You know, as a guy who constantly loves making lists of video games, I think I really want to start doing lists for each year since the year I was born. I’ve been gaming since I was age 1 and I still continue this hobby as my own well-being. I still stick to my guts that I am one of those people that says playing video games in the 1990’s was the best decade of gaming ever! The silver age of gaming was aiming towards to better graphics that reached to 3D, brought new competition towards game developers like never before, variety of games for all ages, and the gaming culture boomed to stardom. I certainly do not remember what 1990 was like, since I was just born, but judging by the history books, everyone still had their mind set in the 1980’s as the fads, fashion, and 80’s music is still around and live back then. Regardless, 1990 was already starting it’s era when Sega advertised the Sega Genesis “Sega Does What Nintendon’t” and since then, it became a whole new generation of video games. Gone where all those times of having the best graphics on arcades as 16-bit finally gave us that opportunity to play at home, Nintendo was no longer in the comfort zone in remaining on top, and the birth of the console wars has started its popularity. These are the best games of the year 1990! (Not the best games of the “1990s”!)
Number 10. – Splatterhouse
Nevermind the fact that the game has taken game design inspired by the likes of Friday the 13th, you have to appreciate that this is the one horror game that got it right. Horror games before Splatterhouse were all adaptations from horror movies and we all know how terrible they were on the NES. Splatterhouse’s progression is just really massive as the animation quality loves to show the audience gory violence, haunting imagery, and atmosphere that even gets me start having goosebumps, that’s really something to say about the game. Now there are scarier games out there, but back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, this was terrifying and it was the only one available for us gamers. It’s one of those titles where you have to appreciate the originators because they’re responsible for what you have now today (and sadly, a lot of horror franchises when downhill and fast).
Number 9. – Final Fantasy
Sure, I know that Final Fantasy is a big franchise; everybody knows that. However, the original Final Fantasy is far from being the best RPG on any list. Interesting that this was supposed to be Square Soft’s last game, its sold successfully that it save the company, and now the company does nothing but RPGs. However, the first game made it on the list for being that different RPG that revolutionized the turn-based combat system that RPG’s are famous for. You can pick a combination of four different characters out of six types of classes that gives you all possibilities of how to play the game. Because the story is pretty scantly told and all of the characters are blank as a sheet of paper, you can just use your imagination and make up your own stories, which is what a real RPG really is about. Games are missing the purpose of stimulating your imagination as every game in existence just give you the image and graphics to do it for you. Although the sequels are better by many, but it’s the simple fun of making up the game out of your head and so many ways to play the game, it earns this spot!
Number 8. – Military Madness
For all those who loves Advance Wars on the Gameboy Advance, take a look at the game that originated that gameplay, over a decade before Advance Wars even existed. This is one of the many reasons why I love the Turbografx-16 for it gave us gameplay like no other 16-bit game has ever offered. Military Madness was such a revolutionary title for it was one of the original turn-based strategy games ever outside of the computer. The player and the enemy CPU has their own fleet and the goal is the use their armies in the battlefield to destroy the base and the guards/soldiers/crafts that protecting the base while you have to do the same. Now if you’re coming in this game like another classic strategy game, be surprised because that units cannot be produced, but the Allied-Union forces could “capture” enemy units if they were in factories, or find unsecured factories and gain units from them. Now strategy games now does the producing units, but military madness balanced it all out from having too many units on the battlefield. Without this game, who knows where would strategy games be at today.
Number 7. – The Terminator (DOS)
Why can’t there be more good Terminator games? I mean, they’re still making fantastic Star Wars games today and I think that Terminator deserves to be a great franchise for video games as they has so many horrible games using the Terminator license. Well, after only a few good Terminator games, this is one to find out of the garbage pile that’s worth keeping. Believe it or not, this is perhaps one of the innovators of the sandbox and the first-person shooter genre taking what was left from the classic PC game “Mercenary” and expanded it to a whole new level. Like GTA, you’re able to hijack cars, travel anywhere you want in this expansive world, kill any person (civilians included), and everything else that make you feel like a terminator from the original movie. For being such a forgotten innovator, why only place it this low on the list? Well, today, you really have to be really patient with the game as it has the worst frame-rates ever and the gameplay is incredibly slow. So slow in fact, that ruins the enjoyment. It’s one of the big downfalls of really old computer game classics, but for being such a surprise that a game existed in the year 1990, it has to be on the list.
Number 6. – Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Abandoning the action-adventure game and role playing game elements of its immediate predecessor Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and return to the platform game roots of the first Castlevania title was a saving grace for the series. Playing as Simon Belmont was great in the first game, but the third installment expanded so much from the original. For the first time in the Castlevania series, the player was able to switch control between different companions including Sypha Belnades, Grant Danasty, and Alucard (son of Dracula later seen in Symphony of the Night) that all have their own powers and abilities to pass through different challenges, obstacles, skills, and mobility to the experience. With all the great and wonderful things to say about Castlevania III, it will always be held back because of the difficulty as it is the hardest of the series, bar non!
