution devised by Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara was Sonic the Hedgehog. The blue hedgehog was impatient and boisterous, best representing the 90s and the youth of that era. As we all know, Sonic was not able to truly steal the show from Mario in the long run and nowadays he can be found side by side with his "rival" in sports games dedicated to the Olympics. Nonetheless, the first installment of the series remains one of the best games of the 1990s and is certainly still extremely fun to play today.

Sonic the Hedgehog has been released on SEGA MEGA Drive.

Mortal Kombat II (1993)

Mortal Kombat II (1993) If we play Mortal Kombat today, we probably also owe it to the success of the second chapter of this famous saga, released in 1993, which defined identity of the series. Just a year after the first Mortal Kombat, Midway Games churned out a sensational sequel, a fighting game that improved virtually everything from its predecessor and took the motion capture technique used to create character animations to new heights. The whole production was shrouded in an unhealthy, almost horror aura, and a simply unusual violence that expressed itself in the gruesome Fatalities, which later became a standard of the franchise.

Mortal Kombat II also became famous for the scenarios that offered haunted forests, suspension bridges and so on and so forth. The story also became more and more intricate, painting characters moved by personal motivations, thus also involving the bizarre and monstrous creatures of the Outworld. It is certainly one of the best games of the 90s, both in the fighting genre and in a general sense.

Mortal Kombat II has been published in Arcade, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Saturn, Sega versions 32X, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, PlayStation, MS-DOS and Amiga.

NBA Jam (1993)

NBA Jam (1993) The NBA Jam Series has almost reached the present day, but has never managed to replicate the progenitor released in 1993, which represented a real stroke of genius on the part of Midway. The idea of ​​reducing basketball to a two-on-two match, inspired by street basketball and erasing all traces of rule to favor the most extreme spectacle, found the approval of the entire arcade tribe and consecrated it as one of the best games of the 90's.

Players were able to unleash stunts and dunks unrelated to the laws of gravity, fouls were an urban legend and shoving on the pitch a religion. Then the graphic realization is wonderful, a little bitmap jewel characterized by gigantic and splendidly animated athletes. The presence of multiplayer up to four players at the same time was the ultimate weapon to clean up all the tokens in the pockets. If you weren't playing NBA Jam in the 1990s, maybe you weren't in an arcade.

NBA Jam was released in arcade, SNES, MEGA Drive, Game Gear, Game Boy, MEGA-CD and SEGA Saturn versions.

Alien vs Predator (1994)

Alien vs Predator (1994) It seems incredible but Capcom managed to sublimate all his experience acquired in the scrolling fighting game in the tie-in of a spin-off anything but memorable. But in the hands of the Japanese house everything became magic, and in this case the result was a product that was also revolutionary in its own way. Bringing an alliance between humans and Predators in the bloodthirsty fight against xenomorphs, Alien vs Predator offered a three-player co-op experience that is hard to forget. The turning point came with the use of the Predators themselves, present in different classes and endowed with devastating offensive power. In full compliance with their film counterparts, they were equipped with special cannons placed on the shoulders capable of striking from a distance and therefore adding shooter nuances that upset the formula of the classic fighting game. However, the guns overheated easily, forcing a waiting time that had to be strategically managed. The fantastic graphic realization and the presence of levels full of varied situations. Still today one of the best scrolling fighting games produced by Capcom and one of the best games of the 90s.

Alien vs Predator was released in an arcade version.

Virtua Fighter 2 (1994 )

Virtua Fighter 2 (1994) SEGA continued to make its mark on the games of the 90s and it is impossible to omit the classic from Yu Suzuki and AM2. Also in this case the Model 2 board was brought up to design the dream and bring to the players a technical aspect in the unthinkable times. The detachment with the previous Virtua Fighter was also marked only by the fluidity, doubled thanks to the sixty frames per second; motion capture and defined textures did the rest. Virtua Fighter 2 was a big hit in Japan in 1994 and was followed by version 2.1, a revised edition that offered the ability to control Dural, as well as the presence of several graphical improvements and gameplay adjustments. Simply a classic.

Virtua Fighter 2 was released on Arcade, Sega Saturn, Sega Mega Drive, Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable.

Killer Instinct (1994)

Killer Instinct (1994) Today we play the remake on Xbox One, but try to go back over twenty years and imagine the emotions of a boy in front of the giant cabinet of Killer Instinct, a bizarre fighting game with a simple graphic aspect revolutionary that made it one of the best games of the 90s. Only a long time later was its operation revealed, guaranteed by a combined use of hardware and laser disc technology, but at the time the only sure thing was the jaws that fell to the ground.

As if that were not enough, the introduction stated that what was seen was nothing more than a port of a game for the infamous "Ultra 64", an incredible Nintendo console that would be released a year later. In reality, two would have passed and the console would have been called Nintendo 64, but here we are talking about emotions that made that 1994 unforgettable. The title was devastating in all respects, a deliberate attack on the senses that culminated in provocative, exaggerated and endless combos. Simply epochal.

Killer Instict was released in arcade version and then on Nintendo 64, SNES and Game Boy.

The King of Fighters '96 (1996)

The King of Fighters '96 (1996) SNK reached the top with the third iteration of its crossover series, where icons drawn from different franchises of the Japanese house met in a mysterious tournament to give them a good reason. Many more chapters followed, but none had the impact of the 1996 cabinet and the perfect conversion for Neo Geo.

