As much as I love smartphones and Netflix and being old enough to buy my own wine, I really do miss the '90s sometimes. Maybe being a '90s kid has made me a tad biased, but I do think it was the best decade for growing up to date. I mean, we '90s kids got to play Super Nintendo back when it was new. We were children when The Lion King hit theaters. We can still remember when Surge was a thing, and we all know the '90s was Nickelodeon's golden age. But of all the awesome things the '90s brought us, what I've found myself missing the most lately? All those awesome '90s games we used to play.
Now that I'm a sort of a grown up, I almost never play games (except Cards Against Humanity, of course) and it's kind of a bummer, because board games — especially the ones from our childhood — are actually pretty dope. Board games were the things of sleepovers, rainy days, birthday parties, and all that was fun about being a kid, and I really do miss playing them every day. So in honor of all that's nostalgic, here are eleven games that all of us '90s kids played — ranked.
How you know you played: You still have PTSD from that board buzzing.
Okay, so my family never owned Operation, and I was totally fine with that. Honestly, it was never my favorite game. I jumped every time I accidentally missed my mark and made that annoying buzzer go off. But, I couldn't leave it off the list. I mean, I feel like every '90s kid probably played Operation at least once. Whether they wanted to or not.
2. Connect Four
How you know you played: You remember the particular feeling of pleasure-mixed-with-boredom of dropping those chips into the yellow slots.
This is one board game from my '90s childhood that I still actually own. Sometimes, you just need a game that doesn't require a lot of focus, and Connect Four definitely qualifies. In my embarrassingly late teen years, and even in college, this was the game I set out to "play" when a boy was coming over who I fully intended to make out with. Because what better way to ease into a make out session than with a game that basically amounts to upright tic-tac-toe?
3. Guess Who
How you know you played: You've asked if "your person has a hat."
Growing up, I always loved a good guessing game, and Guess Who was one of the best. Granted, women are vastly underrepresented in this children's game (only five of the 24 characters are female) but that didn't keep me from playing the the crap out of it as a kid. On the rare occasion I actually got bored watching cartoons at my grandparents' house, this was the game I always forced my older cousins to play with me. There was just something so satisfying about flipping down all those illustrated randos until I finally guessed my opponents identity.
How you know you played: You never actually said "sorry!" for willfully hindering your opponents.
The best thing about Sorry! (besides its bright primary colors) was the fact that it was easy without being boring. Playing it never felt like a chore, and when you finally landed four tokens in your circle, all the attempted sabotage you endured at the hands of the other players only made your victory that much sweeter.
5. Candy Land
How you know you played: You had a crush on Queen Frostine/thought her hair was the coolest.
Playing Candy Land was always a treat for me, because for whatever reason, my family just never owned it. I only got to play it when I stayed over at my friends houses, so I'm not as experienced with or attached to the game as the average '90s kid probably is. Having said that, I always loved how simple this game was. It's literally just a colorful race to the finish interspersed with amazing places that I wish existed IRL. A forest made of candy canes? Yes, please. And although I've never climbed a mountain in my life, I'd hike Gumdrop Mountain right now if it were real.
How you know you played: You were probably defeated in Asia at some point, and/or double crossed by an unofficially allied player.
I'm not going to lie, Risk was just too much of a commitment for me most of the time. I did play it some, and it was awesome, but usually when my brother and his buddies busted out that six-continent board I opted out of game play. I just couldn't bring myself to dedicate six hours to conquering the the world most days. But when I did commit to this punishingly long game of strategy, you better believe occupy Australia! was my inner war cry.
How you know you played: You never finished a game, yet always wanted to play again. Also, you're obviously the top hat.
Monopoly is another one of those games that wasn't always the easiest to commit to as a kid. Sometimes the appeal of playing with fake money and purchasing fake real estate just wasn't worth spending six hours in one spot. But when I did commit to playing Monopoly, snagging the top hat piece before anyone else was way more important to me than winning.
How you know you played: You had a favorite room, and it was probably the study.
Alright, so Clue was definitely not released in the '90s, but every '90s kid I know played the hell out of it. I mean, who doesn't love murder mysteries set in spooky mansions? Do I find it a bit odd that a children's game included so many different murder weapons? Yeah, a little. But it clearly didn't turn me into a homicidal sociopath, and all that scandalous intrigue was just a whole lot of fun. Not to mention all the cool characters you could chose from. Personally, I wanted to be Miss Scarlet every single time.
9. Grape Escape
How you know you played: Your favorite part of game play wasn't winning, it was squishing your fellow player's Play-doh grapes after rolling Turn Crank.
This was one of my all time favorite board games growing up. (Largely due to the fact that 90 percent of the game is just playing with Play-doh.) But for whatever reason, I could hardly ever get my siblings to play it. Perhaps because the object of the game is to squish all the other grapes in a variety of comically violent ways before they can beat your grape to freedom. Or, maybe they just didn't dig Play-doh the way I did. At any rate, this game was amazing, and I miss it.
10. Pretty, Pretty Princess
How you know you played: "The black ring" struck fear into your young heart in a way you never knew costume jewelry could.
Other than the times we were playing Donkey Kong Country on my sister's Super Nintendo after school, this was probably the game my sister and I spent the most time playing together. I don't know why I adored it so much since I was a self-proclaimed tomboy until the ripe old age of 15, but I could have played this game for hours on end. And, truthfully, there were some days that I did. I guess even tomboys like to play dress up.
How you know you played: You secretly wished an entire jungle would come out of your Jumanji game board.
I don't think you can honestly claim the title of '90s kid if you didn't love the whole Jumanji franchise. Everything about this game was super cool and fun. If you loved the movie (and, really, why wouldn't you?) then you probably loved the game too. The board was beautiful, the tokens were awesome, and even though the game never did emit rampaging elephants or massive crocodiles like I'd hoped it would, it was still pretty great. I'd play it right now if I could.
Images: Tiffany Weisberg/Flickr; Giphy