Did you happen to grow up in the ’90s? Well then, the chances are you were a lucky one and had the opportunity to play some of the best classic games as they were released. You can probably still remember some of the titles you played back then.

Perhaps sometimes you even return to some of them. But even if you were up to date with the latest games back then, you probably missed one or two titles that are definitely worth giving them a try – even today. Let’s take a look at some of the best classic video games that every ’90s kid will love.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Diablo II, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Pokemon Red/Green/Blue or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 are just a few examples of these legendary games. Check out the other titles on the list below – did you know them all?


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Release year:2002
Developer:Rockstar North

Let’s start with the classic action-adventure title that allowed us to explore fictional Vice City, a city based on Miami that’s also an area roughly three times bigger than Liberty City featured in the previous game from the franchise.

The title is set in 1986 and lets you play as Tommy Vercetti, a former member of Forelli Crime Family and the one that tries to get on top as Vice City’s major criminal power.

Tommy Vercetti

Rockstar managed to perfectly capture the retro atmosphere in a more humorous way, making Vice City a great nostalgic throwback to some classic American crime and gangster movies, especially Scarface from 1983.. The game features 3D open world environment and allows players to freely explore it using one of many available vehicles, including bikes and helicopters. Besides the main missions, the game lets you take part in various side activities including paramedic and firefighter missions that will reward you with special abilities once fully completed.

Key features
  • Open world environment based on the ’80s version of Miami
  • Addictive story and a lot of side missions
  • Amazing soundtrack – 9 hours of radio station music from the ’80s

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition

Release year:2002
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Surely you did hear about Skyrim, but did you know it wasn’t the first game in The Elder Scrolls franchise? Before Skyrim, there was also a classic RPG masterpiece – Morrowind. It features a beautiful fantasy world full of mysterious creatures and unique-looking races.

Morrowind

One of the unique features of the title is how character development was made, paving the road for future games from the series, and even for completely different games. To level certain skills you don’t simply click to add a point in it. Instead, you need to actually use that skill – the more you use it, the stronger it will become over time. That system was simplified in Skyrim – in Morrowind, for example, you could even train acrobatics to increase jump height and decrease the damage caused by falls.

The Game of the Year Edition includes the base game, as well as its two major expansion packs – Tribunal and Bloodmoon – significantly extending the amount of fun you will have with the game.

Key features
  • Open world environment – entirely free to explore from the very beginning
  • Various classes to choose from for a custom gameplay experience
  • Tons of missions to complete, items to find, and monsters to kill

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Release year:2003
Developer:BioWare

If you by any chance discovered the Star Wars series only recently or never tried any game set in the SW universe before, then Knights of the Old Republic would be the perfect place to start and catch up, despite it’s a game from 2003.

Knights of the old republic

KotOR takes place about 4000 years before the formation of the Galactic Empire, where you as a Jedi will be tasked with stopping  Darth Malak – a Dark Lord of the Sith responsible for unleashing a Sith armada against the Republic. Combat in the game is done with the use of the d20 system from D&D – it’s turn-based but it plays in real time, effectively hiding the dice rolls from players’ eyes. Winning encounters will reward your character with experience points, allowing him to develop in any direction you want by allocating earned attribute points to your liking and unlocking new skills and feats.

Key features
  • A unique story in the Star Wars universe
  • Character development through the use of skills and Force powers
  • Combat based on Dungeons & Dragons ruleset

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Release year:2002
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

Fans of strategy games should definitely give Warcraft III a try. This old strategy earned its place among the best classic video games mainly due to the fact that there are several playable factions, each offering very different playstyle, translating to increased replayability.

Warcraft 3

Additionally, heroes and some non-hero units can wield additional items that can make these characters stronger and may give them new powerful abilities to use.

There are also mechanics often seen in other real-time strategies as well, such as the base building. Warcraft III lays the foundation and adds some pillars for the Warcraft universe and its lore, making it a must-play game for any Warcraft fan. Also, did you know that DotA 2, a wildly popular online game of MOBA genre, started as a simple Warcraft III mod?

Key features
  • 4 entirely different playable factions
  • Numerous wearable and consumable items for heroes to utilize on the battlefield
  • An epic story where many core Warcraft ideas were born

Fallout 2

Release year:1998
Developer:Black Isle Studios

There is also something for those who love post-apocalyptic scenarios. In Fallout 2 you will play on an alternative version of Earth where humanity was almost entirely wiped out by the nuclear war. Explosions and radiation did their job, and now only those who were fortunate enough to find themselves inside the safe Vaults during the armageddon remained.

Fallout 2

The story revolves around the ancient device that is meant to restore the environment. The game itself is a complex strategy with turn-based combat, so you will have as much time to carefully plan your actions as you want. And that’s a good thing considering all these vile mutated creatures you will encounter during your journey.

Key features

Counter-Strike 1.6

Release year:2000
Developer:Valve

Today Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular online FPS games, but not everyone knows that the entire Counter-Strike series was just a result of a simple Half-Life modification.

