As a millennial baby, there are a few unforgettable, but now seemingly ancient, things that were a staple of my childhood — namely, 1990s video games. I was first introduced to gaming when I was given a Sega Mega Drive for my birthday; little did I know that this machine would change my life forever. As an only child, if my friends were busy, it was a blessing that I had video games to keep me company. A few years later, the super advanced console that everyone had been waiting for (the PlayStation) was released and my dad got one for us soon after it came out. This changed everything.
My dad was never really into video games growing up (the only ones available to him would have been in an arcade), but working as a graphic designer, he really appreciated the CGI in video games as he had an understanding of how they were created. I, on the other hand, loved the stories and the way in which you could play as someone else — be that a super speedy blue hedgehog or a person with magical powers. Playing video games helped me to develop my imagination and empathy towards others as I had almost been in someone else's shoes.
So without further ado, here's a selection of '90s video games that were adored by the masses, to get you feeling all nostalgic and get rallying for some remakes.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog was first released in the early '90s on the Sega Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis, for you North Americans) and since then it has had countless sequels and various other spin off games. I loved the simplicity of this game. You were a really fast hedgehog who had to run and jump your way through a side–scrolling landscape, attempt to collect the Chaos Emeralds, and save the little critters that Doctor Robotnik had turned into robots. The only downside was you couldn't save your game so when you lost all of your lives you would have to start right back at the beginning.
For all you hardcore fans out there you can now buy an Xbox 360 game that includes all of the old Sega Mega Drive classics — and you can actually save your progress this time around. Hallelujah!
2. Ecco the Dolphin
At the time, the graphics of Ecco the Dolphin were top notch and the game was generally rather beautiful. I loved the mystery and intrigue of this game. You played as Ecco, a lone dolphin separated from your pod at the start of the game by a crazy whirlwind and your mission was to find your friends and family. Although I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game, I found it difficult to control and I could only ever get to the level where you had to swim really slowly past the octopus, which I think was only the second level. I must have been about five years old when I got this game a few years after its release and even though I was seriously bad at it, I would still play the same part over and over.
This game is also on the aforementioned Sega Megadrive Ultimate Collection Classics Xbox 360 Game, which I have — and I still can't get past that darned octopus level. Hopefully you will fare better!
3. Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot was just nuts. You played as Crash and the aim of the game was to rescue your girlfriend from your nemesis Doctor Neo Cortex by smashing, jumping, and spinning your way through a series of islands and mental bosses like Ripper Roo, the insane mutant kangaroo. It was a really fun game but it was so intense; especially the level where you get chased by a giant boulder and have to dodge obstacles to avoid being crushed. A little bandicoot told me there are ways to play this awesome game online.
4. Spyro the Dragon
Spyro the Dragon was such a fun game — mostly because you got to be a dragon, which was probably one of my life goals as a kid. You could glide, charge, jump, breathe fire, and occasionally fly. Even the mundane task of chasing sheep to try and get butterflies for your dragonfly companion Sparx was entertaining. Apparently you can play this game online so you can pretend to be a dragon all over again!
5. Final Fantasy VII
There are no words to describe my feelings about this game, although "incredible" comes close. Playing as Cloud Strife, an ex-member of the corrupt corporation Shinra's soldier unit, you join a rebel group who aim to bring Shinra down in flames. You could fight your enemies with your sword or magic and when you met other members of the rebel group avalanche, you could swap them in and out of your three person team to take advantage of their unique abilities. For me, the in-depth storyline was the main draw of this game and my heart will always have an Aeris shaped hole in it.
It was such a popular game that a movie was made about it — Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children — and now a remake has been announced and I am actually considering purchasing a PlayStation 4 literally just for the Final Fantasy VII Remake.
6. Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue
I have given many hours of my life to this game that I will never get back and I am not ashamed to admit that! Every second playing Pokémon Red was so exciting and with the release of the anime TV series around the same time I got the game, I was simply a poké–freak. I even had my own real life Pokédex and now 15 years later I have a Nintendo 3DS with Pokémon X on it... These games were that good.
7. Age of Empires
Now this is where gaming got serious. You commanded your own empire and you played against the computer, to attempt to have the best civilization in the realm and reduce your enemies' lands to rubble. There was a lot of skill and tactical thinking in this game. If you ever get to play this game, pick to play as the Persians because they eventually get to have War Elephants and everything gets a little bit LOTR, in a really, really good way. You can play a variety of the Age of Empires games via Steam on your PC.
To me Tekken was a game of blindly button bashing your way through and hoping that you'd fluke a win. I did know people who actually learned the moves and combos, but if they were up against a button basher with mad reflexes they probably didn't stand a chance. Here's some amazing news — you can now play Street Fighter X Tekken via Steam on your PC, which blends together the best bits of arguably two of the greatest fighting games ever created.
9. Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart 64 really was fun for all of the family as you could play solo or with up to four non–computer players on the Nintendo 64 console. It was a really great game as it could be played by younger kids but also enjoyed by teens and parents. It was silly, fun, and an excellent way to spend a rainy afternoon. As you may already be aware, this game had a reboot for the Nintendo Wii and you can now play with a wireless steering wheel! Upgrade board games for this fun–filled family activity and see a whole new dimension to sibling rivalry.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Growing up this was one of the most magical games I ever played. IMO it paved the way for all of the sandbox games in years to come as the land in which you explored, Hyrule, seemed vast and endless and your character Link aged throughout the game. It also encompassed music into the game and although not technically musically correct, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time could have been responsible for inspiring gamer kids to take up an instrument — I personally picked clarinet after being told I was too small to play saxophone. I was so excited to discover this incredible game had endured another revamp (the first remaking was for the Nintendo GameCube which came free with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker,) and this time it was for the Nintendo 3DS, so now it can be played in 3D. Isn't technology amazing? For super fans, you can even get The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D on your Nintendo 3DS too. Well that's my upcoming cold, winter nights in planned!
11. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
This game takes a spot in my top three games of all time as it is so dear to my heart. It follows the tale of Klonoa, a really cute cat person who can fly with his ears, and his friend Huepow a ring spirit, who venture to defeat the evil Ghadius and rescue the songstress Lephise. There are some truly heart breaking moments in this game that helped me to realize that life isn't all rainbows and unicorns. It's so beautifully made and contains some of the most endearing characters I've ever encountered in a game, not to mention the wonderful music.
I could go on forever as there were so many games I know that not only myself, but many other '90s kids loved to play. So let's get poking those developers for more modern day remakes!