We’re deep into the 90s now and creeping towards the latter part of the 16 bit wars. Let’s see what games were the big dogs in 1994.
Some Jim Lee cover art there just to let us know how entrenched in the 90s we are. This is one of those game where the character you play has really impressive animation but it makes for awkward controls like Another World, Flashback or Prince Of Persia. It was developed by the now monstrously famous Blizzard and sees a complex dystopian story (explained in he manual) play out in an action platformer.
34.Biker Mice From Mars-SNES
It’s hard to explain how much I loved this tv show as a kid. It’s the most underrated kids show of the 90s an I always shout it out when I can. Anyway this underrated game is a fun but limited isometric racer that seemed intent on selling me snickers for some reason.
33.Beavis And Butthead-Megadrive
Speaking of cartoons I was obsessed with as a kid……I was watching this religiously at the same age was watching Bike Mice…..I was an odd kid. There was a snes and megadrive version of this game and they differed quite a bit. The snes one was more of a frustrating platformer and this one had more puzzle elements to it. Any game where the premise is you’re trying to get to a GWAR concert is fine by me.
32. The Death And Return Of Superman-SNES
A sadly glossed over beat em up from Sunsoft based on the incredibly popular but overrated comic book story in which Doomsday kills Superman and he….well he returns a while later. You can play as Superboy, Steel and more which is a cool nod to the comics and hey, it’s a fun, story driven beat em up, what’s not to love.
31(Tied). Dynamite Headdy-Megadrive
This Treasure developed action platformer is insanely inventive, creative and fun. Throwing your own head as a weapon against giant robot babies and other insane bosses is just a feast for the eyes and pushes the megadrive hard with it’s speed and graphics.
31 (Tied). Mega Man X 2-SNES
Probably very low for some people as MegaMan has a monster fanbase but I’ve always just found them to be good, enjoyable games, nothing more. I really enjoy the X spinoff series and the snes colurs, sounds and graphics really lend themselves to the characters and the style of gameplay Megaman goes for.
30.Hell:A Cyberpunk Thriller-DOS
Ever wanted a cyberpunk thriller tinged with horror and dystopian themes with the voice talent of Dennis Hopper and Grace Jones?. Well then have I got the game for you?. A fascist government can transport criminals to hell, sometimes they leave them there and other times they bring them back to explain what happened. A rebel group try to overthrow the government who are known as the “Hand Of God” and free prisoners from hell.
29.Spider-Man And Venom: Maximum Carnage-SNES
The dreaded rainbow of LJN are back with a surprisingly solid beat em up based on the inexplicably popular comic. Maximum Carnage as a comic book was the shits and was seemingly only popular because Carnage looked cool!. Anyway the game sees Spidey and Venom team up to stop Carnage and his cronies from terrorizing New York.
28. Wild Guns-SNES
A steampunk gallery shooter from Natsume filled with frenetic action and constant enemy blasting fun. It’s difficult but always a blast to play as you take on humans, robots and all sorts of crazy shenanigans goes down.
27. Killer Instinct-Arcade
For those of you who weren’t there during the mid 90s when fighting games were becoming more complex let me tell what everyone’s obsession seemed to be……..COMBOS. For some reason it was all about hitting combos and Killer Instinct came on the scene with the objective of being entirely made up of massive strings of combos for every character. A gritty aesthetic and combo heavy style made players fall in love for this arcade smash.
26. Street Racer-SNES
A totally underrated gem and the best snes kart racer outside of Mario Kart. Four player action, fun characters like a sumo,a Frankenstein monster, a greaser, an old prospector and more. There’s lots of action and it mixes racing with beat em up action as you try to beat the crap out of your opponents. All that mode 7 snes action comes into play perfectly. The football mode is a blast too.
25. Theme Park-Amiga
One of those games that everyone seems to like and a game that transcends the usual fan with people who would never usual play games sinking loads of time into it. You build an manage your own theme park from buying rides, stalls etc, managing staff and trying to keep the punters happy. It’s addictive and engrossing.
24. Sonic 3 And Knuckles-Megadrive
When you attached Sonic 3 to the Sonic And Knuckles it combined into one big game with all the levels intertwining. Cracking graphics, colourful, lush graphics and the classic fast paced Sonic gameplay are all here but by this point the shine was off a little for me and it was all becoming a bit samey samey.
