As much as you might love modern video games, there’s something very unique and special about the classic titles from the 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?

Below you will find a wide variety of legendary video games, all available on PC. What’s great about our picks is that you can still play them on PC

Total Annihilation

Release date:1997-09-12
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Cavedog Entertainment

Behold: the first-ever 3D real-time strategy ever released. Total Annihilation, a magnificent title from Cavedog, was a revolution back in 1997. It’s just too bad it never got the recognition it deserved, as it was somewhat overshadowed by Warcraft, StarCraft and Command & Conquer series. Still, it lives on to this day, played by many.

The game offers a streamlined resource management system where instead of traditional resource collection – you know, sending your workers to mine stuff or cut down trees – you need to build enough metal and energy makers in order to generate more than you spend and sustain the production of your units and other things. You don’t research new technologies, upgrading your army to higher tiers takes building more advanced structures.

And don’t even get us started on the units available in the game. While Total Annihilation is not the first real-time strategy to introduce combat on air, land and sea (this was most likely the doing of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness), it was the first one to perfect this. There are so many types of units, defensive structures and special weapons, often mirroring real-world warfare. This will surely make strategy fans very, very happy. Complexity hidden underneath streamlined, simple rules and fluid, realistic combat make Total Annihilation one of the greatest video games of all time.

The game received two expansion pack and a fantasy spin-off titled Total Annihilation: Kingdoms (which also got an expansion pack). It never received a sequel, but the Supreme Commander series, Planetary Annihilation and Beyond All Reason are its spiritual successors.

Key features
  • Complex gameplay presented in a very streamlined, elegant form
  • Unique resource management mechanic
  • Dozens of units and buildings
  • Excellent battles unlike anything you’ve seen in the genre

Thief: The Dark Project

Release date:1998-12-01
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Looking Glass Studios

There were quite a few stealth games before The Dark Project, but it is Thief which has truly redefined the genre and revolutionized the industry.

You play as Garrett, a master thief who loves, well, stealing stuff from all sorts of manors and other well-guarded buildings. All this happens in a city known as, well, the City. The universe of Thief is a blend of dark fantasy and industrialized Middle Ages, with some 19th century influences thrown in for a good measure. While the first couple of missions are straightforward robberies, Garrett quickly becomes embroiled in a plot that threatens the existence of the world as he knows it.

Thief: The Dark Project is truly a revolutionary game. Light and sound have been used as a gameplay mechanic here, so you need to stay in the shadows (a special “light gem” indicates your visibility) and be quiet (certain surfaces make more noise when you walk on them, etc.). NPCs react to sounds, sights and all sorts of disturbances. The levels offer a great degree of freedom in how you complete objectives. You have a lot of tools at your disposal, including special arrows that douse torches or attach ropes to wooden surfaces. While you can face the guards in melee or ranged combat, Thief discourages open confrontation and killing anyone. Instead, you can either stun them or just avoid them altogether.

All in all, it’s an incredible stealth game, also known as “first-person sneaker.” The only problem (if we can even call it that) is that a quite a handful of missions are more like action-adventure scenarios with lots of fantasy elements, something that has been rectified in Thief II: The Metal Age (2000) and Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004). Be sure to grab it if you’re looking for excellent examples of the so-called “emergent gameplay,” which encourages improvisation and creativity in how you tackle the challenges.

Key features
  • The most revolutionary stealth game ever, utilizing light and sound to a fantastic effect
  • Excellent setting blending late Middle Ages with all sorts of other elements, including magic and industrial stuff
  • The harder difficulty you set, the more objectives you get to complete
  • Phenomenal sound design

Quake

Release date:2020-08-19
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:id Software

Along with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D (and probably a couple others), Quake remains one of the most influential first-person shooters to this very day. Get ready for some sick rocket jumping!

Quake puts you in the shoes of a soldier known only as Ranger (he’s voiced by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, by the way; the musician also composed the game’s famous dark ambient score) who has to stop a nightmarish invasion from another dimension. There are thirty levels to complete (including four secret maps), divided into four episodes where you explore various medieval-style dungeons, often filled with lava.

