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4 Ways Gaming Was Definitely Better in the 90s


4 Ways Gaming Was Definitely Better in the 90s

A trip down memory lane.

For many gamers who have been around the block a few times, we were raised in the gaming heyday of the 90s. Because of that, these gamers very often seem like the nostalgic old folks who won’t stop waxing poetic of the golden years, when everything was perfect and nothing hurt.

But while some of the moments of the 90s – frayed controller cords, deleted save files, and some of the most rage-inducing games of all time – may be less than fun in retrospect, what will never be lost is the reality that being a gamer in the 90s was one of the best times to be alive. Here are some things that every 90s gamer will remember, and hopefully never forget, about this fantastic moment in gaming history.


You Had to Play with Your Friends with Local Co-Op

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Gamers are so frequently spoiled with just how easy it is to play with other people. In the age of MMO-everything, people can click that little matchmaking button and hop into a 10+ player match that is mathematically proven to give you a balanced experience with like minded individuals who are in it to win it. Don’t even get started on MMORPGs, which drop you into a world populated with literally thousands of other gamers to share your space with.

But back in the day, gaming was a very IRL experience. No internet lag, no chat-trolling, no hacking. It was you and your friends, right in front of the TV, in the same room, playing to your heart’s content. Maybe that meant teaming up for a round of Zombies Ate My Neighbors!, maybe that meant duking it out in a heated match of Mortal Kombat, or maybe it meant tag teaming baddies in Jet Force Gemini. Either way, the meaningful moments shared with your friend at your side were unforgettable.

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Of course, this led to some uniquely interesting systems and set-ups. Your pool of gaming talent was much smaller, allowing those who were skilled to rise to the top. While this often resulted in “great, guess we know who’s going to win” moments, there were undeniably awesome moments when someone swept through a Goldeneye game or perfectly played a game of Starcraft. Lugging around PCs to set-up LAN sessions were akin to crafting D&D sessions around a darkened table in the 70s and 80s. And don’t forget the screen-cheating in FPS games. But all these difficulties resulted in some of the best co-op games of all time, which are still fondly remembered to this day.


No Easy Solutions

Games of the 90s were hard. It gets re-emphasized all the time, but for good reason. Re-releases of classic point-and-click adventures like Grim Fandango and The Longest Journey highlight how inane silly some of the puzzles were. Hopefully you had a hard-copy of a strategy guide, or else you were guaranteed to miss more than half of the game’s hidden secrets.

Everyone who played Myst loathes the insanity of the Selenitic Age of Myst, with its endlessly winding catacombs that were almost impossible to traverse. Who knew how to actually do Chocobo breeding in Final Fantasy VII? Don’t even pretend you knew how to solve the piano puzzle from Silent Hill!

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Without an easy resource like GameFAQs, and without an internet full of gamers who have delved into the depths of every game and uncovered every secret before uploading them to YouTube, games were monumental feats and accomplishments, true enigmas of difficulty and confusion that no amount of pounding away at keys could solve. Only dedication, skill, and perhaps a little bit of luck, would get you to the end of Super Mario World or discover the secret to beating Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid.


Arcade Gaming


Another unique trend that was lost in the decline of shopping malls in the early 2000s was arcade gaming. A completely different sphere than the home console, arcades had dominated for years as havens for gamers. Similar to comic book shops, arcades served as a space where everyone was welcome as long as they were good or willing to learn the game.

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These formal arcade games, with classics like Tetris, rail-shooters like the Virtua Cop series, or classic fighting games like Street Fighter allowed people’s all-time records to be immortalized in local gaming fame, with their 3-5 letter name immortalized until someone ousted their record score. Moreover, these arcades are a huge boon to the fighting game community in particular, as the ability to play with so many strangers of so many different skill levels, and the emphasis on the in-person, side-by-side battle of the finest encouraged informal tournaments, leading to the current day’s hugely competitive brawling scene.


A World of Iconically Designed Games

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You may have noticed a lot of name dropping of classic game titles so far, and you shouldn’t be surprised. As far as games that have defined not only a generation, but game’s as a whole, this is the era of games that will be studied for decades to come. From masterpieces like Final Fantasy IV which set the high standard that JRPGs fail to meet even onto this day, the perfection that remains in A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, Resident Evil paving the way for the entire survival horror genre, and Metal Gear Solid teaching us all how to hide inside boxes.

Moreover, games in this era were rarely broken. Knowing that gamers would be shredded by fans if the game with bad reviews in the hottest critical magazines like Nintendo Power or Game Informer, developers spent wild amounts of time perfecting their games, making sure every single bug was squashed before launch. No day-one patches here, because once the game was sent off to distributors, that was the end of the story.

Moreover, this was a time of experimentation, where we saw some of the weirdest and quirkiest games of history. Harvest Moon did Farmville before Farmville was ever conceived. Monster Rancher gave us a reason to hunt down the zillions of CDs we had lying around the house to find those extremely rare monsters. Half-Life innovated the PC FPS shooter by contextualizing it, giving us a fantastic story along the way. And who can forget Command & Conquer which revolutionized RTS, all with cheesy FMV videos to boot. This was truly a time for revolutionary games, many of which still live on in people’s hearts to this day.

About the author

Chris Jecks

Chris is the Managing Editor of Twinfinite. Chris has been with the site and covering the games media industry for eight years. He typically covers new releases, FIFA, Fortnite and any good shooters for the site, and loves nothing more than a good Pro Clubs session with the lads. Chris has a History degree from the University of Central Lancashire. He spends his days eagerly awaiting the release of BioShock 4.
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