That being said, not every 90s game was a hit, as there were also a lot of flukes in the 90s. Thankfully, we've mostly forgotten about the flukes. But the hits, ohhh, the hits are amazing. For example.
Half-Life 1 is arguably one of the most revolutionary games of all time, hands down. It single-handedly redefined what a shooter should look like.
First person shooters would never be the same again after Half-Life's release. But what made Half-Life so special? The answer to that lies in its development team - Valve.
Valve has a brief history, at least compared to some other dev studios. But still, in a short time, they managed to achieve accolade after accolade. Sadly, they don't release many games nowadays. But, whenever they do, it's almost guaranteed to be a hit. I just hope we'll get to see Gordon Freeman again.
Final Fantasy VII
Speaking about revolutionary games, we absolutely have to mention Final Fantasy VII.
Aside from being one of the best adventure games ever made, the thing that makes Final Fantasy VII so special is the way it presents the story. Video game storytelling would never be the same again after Final Fantasy VII's release.
Many of the most prominent video game writers nowadays claim FF VII to be one of their greatest inspirations. Not only does it have a great story, but it also has some of the most memorable characters in gaming history. It well and truly has earned the title of one of the best 90s games ever. What an amazing game.
Street Fighter 2
Remember when you were a kid and you'd go to the arcade? Do you remember which game always attracted the biggest crowds?
That's right, Street Fighter 2. Aside from being one of the best arcade games of all time, Street Fighter 2 would also be the game that defined the fighting game genre as a whole. Don't get me wrong, Street Fighter 1 was a revolutionary game in its own rights, however, it wasn't until its second entry that the Street Fighter series would finally find its core.
That very same core would go on to change the fighting game genre as a whole, as it would set up the core principles for what every fighting game should look like. Principles that haven't been changed to this very day. There's a reason Street Fighter 2 has such addictive gameplay.
The goduncle of strategy games - StarCraft!
The 90s were an interesting time for strategy games. Because of technological limitations, real time strategy games had to be purposefully rudimentary or artificially challenging, to get around the technological hurdle. So when StarCraft dropped, it changed the paradigm entirely.
StarCraft: Brood War is often regarded as one of Blizzard's best games. And one of the best games in general. StarCraft II was likewise very popular among the fans, especially in the competitive scene. It's surprising to me then that Blizzard has been sleeping on the series for well over a decade at this point. If they ever do release a third entry into the series, it has the potential to be the best game of all time... "If" it releases.
You can't talk about 90s games without talking about Doom. It's one of the best games of all time, and arguably the most iconic first person shooter.
Not only did it change FPS history, but it also changed history in general. Doom was one of the games that inspired the ESRB's creation, the other game being the equally controversial Mortal Kombat. Id Software didn't know what they were getting themselves into.
Looking at it now the game looks rather unremarkable. But back in the day, it was the coolest thing we'd ever seen. You were either playing Doom or Unreal Tournament. Doom wasn't the first game to introduce the first-person perspective, however, it did it so well that all the elements just stuck. The gamers of the past loved it, and we still love it to this very day.
When Diablo 1 was released back in 1996, it spawned a golden age of isometric RPGs. All future games tried to copy Diablo.
Every isometric RPG was trying to copy what Diablo had done before. Many came close, but none could match the infamous splendor of Diablo.
Looking back, it's easy to see why Diablo 1 was so beloved in its day. The graphics look a bit dated, especially by today's standards, however, the gameplay still holds up remarkably well. Many a gamers still like to claim that Diablo 1 is their favorite game of all time, even after all these years. It simply scratches an itch that the modern Diablo games simply can't.
Metal Gear Solid
Remember when Konami used to make actual games? Those were the days.
Looking back at it, Metal Gear Solid was one of the best Konami games. All thanks to the mental labor of one man, Hideo Kojima... and his team, of course. The Metal Gear series turned the stealth genre on its head, no other stealth games had done what Metal Gear had done.
Before Metal Gear, stealth games were basically "Go from A to B and steal something." After Metal Gear Solid, stealth games also started having complex stories with captivating characters. Case in point - Solid Snake. Truly a remarkable achievement!
Thief: The Dark Project
Speaking about stealth games, we absolutely have to include the original Thief on the list, as it's one of the best 90s games by far.
Whereas Metal Gear had a spy-themed setting set in the modern age, Thief employed a medieval-fantasy approach instead. The other thing it did right was that it employed light and sound correctly, which made exploring its hidden secrets all the more fun.
By combining those elements with a fancy AI, you got an emergent gaming experience that hadn't been seen up until that point. It's funny how many modern games try to achieve what Thief did with its game mechanics and fail spectacularly. Just goes to show that you can't beat the classics. They don't make great games like they used to.
In 1996, Diablo was revolutionary because of its gameplay, but, on the flip side, its story was quite lackluster. That was a shortcoming that Fallout 1 sought to avoid and avoid it did.
So when it finally came out in 1997, it showed the world that isometric RPGs could be used to tell incredible stories, rather than being solely about hacking and slashing baddie and clearing boss fights.
Fallout 1 featured a single player campaign like no other, filled with captivating characters and a world overflowing with charm. Everything about the game was perfect, from the music to the scenery, to the sprites, to the sometimes silly dialogue. It was a magnum opus in every single way.
Silent Hill 1
What is the best Silent Hill game you may ask? Why, the one that started it all in the first place - Silent Hill 1.
Genre-defining is an understatement when talking about Silent Hill 1. It had achieved what many games had tried before and failed... it terrified us deeply.
Again. Because of the technological limitations of the time, many "horror" games had to resort to cheap tricks to frighten people. Tricks that often ended up being ridiculed, rather than actually frightening. Silent Hill changed that, as it showed us that you don't need cheap tricks to frighten the player, just give them constant anxiety instead and you'll do much better.