The game console market really hit its stride with the SNES, SEGA Genesis, SEGA Dreamcast, SNK NEO GEO and the Sony Playstation all vying for our collective attention. Not only were console offerings getting more beautiful, exciting and complex, the rise of the PC brought new possibilities into average households.
So if you’re a 90’s kid you would no doubt have played one or two of these fantastic genre defining video games. Thanks to technology, many games you once needed five floppy-disks to install and at least a 300 MHz computer to play are now available to play for free on your browser. Relive the those denim-clad, CRT-monitor times with us…
Doom 2 (1994)
One of the first FPS that you could have multiplayer LAN sessions on. Who could forget the scowling face (along with a health percentage indicator) that would bleed out its eyeballs as you got injured. Virtual violence and gore has improved a lot in two decades since, but Doom 2 was the game that really got the ball rolling when it came to dispatching your enemies in a horrific explosion of demonic guts.
And for many of us, the BFG was the first weapon that introduced the concept of using swear words as a compliment.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Sega's answer to Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, was and probably still is Sega’s best known game series. And sometimes it's pretty hard to fathom why. Why would anyone want to play a game whose lead character is going so fast you can barely make out where he's going? And why is he blue? Is he even a real hedgehog?
Existential crisis aside, Sonic's quest to free his woodland critter friends from Dr. Eggman was so popular it spawned a cartoon series, loved by a whole generation of youths thus misinformed about the color and speed of hedgehogs in real life.
Contra 3 Alien Wars (1992)
Up up down down left right left right A A B B select start! Did we get it right? Contra, the side-scrolling platform shooter that first introduced the idea of a game so hard you had to use a cheat code just to stand a better chance at it, revolutionized the concept of gaming. You see, Contra decided that games shouldn't be fun, that they should be so difficult and frustrating to the point where you'd rather smash your fingers with a hammer than play one more time.
Contra 3 was no exception. In fact, we hear it caused the first documented case of rage quit in 1993, which resulted in six stitches and a broken television, but our sources are unconfirmed...
Super Street Fighter 2 (1991)
The classic arcade fighting game made its way onto our consoles in the 90's and each subsequent iteration improved upon the original with more characters and more interesting locales in which to pummel each other and shoot fireballs.
Many years later, we're still disappointed that yoga in real life does not actually teach you how to breathe fire or stretch your limbs across the room.
Super Street Fighter 2 also accidentally introduced the idea of combos, one of its many legacies that went on to become commonplace in the fighting games in its wake.
TMNT the arcade game (1989)
This arcade game makes the list because we never actually had enough coins to complete the game. The turtles reached the peak of their popularity in the early 90's and their arcade game was actually really fun. Many days were spent gathered around a lone machine, dumping our coins into the slots in a feeble attempt to get past stage 3.
Never enough money nor time though. Parents always ended up having to drag their screaming children away from the machines to the tune of, "coooowabunga!".
Michael Jackson Moonwalker (1989)
Ah the times when Michael Jackson saved children instead of... well, you know. Long before his legal troubles began, while he was still the untouchable King of Pop, MJ's awesome Moonwalker movie spawned a game of the same name. With catchy MIDI renderings of his music and a faithful recreation of his dance moves, the fairly straightforward platformer was a worldwide hit. It paved the way for video games as movie tie-ins, so it's directly responsible for creating the 90% of movie games that suck. Ow! You've been hit by a smooth criminal.
Rockman Megaworld (1994)
Rockman, or Megaman as he was known outside of Japan, had a slew of very successful and entertaining games in the late 80's to 90's. This culminated in the collection of games called Rockman Megaworld, in which you could play all the games from Rockman 1 to 4 all on one single cartridge. Oh how everyone wished that they could have their arms cut off to be replaced by a plasma cannon... What, just us? Well... uh... forget we said anything.
Double Dragon (1992)
Double Dragon was an arcade game that came to consoles only five years after its original release. The side scrolling beat-em up later went to spawn several sequels and adaptations, including a fighting game on the NEO GEO, a cartoon and you guessed it, a movie. The movie went on to spawn another movie tie-in game on its own, so...uh… gameception?
The best thing about this sidescroller was that you got to grab people on the head, bend them over and knee their faces repeatedly, before throwing them over your shoulder. Nobody would ever forget the first time they tried that on their friends at school...
Super Ghouls and Ghosts (1991)
Super Ghouls and Ghosts was one of the later successors to the insanely difficult arcade game Ghosts and Goblins from 1985. The premise is simple, you’re a knight that’s about to get laid when a demon swoops in to steal your woman. So you don your armor and throw any number of projectiles at the undead hordes who (cock)block the way between you and your beloved.
The gothic setting as well as the catchy-yet-spooky theme music were but some of the few things that made the game a hit back in the day; its influence on the level design on platformers can still be seen today.
Oh and fun fact, it's also one of the first games to feature an almost naked protagonist running around, since his armor would inevitably fall off when he got hit.