games / Columns

411 Games Top 5 07.13.13: Top 5 Games of the 1990s

July 13, 2013 | Posted by Sean Garmer

Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there, it is time to travel back over 20 years to a decade that got gaming on the map.

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* This Week the 411 staff was asked to do something rather difficult. They were asked to make a Top 5 list of the Best Games of the 1990’s. Any game whether it be on a console, arcade, a Computer, or even a handheld device you could get in a toy store type game that came out between January 1990 to December 1999 (whether it be USA, UK, or Japan) all counted. The staffers were allowed to make their own decision as to how they wish to make their lists. So, none of them are “solely objective.” *

Stephen Randle (Games Zone Reviewer, Quizmaster of Four Player Co-op, Organizer of Co-op Multi 411 Games Podcast and Writer of Wrestling News Experience)

5. Secret of Monkey Island – The start of my love with point-and-click adventure games, and a series I wish had become more of a juggernaut, because I need more of Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate. If they put him in Disney Infinity, I will be forced to buy it.

4. Super Mario Kart – In all my years of playing video games, I have never found a racing game that I enjoyed as much, or spent as much time playing, as the original Mario Kart. Such a simple concept, and also this was before they started tightening the elastic band on the AI to ridiculous levels.

3. Diablo – Way back before they lost their way, the Diablo franchise was my favourite thing to play on the computer. In fact, the first edition of the franchise was also the first game I pulled an all-nighter to complete from start to finish, and the game that brought a bunch of us together as freshmen in university.

2. Final Fantasy VI – Others will talk about FFVII, and rightfully so, because it’s a great game. But my favourite game from the Final Fantasy franchise likely will always be the sixth one, which I felt more connected to than any other game in the series. It’s on my list of games that you must play at least once in your life.

1. Chrono Trigger – To the shock on no one, as I will always choose Chrono Trigger whenever I have the option. It is the game I’ve beaten more times than any other, the one that I own more copies of for more systems than any other, and the one that I can still sit down and play right from the start when I find myself in the mood.

Lee Jones (Reader Voice)

Honourable Mentions – Aww crap, I thought this was going to be an easier week, but I need to give credit to even more games – Sensible Soccer, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Doom, Earthworm Jim, Command & Conquer Red Alert. (Editors Note: I had to cut off your honorable mentions after the first five because that was too many.)

5 – Civilization 2 – At the time this was the most in depth game I had ever played. It was the first game I ever played overnight. It was this game I was playing when I should have been studying for my Highers. The strategy of what to learn next, the initial thrill of discovering what that technology let you do. The learning curve of seeing the enemy has railways and tanks whilst you have roads and knights and wondering how to get that. This game forced me to think outside my gaming habits (wait so if I build more farms I do better, seriously I have to build farms!). I made it into a multiplayer game where me and my bro each controlled certain cities and the units that came with it. Sure the game became VERY slow at the end of each turn near the end but it was the start and middle that were the best bits anyway, by the time it was slowing down you already knew you had won or lost.

4 – Street Fighter 2 – Beat-em-ups ruled the 90’s, its easy to forget that in the age of shooters. most of my SNES games were beat-em-ups. I wish I could remember even half of the one’s I played. This is the game that caused all of that. Probably the last mainstream arcade game before they started dying out everywhere (in the UK at least). It would later blow me away that my little console could play the same game as the big machines and that I could have the same experience at home, better even. I actually wasn’t very good at this. Still not sadly. I always went the cheap characters like E Honda or Blanka and spammed the easy moves. I seen Dhalsim as a cheap character due to his arms and legs (yes cheap despite me spammed the easy moves). Whilst I was more drawn to the MK’s and KI’s of the world truthfully I always knew this was the better game.

3 – Donkey Kong Country 2 – I played this so much that when 10 years later my flatmate wanted to play it he ended up throwing a huff because he never got a turn (as I never tagged and he always died quick). There was just something about the Country games that seemed cool and made Mario feel, lets be nice and say classic. The music was awesome and once you got good at the game you could go at a speed that impressed the more casual player. My best friend at the time used to see it as payback that since I always made him go Diddy in the original that I had to use Dixie in this, fine by me, she had the best moves anyway.

