Back in the mid '90s, gaming was going through a growth spurt, if you will, as we were slowly being introduced into what was deemed 'the next generation' of gaming. At the time, we probably thought that there was no way it could get any better than our Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and even the NeoGeo consoles (We were so wrong, but that's for a different article). The gaming world in the mid '90s was populated by gamers in awe of the rapid transition from 16Bit gaming to 32Bit and eventually to 64Bit.
A bit refers to how much memory a device/CPU can access at any given point, and it's not quite as simple as just doubling from 16 to 32 to 64 like most would probably assume. Moving through the Bit levels allowed for an exponential growth in ability to develop and bring new facets to gaming in general.
With the huge uptick in processing power, the consoles released in the mid to late '90s were all the craze, and it's understandable that the classic consoles we once loved so dearly (SNES, Genesis & NeoGeo) faded from our memory once we had the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64 & Sega Saturn. Yet, just because we have new consoles, that doesn't mean that the games on our classic systems are any less amazing. Here are the 10 games that you probably forgot that you once loved.
10. Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
This game is what earned a North American release for every future Final Fantasy game. FFVI offered a whopping 14 playable characters (Terra, Locke, Celes, Edgar, Sabin, Cyan, Shadow, Gau, Setzer, Mog, Gogo, Umaro, Strago and Relm) as well as introduced a story that was far beyond every other RPG that was currently available. It's sometimes overshadowed by the appeal of FFVII, Final Fantasy VI brought us an incredible game that was an insurmountable reason for the franchises success over the years.
9. Mega Man X (SNES)
Although it isn't one of the first Mega Man games to be released, it is often considered one of the best. Mega Man X switched things up and introduced new elements without losing what made the original games true classics. Mega Man X also toned down the baldness-inducing (from the hair-pulling) difficulty while adding special weapon charging, wall-jumping and dashing, all in an effort to make you feel like you were the ultimate bad-ass in this unique dystopian world.
8. Contra: Hard Corps (Sega Genesis)
The Contra series have always held a special spot in many gamer's hearts, and this iteration is no different. Contra: Hard Corps combined all of the non-stop shooting gaming with the addition of 4 NEW characters to select from as well as branching missions and alternate endings. With each playthrough you could find a different path and ending, which infinitely increased re-playability. It was a simple game, but that's part of its beauty.
7. Super Metriod (SNES)
The enormous world of Zebes hid many sinister secrets and separated the men from the boys (countless hours of wall jumping and practicing secret moves). Super Metroid was a slick game with great controls, unbelievable weapons and upgrades; yet there was so much more to it than a simple action-adventure platformer. It is as if Super Metroid is the perfect amalgam of the vast loneliness of the Alien franchise melded with The Man With No Name (see: Clint Eastwood circa 1964 - 1966).
6. Earthworm Jim (Sega Genesis)
Gaming is all about entertainment, if a game isn't entertaining - it's likely to be tossed aside and forgotten faster than it took to rip the cellophane off the case. So when you find a game that is genuinely funny, it's really rare to have fun playing it as well. Earthworm Jim is one of those games that finds the perfect balance of playability, humor and strangeness. In the standard platform plot, you find yourself racing in space against a psychotic crow, then you try to prevent a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-esque puppy from tearing you into pieces. Pretty standard for a platform game, yet it never felt like a gimmick, it felt natural and it's why it is still one of the best platformers ever.
5.Mortal Kombat II (Sega Genesis)
The sequel to the original classic took the first and basically super-charged it. MKII introduced a much more varied gameplay as well as more characters in a solid fighting game. This is often regarded as the best in the series of Kombat games, and it's well deserved. MKII delivered a solidly addictive fighting game with just the right amount of silliness for button mashers (like me with Scorpion - "GET OVER HERE!!") and the diehard purists alike.
4. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Everyone's favorite ape joined the gaming world and ultimately took it by storm. And why wouldn't he, considering that he's a giant ape who rides a rhinoceros and beats up on alligators? Donkey Kong was one of the best SNES games to push the system to the limits with pseudo-3D graphics, co-op play and a ton of level variation. As a side-scroller, Donkey Kong Country introduced us to a brave new world and ultimately put Rare (the developer) on the map to eventually bring us GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark.
3. Super Mario RPG (SNES)
This is the ultimate "shouldn't work but absolutely does" game, and it caused countless players to lose themselves into the game. Developed by Square (the RPG kings) Super Mario RPG introduced us to a new understanding of the Mushroom Kingdom. Rather than the simple side-scrolling adventure that we were accustomed to, we found our hero Mario teaming up with his mortal enemy Bowser in an attempt to save the world. Super Mario RPG gave us a whole new dimension (pseudo-3D) to explore and a battle system that added layers to what we've seen in other similar games. Yet, we never lost the jumping and brick-smashing tradition of other Mario games.
2. Sonic The Hedgehog Series (Sega Genesis)
Who would have thought that a blue hedgehog that runs, jumps and spins would have found such incredible success on a game console? Well, that's exactly what our beloved Sonic did. Sonic was more than just a series of games, to many gamers, it defined their entire generation. Sonic introduced something that Mario didn't have on the SNES, speed, and not just generic speed it was fluid. The fact that you could blast through entire levels in mere moments was thrilling compared to the standard walk and jump, and it revolutionized platform gaming.
1. Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES)
There's really no way to do justice in describing this Zelda game. Your quest takes you across countless miles and two world, as well as introduces several aspects that would become staples in future games (hook shot, master sword, spin attack and of course the pink-and-white dress). The boss battles were challenging, the dungeons were well crafted and the combat was simple and elegant. All in all, Zelda: A Link To The Past was a demonstration of how imagination and ambition could be combined into one breathtaking game.
Gaming in the '90s was far from relegated to only these few games. But within these 10 games there is probably at least one that you now remember you used to love (possibly still do). Hopefully, the nostalgia is coming back, and if you happen to be like me, you'll pull out your older system and revisit these classic games.