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    20 '90s PC Games That Started Us On Our Gaming Journey

    These games were all that and a bag of chips.

    Growing up I was lucky enough to have had a computer in the house to use.

    Although my mom mainly used it for work during the day, at night, I was playing some of my favorite games. Whether it was some mindless Windows game or an RTS (real-time strategy) game like Command & Conquer, it was a different pace than my usual Nintendo gaming, and I liked it. I compiled a list of some of my favorite games from PC — in no particular order — to see if any of you played these games as much as I did. 

    1. Lemmings (1991)

    Lemmings making their way to an exit
    DMA Design

    A puzzle strategy game with a simple goal: get a certain amount of Lemmings to the exit. Now at times that was easier said than done, as levels got increasingly more difficult and you had to deal with more obstacles to get your green-haired buddies to safety. This led to some interesting route building with the skills the game gives you, but in the end, this game was always fun, even if you saw plenty of Lemmings meet their untimely death. 

    2. Wolfenstein 3D (1992)

    A first person view of a player shooting down a Nazi in Wolfenstein 3D
    id Software

    The predecessor to Doom, Wolfenstein 3D made for a great intro to first-person shooters. A straightforward game of an American spy trying to dismantle the Nazi regime after his prison escape, it was id Software's third installment of the game and at the time the most successful. Like many of the games on this list, you can go back and see how the game holds up now, although I can't imagine not being able to look up or down in an FPS. 

    3. Sim City 2000 (1993)

    An over head view of a city being built in game
    Maxis

    A city-building simulation game that really made the model for future games like it. At the time, it was critically acclaimed for its graphics and gameplay, but it was the details of how your city ran that made this game so engaging. The balance of making sure your city operated in the best interests of its population without going bankrupt was really interesting. Although as a kid I never did well with this game, it was always fun being able to make my own city as I liked. 

    4. Myst (1993)

    A first-person view of the player standing on the dock on the island of Myst
    Cyan

    An adventure puzzle point and click game that dropped players onto the mysterious island Myst with no objectives or clear goals to reach. This leaves you to explore the island on your own and try to solve the mysteries of the island.  I can't remember a game more frustrating for me, seeing that as a kid I just could never get past the beginning portions of the game. 

    5. Doom (1993)

    A screenshot of a space marine in Doom killing two enemies with a shotgun
    id Software

    I remember playing it and just being in awe of the gameplay. It was my first time ever playing an FPS, and I was addicted. Taking on the countless demons and trying to complete each map in its entirety made time pass too fast, and thus my love of first-person shooters began. 

    6. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (1994)

    An overhead view of a beginning base for the humans in game
    Blizzard Entertainment

    While Dune II built the RTS model of building a base, raising an army, and then destroying your enemy, Warcraft really expanded it by allowing for different scenarios like rescue missions or only having a certain amount of forces to attack for a whole mission. This allowed for not only great storytelling but also gave players some challenges when it came to approaching a mission. Of course, this franchise is now known for its massive MMORPG, but it was its RTS games that really set the map for future games. 

    7. Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)

    The title of the game Star Wars Dark Forces
    LucasArts

    It's crazy to think that this game was the first FPS to introduce all the things we need in an FPS now; looking up and down, ducking, and jumping were never a thing until Star Wars: Dark Forces. Not only did it bring us a new way of playing, but the story behind it was just as engaging, as Kyle Katarn, a mercenary, was tasked to steal the plans for the Death Star by the Rebel Alliance. If that sounds familiar, it's because that ended up being the plot to one of my favorite Star Wars movies, Star Wars: Rogue One

    8. Quake (1996)

    a first-person view of the player about to engage in a shoot out with some enemies
    id Software

    An FPS that made for hours of multiplayer mayhem for my friends and me. As the successor to Doom, id Software developed a new game engine that made for real-time 3D rendering, which really stepped up the graphics from its predecessor and also invested in the multiplayer aspect of the game. I never realized Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails was involved with the music, but it makes sense why I was always bopping in all my multiplayer matches. 

    9. Diablo (1996)

    A warrior in a dungeon fighting skeletons in the game Diablo
    Blizzard Entertainment

    One of the many IP's coming out of Blizzard Entertainment, Diablo brought us an action RPG that made for an engaging story involving the titular Diablo as the final boss. After choosing between a Warrior, Rogue, or Sorcerer, you go and cut through waves and waves of demons and monsters while collecting better weapons and armor to be fit to take on the ruler of the underworld. 

