While some of the best video game franchises from the ’90s endure today, like Resident Evil, others are somewhat overlooked and deserve a reboot.
By Keith Langston
Published Jun 27, 2021
The ’90s was a wild time in the gaming world. At one point, SEGA was selling three consoles at once, Atari was still in the industry, and multimedia machines like the 3DO and CD-i were sprouting up everywhere. This led to a boom in the market that simply wasn’t sustainable, meaning many of these consoles would soon face defeat.
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However, the ’90s also brought the world some of the best gaming franchises ever. Intense competition?led to intense creativity as every company?clamored for sales. Gamers can thank this decade?for Sonic the Hedgehog, Doom, StarCraft, Half-Life, and more. But there are also excellent ’90s franchises that haven’t survived the test of time and truly deserve a reboot.
In 1994, Gex was released for the 3DO console. The game, which stars a wisecracking gecko, was an action platformer that the 3DO was hoping could compete with SEGA’s Sonic and Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. Because of the jokes in Gex, the game franchise found popularity with older audiences. The final game in the franchise, Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, even cast Playboy model and Baywatch actress, Marliece Andrada, to star alongside Gex.
Many gamers?who never owned a 3DO probably remember playing a Gex game themselves, this is because the game was ported to the Saturn and PS1, and both Gex sequels were released?for PlayStation and N64.
MDK was released for PC, Mac, and PlayStation in 1997. It’s a wonderfully?absurd game that sees a mad scientist force his reluctant janitor, Kurt, to save the world from an alien invasion. To help, Kurt is given the Coil Suit, which allows him to glide. The sequel, MDK2 was released for the Dreamcast and was even wilder.
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In the sequel, gamers?could once again play as Kurt, as well as the mad scientist, who is equipped with an arsenal of odd weapons (like radioactive toast), and even Max, the genetically engineered?dog. The games were well received and are known for their humor, graphics, and outlandish storylines.
In Lemmings, players must guide a herd of lemmings through dangerous terrain. The lemmings will go wherever players tell them to, so it’s up to gamers to navigate proper paths that?result in the least loss of life possible. While the franchise is an extremely fun puzzle game?(and possibly the influence behind Pikmin), it has a tragic origin.
The myth?that lemmings blindly follow their leader, even if it’s off the side of a cliff, comes from a 1950s Disney “documentary” called, White Wilderness. To make the film more dramatic, the crew pushed hundreds of?lemmings off a cliff, claiming that it was part of their natural instinct?to accidentally die en masse.
The Sega Saturn may be a mostly forgotten game console, but it did release some phenomenal titles, one of which is?Panzer Dragoon. What started off as an on-rails shooter in the first game, evolved into an epic RPG by the third game. All three titles are highly regarded, and the third game,?Panzer Dragoon Saga, is even cited as one of the greatest games ever made.
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The series was able to make the jump into the 2000s with Panzer Dragoon Orta, which, despite stunning reviews, is?largely forgotten. However, with the success and hype surrounding the hi-def remasters, it’s clear that gamers want more Panzer Dragoon,?preferably with modern controls, more story, and the RPG elements of Saga.
The platformer boom of the early-to-mid ’90s saw SEGA creating numerous titles to try and compete with Nintendo. One of the Genesis’ platformers was Vectorman. After the release of Donkey Kong Country, which used pre-rendered graphics to create the look of 3D effects, SEGA knew they needed a hit pre-rendered game as well. And while Vectorman never looked quite as beautiful as Donkey Kong Country did, the title?was praised for its fun gameplay.
The game’s eponymous main character used laser blasters and boots with built-in jetpacks, which really helped separate Vectorman from other platformers of the time.
Obviously, Resident Evil is still around. However, the games have changed drastically since the release of the original in 1996. Before?famously?switching to its over-the-shoulder camera style (which has since evolved into the standard first-person perspective), Resident Evil was known for its fixed camera angles.
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This made the games play slower, created tension (and sometimes frustration), and gave the series?an undeniably creepy feel. While modern editions of the game, like Village, are praised almost unanimously, many players are craving a return to that slow-burn feel of the original games.
During the N64 era, Rare was?seen as one of the premier developers for Nintendo, releasing classics like Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, and GoldenEye 007. They also released a truly unique title in 1999 called Jet Force Gemini.?The best way to describe the game would be to imagine if Halo was a playful?Nintendo?title.
Jet Force Gemini?is a shooter set in outer space, but it has the cartoonish, colorful graphics that Nintendo is famous for. It received positive reviews upon launch and has become somewhat of a cult favorite for Nintendo, so much so that the characters have an easter egg in Banjo Tooie and DLC skin packs in Minecraft 360 Edition. Luckily for fans, it was also included in the Rare Replay collection for Xbox One.
Fans of fighting games will surely remember Primal Rage. It was literally released on every major console of the ’90s, from the Super Nintendo to the Genesis/Mega Drive, Atari Jaguar, and more. In the game, players fight as giant dinosaurs and mythical?beasts, competing for world domination. The game was also riddled with controversy over its content, which only increased its popularity with gamers.
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Sadly, Primal Rage was made by Atari Games, and as Atari’s console, the Jaguar, continued to fail, the company soon realized it was the end of the road. Despite the fact that production for Primal Rage II had already begun, after?Atari Games was sold, the new company, Midway Games, canceled the project.
1991’s Another World?is a cinematic platformer that helped revolutionize gaming and was a partial?inspiration for?the pivotal?Flashback: Quest for Identity.?In the game, a physicist is accidentally transported to an alien planet after?one of his experiments?goes wrong.
Another World?was praised for its cutscenes (something revolutionary at the time), excellent theming, and smart puzzle gameplay. Oddly enough, it received a well-reviewed sequel, Heart of the Alien, that was released exclusively for the ill-fated Sega?CD.
Grim Fandango is one of the most lauded games ever, winning numerous awards and being placed on countless “Best Games Ever” lists. However, this title has seemingly been all but forgotten by casual gamers, living only in the memory of hardcore fans.
The game follows Manny, a travel agent to the dead who helps souls navigate the journey of crossing over. However, he soon discovers a nefarious mob that’s rigging the system. Grim Fandango has been praised for its design, story, and voice acting. A remastered version was even released in 2014, but a?reboot or sequel is certainly more than deserved.
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About The Author
(99 Articles Published)
Keith Langston is a writer for ScreenRant, as well as Travel Channel and Passport Magazine. He holds a deep passion for film, travel, and adventure. He fully believes that ‘The Faculty’ is the greatest movie ever made.
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