So nice we had to do it twice!

If you’re a 90’s kid, buckle up, because this second wave of nostalgia is about to hit like a truck! For an era of gaming defined by low-resolution, low frame rate, “barely functional” games that took 7.5 minutes to load up from a floppy disk or CD… these games were astounding. 
Sure, you can argue that we were a lot more easily entertained back in the day, and as technology developed, we’ve been able to pursue higher-quality gaming experiences. But, very few modern games have been able to capture the hearts of so many, and have the same kind of emotional impact as some of the games on this list. 
So buckle up. 
It’s time to take a trip back in time.
1.) Another World (Out of This World)

“Science experiments gone wrong” were a big part of 90s gaming lore and even movies. Think of it like a “modern” take on the classic hero’s journey. In this case, Lester gets his call to adventure when an experiment goes wrong and transports him to an alien world.

There, you start from ground zero, completely unarmed and only able to kick the small creatures around you. Lester must arm himself and navigate dangerous enemies and puzzles in this side-scrolling adventure game.

(Also, you get an alien pistol that can make forcefields and fire powerful blasts 🙂)
2.) Grand Theft Auto
Yes, GTA really is that old.

Before they were Rockstar, DMA Design put together this gem of a classic and packaged it for release in 1997.

Like all Grand Theft Auto games, it follows a simple theme:

Blow stuff up.

Funnily, GTA was initially intended to be a game where players would chase down criminals as a police officer (hence the name). But —thankfully— that concept was scrapped as boring, and instead playing as a criminal was adopted as the theme.

The rest is sweet, pixelated, violence-laden history as players could pretty much “do whatever they wanted” without needing to follow a distinct storyline to enjoy the game.
3.) Descent
Descent was something of a technological marvel among first-person shooters at the time of its release, due to its use of a mechanic known as the “six degrees of freedom”. This mechanic gave users pretty much omnidirectional movement, and the ability to rotate on a variety of axes. 
Pretty useful for clearing underground mines of rogue robots…
Maybe I should have started there, huh?
Well, yeah. There’s an alien computer virus infecting the robots that we humans have constructed to harvest materials off-world. You, the player, pilot a spaceship equipped with the weaponry necessary to destroy the mine’s power reactor and escape the mine before it self-destructs.

Needless to say, thanks to its unique movement, full #d graphics, and thrilling gameplay, Descent was a massive success at the time, selling over 1.1 million units in 1998. 
4.) Flashback: The Quest for Identity
At the time of its release, Flashback made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling French game of all time.  Which makes sense when you start analyzing the gameplay.

In terms of style, Flashback is most similar to the original Prince of Persia, with each level featuring a number of non-scrolling screens, filled with enemies. The main character, Conrad, is startlingly human considering the fact that he’s a futuristic intelligence agent, fighting against shapeshifting aliens disguised as humans.

If you fall from too great a height— you die. 
5.) Master of Orion
Master of Orion is a turn-based, 4X strategy game, with a single goal:

Lead one of ten different races to dominate the galaxy.

Effectively, this is a little like a sci-fi spinoff of Civilization, which we covered in Part 1. 
There unfortunately is no multi-player mode, as you battle strictly against an AI, on a randomly generated map at the start of each game. Each race has different strengths and weaknesses, with humans being the best at trade and diplomacy for example.

There are also a variety of planet types, some hostile, some normal, random in-game events that can hurt or benefit your colony, and even the chance to stumble across ancient relics with amazing power.
6.) Tyrian
Pilot the Space Ace through stunning shoot-'em-up levels in this vertically scrolling shooter. Customize your ship with powerful weapons and face off against formidable bosses.
Tyrian is pretty much the younger, more athletic, better-looking brother of the classic arcade shooter Galaga. The game is an arcade-style vertical scroller, in which the player controls a ship armed with weapons in the front and back, to combat a variety of enemies and bosses.

Dodge obstacles, pick up and upgrade weaponry, and battle your way through a storyline that shifts depending on which enemies you defeat.
7.) Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero 
Quest for Glory: So You Want to be a Hero is a classic RPG and the first in line of the Quest for Glory series. 
This game literally redefined the action RPG genre by mixing a graphical adventure, with classic RPG elements like class selection and stat building. It took things a step further than other RPGs of the time, by including realistic elements like the passage of time, changing scenery, the need to manage hunger and fatigue, and even practice skills!

Unlike other RPGs where you earn points by leveling and then assign them to stats, Quest for Glory forces the player to learn on the job: using magic more often increases your magic power, and fighting, training, or even cleaning stables gives the Hero more Strength, Vitality, and Agility.
Save the valley barony of Spielburg, from the evil ogress Baba Yaga in your own unique way, in the most realistic fantasy RPG of the era. 
8.) SimTower
Like other games in the genre, the objective is simple in theory but difficult in execution. Your task? To build and manage a modern, multi-use skyscraper, which you control entirely. 
Choose from a variety of facilities like restaurants, offices, hotel rooms, retail stores, and more to build your very own economic powerhouse by attracting tenants through your decision-making.

Of course, your options are pretty limited early on in the game, but as you level up, they increase exponentially. 
9.) Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness
Real-Time Strategy games were big around this time too, and among them, few made the impact that Warcraft did.
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness was a sequel to the original Warcraft game that made some major upgrades, expanding the lore, increasing the complexity of combat, and even enhancing skill trees and tech upgrades.
Every game goes something like: 
Harvest resources, construct buildings, train units, and destroy your enemies. 
Players could engage in both orcish and human campaigns, or compete against up to 8 opponents for domination of the map in multiplayer mode. 
10.) Worms
Command a team of cartoonish worms armed to the teeth in this turn-based strategy game. Use quirky weapons and terrain destruction to outwit opponents in chaotic multiplayer matches.
If you’ve never played worms, you missed out. 
Many of us 90s babies, will remember this game as a quirky, ridiculously violent, but incredibly fun and entertaining tactical artillery game, with a simple, single, objective: 
Destroy your enemies. 
That’s it. 
These homicidal invertebrates start each game with access to a plethora of weapons that you can mix and match to your liking. 
11.) Mortal Kombat II
“Finish Him!”
I’d bet a cup of coffee that you read those words in the infamous voice of the Mortal Kombat narrator.

Honestly, this was one of those games that your parents would have thrown a fit over. It took brutality to an entirely unprecedented level in video games, including spine-ripping fatalities and humiliating babalities, where you could turn your opponents into infant versions of themselves.

Mortal Kombat II enhanced almost every aspect of combat from the first game, improving on the variety in each character’s arsenal with reduced lag between moves, more varied specials, and hard knockdowns and knockbacks with roundhouse kicks and uppercuts. 
12.) Master of Magic
Embark on space combat missions in this epic sci-fi adventure. Its gripping storyline and innovative gameplay set a new standard for space simulations.
Another feature from the turn-based 4X strategy genre, Master of Magic plunges the player into a story of conquest fueled by magic and a thirst for power. You play as a wizard attempting to conquer two linked worlds: Arcanus and Myrror.

Gameplay revolves around building armies, managing economies, battling monsters for valuable treasure, wading through fog of war to locate and control treasure and magic nodes, and even summoning overpowered monstrosities like dragons and demon lords.
13.) Doom II: Hell on Earth
Honestly, I’d question the validity of this list if Doom II wasn’t on it.

I won’t harp on it for long since we covered Doom in great detail in Part I, but Doom II is a CLASSIC.
Doom II did everything that Doom I did, but better, expanding on levels, introducing new enemies, a Super shotgun, and a new power-up. Doom II also featured two expansions for a total of 30 additional levels of gameplay.
There wasn’t really much advancement in terms of graphics between this and the first version of the game, devs instead focused on adding complexity to combat and level structure to create a more immersive experience in a different way.
14.) Day of the Tentacle
There’s an evil tentacle taking over the world, and it’s your job to stop it, by travelling through time using…
Toilet time machines… 
Day of the Tentacle AKA Maniac Mansion II is a hybrid between graphic adventure game and puzzler, with a main antagonist that looks a lot like Patrick Star in the cover art….
Direct your character avatars around the game world by clicking around the map, and choosing from a set of commands arrayed on the screen in what was called a SCUMM interface.

Which pretty much meant putting a bunch of simple verbs and your inventory at the bottom of your screen. To pilot your characters you’d move around and interact with the word by choosing the appropriate verbs. 
This game was a witty puzzler, that forced players to problem solve and think outside of the box, and was so good it’s still #46 on the Best Games of All Time list courtesy PC Gamer.
15.) Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Wage war in an alternate history where World War II never happened. The strategic depth and addictive gameplay defined this RTS (real-time strategy) classic.
 Command & Conquer: Red Alert was one of the progenitors of the “build, train, destroy” genre of RTS games.
Despite being the second game in the franchise, it’s actually a prequel to the original Command and Conquer, telling the story of allied forces in a fictional world battling the Soviet Union for control over Europe.
16.) Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars
Heroes of Might and Magic II plays exactly like it sounds: a strategy-based battle of — you guessed it— might and magic between two brothers vying for control of a kingdom.

This 4x classic sticks to the gameplay usually associated with the genre: build, gather resources, acquire powerful units and spells, then beat your brother to dea—

I mean, defeat your enemies.
17.) Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
Sequel to The Secret of Monkey Island, LeChuck’s Revenge is the second game in the series.

