7 ‘90s Video Games You Can Still Play Today

From Super Mario to Pokémon.

Young woman playing the best '90s video games at home.
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If the current Y2K style renaissance has taught us anything, it’s that nothing remains in-style quite like nostalgia. After all, there’s something both familiar and novel about diving back into your personal time capsule — whether it’s discovering ahead-of-their-time looks from yesteryear’s style icons, or cozying up to your favorite childhood cartoons. More than anything, traveling back into the past for a bit can be a great reminder of how far we’ve come. And few genres of culture have changed quite as rapidly as video games. From pixelated 16-bit games to immersive 3D worlds, video games have rapidly aged alongside us. Though today’s video games might offer a more technologically advanced feel, there’s something special about embracing the retro appeal of a ‘90s video game.

“[The ‘90s are] where many of our beloved modern franchises started,” says Joseph Cameron, founder of the 24/7 retro gameplay Twitch channel SpeedrunHypeTV. Think of iconic 1990s franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog, Doom, or Spyro the Dragon.

Twitch streamer and musician Paul Petroskey uses a ‘90s analog camcorder to record his gameplay. For Petroskey, who streams as Weird Paul on Twitch, the “sense of history” that comes from playing ‘90s video games is especially meaningful, as it often provides an origin story for “characters or elements from more modern games.” See: Kirby, the iconic character first released in 1993, who is now receiving a much-anticipated new installment, Kirby & the Forgotten Land, this month.

Whether you’re hoping to pay respects to the roots of your favorite video game characters, or just need to soothe yourself with some tinny retro video game music, there’s plenty of reasons you might find yourself wanting to head back to the ‘90s at the click of a console button. Here’s some of the best ‘90s video games to play in 2022, according to Twitch streamers. Blow the dust out of your Nintendo 64 game cartridge, and get to gaming.

1. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Now available on Nintendo Switch with its same Super Nintendo 16-bit charm, this cult classic game offers the perfect balance of nostalgia and horror. In Zombies Ate My Neighbors, one or two players can join as Zeke and Julia as they fight through levels to save their neighbors from encroaching monsters. Even if you’d played this game in the past, Petroskey says that the game is “one you could play again and again because there's so much to find on every level.” Zombies Ate My Neighbors is available on Nintendo Switch for $14.99.

2. Twisted Metal

Nothing says childhood like bumper cars. Though your ride at the amusement park might not have sported missiles to take down other cars, this demolition derby-style Playstation game might still scratch that itch for childlike wonder for destruction. Petroskey points out that Twisted Metal is great for two players, who can each choose their driver before heading into the arena. The game offers a healthy dose of dark humor, which is likely the reason it was just picked up for a Peacock series. Twisted Metal: Black is available to play on PlayStation for $9.99.

3. Pokémon Snap

“I am terrible at taking photos in the real world, so thank goodness I can take pictures of Pokémon,” jokes Petroskey. If you wished your same Pokémon Go! adventures could have been documented, Nintendo 64’s same Pokémon Snap might be the perfect fit for you. In this game, players travel through various courses attempting to capture photos of wild Pokemon for research purposes. The New Pokémon Snap is available on Nintendo Switch for $59.99.

4. Doom

If you’re a fan of first-person shooter games, you might have this highly influential ‘90s Super Nintendo game to thank. Doom, as Petroskey explains, “really does put you into another world” as players act as a space marine fighting of demons from Hell throughout various levels. “There's so much to explore and it's really challenging,” says Petroskey. “Plus it legitimately scares me!” Doom is available to play on Steam for $19.99.

5. Super Mario 64

Nothing says classic video games like Mario. And, as Cameron explains, Super Mario 64 was especially influential as the first-ever 3D Mario game. In the game, players navigate through Princess Peach’s castle as Mario attempting to collect Power Stars in order to save Princess Peach from Bowser. The game is especially popular for speedruns, in which players race against the clock to complete a level or full game — which might add an extra challenge if you’re already familiar with the game. Super Mario 64 is available on Nintendo DS for $39.99.

6. Super Metroid

In the 1994 installment of the Metroid franchise, players set out as bounty hunter Samus Aran to capture an extraterrestrial Metroid creature who has been abducted by a Space Pirate. Cameron says that Super Metroid is still especially popular among speedrunners. Plus, according to Cameron, the game is “the reason the ‘metroidvania’ genre exists.” A portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania (both believed to inspire the genre), the term is used to describe a genre of game that prioritizes exploration over linear gameplay. Super Metroid is available on Nintendo DS for $7.99.

7. StarCraft

Since debuting for PCs in 1998, Cameron says that StarCraft is one of the most competitive video games in the world to this day. Widely credited for influencing “real-time strategy” games, StarCraft is set in 25th-century Koprulu Sector, a fictional area of the Milky Way. Koprulu Sector is occupied by three different races: exiled humans known as Terrans, insectoids known as Zerg, and technologically-advanced humanoids known as the Protoss. Players can choose a race, then enter a battle for dominion over Koprulu. StarCraft is available for free on Battle.Net.