The 1990s gave us the Spice Girls, Pogs and Beanie Babies. But it also spawned some of the biggest games brands ever seen. MCV takes a trip back in time
If you were to compare the roster of big games set for release over the next 12 months to a similar list from two decades ago, their similarities may surprise you.
Many of the most successful franchises of the 1990s continue to thrive 20 years on, from Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and Doom to Mario, Street Fighter and Zelda. The decade also saw some of the biggest technological leaps ever experienced by the consoles, with the leap to 3D visuals literally opening up a whole new dimension for developers and the addition of the analog stick paving the way for modern pads.
Tetris kickstarted the handheld domination of the Game Boy, with the title selling over 26.6 million copies during the decade and Nintendo’s hardware becoming forever synonymous with gaming on the go.
Adding to the proof that the ‘90s was the age of the handheld, the second-biggest-selling titles were the first round of Pokmon entries: Red, Blue and Green. Also for the Game Boy, the pocket monster phenomenon spurred the games to 23.5 million global sales by 2000.
Nintendo was also ruling the roost on home consoles, with the Mario series selling well over 50 million units
on SNES and N64. However, the release of Resident Evil and beloved RPG Final Fantasy VII in 1996 and 1997, respectively, established Sony’s inaugural PlayStation as a serious contender for the TV.
This legacy was cemented by the blockbuster launches of Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo the following year, with the latter becoming the best-selling game of all time for the hardware.
These titles and franchises continue to drive the industry forward today.
Metal Gear Solid 5 is set to be one of the biggest gamesof the year, while revamped editions of games released during the 1990s – such as those in the upcoming Rare Replay compilation, the Final Fantasy VII Remake and Super Mario Maker – generating nostalgia and (hopefully) sales figures in equal measure.
Street Fighter T-Shirt – Blanka
Street Fighter’s green giant joined the franchise’s roster in 1991 instalment Street Figher II. This shirt features an artistic take on Blanka designed by New Yorker illustrator Stanley Chow, with the mutant’s name emblazoned in Japanese underneath.
Manufacturer: Yellow Bulldog
Distributor: Yellow Bulldog
Contact: 01482 702 149
Mortal Kombat Raiden Figure
Raiden is one of Mortal Kombat’s most iconic characters, having appeared as a playable kombatant in every game since the first title in 1992. Mezco’s six-inch recreation of the God of Thunder boasts 23 points of articulation, allowing players to reposition him in any of his fighting stances from throughout the series. His hands are interchangable, with a variety of alternate hands, lightning hands and a lightning ball available to swap in and out.
Manufacturer: Mezco Toyz
Distributor: Mezco Toyz
Wipeout Anti-Gravity RacingLeague Sweater
1995 became 2052 thanks to futuristic PlayStation racing title Wipeout. Wannabe pilots can display their love with this top.
Manufacturer: Insert Coin
Distributor: Insert Coin
Contact: 01702 521 850
1991 saw players attempt to save the suicidal Lemmings. They can relive the experience on their fridge with these magnets.
Contact: 01273 23 0037
Made from glazed earthenware, this six-hole ocarina mimics the titular instrument from Ocarina of Time. Time travel not guaranteed.
SRP: $39.99 (26)
Final Fantasy VIISoundtrack Vinyl
The soundtrack to Square’s beloved RPG is pressed onto two vinyl picture discs in this premium set.
Manufacturer: Square Enix
Distributor: Square Enix
Contact: 020 8636 3000
Doom Space Marine Plush
Id Software’s seminal first-person shooter set the stage for every FPS that followed. Fans can celebrate with this plush of the main character.
Manufacturer: The IP Factory
Distributor: Gaming Heads
Sonic Boom: Sonic Seven-InchAction Figure
Sega’s speedy mammal takes flight with this toy. The feet light up when the toy is moved – if players can keep up with Sonic, that is.
Contact: 01271 336 155