As much as you might love modern video games, there’s something very unique and special about the classic titles from the 80s and the 90s. They’re just amazing productions that stood the test of time and are revered by gamers all over the world, even to this day. We’ve picked fifteen games we consider real gems that will be remembered by generations to come. Let’s take a look at these, shall we?

Our list includes titles for all sorts of platforms, PCs, arcades and consoles alike. As you’ll see, it’s dominated by Japanese classics, but they totally earned their spots – after all, the Land of the Rising Sun spawned a majority of the world’s best game franchises, as well as some of the most iconic characters around.

The games mostly come from arcades and consoles, but there are also some PC retrogaming classics as well. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the first title on our list:

Retro and classic games for PC
GameReleaseGenreDeveloperSale
Outrunner 2 2018-04-16 Adventure Outcorp 30% Read more
The Secret Of Monkey Island Special Edition 2009-07-15 Adventure LucasArts 54% Read more
Grand Theft Auto Vice City 2003-05-13 Adventure Rockstar Games 16% Read more
Half Life 1998-11-08 Action & Shooter Michael Pelletier Read more
Sonic The Hedgehog 2010-10-26 Adventure SEGA Read more
Tomb Raider I 2012-11-28 Adventure Core Design 78% Read more
Tomb Raider Ii 2012-11-28 Adventure Core Design 68% Read more
Resident Evil 4 2014-02-27 Adventure CAPCOM 80% Read more
Doom Classic Complete 1995-04-30 Action & Shooter id Software Read more
Double Dragon Trilogy 2015-01-15 Arcade & Platform DotEmu Read more
Diablo Hellfire Gogcom Key Global 1996-12 RPG Blizzard Entertainment Read more
Age Of Empires Definitive Edition 2019-08-19 Strategy Forgotten Empires 73% Read more
Duke Nukem 3d 20th Anniversary World Tour 2016-10-12 Action & Shooter Nerve Software, Gearbox Software, LLC 91% Read more
Starcraft Remastered Battlenet Key Global 2017-08-14 RTS Blizzard Entertainment 56% Read more
Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition 2013-01-16 RPG Beamdog 71% Read more
Mortal Kombat 1 2 3 Gogcom Key Global 1992-1995 Fighting Midway Games, Sculptured Software, WMS Industries 22% Read more
Golden Axe Ii 2010-10-26 Action & Shooter SEGA Read more
Myst Masterpiece Edition 2011-02-02 Adventure Cyan Worlds 19% Read more
Oddworld Abes Oddysee 1997-12-12 Adventure Oddworld Inhabitants 58% Read more
Kings Bounty Ultimate Edition 2008-09-23 Strategy 1C Company 3% Read more

Super Mario Bros.

Release: 1985
Genre: Platform
Developer: Nintendo R&D4
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer

This one’s a no-brainer. Everybody knows Mario the plumber and his brother…uh, what was his name? Green Mario? Anyway, this game is a successor to an earlier arcade platform game, Mario Bros., from 1983, which in turn was a Donkey Kong spin-off.

Super Mario Bross

The goal of the game is to rescue Princess Toadstool from the clutches of Bowser, the evil king of the turtle-like Koopas. So, you explore the Mushroom Kingdom, avoid enemies, pits and traps, collect mushrooms that give you special powers and keep on searching for that darn princess, who usually turns out to be held in another castle! DANG IT!!! Super Mario Bros. is considered to be one of the best video games of all time, an incredible platformer and one of the key ingredients in reviving the game industry after the crash that unfortunately happened in 1983.

Key features
  • A legendary platformer with famously precise controls
  • Several castles where Princess Peach isn’t held
  • If you don’t like turtles, you might like this game even more
  • Mario is cool as heck

The Legend of Zelda

Release: 1986
Genre: Action-adventure
Developer: Nintendo R&D4
Game modes: Single-player

Let’s move to year 1986. Another legendary series was born then. The Legend of Zelda introduced gamers to the fantasy world of Hyrule where the antagonist, Ganon, kidnapped Princess Zelda and it is up to an elf-like boy named Link to collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom, a MacGuffin necessary to rescue the imprisoned royalty.

The Legend of Zelda

The gameplay is a mixture of action-adventure and even some elements known from role-playing games. You explore the world to get more powerful items and weapons that let you take on the dungeons that hide the coveted fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom. The dungeons vary in difficulty and often require you to acquire certain items first. The Legend of Zelda spawned a legendary franchise, became a best-seller and is frequently featured on various lists of the very best games ever.