CS 1.6 is the latest version of the original Counter-Strike game – it was released in 2003 as the final software update. The most popular game mode is undoubtedly the bomb defusal where teams of terrorists and counter-terrorists are trying to achieve their own goal. Terrorists have to either kill all the enemies or successfully plant and detonate the bomb, while counter-terrorists have to either eliminate the opposing team or defuse the bomb once it’s planted.

CS 1.6

Every game consists of several time-limited rounds and the team that wins the most of these wins the entire match. The game was extremely popular in the past, but some people still enjoy it more than the latest game from the CS series so if you missed that game, now it’s a great time to check it out.

Key features
  • Fast-paced gameplay with fun and addictive gunplay
  • Lots of various modern weapons to choose from
  • Highly focused on multiplayer, though playing against bots is possible

Diablo II

Release year:2000
Developer:Blizzard North

Diablo II, considered by some one of the best, if not the best, hack and slash game of all times, especially when counted together with its major expansion pack, Lord of Destruction, that added tons of quality of life features and new gameplay mechanics to the base game.

Diablo 2

At first sight, the game is quite simple. You choose your character class and start your journey that consists of mostly killing increasingly stronger monsters and bosses, collecting powerful loot, and developing your character. It quickly gets quite complex, however, especially on higher difficulty levels that are unlocked once you complete the game on the previous ones.

That’s because encountered monsters become more deadly later on, forcing you to thoroughly plan your character’s build and to decide what items and skills will create the most powerful synergy. The strongest point of the game is its replayability due to randomly generated loot and locations.

Key features
  • Five playable classes, each with its own unique skillset and playstyle
  • Hundreds of items to find and a virtually unlimited number of unique attribute combinations
  • Officially supported multiplayer on Battle.net platform that still works

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Release year:2000
Developer:Bioware

Baldur’s Gate II is one of those games you can’t pass by indifferently as long as you are into role-playing titles, especially the board ones.

Baldurs Gate 2 Shadow of Amn Remaster

This one’s a classic and it’s based on the 2nd edition rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, so if you are familiar with D&D, then you should feel like home – in fact, you can treat the game as a virtual board game where there are no other people and where the computer takes the role of a dungeon master by presenting you with a living fantasy world full of quests, powerful creatures, and murky places. Because it’s dangerous to go alone, you will be able to form a party of up to six characters – choose your companions wisely, so they will be able to complement each other and create powerful synergies.

Key features
  • Classic board role-playing game brought to the interactive computer environment
  • Based on the 2nd edition rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  • Multiple classes to choose from and an option to import a character from the previous game

Heroes of Might and Magic III

Release year:1999
Developer:New World Computing

HoM&M is a turn-based strategy where you will lead one of the multiple factions in either campaign or single scenarios to victory. The game is played on a square map filled with various places that can be visited by heroes. Visiting them may reward the player with artifacts, resources, or other bonuses.

HoMM 3

Each player can have multiple heroes under his command and each hero can control a different army. Every hero has a separate pool of movement points that can be spent to move the hero across the map and they are renewed each turn. Players can conquer castles and fortify them, build new buildings inside, recruit units, and develop heroes by learning new spells. Battles are also turn-based and are played on a hex grid map – units can be moved around and ordered to attack or defend, and heroes may cast spells to support the army.

Key features
  • 8 playable factions, each with its own unique units
  • Addictive turn-based gameplay that requires thorough planning
  • Multiple ways to win the game

The Sims

Release year:2000
Developer:Maxis

The Sims is a quite unique game as it allows you to create your own family, build a house, and live a life of your dreams. There is no objective in the game – it’s a sandbox experience where you can unleash your creativity to create your own narrative for the characters you control. There are, however, some soft objectives. For example, your Sims have certain needs, such as Hunger or Bladder, you need to meet to make them happy. Feeding your Sims requires in-game currency, Simoleons, and to get more Simoleons you need to send your Sims to work where they can eventually get promoted and get a raise.

The Sims 2000

The base game already has potentially unlimited replayability but it is further increased with a wide selection of expansion packs that add new furniture, usable objects, clothing, and even entirely new gameplay mechanics.

Key features
  • A fun simulation of life
  • Sandbox experience with no objectives and unlimited replay value
  • Tons of different activities for Sims to participate in either alone or together with other Sims

Age of Empires II

Release year:1999
Developer:Ensemble Studios

AoE II is a sequel to its warmly received predecessor and it comes with various improvements in different areas. It’s a fun real-time strategy set in the medieval period where you will be tasked with gathering resources, building the base, recruiting units, and wiping the enemies with the use of the recruited army.

Age of Empires 2

As the game progresses you will be able to advance to the next Age, giving you access to new buildings, units, and allowing you to research new technologies. This is one of the most important gameplay mechanics – advancing before the others during a match gives you an edge and allows you to utilize new techs against your opponents.