2 – Goldeneye – Yes Doom may have been the first boost for FPS’ but that was only to grown ups. For the children Goldeneye was the greatest thing ever. It had James Bond (making a comeback), it had his theme music which really added to the experience, it had good graphics for the time, it had a nifty trick with difficulty levels getting extra missions to accomplish giving even the single players replayabilty but most importantly it had multiplayer, and 4 player multiplayer at that (without having to share controllers like Micro Machines, aww damn I need to add that to HM’s as well). This was the game by which gamers were measured. Sure you could be good at FIFA or a great button masher at Track & Field but unless you came out on top in a 4 player deathmatch you meant nothing.

1 – Super Mario Bros 3 – Oooo after last week this could be controversial but sorry I didn’t grow up in Japan in the 80’s so to me this is a 90’s game!!!! And by my account the best one. It came with so many extra features – costumes letting you fly or swim, an overworld, choosing which power ups to take into the world (allowing abuse of the super leaf), letting you replay levels out of sync, all which put its predecessors to shame and in my opinion what the later games would keep trying to emulate. Course at first you use the whistles to basically cheat till the end but the game was so good you just had to keep coming back to it and playing every stage without shortcuts.

Todd Vote (Games Zone Reviewer)

Most of the 90’s, for me, were eaten up by fighting games. My list consists of the ones that ate up the most time, in no particular order.

Honorable Mentions: Time Killers, Mortal Kombat, Primal Rage, Clay Fighter 2: C2:Judgement Clay

5.Art of Fighting – I’m talking about a combination of the arcade game, and the SNES port. I remember this game mostly because it was the first time I had seen a really huge super special. I forget what they called them in the game, Super Death Blow, maybe? Either way, the cabinet in the arcade that had this game, Fatal Fury, and my #4 pick was one of my favorite machines in the arcade, and I loved playing the game on the SNES as well.

4.King of the Monsters – Its no secret that I was a big fan of Godzilla growing up, so imagine my joy when I see this game featured on the attract mode at the local arcade SNK cabinet. A bit ahead of it’s time, I think, this game offered cities that can be nearly fully destroyed. Not to mention items you could grab to beat your opponents with, like helicopters and the like. I don’t recall seeing that at play in a fighting game before this one. Pacific Rim has really made me want to play this game again… Wish I still had an SNES.

3. Mortal Kombat II – By far and away the best MK game of the original series. MK II was a vast improvement over the first. It was bigger, more brutal, and the gameplay was drastically improved. This was probably the MK game I played the most in the 90s. Even after MK III came out, I just kept coming back to this one.

2.Eternal Champions – This was to be Sega’s big answer to Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. It was…. somewhat a success I suppose. it would never be an MK or an SF, but it did just fine on it’s own. It featured unique stage specific deaths called Overkill moves, and the fighters were all pulled from different eras in time. Bit of trivia: It was one of the first fighting games to be developed for a home console instead of being created for the arcades then ported to home systems.

1.Killer Instinct – Which one? Take your pick, I played the hell out of all three games. Killer Instinct, Killer Instinct 2 in the arcade, and Killer Instinct Gold at home on the N64. I know a lot of people don’t like this one, but I do, and it is my list.

Stewart Lange (Games Zone & Music Zone Reviewer, Writer of Retronomicon in Games Zone)

Once again, I’ll be going for games I played and loved, nothing more. Remember, I grew up a Sega kid so don’t judge me too much.

HM: Virtua Fighter, Sega Rally, Destruction Derby, Nights Into Dreams, Powerstone

5. Wrestlemania 2000– I’ve said in my own column before that I never owned an N64 at the time, but my cousins had one and the game we played most together was Wrestlemania 2000. I know that No Mercy is the one that gets all the plaudits and everyone loves, but WM2000 was the first real competitive game I played against people as I was starting to enjoy the finer things in life, such as beer. Many a night would start with a couple of cans, move on to WM 2000 on the N64 and end with someone being power-bombed through a pasting table in the garden. Good times.

4. Zelda: Ocarina of Time– As stated, my cousins had the N64, but when they went to Florida (a big deal to fly from over here) I got a lend of the N64, but they only gave me 2 games. VW Beetle Challenge and Ocarina of Time. Well, it’s a good thing too, because for those two weeks, no other game was getting near that N64 console. I just recently purchased a 3DS to play this game again, despite owning 2 N64’s and 3 copies of the cart, but I’d happily pay that all again.

3.Final Fantasy VII– Ah, Final Fantasy 7. While I don’t think this game stands up quite to the lofty standards some people hold for it, it was the first game that I meaningfully put over a hundred hours into- by that, I mean I happily ground levels, found secrets, fought side bosses and explored everything I could. I still have my original save game on a memory card, but I’m too scared to put it into anything incase it doesn’t work somehow.

