1993 was a golden year for video gaming. Cool Spot, Secret of Mana, Mortal Kombat II, and Doom were among the hits released 26 years ago. But what about 1994? There are way fewer lists about the cool games released in that year, and that’s a heinous crime because 1994 was an equally awesome year for video games. OK, so there was less choice than 1993, but the games that did make the list were of a very high standard and deserve to be recognised.
So, to prove this point we’ve taken a look back at every game officially released 25 years ago, and compiled our list of just some of the Incredible Retro Video Games That Were Released In 1994. There are others, and we’re damn sure you’ll let us know about them in the comments, but for now here’s our list – presented in no particular order.
20. DOOM II
Doom was one of the coolest games of 1993, so it was a safe bet that Doom II would be just as good if not better. Well, id Software didn’t disappoint. In fact, they just gave us Doom with even more Doom thrown in to make it even Doom-ier than the first Doom. It wouldn’t be until 2004 that the Doom franchise would be completely reinvented, but that’s a story for another day.
19. DONKEY KONG COUNTRY
Cashing in on the 3D craze, which was sweeping the world of gaming in the mid-1990s, Nintendo released the now iconic Donkey Kong Country as a way to keep its head above water following the sudden influx of superior Sega titles. In doing so, they created one of their very best titles and breathed new life into the Donkey Kong character, who had really only ever been known for his barrel throwing antics in the original arcade game.
18. SONIC & KNUCKLES
Sonic & Knuckles was originally intended to be one complete game with Sonic the Hedgehog 3 but instead found itself being a stand-alone release, that also acted as an add-on feature which let you play both Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3 solely as Knuckles. It was a genius way to keep Sega ahead of Nintendo and introduced the world to a truly kick-ass character.
17. SUPER METROID
After 8 long years, the ultimate Metroid game finally landed on a console worthy of its design and it delivered on every level. With its boundary-pushing visuals, jaw-dropping level design and badass end boss level, Super Metroid was easily one of the greatest games ever released on the Super Nintendo.
16. EARTHWORM JIM
Earthworm Jim – a super suit wearing earthworm – was one of the very best gaming titles of the 1990s. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it was one of the very best platformers ever made. Even in 1994, the cartoony graphics were impressive, and the gameplay suitable difficult enough to keep you guessing. The premise is absolutely bonkers, and we love it. In fact, we love it so much we wish it could be ported to the Nintendo Switch right this very second.
15. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 3
Sonic the Hedgehog was as essential to the 1990s as flannel shirts and hightop sneakers. In fact, despite how it might seem to today’s gamers, Sonic was a GIANT of the gaming industry, who for the longest time truly rivalled Mario for the number one spot. Of course, the moustachioed plumber would win the console war, but it didn’t stop Sega from chucking out some really great titles and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was one of the best. Improved graphics, sound and gameplay make this one of the very best video game sequels ever made, and when combined with Sonic & Knuckles it was something else.
14. THEME PARK
For some reason, in the mid-90s, the very idea of being able to design and operate your very own theme park was just mind-boggling. So much so that when EA decided to release a video game about that very idea, it became one of the biggest selling games of the year and is as iconic today as it was 25 years ago.
The game was absolutely genius. You could design kick ass rollercoasters that made your visitors puke, or ghost trains that scared them silly, as well as throw in tons of salt to your food so that the punters had to pay your extortionate prices for drinks. It was everything the young entrepreneurs of 1994 could have ever asked for in a game – and there was absolutely no way you could end up in prison for doing it as it was only a game. Well, that’s what we thought anyway!
13. SUPER STREET FIGHTER II: TURBO EDITION
Imagine getting Street Fighter II: Turbo Edition for your SNES, and being lucky enough to have the Turbo pad with it? Holy shit – that made you almost unstoppable as a player, and guaranteed you a victory over any of your dumb friends who only had the regular gamepad. Street Fighter II is the very best fighting game on the market and the 1994 Turbo Edition which hadoukened its way into the arcade was the pièce de résistance as far as upgrades go, even blowing the SNES version from 1992 out of the water.
12. LITTLE BIG ADVENTURE
There’s no denying, Little Big Adventure is one of the ugliest looking games ever conceived, but if you can get passed its hideous exterior then you’re in for a real treat. Players take on the role of Twinsen, a dude who’s been having nightmares about the end of the world. News of these visions soon reaches the evil Dr. FunFrock – the guy in charge – who locks you away in an asylum to keep you quiet. From there you must escape your prison, and set off out into the world to bring down FunFrock and reveal the truth to the world.
PC Gamer named Little Big Adventure the 37th best PC game ever in 1997, although it initially bombed outside of the UK and Europe. Time has not been kind to its look, but it’s still an essential title that pretty much sums up gaming in the 1990s.