23. Super Star Wars:Return Of The Jedi-SNES
The end of a trilogy of insanely hard but strangely captivating action platformers based on the iconic movies. Notoriously difficult and very good looking, the major scenes from the movie are represented from Endor to Jabba’s barge and it git vibe that any fan of the franchise will enjoy.
22. The Adventures Of Batman And Robin-SNES
I remember when this was first advertised, I was obsessed with the show and desperate to get the game. My dad took me to the swap shop in Dundee with some games to trade in but he kept ensuring me I was getting ripped off and wouldn’t let me trade!. I convinced him that you just have to take a hit at these kinds of shops and I was more than happy to get rid of the games I had in order to get this one. It turned out to be a good decision as I traded games like Ryan Giggs International Soccer which was a big pile of steamy shite. Anyway it captures the show perfectly and although the megadrive version is also good, I sucked so bad at it that I can’t put it on the list.
21. Sega Rally Championships-Arcade
For a 1994 arcade racing game this was just levels above in terms of visuals and presentation. It looked great and played very smoothly with a unique feature being the ability to drive on varying surfaces which really plays to the whole rally aspect of it. There would always be someone occupying the wee car in the arcade when you saw this cabinet such was it’s popularity.
20. Mickey Mania-SNES/Megadrive
The trend of 16 bit Disney games being quality continues. I loved that this game took you through several different famous Mickey cartoons from over the years. For instance it starts of on a black and white level based on Steamboat Willie and moves on to things like The Prince And The Pauper.
19. Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors-Arcade
A Capcom fighting game with a horror bent? Right up my street and the mascot of the series is Scottish! Our representative in this popular franchise is Morrigan, the mischievous succubus princess who would go on to appear in games like the Marvel vs Capcom series. Anyway it’s typical Capcom fighting fare which is great but with that horror aesthetic it stands out a bit more and as a huge horror fan that works just fine for me.
18. Super Punch Out-SNES
Basically an upgraded version of the NES classic starring a pre-imprisoned Mike Tyson. This one beefs up the graphics, adds new characters but keeps the same fun reflex, pattern recognition style gameplay. I’m a huge boxing fan and good boxing games were hard to come by until the late 90s so the Punch Out series was a real treat.
17. Super Metroid-SNES
Often seen as an all time great for the SNES and topping many lists for the greatest game of the 16 bit era, this action platformer horror game sees gaming’s first true Heroine Samus Aran return to track down the evil alien space pirate Ridley who has stolen an infant metroid for his own nefarious needs.
16. Super Street Fighter 2: The New Cahllengers-SNES
Still fantastic but running out of steam, the millionth iteration of Street Fighter 2 at least had the decency to add some new characters. Most of whom have gone on to become fan favourites like Cammy and Fei Long. Other than that it’s pretty much the same old and it really was time to get moving on to the next in the series. Talk about milking the popularity of a game….jeez.
15. X-Men: Children Of The Atom-Arcade
Capcom at it again with another great fighting game, this time taking on the X-Men who were phenomenally popular at the time due to the cartoon and the 90s comics boom. It even has a plot based on the popular Fatal Attractions comic book storyline and has playable characters like Iceman, Cyclops, Omega Red, Juggernaut and more. It was the first in a serious of increasingly great beat em ups featuring the franchise.
14. System Shock-PC
Ok ok I know this is considered one of the greatest ever and it should be much higher but I’ve just not played it enough to place it higher. It nearly didn’t make this list at all but I felt it had to be here despite my limited play time. A sci fi, cyberpunk classic.
13. Earthworm Jim-Megadrive/SNES
Talk about about a game with personality. Essentially a Saturday morning cartoon come to life which is fun as it actually became a cartoon with the voice talent of Dan Castellaneta. Jim is such a fun character an ordinary earthworm who comes into contact with a super suit that turns him into a superhero. Villains like Queen Slug-For-A-Butt and Princess What’s-Her-Name.
12. Alien vs Predator-Arcade
Capcom are having a hell of a run on this list!. A majorly fun arcade beat em up based on the comic book series that pitted two hugely popular sci fi franchises against each other. You can play as a couple of predators and a couple of colonial marines, one of whom is Dutch, played by Arnie in the Predator movie. The aliens play the role of antagonists in the game and it is an absolute blast to play through.