Key features
  • Classic real-time strategy with base building and unit recruitment
  • Four different technological eras from the early medieval to renaissance
  • 13 playable civilizations to choose from

Pokemon Red/Green/Blue

Release year:1996
Developer:Game Freak

Even if you are not a dedicated gamer, the name Pokemon should ring a bell as it was not only a game, but also a wildly popular anime series that later spawned tons of merchandise, including toys, plushies, clothes, and many more. Pokemon is short for Pocket Monsters – cute creatures you could catch, train, evolve, and use to fight other Pokemon, and that’s exactly what Pokemon Red/Green/Blue for Game Boy and Game Boy Advance is about.

Pokemon Red

As a young and aspiring Pokemon trainer who dreams of becoming the best trainer in the region, you will embark on a journey, tasked with collecting new species of Pokemon and beating powerful Gym Leaders for their trainer badges, as only the one who collects all the badges is worthy to be called the master. The main difference between three versions of the game from 1996, named Red, Blue, and the Japan-exclusive Green, lies in the types of Pokemon you can find – there are some Pokemon types that can only be found in a certain version, encouraging players to meet and trade for the ones they miss. It’s one of the most iconic 90s kids’ games in history.

Key features
  • Dozens of unique monsters to find, collect, and train
  • Tons of abilities and items to make Pokemon more powerful
  • Turn-based combat

007 GoldenEye

Release year:1997
Developer:Rare

In this game, you will be able to play the role of James Bond himself as he tries to thwart Russian plans. The story revolves around the titular GoldenEye, a satellite weapon that is reportedly capable of disabling any electrical circuit within range by shooting a concentrated electromagnetic pulse down the Earth.

007 Golden Eye

Gameplay-wise you will spend most of your time on finding your way from point A to point B, eliminating the enemy soldiers in the process and completing given objectives. The game has multiple difficulties available, with the harder ones being unlocked after you beat the game on the easier ones. There is also a split-screen multiplayer that allows you to share the experience with friends.

Key features
  • First-person shooter combined with stealth elements
  • Realistic gunplay and a wide selection of real weapons
  • Split-screen multiplayer mode

Quake III Arena

Release year:1999
Developer:id Software

Although the game can be played against bots, Quake III Arena is meant to be played online and that’s where it truly shines.

Quake 3

You might be surprised to find out that there are still people out there playing it even today, so you can easily find someone to play with. The title was best known for allowing players to use advanced movement techniques such as rocket jumping where the player needs to shoot a rocket under himself. If he manages to jump at the very specific moment, he will be able to use the explosion in his favor, significantly increasing the height of such jump.

Key features
  • Fast-paced action and engaging gameplay
  • Highly-focused on multiplayer
  • Single-player challenges against increasingly difficult bots

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Release year:2001
Developer:Neversoft

Finally, the last position on the list, and it’s nothing else but an iconic skateboarding game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. It’s hard to find a good skateboarding game these days, so one may want to give this classic a try. The game lets you control a skateboarder who tries to gain the best possible score by performing difficult tricks and combos during a time-limited session.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3

One of the cool things about the game is the number of hidden objectives and collectibles scattered around the maps for you to find. Some of them require not only super-fast reflexes but also figuring out how to get to certain places, making the game more challenging than it may appear at first sight.

Key features
  • Various customization options
  • Dozens of possible real-life tricks to perform
  • Well-designed maps that offer high variety and reduce boredom

Summary

Video games weren’t as popular a few decades ago as they are today. They were much simpler and due to hardware limitations they offered much worse graphics, but they still managed to grab people’s attention and were the source of entertainment for thousands of players across the world. These were the times when graphics didn’t really matter – all that did matter was the exciting gameplay that resulted in an enjoyable experience.

People who grew up in the ’90s should know this best – to those who were born much later classic games might seem a little bit boring and not really appealing because of poor visuals, unintuitive controls and seemingly pointless or weird gameplay mechanics and certain design decisions. But one should remember that many of these games were paving the way for the next generations of titles – experimenting was necessary to find out what would work best in each scenario and each genre. Game developers were like explorers on a great adventure, trying to figure out the solutions to solve the most annoying problems and find the way around the obstacles such as the very limited computing power of old computers and consoles.

These days if the game has poor graphics it immediately loses its value and some people won’t even bother to check the title. Maybe we should take a moment to think about what made old school games so great and why some of them are considered iconic even after 20 years since the original release. Even if you are either too young or too old to remember the classics, some titles will probably ring a bell.

There were a lot of great games released in the late ’90s and early 2000s, so chances are quite high that you missed some of them. Now it could be a great time to travel back in time and rediscover some of these vintage titles. Only by trying them yourself you can understand why they became so popular and why they are still played even today. Revisit the times where graphics didn’t matter that much. Times, where gameplay was the most important factor and also the one that was the source of some great memories for a lot of us. 90s computer games remain some of the strongest influences on today’s gaming.