The video game industry has never been so huge ever before. It now expands out to dozens of different platforms, game genres and reaches audiences across the globe. None of the current video game developers could have been where they are today if it weren’t for the classics. It’s about time we pay homage to some of the best classic computer games from the 90s – they paved the way for the future of gaming, and made huge strides in storytelling, artwork, and brand new gameplay mechanics.
Getting hold of some of these all time classic games from the 90s may prove to be a little tricky, but for the most part, lots of these games are still playable today. Whether you’re interested in playing the classics yourself, take a read through this article to get an insight into what games made history two decades ago.
20 All Time Best Classic Computer Games from the 90s
In this article, we are showcasing the 20 All Time Best Classic Computer Games from the 90s. If you still remember your childhood, you know the best classic computer games mentioned in this list are going be amazing. You’ll end up finding some of your favorite classic computer games from the 90s. Let’s revive your childhood with these classic computer games from the 90s.
20. Warcraft II
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness was a real-time strategy game released for DOS and Mac OS back in 1995 and 1996, respectively. Not only was Warcraft II a groundbreaking real-time strategy game at the time, but it opened up a whole dialogue for the lore of Warcraft.
Since then, more Warcraft video games have reached global success, including the MMO World of Warcraft, the trading card game, Hearthstone, and recently the Warcraft movie. There’s no doubt that the roots of all of that success came from the humble beginnings of Warcraft I, II and III.
19. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
Just fitting into the classic computer games from the 90s with a launch on February 12, 1999, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri was considered to be a spiritual successor to the Civilization video game series. Nowadays we have plenty of modern day Civilization titles on Steam, but Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri truly showcased the potential video games had many years ago.
It didn’t need fancy graphics to be engaging because it focused on what other games in the genre have been labeled as 4X – “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.” The aim of the game is to expand your own territory and then fight for global superiority.
18. Quake II
Quake II is yet another best classic computer games from the 90s. It was a first person shooter title released in December 1997. Developed by ID Software and published by Activision, Quake II made some groundbreaking improvements to the first person shooter genre. The popular 1 v 1 multiplayer mode gained critical appeal.
It was such a highly competitive title that many consider Quake II’s early competitive gaming scene to be the start of first person shooter esports.
17. Unreal Tournament
If we’re going to be including groundbreaking first-person shooter titles on this list, then we have to include Unreal Tournament. Unreal Tournament was originally released on November 30, 1999, putting it as one of the last classic games from the 90s.
Unreal Tournament had a highly competitive following as well, but lot’s of its critical acclaim was given to the expert AI development at the time and support for community modding, which lead to some of the first true FPS mods of the 2000’s.
While Quake II and Unreal Tournament were making grounds in the competitive gaming scenes, Half-Life was taking critics to another world through its fantastic storytelling and unique use of brand new gameplay mechanics. Half-Life is another classic computer game that was one of the best ‘out-of-the-box’ FPS titles of the time, and Valve did an excellent job with it.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell mentioned in the early days that they wanted Half-Life to become an immersive world rather than a “shooting gallery.” They certainly created the immersive world they were aiming for.
Myst was another popular name in the list of best classic computer games. It was released as an adventure puzzle game back in September 1993 for Mac OS. It later got launches on other platforms, including the Sega Saturn, the original PlayStation, the Atari Jaguar, Microsoft Windows and it recently became available on Android and iOS.
Myst was the grounding work for current day open world and sandbox games – players were thrown into a seemingly abandoned world. Players were forced to explore the world on their own right, with puzzles and hard clues to crack being thrown to them along the way. Some people didn’t consider Myst anything more than an interactive experience of sorts, as opposed to a video game, but it was fresh and exciting.
Released on New Year’s Eve for Microsoft Windows in 1999, Diablo was quickly picked up by critics of one of the best action RPG games of all times. Diablo created the ARPG genre, and the Diablo series is still among the best of the best classic computer games today. As the game progresses, players can get better gear and upgrade their character.
While this is happening, enemies are becoming progressively tougher, and an engaging storyline is being played throughout every piece of NPC dialogue and quest.
13. Duke Nukem 3D
Duke Nukem 3D was one of the first games to execute comedy in such a spectacular way truly. It was an absolute hit, and on top of the humorous pop references, it also had a very engaging storyline and excellent first person shooter mechanics for its time. Duke Nukem 3D originally launched on MS-DOS on January 29, 1996.
