I still have me a hankering for games I first played 20+ years ago. And no one scratches that itch for me as well as Good Old Games. Well, Abandonia helps too but you often need an emulator. Anyway, since I’ve been retro gaming quite a bit lately, it seemed only natural that I judge how well some of my childhood favourites from the 90’s have held up. So here we are, my list of the 7 best Retro PC games from the 90’s.
7 Best Retro PC Games from the 90’s:
1. Heroes of Might and Magic II 1996
Heroes 2 is a turn based strategy RPG all rolled into one. A lot of gamers applaud Heroes 3 as being the Heroes game, but there is just something about Heroes 2 that will always hold my heart. Oh wait I know what it is, it’s being able to be a traitor. Yup, that always gets me. Being able to play as good for the first half of the campaign and then decide whether or not to Betray the King is just magic. The RPG aspect of Heroes 2 will always trump 3 for me. Also, I don’t think my hand will ever forget how to type 32167 super quickly (It’s a cheat to get 5 black dragons in case you didn’t know), something I have to watch out for when setting passwords.
2. Lords of The Realm II 1996
Playing games like Lords of The Realm 2 was fundamental in subconsciously making me pretty okay at math. It remains one of the best management war combinations I’ve ever played. It beautifully avoids the trap of “I’ve got the biggest army I win” and allows players to actually strategize. The political scene, the cows, the catapults. I sunk many hours I was meant to be doing homework into this game. And I sink many more hours now when I’m meant to be writing into this game. It is full of charm and personality, allowing you to taunt your opponents and grow crops all at once. Oh and peasants, they get so mad when you raise taxes. It’s cute.
3. Diablo 1996
I was legitimately terrified of the Butcher. Sometimes I would restart the game till I got a story line that didn’t include him. There is a lot of trauma associated with being chased really fast by something that wants to chop you up and eat you. I did eventually move past that fear, but I remember it. Oh do I remember it. Be still, beating heart of mine. Be still. Diablo was an amazing game, still is in my opinion. There was so much that would change every time you played. Every time you’d come up from the labyrinth something else will have gone wrong in Tristram. Something you’ll probably hear from me a few times, is that this one was harder than its descendants. A lot of games now involve characters being able to move at lightning speed. Games in the 90’s didn’t quite do that. Which is probably why I like them, makes me feel like I could almost be them if I was fit. If. Maybe. Probably not. But still. Maybe.
4. Theme Hospital 1997
Theme Hospital is just as hard to win today as it was when I was 10. Maybe even harder considering how decrepit I am becoming. I know I managed to get past the halfway mark back then, why can’t I now?? In Theme Hospital, you run a hospital that cures ridiculous diseases that are a commentary on our social landscape (invisibility, popping of bloated heads, elvis impersonators etc.). Most of your time will be spent moving tired doctors around because they walk too slowly, shooting rats, cleaning up puke and building more and more rooms. If you do well, you get a letter promoting you to run an even bigger hospital. Do this enough times, and you might win! I wouldn’t know… *grumble* but I’ll keep trying!
5. Star Craft 1998
Some people have actually never stopped playing Star Craft. It is that good. Star Craft 2 is good sure, but if you’re a master of 1, then you’re a master of 2 because 1 is much much harder. It’s the strategy game that spawned the era of gaming competitions that just keeps growing. Enter a military sci-fi universe where we get to kill insectoid aliens? Hell, yes. (Die Zerg, die!) Best of all, Blizzard has remastered Star Craft and its expansion Brood War, and made them free. FREE.
6. Septerra Core 1999
Compared to graphics today, Septerra Core can seem pixelated and old. But if you can look past that, you’re in luck because Septerra Core is clever. It is clever design, clever writing, clever characters, epic story. They built the world of Septerra so differently and in such depth, building on the idea of a living computer as the creator of the world. I wished I could live there. And since you get about 100 hours of gameplay, it sometimes feels like you really are. It is also one of the few games out there with a strong female lead, who basically came from the scrap pile out to shine in this JRPG.
7. King of Dragon Pass 1999
I don’t think there is a single other game I finished as many times as I finished King of Dragon Pass. Not that it is a short game, mind you. But because it is addictive. This is the main game I play on my phone now, ever since they ported it over. But the classic retro PC game is still my favourite due to it having the village screen where you can see the physical changes your decisions throughout the year have brought to your clan. From heroquesting to the Realm of the Gods, exploring hostile Beast lands, raiding your neighbours for cattle, taking on thralls, and finding a baby that years later becomes my Queen, King of Dragon Pass just had it all for me.
Feel that other retro PC games should be on this list? So do I! But there wasn’t room. Below are some other great games I’d have loved to put in my top 7, if 7 meant 45.
Other Great Retro PC Games from the 90’s: