Have you heard the news? Apparently the 90s are back — with a vengeance. Mom jeans, mullets and Jncos are all returning on that big ferris wheel of trends, and we have Gen Z to thank for it.
I’ve heard my whole life that trends are cyclical. What’s popular now was unpopular ten years ago, and it will be unpopular again ten years from now, but eventually it will come back around again. And that is what’s happening with the nostalgic 90s right now. Gen Z can’t seem to get enough of Nirvana and Nintendo.
If the 90s really are on the up and up, and today’s kids want to really experience what is was like to live through the radical years between 1990 and 1999, then they need only follow this step by step guide to some of the decades greatest games. Pro tip, these are best enjoyed at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning with a bottle of Dr. Pepper, some pizza rolls and a Dunkaroo or three.
The best game in the Metroid franchise was actually not the first one. The original Metroid was released for the NES and the second for Gameboy. But Super Metroid, as evidenced by the name, was released for the Super Nintendo. The third installment in a series so iconic it has its own genre (Metroidvania) saw intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran rendered in beautiful colors on a 16-bit system for the first time ever. The game is unrivaled today. And while you can pick it up on the Nintendo Switch, it’s best played, like all of the games on this list, in the original console format.
This one is for all the JRPG fans out there. Chrono Trigger has been remade a number of times for a number of systems, but nothing beats the godfather. This game has everything. A silent protagonist. A robot companion. Time travel. A talking frog person. Oh yeah, and one of the greatest video game soundtracks ever. With only two true games in the Chrono series, its lasting impact on the video game landscape is testament to just how good this original game is.
Moving on a generation from the Super Nintendo, we arrive at the quintessential Nintendo 64 game, GoldenEye 007. It is rare, nearly improbable, for a movie tie-in video game to achieve anything nearing critical acclaim or mass popularity. But if you’ve ever heard anyone that was alive in the late 90s talk about gaming they all have an experience with this game. It was likely the game that spawned a million eventual shooters. It’s four player split screen allowed for slumber parties to take new shape. A pizza, a Pepsi and GoldenEye were about all any 90s kid needed.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Pokemon has come a long, long way since the original duology was released for the Gameboy in 1996. I mean, the original Red and Blue versions didn’t even have color. But, man, nothing beats the nostalgia of meeting Professor Oak, of throwing your first pokeball or catching your first Pickachu. Yes, the games have evolved and introduced hundreds of new pocket monsters with some great quality of life enhancements over the original, but nothing will ever come close to the gen 1 games in my mind.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
The single best fighting game of the 90s, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 came with every fighter you could imagine. The roster was enormous for the time and feature two versions of fan favorite Sub Zero. These were truly halcyon days. Throw that on top of a few of the other new fighters, such as the cyborg version of Smoke, and you had a recipe for continue success for years. This one is a can’t miss. Literally, because you can go play it right now, what are you waiting for?
So there you have it. A quick dip into just a handful of some of the best 90s gaming had to offer. I don’t know if you can still find Dunkaroos, but hey, everything old is new again, so maybe you’ll snag a box before you settle in to play.