2.Carmageddon– Carmageddon is literally one of my favourite games of all time. The only title I’ve played at any length on the PC, this game is the reason my study work didn’t meet the standard to get my into a decent third year class (in Scotland- I’d have been 14. Work out the equivalent). Hilarity, awesome gameplay, vehicular combat and much more. The recent iPhone port is a must have but if they remade it for the 3DS I’d buy a copy in a heartbeat.

1.Shenmue– Shenmue is my perfect game. A rich story, great action, fantastic gameplay and a huge amount of activities. It’s such a shame that this has never been remade to let a new generation experience it’s perfection, but nothing quite feels like playing it with the Dreamcast controller anyway.

Francisco Ramirez (Contributing 411 Writer)

HM: Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Mortal Kombat II, Breath of Fire II, Mega Man X

5. Street Fighter II – The rebirth of the Arcade scene. While home consoles like the NES and SNES were hitting their stride, the Arcade scene was slowly but surely dwindling. Enter Street Fighter II, the sequel to a mediocre game, this version upped the ante and delivered to us the glory of 2D fighting. Quarters were used by the bucket, clones popped up everywhere *cough World Heroes, Art of Fighting, multiple other SNK titles cough* Dragon Punches were mastered, and Guile was the man until later versions neutered him.

4. Myst – Until the Sims came along, Myst was the top selling PC game of all time. That’s amusing considering the game is a simple point and click adventure. Being one of the early entries in the “Video games as art” list, Myst was a technical and graphical marvel. It’s biggest complaints being the slow pace, regardless of gripes, Myst blew away all expectations.

3. Metal Gear Solid – Hideo Kojima’s revitalization of the Metal Gear franchise was a blockbuster that still today lives on with its various sequels and spinoffs. The battle between Solid Snake and the terrorist group FOXHOUND had various memorable moments, from the interrogation of Solid Snake, all the way to the boss fight with Psycho Mantis. The story was also enjoyable, this was before Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, when the series story-lines took a twist towards the batshit insane.

2. Final Fantasy VII – I have a friend that bought this game due to the commercials, featuring various cut-scenes and not one bit of the gameplay. Once he played it, he had no idea what to make of it. For those of us that knew what to expect, we were in for a treat. Now, I’m of the FFVI is the best FF game club, but VII comes in second place. While the storyline wasn’t the best, many of the characters stood out, from Sephiroth, Vincent, the best iteration of Cid in a Final Fantasy game, and Red XIII, Cloud Strife, you either hate him or love him. The Materia system was enjoyable, but the Summons and Limit Breaks were where the good stuff was at. A game that to this day is the Holy Grail to many, and others the biggest P.O.S on gods green earth, there is one thing you have to gave thanks for, it opened the door for the JRPG in the U.S. Without it, it’s doubtful we would have seen games like Suikoden, and Persona make their way to the states.

1. Chrono Trigger – Perfection, that’s one way to describe Chrono Trigger. The SNES classic that many JRPG’s are trying to live up to. A lighthearted story, fantastic characters with great back-stories, solid turn-based battle system and beautiful sprites, and multiple endings for a good replay value. Chrono Trigger is now turning 18 years old, and in those 18 years it has been regarded as one of the top video games of all time, my pick for best video game ever, like fine wine it just gets better with age.

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Fun Links To Checkout A website started by two of the Triple Threat Column writers. Not only is it the permanent home of that world famous column but it has my podcast “Wrestling 2 the MAX,” recaps, and other columns.

Wrestling 2 the MAX Podcast. Go listen to episode 46 and tell us what you think at [email protected] New Episodes come out every Tuesday Morning over on This week, we previewed WWE Money in the Bank and reviewed TNA’s Hardcore Justice 2 One Night Only PPV. We also review Monday’s RAW, and talk about what are some of the biggest wrestling free agent pick ups in history and why keeping their old character was important to that.

Games Coming Out the Week of 07/14/13

Dynasty Warriors 8 (Xbox 360 & PS3)

Time & Eternity (PS3 Only)

Serious Sam Collection (Xbox 360)

Shin Megami Tensei IV (Nintendo 3DS Only)

Mamorukun Curse! (PS3 Only)

R.I.P.D. The Game (Xbox Live Arcade & PSN)

Turbo Super Stunt Squad (All Systems Except PC)

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Sean Garmer
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