You access them via a main hub where you also get to pick the difficulty level (of the four available, including the Nightmare one, which, as the name suggests, is incredibly difficult). The premise might be reminiscent of Doom, but the atmosphere and presentation here are totally unique. You can’t mistake this game for anything else.

Quake is known for its technological advancements and 3D acceleration support, as well as its dynamic gameplay, which truly shines in the realm of multiplayer. The game still feels fresh after all these years since its original release. The multitude of available missions and modes is pretty stunning. If you’re interested in old school first-person shooters, grab this one right now.

Key features
  • Excellent level design and atmosphere
  • Plenty of fantastic multiplayer modes to try out
  • There’s even co-op for those interested
  • Incredible dark ambient music by Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails

Sonic the Hedgehog

Release date:2010-10-26
Genre:Adventure
Developer:SEGA

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.

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

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness

Release date:1995-12-09
Genre:RTS
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

Behold: the title which started the famous rivalry between Blizzard Entertainment and Westwood Studios. Tides of Darkness greatly improved upon its predecessor and introduced many features that became the hallmarks of the real-time strategy genre.

Warcraft II continues where the previous game, Orcs & Humans, left off. The kingdom of Azeroth fell to the Orcish Horde and the survivors escaped to the continent of Lordaeron. An alliance to counter the orcish threat has been formed. Unfortunately for humans and their allies, however, the green-skinned invaders also found some powerful new friends…

Tides of Darkness offers traditional RTS gameplay where you build bases, collect resources and train combat units to destroy the enemy. However, there are many new additions to the gameplay. First off, naval combat with various types of ships and even submarines which are invisible to the enemy unless they employ scouts and launch their own subs. Second, a new resource, oil, has been added to gold and lumber, the staples of the series. Third, Tides of Darkness continued the trend started by the first Warcraft game and there are scenarios that deviate from the standard “build an army and destroy all enemy forces” formula, such as escort missions. Fourth, modern interface makes Warcraft II a blast to play even today, despite certain limitations, such as being able to select only nine units at once.

It’s also a fantastic game in the multiplayer mode thanks to a multitude of maps that you can play on. Heck, you can even create your own using a robust level editor. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, especially the Battle.net Edition, is definitely one of the greatest games of all time, hands down. Its impact on the RTS genre cannot be overstated, especially now that it led to creation to an even more incredible release: StarCraft.

Key features
  • Two races to play as: Orcs and Humans
  • You can do battle on air, land, and sea
  • Excellent in both single-player and multiplayer modes
  • You can create new maps using a map editor included in the package

Chrono Trigger

Release date:2018-02-27
Genre:RPG
Developer:Square Enix

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.

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

StarCraft

Release date:2017-08-14
Genre:RTS
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

Until 1998, most of the real-time strategies were pretty formulaic. Even if they offered various factions to choose from, the differences were often cosmetic. StarCraft changed all that.

The game offers three distinct factions: Terrans, Zerg, and the Protoss. Terrans are more traditional and straightforward, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any cool tricks up their sleeves. The strength of the Zerg lies in sheer numbers. Their buildings can be only build on a carpet of organic goo known as creep and units are created by mutating larvae. Finally, Protoss are powerful psionic warriors with incredibly tough units which often have shields, to boot, further protecting them from damage. Their structures need to be powered up by placing Pylons next to them, however.

Everything is perfectly balanced here. StarCraft does not only offer a fun single-player campaign with one of the best science fiction stories among video games, but first and foremost a fantastic multiplayer mode. After all, it’s pretty much a national pastime in South Korea! SC fans also created tons of incredible maps which often are in fact separate genres. That’s right: StarCraft modders created the whole DotA genre (now known as MOBA), further popularized by Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos!

You can grab StarCraft in the remastered version. The original one is available as a free-to-play game.

Key features
  • Three distinct races to choose from
  • A memorable single-player campaign filled with iconic characters
  • Excellent multiplayer
  • Tons of new maps that you can download from the Internet

Worms Armageddon

Release date:1999-05-31
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Team17 Digital Ltd

Originally conceived as an expansion pack for Worms 2, Worms Armageddon quickly evolved into a stand-alone title. Today, it’s considered to be probably the best installment in the entire series and a pinnacle of artillery games, updated to this very day.