    10. Duke Nukem 3D (1996)

    A screenshot of Duke reloading his handgun in a theater
    3D Realms

    Another FPS that I probably shouldn't have been playing as a kid, considering Duke's filthy mouth, but it was the first game I played that had multiplayer where I could kill other players instead of the alien NPC's I was used to. It stole my attention away from Doom, since not only did it allow me to play online, but also, who else is gonna save all the civilians from aliens if I don't? ... Exactly. 

    11. Age of Empires (1997)

    XBox Game Studios

    I remember seeing a friend of mine playing Age of Empires at his place and thinking, I need this game immediately. I was impressed with the advancement through the different ages but also the strategy you had to take with your resources. Once a resource is acquired you have to choose wisely on how you spend it, and man did I make some mistakes before I figured that out. Like many other RTS games, this one had plenty of sequels that improved on an amazing game, but I have to acknowledge the first. 

    12. Half-Life (1998)

    The title screen displayed as you are on a train towards the Black Mesa facility
    Valve

    One of the most highly acclaimed first-person shooters, Half-Life made it a point to try to keep players immersed in the game by cutting out cut-scenes and allowing the story to play out in front of the player in-game. They also upped the ante by making the game a visual masterpiece at the time and made it fun as hell to play as Gordon Freeman, a scientist turned badass.  

    13. Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines (1998)

    An overhead view of a commando having blown an enemy building
    Pyro Studios

    As a fan of the Rambo movies growing up, the idea that I could use a select number of Commandos to take down enemies was a blast, especially considering the tactical element of the game. Each Commando had their specialty and had their own objective in each mission, which meant you had to be on point with all your guys, because if one died then the mission is a fail. 

    14. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (1998)

    Rainbox Six
    Red Storm Entertainment

    Every mission in the single-player campaign started with a briefing that allowed you to map out how you would like other SWAT teams to approach the objective. I was never great at mapping it out, but I loved the stealth portion and being able to take down enemies one by one. The realism of being killed by a single bullet or two made the margin of error that much smaller, which was a great challenge, and like other FPS' on this list, it had an addictive multiplayer. 

    15. StarCraft (1998)

    An over head view of a Terran base in the game StarCraft
    Blizzard Entertainment

    Another RTS coming from Blizzard Entertainment, StarCraft dove into the world of science fiction with players being able to choose from three races, each with their own pros and cons for how many resources it will take to build your army and bases. It was this great balance that had so many people in love with the game, especially when it came to playing online. 

    16. Thief: The Dark Project (1998)

    A first-person view of you sparring with your sword against an opponent
    Looking Glass Studios

    I've always loved stealth games, and this one was no different, set in the Middle Ages with a steampunk flair, you would go and sneak around castles and the city with your blackjack, sword, bow, and array of arrows to get you by. Ultimately your goal was usually simple: sneak in and get your treasure and sneak out. Obviously, that gets more difficult, but with water arrows to take out torches or moss arrows to muffle footsteps, this game always had you strategizing on the best way to approach any situation. 

    17. Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun (1999)

    An overhead view of a base being built in Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun
    Westwood Studios

    Out of all the Command & Conquer games from the franchise, this one stood out the most. It not only beefed up the graphics from the previous games but also featured some notable actors in the game like Star Wars' James Earl Jones and Terminator's Michael Biehn. Whether it's the awesome story progression or the fact that I played this game with my friends for hours, this one is a classic for me. 

    18. Rollercoaster Tycoon (1999)

    Hasbro Interactive

    If you ever want to know what it's like to build and manage an amusement park, then this game is for you. Not only do you get to choose from an array of rides, you also get to hire your staff to run your park and also to keep guests entertained. There was a lot of detail that really made you feel involved and invested in continuing your park's success. 

    19. EverQuest (1999)

    The title screen of Everquest
    Verant Interactive/989 studios

    The first MMORPG that I remember and at the time I didn't have the game to play, but I remember being over at a friend's house and being amazed at the places they could go explore and the quests that had them battle all types of monsters. This game is highly revered for creating the blueprint for how future MMORPGs would function. It's crazy to think that even to this day people are still playing Everquest. It speaks volumes to how devoted fans of the game have been. 

    20. Unreal Tournament (1999)

    The title Unreal Tournament display for the intro of the game
    Epic Games

    With the success of Unreal, Epic Games took their FPS franchise to another level by making the single-player campaign feel like the multiplayer matches fans had fallen in love with. The level design, gameplay, and graphics were already in high regard from its previous title, but this game really put a bow on great first-person shooters leading into the 2000s with its tournament style and an amazing selection of weapons. 

    What were some of your favorite throwback computer games? Let me know in the comments below!