In my career as a writer, I have never been able to talk about Tekken without mentioning how good I was when I played it in the arcade, and how my undefeated streak was well and truly snapped by my sister in an arcade in Skegness. Well, not this time. Nope. This time I’ll talk entirely about the game and leave my humiliation out of it.
Oh, wait. Nevermind.
10. MEGA MAN X
The Mega Man games have always been incredibly popular, so when in 1994 the little Blue Bomber found his way onto a powerful gaming system like the Super Nintendo it was no surprise that it sold a stack of units.
Capcom stuck to their tried and tested formula, simply opting for some killer graphics and a buzzing soundtrack instead of tweaking too much of what had always worked for the character. Several sequels would follow, but Mega Man X would always be the blueprint for how to upgrade a gaming property for the next generation of console.
9. THE KING OF FIGHTERS
Capcom was the undisputed king of the fighters for most of the 1990s, but there is always an exception to every rule, and in 1994 SNK released the actual King of Fighters video game and blew … or rather flying uppercutted everyone else out of the water.
8. FINAL FANTASY VI
In 1994 Squaresoft released the epic Final Fantasy VI for the Super Famicom, and in doing so rewrote the rule book on what people should expect from a JRPG. Final Fantasy VI was like a sprawling Hollywood epic condensed down into a 16-bit cartridge – complete with an unforgettable score, a story you could really sink your teeth into and about as much heart as someone can give without being declared legally dead.
7. SIM CITY 2000
As a kid in the 1990s, there was nothing more fun than throwing on Sim City 2000 and building a fully functioning and thriving mega-city, complete with working electricity and water, and a flourishing industry sector just so that you could destroy it with an alien invasion or flood.
6. SUPER STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI
Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is an insane look at Luke Skywalker’s rise from scruffy little farm oik to the GREATEST JEDI OF AAAALLL TIME. The game is actually only loosely based on the movie because as far as anyone in the TBG office can remember, Luke, Han, and Chewbacca didn’t indiscriminately kill anything that moved in the film. In fact, this is more like Pulp Fiction and Star Wars had a baby. It’s a shame Mace Windu wasn’t available because he’d have been the perfect fit to base this game on! Does he look like a bitch? Then why are you trying to Force Choke him like a bitch?
There’s this guy I know who still talks about how good Snatcher is (not was), and how it should have been the biggest video game of all time but people are stupid and didn’t go out and buy it. Although this sentiment isn’t shared by this writer, there’s no denying how good Hideo Kojima’s adventure opus truly is/was.
Snatcher had a cyberpunk feel that was very reminiscent of Blade Runner, in which so-called Snatchers – humanoid robots – have been killing off prominent humans and replacing them in society. It was released for numerous consoles but was predominantly featured on the Mega CD, a console that sadly failed to take-off with most Western gamers. This made it more of a rarity to find someone who had a copy and a big reason why it sells on eBay for an insane amount of money in 2019.
4. ALIEN Vs PREDATOR ARCADE
Whoever decided to make a beat-em-up in which you could control Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character from the Predator movie and have him lay the smack down on a Xenomorph deserves to have a promotion. Or a pay rise. OK, we’ll settle for an office with a nice view. Seriously though, the AVP arcade fighter is a breath of fresh air for a franchise that is horribly oversaturated with first-person-shooters.
It’s really hard to say anything bad about Earthbound. Not only because it’s a pretty flawless video game, but also because the rabid fanbase would tear us a new a-hole if we did.
2. TOEJAM & EARL IN PANIC ON FUNKOTRON
We’re cheating a bit here because the second Toejam & Earl title was technically released in late 1993, however it didn’t reach the UK until 1994 and therefore qualifies for our list.
Following on from the 1991 classic, Panic on Funkotron follows the titular heroes back to their home planet, only to find that some no good nasty humans have stowed away on their ship and begun wreaking havoc. It is down to Toejam and his buddy Earl to hunt them down, squish them into jars and send them hurtling back to Earth.
Some folk criticized the sequel for being too big a departure from the original, but those people need to get a life. Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron is a fun, colourful platformer that perfectly epitomises the type of games everyone wanted to play in the mid-90s.
A new Toejam & Earl is in development as we speak, and quite frankly we’re wetting the bed with excitement.
1. X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM
You’ve got to hand it to Capcom. When they’re on form, by gum are they on form? And in the 1990s they were hitting it out of the park constantly. One such example was 1994’s X-Men Children of the Atom, which was a wicked arcade fighter pitting the Marvel heroes against some of their most notorious villains.
The game looked like a comic book, and even after being ported to the Sega Saturn from the CPS-2 hardware, it maintained everything that made it so good. Capcom would cannibalise most of the game with many of its future titles, but none came as close to the sheer excellence of Children of the Atom – and to be honest, nothing has come close since.
So, what were your favourite games from 1994? Did your favourite make the list? Let us know what we should have been playing in the comments section below, or over on our Twitter and Facebook pages using #TBG1994