The gameplay of the Worms series is probably well-known to anyone: opposing teams of worms take turns to move around the arena and use all sorts of weapons or tools to decimate all opponents. The surviving team wins the round, rinse and repeat. Simple rules, coupled with a wide variety of gadgets and tons of customization options make for a game that is easy to learn, but hard to master.

All this allows for countless hours of fun. The fact that Worms Armageddon features a hot seat mode makes the game perfect for parties. However, it also offers plenty of missions and challenges for those who prefer to play solo. The title is dirt cheap these days, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, there’s no better moment to find out why so many people loved the Worms franchise back in the day (and still do!).

Key features
  • Pretty much the best artillery game ever released
  • Iconic visual style
  • A boatload of customization options
  • It’s the undisputable king of hot seat gaming (alright, tied with Heroes of Might & Magic)

Crash Bandicoot

Release date:2018-06-29
Genre:Action
Developer:Vicarious Visions

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.

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

Duke Nukem 3D

Release date:
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:

While not as technologically advanced as Quake, Duke Nukem 3D still was one of the most impactful first-person shooters of all time thanks to its iconic character and excellent level design.

Yeah, Duke’s one of the most recognizable video game characters. This hyper-masculine, wise-cracking action hero with a massive (and we mean MASSIVE) ego, famously voiced by Jon St. John, must stop an alien invasion on Los Angeles. LAPD officers have been turned into Pig Cops, other mutants roam the streets, things in general are looking pretty bad. Duke Nukem must step in to stop them all.

The game is famous for its highly interactive levels with various alternative routes that lead to hidden caches or let you avoid certain confrontations, tons of objects to destroy and stuff to use. It’s just too bad the series wasn’t very lucky afterwards (by the way: did you know that the first two Duke Nukem games were platformers?), although there’s been plenty of expansion packs and spin-offs. The sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, spent fifteen years in development hell and was demolished in reviews upon release.

Duke Nukem 3D was followed by other fun shooters built using the Build engine: Blood, Shadow Warrior, and Redneck Rampage. And if you’re looking for a spiritual successor, try Ion Fury, featuring a female counterpart of Duke, Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison.

Key features
  • An iconic protagonist with a MASSIVE ego
  • Excellent level design
  • Plenty of clever gadgets
  • Highly interactive environment

Tomb Raider

Release date:1996-10-25
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Core Design

Speaking of bombshells, Lara Croft is the most iconic of these in video gaming. The incredibly famous adventurer debuted in 1996 with a game which rocked the action-adventure genre: Tomb Raider.

Hired by Jacqueline Natla to search for an artifact known as the Scion of Atlantis, Lara Croft embarks on a quest that will take her to four zones: Peru, Greece, Egypt, heck, even Atlantis. Each level is a meticulously crafted maze where you need to do a lot of exploring and puzzle solving, occasionally punctuated with combat, as you will encounter various deadly animals and other creatures.

Lara is very athletic, meaning she can perform a wide variety of moves. She’s also very skilled with weapons, including her iconic dual pistols (which happen to have infinite ammo, by the way). If you need practice, you can head over to Croft Manor for some training sessions.

Tomb Raider became incredibly successful and spawned an entire franchise, including reboots and a handful of spin-offs. The latest reboot trilogy, which began in 2013, saw the series become a cinematic blend of action-adventure and third-person shooters, reminiscent of the Uncharted games and modern action titles.

Key features
  • The most iconic female protagonist
  • Great level design
  • It’s a mixture of exploration (and lots of platforming), combat and puzzle solving
  • The game pretty much defined the action-adventure genre

The Secret of Monkey Island

Release date:2009-07-15
Genre:Adventure
Developer:LucasArts

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 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!!!

SimCity

Release date:2003-09-22
Genre:Strategy
Developer:EA - Maxis

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.

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 the citizens happier
  • But there are also scenarios for those who are more task-oriented
  • Various distasters can strike your city, including tornadoes and monsters

Fallout

Release date:1998-12-01
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Black Isle Studios

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 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 date:1995-06-15
Genre:Strategy
Developer:New World Computing

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.

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!