20 Nostalgic Games Every 90s Kid Will Remember

20 Nostalgic Games Every 90s Kid Will Remember

Let’s face it: the 90s were a golden era for video games. With the transition from 16-bit to 32-bit (and even 64-bit!) gaming, the 90s provided us with the advent of revolutionary 3D graphics on home consoles — completely changing the face of gaming as we know it. From the SNES and Sega Genesis to the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, the 90s were a hotbed of stellar gaming experiences that many of us still remember to this day. So let's take a walk down memory lane and look back at 20 nostalgic games every 90s kid will remember.

1. Super Mario 64

This timeless classic put 3D platformers and the Nintendo 64 on the map. It was the ultimate example of how powerful the N64 was at the time and it showcased what platformers could and would look like in the transition from simplistic side-scrollers to full-on 3D gaming. Its expansive levels, addictive gameplay, and vibrant soundtrack had 90s kids glued to their TVs. 

MariothumNoa Kosanovic on Wikimedia Commons

2. Pokémon Red and Blue

The killer app of Nintendo’s GameBoy Color, Pokémon Red and Blue not only revolutionized handheld gaming, it sparked a global phenomenon and billion-dollar franchise that’s still going strong to this day. These pioneering Pokémon titles are beloved by millennials, who’d spent their days catching, training and battling over 150 distinct Pokémon.

Michael-Rivera-Dypo Xgae4Y-UnsplashPhoto by Michael Rivera

3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Often cited as one of the greatest games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a timeless classic that truly sheds light on the gameplay and narrative prowess of 90s gaming, despite the technological limitations. Immersing players in a rich and vibrant world, Ocarina of Time treats players to a compelling narrative, engaging gameplay, and loads of charm — easily making it one of the most memorable gaming experiences of the 90s. 

Francisco-Gonzalez-Romanelli-H3Mur3 Eeeo-UnsplashPhoto by Francisco Gonzalez Romanelli

4. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Building upon the success of the first game in pretty much every way imaginable, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a masterclass in how to produce a great sequel. Along with introducing players to Sonic’s affable sidekick Tails, this beloved sequel cemented the character (and Sega) as a force to be reckoned with, making the Japanese console manufacturer a viable force in the home console market. 

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 LogoSega / Sonic Team on Wikimedia Commons


5. Final Fantasy VII

90s kids will surely remember the lasting impact that this had on them (and gaming in general). With its cinematic storytelling, groundbreaking visuals, and epic score, Final Fantasy VII set the benchmark for what RPGs in the 3D era could aspire to be, in turn mesmerizing an entire generation of gamers. 

Ffviibattlexample675930s on Wikimedia Commons

6. Street Fighter II

Setting the standard for arcade brawlers in the 90s, Street Fighter II instantly captivated players with its fast-paced and intricate gameplay, expansive move set, and diverse roster of fighters. The game’s highly competitive nature made it an arcade staple that quickly found its way into the homes of millions of gamers when it was ported over to consoles, making it an essential 90s gaming experience. 

1024Px-Streetfighter1空練 on Wikimedia Commons

7. GoldenEye 007

Not many movie tie-ins are good, let alone good enough to change the face of gaming itself! But GoldenEye 007 was simply cut from a different cloth, as this beloved N64 classic reshaped console first-person shooter mechanics, finally setting the stage for what a fun and intuitive shooter could look like with a controller. The game's thrilling and addictive gameplay made it a multiplayer juggernaut that had CRTs running overtime at get-togethers and sleepovers. 

GoldeneyeG0T0 on Wikimedia Commons

8. Crash Bandicoot

As Sony’s answer to Mario and Sonic, Crash Bandicoot proved to be a more-than-admirable mascot for the burgeoning Playstation while it tried to get its foothold in the contentious home console market. This fun and challenging platformer captivated 90s kids with its charming cartoonish graphics and quirky humour, giving Sony the 3D platforming hit they needed to make waves in an oversaturated market. 

Crash Bandicoot Logo By JerimiahisaiahJerimiahisaiah on Wikimedia Commons

9. Donkey Kong Country

This unique platformer not only redefined Donkey Kong but also pushed the SNES to its limits, offering players a peak at what was to come with its beautiful pre-rendered 3D graphics. Donkey Kong Country’s fluid and challenging gameplay made it a fan favourite among millennials who were itching for a different kind of platformer experience.

1024Px-Donkey Kong Country Logo.webpNintendo / Rare on Wikimedia Commons 

10. Resident Evil

This pioneering survival horror classic not only shaped the genre but also served as an example of gaming’s ascendance as an art form, showcasing the medium’s ability to tackle more adult-oriented themes and content. But that doesn’t mean 90s kids didn’t get their hands on it! Resident Evil treated players to a game rife with compelling gunplay, challenging puzzle-solving, and thrilling jump scares. 