Number 5. – Strider
I’ll tell you what Sega does what Nintendon’t; have a good console port of Strider. This beloved classic from the arcades was a major leap from 8-Bit and when Genesis was capable to handle such technology, the gates were opened to a brand new era of gaming. Outside of the impact on video game history, its still fun to play. The fact that you’re a cybernetic future ninja who uses his gigantic sword to slash his way through robots and other creatures in a cyberpunk universe was unbelievable at the time. Plus the animation quality like whenever we see jump or leap into the air, it was more qualitative than seeing your sprites make the same frame when they jump, fall, and land. It’s really that style that shows what 16-bit graphics were capable of and it got all of us excited for future games using this technology. Really, outside of what you can normally do in other action-platformers, there really isn’t much to talk about that other breeds of its kind already does. All that needs to be done is to be played and have fun with it.
Number 4. – Mega Man 3
This games is more (not less) of a refinement of Mega Man 2 as it took all the flaws from the second game and made it better. Mega Man 3 introduces new gameplay elements such as Mega Man’s canine sidekick Rush and the ability to slide along the ground, which lets the player slip under enemy attacks and low-level barriers. It’s was a top-notch game as it offered robot masters that are superior over the last two games (Magnet Man, Hard Man, Top Man, Shadow Man, Spark Man, Snake Man, Gemini Man, or Needle Man). However like every Mega Man game, I always hold it back because of its high difficulty and repeated push-back whenever you get hit. Other than that, this was a huge installment of the series, regardless of its faults.
Number 3. – Ys Books I & II
What a surprise, two remakes from the Sega Master System managed to be better played on the Turbografx-16. This is one of the first RPG’s that used English voice-dubbing and its one of the first games that tried to promote the anime-presentation to the 1990s that later became popular world-wide. I love the gameplay of Ys as it has our hero Adol Christin who slashes his way through enemies and becomes more powerful as he progresses after killing more and more monsters. Never before was there a dungeon crawler that was this fast paced, heavily story driven, and level grinding that has never been this much fun! But the funniest part of the game (which is what most people don’t like) is that the combat is just running into an enemy due to the lack of animation of slashing enemies from the original Sega Master System. At first it was distasteful because it’s a tad cheesy, but considering that this game is a lot faster than any action-RPG, it will grow in you. It made into a bumper-car action that I never expected from any game like this, but since the game allowed me to do such a thing, its nice to finally be the character that actually hurts enemies by touching them, instead of the other way around seen in every video game. But it’s not the only strategy as you can shoot projectiles with magic that creates a change of pace. For being one of the first games that used the CD-rom technology, it was used properly as it gave us an amazing soundtrack that has better quality than your cartridge, large space of gameplay, and very fast gameplay that never gets boring. Y’s Books I & II just BEGS for you to play the game, and you should already download the game on the Wii Virtua Console by now!
Number 2. – The Secret of Monkey Island
What else can you say about this adventure classic that hasn’t been said already? I mean it is the most popular and most beloved adventure game series of all time. The first game of the series truly captures the whole fun of playing the genre. It’s absolutely creative on what the pirate adventure could be handled in a game, the humor is so creative that it still gets people rolling today, and the subtlety will forever remains. Anyone who played this classic will remember melee island, the three trails, Lechuch and his dead mates, and so many more. Who knew that playing a looser like Guybrush could even have an adventure this epic and managed to make it humorous at best! This is one of the most praised PC classic because it offered presentation and storytelling that has never been seen before. I can’t imagine the gaming world without Monkey Island, and the first game is the one that I keep coming to back again and again.
Number 1. – Super Mario Bros. 3
Ha! Imagine not having Super Mario Bros. 3 in the top of the list? After sitting through Wizard, the Fred Savage movie, all the kids want nothing more than Super Mario Bros. 3. Why weren’t they? This was ten times better than the last two Mario games and it gave us a platformer unlike anything before it. Just like Castlevania, the third game of the series abandoned the changes made from the second game, and not only went back to the formula from the first but expand it. Every world in this game brings different wonders from icy tundras, to ginormous enemies and objects. There as just so many secrets throughout the game that it is massive none the less. And did I mention the power-ups in this game? Oh my lord, the raccoon tail was awesome enough to actually let the players fly up in the sky, but the frog suit lets you have better swim controls, kinuki shoe to stomp the unstoppable, hammerhead allows you to throw hammers, fireball Mario and superstar returns, and the raccoon suit turns you into a stone… this is all amazing! But over all the Mario games, I love the fact that we’re saving and helping the various kings in each world who are cursed and need us to beat the Kupa kids to bring them back to normal; abandoning the saving Princess Peach formula until the very end of the game. It’s no wonder and no surprise to see that everyone’s list and even this list has put this game on the top of the list of the best game of 1990 and overall the best game of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
- Top 10 Video Games of 1991
- Top 10 Video Games of 2000
- Top 5 Albums of 1990
- Top 10 Movies of 1990
- Top 10 Video Games of 1992
- Top 10 Video Games of 1993
- Top 10 Video Games of 1994
- Top 10 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Games
- Top 10 Video Games of the 1990s