The Top 50 MS-DOS Games: A Journey Through The Golden Era of Retro Gaming Part 1

Every 90s kid would agree that we lived in an absolute golden age of gaming. Those horribly pixelated, barely 3D MS-DOS legends created entire new realities for us to dive into. Challenging us with new versions of old puzzles, making our hearts race fighting against imaginary enemies to save the world, and of course, we could also set our SIMs’ hair on fire and watch the chaos unfold. 
If you’re a nostalgia junkie like me, then you’ll love taking a journey through the past as we explore some of the greatest games of the MS-DOS era. 
1.) Doom (1993)
In many ways, Doom was the godfather of action shooters. A ground-breaking first-person, horror shooter that set the standard for the genre. Fast-paced action, scary demons, an almost unkillable protagonist, and an amazing soundtrack made it a classic. 
2.) Prince of Persia (1989)
Prince of Persia is what Assassin's Creed would have been if it was a side-scroller made in the 80’s. This platformer captivated players with its fluid animations and challenging puzzles. Every leap and sword fight felt like a real adventure.
3.) Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
If Doom is the Godfather of horror FPS games, then Wolfenstein is its older, less refined, but equally epic brother.  Plus, you get to blast Nazis! Take up your mission as an American spy trying to singlehandedly dethrone the Nazi regime. 
4.) SimCity (1989)
The original city-builder, SimCity is a city-building simulation game where you could design and manage your own metropolis. Develop a city, build culture, encourage business, and of course— collect taxes.  Balancing budgets and disasters made it endlessly replayable.
5.) The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)
If 90s movie storytelling were put into video game form, the Secret of Monkey Island would be the prime example. An iconic point-and-click adventure with witty dialogue and clever puzzles. Guybrush Threepwood’s quest to become a pirate was full of laughs…

Also— There are zombie pirates… That’s a thing. 
6.) Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)
Believe it or not, this story of a virgin loser on a hunt to change his life and find the woman of his dreams was a sleeper hit. A humorous adventure game following the misadventures of the bumbling Larry Laffer. It was both risqué and funny.
7.) King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (1992)
A standout entry in the legendary King’s Quest series. Its story, characters, and puzzles were some of the best in adventure gaming. This point-and-click adventure game was effectively a choose-your-own adventure video game set in a world of monsters, adventure, and treasure.
8.) Commander Keen (1990)
A beloved platformer featuring the adventures of an 8-year-old genius named Billy Blaze. It had charming graphics and engaging gameplay.
9.) Civilization (1991)
Sid Meier’s epic strategy game where you build and lead a civilization from the Stone Age to the Space Age. Deep and endlessly addictive.
  1. Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992)

A high point in the Ultima series, offering an immersive world and complex story. It pushed the boundaries of what RPGs could be.
  1. X-COM: UFO Defense (1994)

X-Com was pretty much the prototype for turn-based strategy games. As the commander fo X-Com, you’re tasked with defending the Earth from invasion. Relocate troops and give orders, develop technologies, and survive the onslaught of an alien invasion.
  1. Duke Nukem 3D (1996)

If you haven’t heard of this game— Well, let’s face it, you have and you probably know first-hand how awesome it was. You can think of it like Doom, but with Aliens and spacecraft instead of demons and summoning rings. Most of the props and environment were interactive— an innovation at the time that allowed players a considerable amount of freedom.
  1. Wing Commander (1990)

Imagine this: 90s sci-fi movie meets a 3-D combat simulator… That was Wing Commander in a nutshell. Soar through space, engage in intense dogfights, and win the war for your empire. 
  1. Alone in the Dark (1992)

Before survival horror was a thing, there was Alone in the Dark, and as a victim of its horror in my younger years— this one set the standard. This game had a haunting atmosphere, eerie puzzles, and monsters so creepy I dreamed of them for weeks. It paved the way for the horror games that followed.
  1. SimCity 2000 (1993)

Taking everything that was great about the original SimCity and making it better, SimCity 2000 offered more complexity and depth. Watching your city grow and thrive was incredibly satisfying and a lot more fun to watch with the upgraded graphics.
  1. Quake (1996)

Quake is pretty much what Duke Nukem and Doom were, but with game design and graphics so far ahead of its time, it's still considered one of the best games ever made. Players had access to three difficulty modes: easy, medium, and hard, but, there was also a fourth.

A “nightmare” difficulty so hard, that developers hid the entry so players wouldn’t “wander in by accident.” <- an actual quote from the Quake game manual.
  1. Lemmings (1991)

Guiding little creatures to safety might sound easy, but Lemmings was a unique puzzle game that was both simple and deeply challenging. It required quick thinking, precise planning, and the resilience and patience of a Shaolin monk.
  1. Diablo (1996)

Descending into the dark dungeons beneath Tristram was an unforgettable experience. Diablo's addictive loot system, dark atmosphere, and intense action made it an iconic action RPG.
  1. Star Control II (1992)

Star Control II was all about space exploration, rich storytelling, and strategic combat. Its universe felt alive, full of interesting characters and endless possibilities.
  1. Star Wars: Tie Fighter (1994)

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to fight for the empire, Tie Fighter was a first-person sneak peek. This space combat simulator had thrilling missions and a well-crafted storyline that kept players engaged.
  1. Syndicate (1993)

Set in a dystopian future, Syndicate was a cyberpunk strategy game where you controlled a team of agents. It was dark, violent, and incredibly fun, offering a unique tactical experience.
  1. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (1993)

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers combined a dark, supernatural story with gripping adventure gameplay. Its characters, plot twists and eerie atmosphere made it a standout.
  1. Full Throttle (1995)

With a rock-and-roll attitude, Full Throttle was a biker-themed adventure game. Great voice acting, an engaging story, and a unique setting made it a memorable experience.
  1. Theme Hospital (1997)

Managing a hospital has never been so fun. Theme Hospital was a quirky simulation game with plenty of humor and unique challenges. Keeping your patients alive and happy was a real test.
  1. Hexen (1995)

Hexen took the first-person shooter genre and gave it a dark fantasy twist. With spellcasting, brutal combat, and a grim atmosphere, it was a unique and engaging experience.
Wrapping Up
If you ask me, this is more than just a list of games. It’s effectively a roadmap of the origins of gaming. A peek into where and how developers found inspiration, leveraged new technology, and planted the seed for the kind of gaming we experience today. 
That’s it for today’s list! We’ll be back with part 2 shortly, where we’ll take another look at some of the best games from the golden era of gaming.