For many, The King of Fighters '96 still remains today one of the best incarnations of the series, if not the best, having as protagonists characters who have become more or less fixed presences of the saga, such as Leona Heidern. Memorable scenarios, which included, among the many, spectacular clashes in the elevated Tokyo. The music is on the same level. The game followed the classic three-on-three single-elimination formula, with a technical depth that found few equals in the market and that made it one of the best games of the 1990s.

The King of Fighters '96 was released on arcade, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Game Boy.

Quake (1996)

Quake You know, the clash in the nineties is always DOOM vs Quake. We chose the latter because it proposed a complete 3D graphics engine that allowed players to explore the game world in a new way. Additionally, Quake featured a fantastic online multiplayer mode.

Quake was a dark, scary work, with perfect sound effects and a fantastic arsenal of weapons that allowed us to play in many ways. Quake already gave the impression of being in the future and immediately became one of the favorite games of the 90s for FPS fans. Today it's back in the form of a remaster for modern consoles.

Quake was initially released on MS-DOS, then on Windows, Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn (this version uses a different graphics engine).

Final Fantasy 7 (1997)

Final Fantasy 7 (1997) In 1997 the Square Enix saga was well known around the world and came from a very high level game like Final Fantasy 6. How can you pass an incredible title? Part of the answer was to revolutionize the technical sector, moving from 2D graphics to a 3D world with pre-rendered backgrounds and CGI films that were previously unimaginable. All this was obviously possible thanks to the first PlayStation and the new support, CDs. Final Fantasy 7 then immediately became one of the best games of the 90s (also thanks to the important topics covered and the quality of writing, of course) and changed the way RPGs were created. Today, we can discover this masterpiece also in a new format thanks to the 2020 Remake, which changes some elements, first of all the gameplay that goes from a classic ATB turn-based game to a hybrid action with tactical pause.

Final Fantasy 7 was originally released on the first PlayStation. Today it can be played on all consoles, PC and mobile.

Super Mario 64 (1997)

Super Mario 64 (1997) Mario has long been one of the most important franchises in the world of video games, but with the arrival of Nintendo 64 it was time to revolutionize everything. Super Mario 64 brought the saga to the 3D world for the first time and allowed us to explore so many realms in a whole new way, defining the rules of the three-dimensional platforming that would be produced from then on. Yes, Lakitu's camera was far from perfect, but in terms of design it is one of the most important games of the 90's. If we have Super Mario Odyssey today, we owe it only to this title from 1997.

Super Mario 64 was released on the Nintendo 64.

Half-Life (1998)

Half-Life (1998) Half-Life has many virtues that made it one of the best games of the 90s, but one of the most important is being able to create a first person shooter without having to rely on a movie , on a real war and without focusing on a classic "power fantasy". Valve's work puts us in the shoes of a simple scientist, Gordon Freeman, who must survive in a dark and devastated laboratory, trying not to get eaten by aliens from another dimension. Half-Life was (and is) an extremely immersive game and defined how games would tell their stories from then on.

Half-Life was released on computers and PlayStation 2.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) In 1992 Nintendo released A Link to the Past and made us travel the the dark and bright versions of the magical world of Hyrule. Ocarina of Time, in 1999, instead made us travel through time. A young Link walks the fields of Hyrule in search of the princess who appears in his dreams, then, a teenage Link emerges from the temple of time only to find the world on the brink of destruction. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time offers various technological innovations that have changed the expectations of players in terms of open world games, but to convince us all the way more the unique atmosphere of this masterpiece. Undeniably one of the best games of the 90s.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released on the Nintendo 64 and later on the GameCube.

Pokémon Red / Blue ( 1999)

Pokémon Red / Blue (1999) We can't talk about the best games of the 90s without mentioning Pokémon. The saga, born in Japan in 1997, took a couple of years to land in the Old Continent, but the delay did not prevent the Red / Blue duo from being successful. Pokémon is a very classic turn-based JRPG, but instead of proposing a small group of characters to take into battle, it allows us to choose six of them from the 151 available in the game. Each creature has its own type, moves to learn and transforms into a new version as you level up. Features discounted nowadays but innovative for the time. Of course, the first generation was released with some bugs, limited graphics from its being a Game Boy game and a not exactly perfect quality of life typical of those 90s (problem solved especially starting from the third generation). However, the charm of Pokémon was unique and the success of the saga is still incredible today.

Pokémon Red / Blue was published on the Game Boy and, in backward compatibility, on the Game Boy Color.

Street Fighter II (1991 - 2003)

Street Fighter II (1991 - 2003) The nineties in a sense began and ended with Street Fighter II. No matter what came next, the Capcom fighting game represented an experience from which it was impossible to go back. Nothing would ever be the same again and we feel it right to reward it as an emblem of this unforgettable period. A great catalyst for attention in any bar or arcade, the title drastically improved on its predecessor, introducing a huge roster of playable and beautifully characterized characters. It has spawned the likes of Ryu and Ken, Chun Li, Guile and Mr. Bison / Vega. A complex and deep gameplay that has taken the genre to new and unthinkable levels, and a technical realization that took advantage of the experience gained by Capcom in the creation of a comic style, with Western influences. The history of the Arcade of the 90s and beyond, as it managed to live the new century with the limited release of Hyper Street Fighter II in 2003, first released on PlayStation 2 and then in some arcades of the Rising Sun.

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