Key features
  • Since it’s dangerous to go alone, you’ll get a cool sword
  • There’s even a New Game mode!
  • By the way, the boy’s name is Link, not Zelda
  • The princess’ name is Zelda, keep that in mind

Tetris

Release: 1984
Genre: Puzzle, tile-matching
Developer: Alexey Pajitnov
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer

Who knew a game with falling blocks that you need to align properly to make them disappear would become so famous and incredibly popular? Created by a Soviet software engineer named Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, Tetris has very simple rules. Pieces of various shapes fall from the above. You need to place them in such a manner that blocks form a full line and disappear, giving you points and clearing out a bit of space. If the blocks reach the top, you fail.

Tetris

Such a simple premise, but how successful it was! Tetris is considered one of the best early games. It’s influence is visible even to this day.

Key features
  • Just a game about bricks falling on your head slowly, but steadily, line by line
  • Simple and highly addictive gameplay
  • No ending, you just play until you lose
  • Prolonged exposure to the game causes the famous Tetris effect

Sonic the Hedgehog

Release: 1991
Genre: Platform
Developer: Sonic Team
Game modes: Single-player

Let’s go back to iconic characters for a bit, shall we? Sonic is, well, a blue hedgehog capable of achieving supersonic speeds. His nemesis is Dr. Ivo Robotnik, a crazy scientist on the hunt for the fabled Chaos Emeralds. The game itself is a super-fast platformer where you collect the famous golden rings (they act as health), avoid spikes and other obstacles, fight enemies and defeat powerful bosses by rolling into a ball.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Essentially, the game is all about having to go super, super fast. Simple controls, dazzling level design and memorable characters have all made Sonic the Hedgehog one of the most popular games ever, with the titular blue mammal becoming Sega’s iconic mascot.

Key features
  • You just gotta go fast
  • Simple controls
  • You get to defeat Dr. Robotnik and put an end to his evil plans
  • Sonic is cool as heck

Street Fighter

Release: 1987
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Capcom
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer

A long time ago, there were many competing fighting game franchises, with Street Fighter being one of the best. It started in 1987 with Street Fighter hitting the arcades.

Street Fighter

Boy, what an influential game this was! Special attacks? Command-based special moves? Six-button control scheme? You’re probably well-familiar with these features. The first Street Fighter game is where they were introduced. As far as the story is concerned, you play as Ryu, an aspiring martial artist who wants to take part in the Street Fighter tournament. Your goal is to defeat challengers from other countries. The final matches will have you face the Emperor of Muay Thai and his apprentice themselves. Street Fighter spawned one of the most revered fighting game franchises, still loved to this day.

Key features
  • One of the most influential fighting games ever
  • Lots of fighting techniques that you have to discover on your own
  • Either take on computer-controlled opponents or face another human player
  • HADOUKEN!

Chrono Trigger

Release: 2018-02-27
Genre: RPG
Developer: Square Enix
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer (DS only)

The sixth game on the list is the first one in the classic series of Japanese role-playing games where you travel through time to battle all sorts of threats to the world’s existence. It has received universal acclaim and rightfully so. Chrono Trigger (1995) features twelve unique endings, plenty of side quests that are nonetheless related to the main plot and a unique combat system based on the so-called Techs: special abilities that can be combined for even better results.

Chrono Trigger

Coupled with detailed pixel graphics and a revered soundtrack by Yasunori Mitsuda, Chrono Trigger spawned a yet another franchise and was lauded as one of the greatest games of all time. If you are a fan of Japanese RPGs, this one is a must.

Key features
  • Time travel fans should totally love this game
  • Unique combat system
  • Great story
  • Great audio-visuals

Pac-Man

Release: 1980
Genre: Maze
Developer: Namco
Game modes Single-player, multiplayer

Just like the rest of the early greats, the premise in this one is very simple. You play as a yellow pizza that runs around a maze, eats dots and avoids hungry ghosts on the prowl for you. In a way, this makes the game one of the earliest stealth titles, since it’s about avoiding confrontation rather than fighting your opponents. Still, there’s a power-up (“Power Pellets”) that lets you eat your enemies instead. The hunters become the hunted! Once you complete a level, you have to do everything all over again, but the ghosts become faster and more lethal. Fun fact: the game becomes unplayable at the 256th level due to an integer overflow. Maybe it’s not a bug, but an actual feature?

Pac-Man

Just like the titles mentioned above, Pac-Man was so successful that it spawned an entire franchise. It’s revered to this day, with new games, versions and remakes successively added to the canon. The latest addition seems to be Pac-Man Community, available through Facebook Gaming, where you can play online with up to 4 players and create your own mazes.