12. Wolfenstein 3D
ID Software was on a roll in the 90s – one of their most successful titles was Wolfenstein 3D. Released in 1992 for MS-DOS, Wolfenstein 3D was a first person shooter title with an excellently crafted storyline. The surprisingly gory graphics for its time were something new for video games, especially shooters, and it captured the attention of many PC owners.
11. SimCity 2000
Despite the name, SimCity 2000 was initially released for Mac OS back in 1994. Releases for other platforms took place throughout the remainder of the 90s, with Snes, Sega Saturn and Windows PC releases hitting in 1995.
SimCity 2000 was a classic computer game of its own genre – there was nothing else out there that could quite compare. The game is a city building simulator – players were left with tasks such as managing roads, railways, hospitals, libraries, and schools – the game had its own finance system, taxes, and in-depth money management skills.
SimCity 2000 was designed as a simulator game, but it’s potential was quickly realized once players understood the level of micro-management needed to run a successful city. SimCity 2000 had an incredible learning curve to it, making it very addictive.
10. Dungeon Keeper
Released in 1997, Dungeon Keeper was an excellent classic computer game that gave players the chance to play a different role for a change. Players were given the task to build a dungeon that was going to be sinister and dangerous enough to kill any incoming heroes.
9. Command & Conquer
The Command & Conquer real-time strategy series had been well received since its debut game back in 1995. The whole base building and resource collection concept for Command & Conquer later influenced dozens of real-time strategy games down the line. The most exciting part of Command & Conquer was the competitive multiplayer aspect.
8. Grand Theft Auto
We all know how vast and expansive Grand Theft Auto is today, but it started as something else. Originally, Grand Theft Auto released as a top-down action adventure game in 1997. A lot of the aspects we see in Grand Theft Auto 5 were first explored in the first GTA game – stealing cars, using weapons and partaking in crime was the highlight of the original GTA, much like it is today in GTA 5.
7. Thief: The Dark Project
Released in 1998, Thief: The Dark Project was a first person stealth adventure game that took players away from the action-packed atmosphere of games like Duke Nukem and placed players into scenarios where they had to think through situations carefully. By using brand new stealth mechanics, players could go through the shadows, avoiding detection while completing objectives or taking out enemies quietly.
6. Baldur’s Gate
Launched on December 21, 1998, Baldur’s Gate completely revolutionized the fantasy role-playing genre. Before Baldur’s Gate, most role-playing fanatics would use Dungeons and Dragons. Baldur’s Gate used rules from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition and built a game around it. There’s no doubt that Baldur’s Gate influenced many modern day RPG titles.
Starcraft was and still is one of the best sci-fi real-time strategy games out there. Nowadays Starcraft is seen as a prime example of how to make a perfect real-time strategy game. It takes a day of playing to understand the basics of Starcraft, but months, if not years of constant battling against other players to master.
4. Age of Empires
Age of Empires is yet another popular name in the list of best classic computer games. It definitely belongs alongside Command & Conquer and Starcraft. These three game series are considered to be the most influential real-time strategy games in video game history. Age of Empires was mostly received so well thanks to the amazing AI that often works at a pace similar to the player.
3. Fallout 1
Launched in 1997, Fallout 1 was the result of a bold move by Interplay Entertainment to bring a new theme to the world of role-playing games. While Fallout 1 looks nothing like Fallout 4, the interesting way Fallout 1 put players into the game to solve passing NPC’s dilemmas helped to structure what the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games are all about today.
2. Fallout 2
Fallout 2 was the sequel to the original Fallout. It launched in September 1998, and oh boy was it incredible. It took all of the elements from the original Fallout and expanded them. Fallout 2 had some combat elements, character role play features and a storyline that could be impacted by a player’s choices.
1. Heroes of Might & Magic III
Heroes of Might & Magic III launched on February 28, 1999 – it was a turn based strategy game that received critical acclaim. The game featured the main campaign screen and a turn-based battle screen – both elements required their management and player strategy for a player to be successful.
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We’ve now gone through a total of 20 of some of the best all time classic computer games from the 90s. While this list isn’t in any particular order, there’s no doubt that each of these classic computer games has had an impact on modern day gaming in some capacity.
Did we miss any of your favorite classic computer games from the 90s? Let us know in the comments.