11. Streets Of Rage 3-Megadrive
Well there’s quite the story behind this one from the western port being messed up with the difficulty level being way higher than the Japanese versions, characters being cut for being culturally insensitive and game in general just seeming to be botched. I still get a lot of enjoyment out of it, particularly the Japanese version but buy does it fall short of the first two. Even the soundtrack, again by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro is bizarrely put together and a far cry from the first two. Still…..for some reason I still really like the game.
10. Doom 2: Hell On Earth-PC
The sequel to the legendary, influential first person shooter is more of the same but with a little more polish and a bunch of new levels. Travel back into hell to kill a bunch of hellspawn while metal chip tunes play. It’s macho nonsense at it’s best.
9. Samurai Shodown 2-Arcade
SNK’s samurai fighting game series returns with pretty much everything improving on an already great game. Hacking, slashing and stabbing was different to most fighting games which were normally hand to hand.The Edo era period setting is also cool and it includes some of the greatest Engrish ever too.
8. Virtua Cop-Arcade
This light gun game was an absolute cracker and I would always play it if it was at an arcade I visited. I remember it being the first arcade machine I ever beat in the late 90s with my pal Rick at a BB camp up in Aberdeen. High fives and hugs all round as we blasted our way through the bad guys to victory.
Namco got in on the 3d fighting game genre with a series that became a massive pop culture behemoth. I remember the hype when it was coming out, it was going to be a real challenger to the Virtua Fighter series and so it proved to be. This first game has aged pretty badly with it’s slow, plodding pace but at the time this wasan exciting moment in the fighting game genre.
6. The Lion king-SNES
Hard as nails but a wonderful, beautiful platformer with great music and levels that represent the fantastic movie brilliantly. Some will get frustrated with the puzzles (that damn monkey level!) but I always enjoyed the challenge. The music to the first level….it’s in the movie too and it’s not a song, it’s incidental music…..for some reason it always made me cry. Even the chip tune on the snes made me tear up, I don’t know what the hell it was about it!. Anyway yea this was a fantastic entry into the impressive 16 bit Disney catalogue.
5. Final Fantasy 6-SNES
Often considered on of the greatest RPGs of all time, the sixth entry into the ultra popular Final Fantasy franchise wowed fans with it’s engrossing story about a group of rebels trying to overthrow an imperialist governmental dictatorship. It truly was a monumental achievement to fit all of this into a 16 bit cartridge.
The legendary Hideo Kojima’s follow up to Snatcher is another graphic adventure that pays homage to all kinds of pop culture, most notably Lethal Weapon. You play a detective who is sent to a space colony to get to the bottom of a murder. In typical Kojima fashion it’s way ahead of it’s time and incredibly ambitious. That ambition sometimes get in the way of gameplay fundamentals but all in all it’s a fantastic and engrossing game.
3. Donkey Kong Country-SNES
The hype for this was off the charts and I know this because I was eagerly awaiting it’s arrival. The magazines and tv shows showing clips and screenshots made it look unbelievable and it’s still hard to believe a game that good looking was on the SNES. Using the fabled silicon chip for it’s stunning looks it impressed everyone at a time when everyone was looking forward to the next generation of consoles. It breathed new life into the character of DK as well because he hadn’t really been seen since the old arcade game but here we had a new take on him with his little buddy Diddy Kong.
2. Beneath A Steel Sky-Amiga
An incredible point and click cyberpunk adventure. It has a serious tone and story but features a typically British sense of humour at times too. It’s all about corruption, a dystopian future, androids and cover ups. I’ve played through this one several times and always get a kick out of it. Everything just clicks (and points) for me. Artist Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame was heavily involved in the visual style.
1 Virtua Fighter 2-Arcade
One of the greatest fighting games of all time. Everything the first game tied to achieve but fell just short due to hardware limitations was rectified and perfected in this brilliant fighter. Instead of going for over the top fireballs and special moves it goes for a more realistic vibe with characters using real fighting styles. So smooth and hard to master but fun to pick up and play.
Another one down. Catch me @swing_kinker until next time. Cheers x