Key features
  • It’s a hungry pizza simulator
  • Simple, addictive gameplay
  • The enemy ghosts have distinct AI personalities and become more and more dangerous with each level you complete
  • There’s even a multiplayer mode with alternating turns

Final Fantasy

Release: 1987
Genre: Role-playing
Developer: Square
Game modes Single-player

While the oldest entry people usually remember is Final Fantasy VII (the one with the blonde guy wielding an enormous sword, the guy with a Gattling gun instead of an arm, and a gal named Aeris), the actual series started like a decade before. The first FF game, released on the NES and later remade for several other consoles, tells the story of four Light Warriors, each carrying one of the elemental crystals darkened by the Elemental Fiends. The goal of the game is to destroy the evil forces that plague the world and save it from eternal darkness.

Final Fantasy

Released in 1987, the first Final Fantasy game also spawned an entire franchise that lives on to this day, with new games still coming out. Interestingly enough, each game is actually a stand-alone piece, with a different setting and characters. Fear not, however, the core gameplay features will tell you that the game you’re playing is unmistakably Final Fantasy.

Key features
  • One of the most influential console role-playing games ever
  • It’s like Dragon Quest (AKA Dragon Warrior), but even better
  • Leveling up and exploration are fun (although some folks hate searching for random encounters to get more experience, which is understandable, have a good day)
  • Plenty of remakes and updated versions that improve all sorts of features

Crash Bandicoot

Release: 1996
Genre: Platform
Developer: Naughty Dog
Game modes: Single-player

Before Uncharted and The Last of Us, there was a bandicoot named Crash. The series takes place on fictional Wumpa Islands, an archipelago near Australia where humans and mutant animals coexist. Our protagonist – you guessed it, a bandicoot named Crash – is a mutant as well, created by the evil Doctor Neo Cortex, who seeks to destroy his failed creation and dominate the world. You need to rescue Crash’s girlfriend, Tawna, also a mutant bandicoot, and foil the evil genius’ plans.

Crash Bandicoot

While not necessarily the most innovative 3D platformer, 1996’s Crash Bandicoot still rocked the market, launched its developers, Naughty Dog, to stardom and spawned another huge franchise that achieved huge success on PlayStation. If you want to try out the series, we recommend picking up Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remastered compilation of the first three games, also available on PCs through Steam. It looks fantastic, too.

Key features
  • Crates, lots of crates
  • Wumpa Fruit, lots of Wumpa Fruit
  • Aku Aku masks, quite a lot of Aku Aku masks
  • No, Crash is not a fox or a dog, he’s a bandicoot – you know, a marsupial from the Australia-New Guinea region

Space Invaders

Release: 1978
Genre: Shoot 'em up
Developer: Taito
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer

The top of the screen belongs to aliens. The bottom of the screen belongs to you. Your goal: destroy the enemy ships before they destroy you or reach the bottom of the screen (yes, they push forward, so you need to keep that in mind). There’s also a two-player mode with alternating turns. Space Invaders is one of the earliest video games and an undisputable classic.

Space Invaders

The impact of Space Invaders was enormous. The game influenced the shoot’em up genre, launched gaming into stardom and the pixelated alien ship has become a pop culture icon.

Key features
  • It’s a simple affair: you’re at the bottom, enemies are at the top, now destroy them all!
  • Your foes keep charging at you, so avoid contact with them at all costs!
  • A massive influence on fixed shooters, shoot’em up games and the video game industry in general
  • Simple pixel art made this game into a pop culture icon

SimCity

Release: 1989
Genre: City-building
Developer: Maxis
Game modes; Single-player, multiplayer

Another classic franchise that started in the 80s, but is mega-popular to this day. Will Wright’s creation, SimCity, changed the perception of the video game industry. Since it’s all about building, planning and managing your city, it has shown people that games can be something more than just simple arcade fun for children. SimCity is one of the greatest games of all time, one that single-handedly spawned an entire genre of city builders and led to the creation of an even more successful Maxis’ franchise: The Sims, one of the greatest video game hits of all time.

SimCity

It’s just too bad that it seems to be the only franchise on this list that seems to be pretty much dead. The 2013 EA-Maxis reboot was disastrous, effectively putting an end to the series. The latest game in the series, SimCity: BuildIt, is a mobile-based title. It was very successful, too. Still, the franchise’s tarnished reputation might mean that it’ll take even more years for a new SimCity game to drop, hopefully one that will restore the series to its former glory.

Key features
  • The first city-building game ever
  • No specific goals to achieve, you just build your city and make it bigger and happier
  • But there are also scenarios for those who are more task-oriented
  • Your city can get struck by various disasters, ranging from tornadoes to monsters

The Secret of Monkey Island

Release: 1990
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Lucasfilm Games
Game modes: Single-player

The only point-and-click adventure game on this list, The Secret of Monkey Island is also one of the greatest video games of all time. A comedic take on the Caribbean in the age of piracy, it puts you in the shoes of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who seeks to become the mightiest pirate ever. And since he’s a rather clumsy fellow, you can imagine all the hilarity that ensues because of his ineptitude.