1024Px-The Resident Evil Logo.svg


11. StarCraft

Blizzard Entertainment knocked it out of the park with this groundbreaking real-time strategy masterpiece that helped bring the genre to the forefront of gaming. Starcraft, with its engaging gameplay and compelling lore, quickly became a staple of competitive multiplayer, laying the groundwork for what would eventually become esports. 

1024Px-Starcraft Fan CollectionChristo on Wikimedia Commons

12. Tomb Raider

This iconic 3D action platformer not only set the standard for what traversing through 3D environments should look like, but also introduced the world to the phenomenon of Lara Croft. 90s kids will no doubt remember the thrill of utilizing Lara’s intuitive acrobatic movement to shoot and explore their way through a variety of unique and atmospheric locales. 

Tomb Raider I-Iii RemasteredAspyr, Crystal Dynamics, and Embracer Group on Wikimedia Commons

13. Banjo-Kazooie

This beloved N64 gem first introduced gamers to the bear-and-bird duo, showcasing Rare’s undisputed flair for creating charming and colourful 3D platformers. Combining platforming and puzzle-solving, Banjo-Kazooie was an unparalleled experience thanks in part to its quirky humor, whimsical visuals, inventive level design, and catchy score. 

Banjo Kazooie LogoMicrosoft Corporation on Wikimedia Commons

14. Earthworm Jim

Many 90s kids will remember Earthworm Jim as a side-scrolling platformer unlike any other. Setting itself apart from its contemporaries, Earthworm Jim carved out a lane for itself with its stylish hand-drawn visuals and warped sense of humour. To many, Earthworm Jim was the “cool kid on the block” flying in the face of the more colourful and whimsical style of Mario and Sonic and captivating gamers with its edgier platforming sensibilities.  

David PerryPhotographer Eddie Sanderson on Wikimedia Commons

15. Diablo II

Often cited as one of the greatest games of all time, this hack-and-slash RPG classic was an instant hit when it was released on the PC in mid-2000. Building upon the success of its acclaimed predecessor, Diablo II treated players to refined gameplay mechanics a distinctly dark and gothic atmosphere, as well as a deeply addictive online multiplayer mode. 

1024Px-Diablo Panel And Cosplay At Blizzcon 2013 019Morten Skovgaard on Wikimedia Commons

16. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

This beloved arcade skateboarding game was the first of many in a storied franchise that went on to sell tens of millions of copies during its heyday in the late 90’s to mid-2000s. Combining over-the-top physics with easy-to-pick-up controls and a banging 90s soundtrack, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater will forever hold a special place in the hearts of millions of kids who grew up around the time of its release. 

1024Px-Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 (Black)Unknown author on Wikimedia Commons


17. Quake

Id Software built upon the success of their lauded Doom series and made sure to further revolutionize the first-person shooter genre with Quake. Its fast-paced, frenetic gunplay and impressive 3D graphics (at the time) captivated players and made the game a juggernaut on the PC, especially with the inclusion of online multiplayer and a robust modding community.

1024Px-Budapest, Retro Video- És Kvarcjáték Kiállítás 9, 2017, Tavasz, 3Christo on Wikimedia Commons

18. Half-Life

Valve made a name for itself in 1998 when it released one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. Combining revolutionary storytelling with innovative gameplay and a realistic environment, Half-Life instantly became the benchmark for what FPS games could and should be. 90s kids were thrilled by Gordon Freeman’s harrowing story of survival in the face of an unremitting and brutal alien invasion. 

1024Px-Half-Life (3080617459)Long Zheng on Wikimedia Commons

19. Spyro the Dragon

This Playstation classic helped cement the burgeoning new console as a worthy foe against stiff competition from Nintendo and Sega. Spyro the Dragon (along with Crash Bandicoot) proved that the PlayStation could produce a compelling and loveable gaming mascot aimed at kids. Spyro the Dragon, with its colourful worlds and charming protagonist quickly became a fan favourite among 90s kids, who no doubt have fond memories of rescuing dragons and collecting gems. 

SpyroMr.Ajedrez on Wikimedia Commons

20. Grand Theft Auto

The progenitor of the massively popular open-world gaming model that has become the modern-day standard, Grand Theft Auto was nothing short of groundbreaking when it first came out. Although not yet utilizing the third-person 3D perspective the series later adopted with GTA III, the first GTA was known for treating players to a detailed open-world sandbox that offered unparalleled freedom, laying the groundwork for one of the most successful gaming franchises of all time. 

GtaRockstar Games on Wikimedia Commons