Remember the SCUMM engine we mentioned before? This game ushered that very same engine, allowing players to navigate the world and interact using their mouse. 
Honestly speaking, aside from the unique, challenging, and thoroughly entertaining puzzles, this game was defined by it’s wit and the unconventional take on a pirate adventure. 
18.) Rayman
Surprised to see this here?
Believe it or not, the very first Rayman game was released in 1995 and was available on MS-DOS, Atari, PlayStation, and the Sega Saturn and was heralded for its original gameplay, but even more so for its stunning visuals and music. 
This side-scrolling platformer incorporates hand-drawn animation into a two-dimensional graphics engine, for a stunning look into the Rayman universe.

The story? Evil maniac kidnaps innocent the “Great Protoon”, which destabilizes the balance with Electoons, and plunges the universe into chaos.

Rayman must defeat bosses and gain new powers in order to rescue the Electoons and the Great Protoon, restoring balance to the universe.
19.) The Incredible Machine
Use wacky gadgets to solve Rube Goldberg-style puzzles. Its creative challenges and addictive gameplay made it a hit with puzzle enthusiasts.
Ever watched MacGyver? The Incredible Machine is like that, except instead of being a badass who can shortcircuit a timer on a nuclear warhead with a paperclip… You’re building Rube Goldberg machines. 
Not sure what those are? 
Picture, a chain-reaction type machine, but ULTRA cartoonish. 
As the player, your task is simple, but the solutions are anything but. Want to make a hamster spin a wheel to toast some bread? You’ll need to get creative with balloons, levers, and maybe even a few cats. 
Whether you're using gears, lasers, or a perfectly placed bowling ball, every level feels like a mini-engineering masterpiece. It's brain-bending fun that makes you feel like a genius every time you hit that "Eureka!" moment.
20.) Theme Park
Ever dream of designing the ultimate amusement park?

Theme Park puts you in charge of crafting a rollercoaster paradise. But it's not just about the rides… You've got to manage everything from staff to snack stands.

Keep your guests happy with thrilling attractions and tasty treats, while making sure your park runs smoothly. Juggle finances, handle disasters, and watch out for those pesky puking patrons after a wild ride. It's a rollercoaster of strategy and fun, where your imagination is the only limit. 
21.) Stunts
Race on insane tracks and perform jaw-dropping stunts in this classic racing game. Its track editor and realistic physics set it apart from other racing titles.
Stunts was pretty much Hot Wheels on steroids. 
This 3D racer pitted racers against one another on tracks that could make even the bravest stuntmen reconsider their career options…

Loop-the-loops, corkscrews, and jumps that launch you into the stratosphere—Stunts has it all.
Design your own tracks and challenge friends to see who’s the true stunt master.

Whether you’re speeding through a death-defying course or creating your own obstacle-laden masterpiece, Stunts is all about pushing your driving skills to the edge. 
22.) Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was a hybrid of choose-your-own adventure and graphic point-and-click adventure game that ran on the SCUMM engine. 
The game takes players on an adventure set before World War II where Indiana and his companion, Sophia, race against Nazis to uncover the lost city of Atlantis, who hope to harness its power for war.

The game’s SCUMM interface allows players to explore exotic locales, interact with intriguing characters, and solve brain-teasing puzzles. It’s a cinematic experience that captures the heart and spirit of the iconic adventurer!
23.) Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame
Want to run through the desert to fight an evil wizard who’s stolen your identity and your girl?...
With a knife?
No? Me neither, but that’s exactly what the Prince has to do in this massively successful sequel to the original game. This second installment in the series took graphic design to a new level with far more complex maps, larger areas to explore, more backdrops, and of course— more enemies. 
24.) Heretic
Battle demonic forces with magical weapons and spells in this fantasy-themed first-person shooter inspired by Doom.
If you think that Heretic is eerily similar to Doom, then you’d be right.
The games are spiritual clones of one another, with Heretic running on a modified version of the Doom engine. Heretic was actually one of the first FPS games to allow players to modify their inventories and surprisingly—
Look up and down. 
Yeah… FPS games once featured left-to-right camera movement ONLY. 
Follow the tale of Corvus, an elf as he tracks down D’Sparil, one of three evil brothers responsible for widespread war in his kingdom.
25.) Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty
Yes, this game is in fact based on the recent masterpiece movies, and yes, it’s just as awesome.
Dune II effectively established what would become the RTS format, laying the foundation for other RTS that followed soon after (e.g. Command & Conquer, Warcraft, Age of Empires). 
Developed by Westwood Studios, this classic challenges you to command one of three factions—House Atreides, House Harkonnen, or House Ordos—in a fierce battle for control of the spice, the most valuable resource in the universe. 
With its blend of strategic planning and real-time action, Dune II offers an intense and engaging experience. Whether you're deploying troops or constructing defenses, every decision shapes your path to dominance in this legendary struggle for power!
Well… That’s All Folks
We’ve finally done it. 
We’re at the end of this adventure together.

I’ve personally had a blast revisiting these masterpieces and I hope you’ve enjoyed the rush of nostalgia just as much as I have. 
We’ll be back in the near future, to bring you more deep dives into all things retro.
See ya soon. 
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