The Secret of Monkey Island

The Secret of Monkey Island launched the highly successful Monkey Island series. The third game, The Curse of Monkey Island, famously features cartoon-like cel animation, while the installments that followed switched to 3D instead. The last release in the franchise is Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island, an episodic adventure.

Adventure games, once a proud part of the mainstream, have now become a niche. Still, fans of classics revere the Monkey Island series for its iconic characters and imaginative humor. Looks like we won’t be seeing another installment anytime soon, but…is it really a bad thing, since the franchise seems complete as it is? OK, perhaps it is, as we wouldn’t mind another great Monkey Island adventure!

Key features
  • You play as Guybrush Threepwood, a mighty
  • Guybrush’s name might be the most ridiculous one you’ve ever heard
  • Wanna be a pirate? You’ll be a wannabe pirate
  • LOOK BEHIND YOU, A THREE-HEADED MONKEY!!!

Ninja Gaiden

Release: 1988
Genre: Beat 'em up
Developer: Tecmo
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer

This franchise, started with 1988’s Ninja Gaiden, is a staple in the action genre. The first installment is a side-scrolling beat’em up game where you, a lone ninja hired to stop a doomsday plot, have to fight improbably large numbers of enemies that swarm you and want to take you out in hand-to-hand combat.

Ninja Gaiden

The series itself has evolved into action-oriented platform games later on, known for their high difficulty. The modern Ninja Gaiden games are essentially hack-and-slash titles that of course feature Ryu Hayabusa as the player character. There’s also a new sequel in the works, as hinted by Team Ninja, a division of Tecmo known for their work on the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises.

Key features
  • You fight in locales inspired by actual locations in the United States
  • You can use phone booths and other objects as weapons
  • Several destructive fighting techniques to employ
  • Two-player co-op mode available

Fallout

Release: 1997-11-01
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Interplay Inc.
Game modes: Single-player

War, war never changes… This classic quote comes from one of the greatest role-playing games of all time. Fallout is a true work of art. Set in the distant future, it depicts the world after a nuclear disaster. The player character is a Vault Dweller: a person who lives in the safe confines of one of the high-tech nuclear shelters scattered across the United States. Unfortunately, the life-support systems of your Vault are failing and you are sent to the nuclear wasteland to search for replacement parts. This is where you encounter all sorts of whacky individuals, mutated and highly dangerous animals, engage in turn-based combat and embark on all sorts of quests.

Fallout

Fallout is a spiritual successor to the 1988’s Wasteland, also a post-apocalyptic role-playing game. Style-wise, it seems to be a mixture of Atomic Age-era artwork and Mad Max II, serving to this day as perhaps the best video game adaptation of the latter. The game spawned a successful franchise, with the latest installments being Fallout 4 (2015) and Fallout 76 (2018), as well as some pretty cool spin-offs: a mobile game titled Fallout Shelter (2015) and Fallout Pinball (2016).

Key features
  • Possibly the greatest post-apocalyptic game ever
  • Robust character development system
  • Memorable art style
  • Fantastic ambient soundtrack by Mark Morgan

Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest

Release: 1995
Genre: Turn-based strategy
Developer: New World Computing
Game modes: Single-player, multiplayer

While some would say that we should have put the third game in the series on the list, we decided to go with the first one instead. Heroes of Might & Magic is a turn-based strategy and a spiritual successor to King’s Bounty (1990), as well as a spin-off of the Might & Magic role-playing franchise. You manage a castle where you hire new heroes who you then use to explore the map, recruit armies, engage in battles with various enemies, collect resources and besiege enemy castles. The gameplay, based on four principles – exploration, attacking, defeating and acquiring – is simple and very addictive, leading to the famous “alright, just one more turn!” syndrome.

Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest

The game launched a very successful series, with the latest installment being Might & Magic Heroes VII, released in 2015. There were also King’s Bounty sequels, with the last one published in 2021. Still, people seem to be fond of Heroes of Might & Magic III (1999) the most.

Key features
  • Highly addictive gameplay based on exploring maps with your heroes, collecting and fighting stuff
  • There’s a map editor for those who seek to create their own adventures
  • A fantastic start to a great series
  • Did you know that Heroes of Might & Magic is actually science fiction in a high fantasy disguise?

Alright, this has surely been a throwback! What’s great about these vintage video games is that you can still play them thanks to numerous ports and remakes that are available on PC, Xbox, PS4, PS5, all sorts of mobile devices and the like. So, if you love oldschool gaming, these fifteen games and franchises definitely fall into the “must-have” category!