We’re back with the sixth entry in our series on the best games of all time! Since Loresworn has only been around since 2015, but D.M. and T.J. have been having opinions about games much longer than that, we’re embarking on a journey through every year from 1980 to the present, listing our favorite games that came out each year. Every week we’ll be discussing a specific year, listing what we think are the five best games from that year. At the end of this saga, we will look over all the games from each year to create Top 25 Games of All Time lists for each of us, and a grand Top 100 Games of All Time to stand as Loresworn’s final word on the subject!
Be sure to check the last page for the current rankings in the Best Game-lympics, where we will be scoring the current leaders in the Platform, Developer, and Country of Origin categories based on where each of their games place on each year’s list.
Last Week: Best Games of 1994
Next Week: Best Games of 1996
T.J.’s Picks, #5 – #2
5. The Dig
Most of my favorite 90s adventure games are memorable because of their humor. The Dig is memorable because it was just an awesome story. A sci-fi thriller on par with the best Hollywood had to offer at the time (and even now), this point-and-click journey of discovery, horror, and impactful plot twists proved that the medium could present drama and stakes. Its core mysteries and unexpected turns of fortune kept you guessing, and the payoff was worth the ride. In a decade with a lot of competition, The Dig will always stand out from the pack of its genre brethren.
4. Mortal Kombat 3
As with the Sonic franchise, Mortal Kombat really peaked with its third installment. In general, it was just more of everything. More fighters. More finishers. More stages and modes. More obscure secrets to unlock. It’s the definitive and quintessential iteration of the universe and the mechanics, and to this day, my conception of Mortal Kombat lore is still frozen in time in the midst of Shao Khan’s invasion of Earthrealm.
3. Command & Conquer
Dune 2 and Warcraft: Orcs and Humans are both very influential to the emergence of the RTS, but not necessarily games I’d be excited to go back and play today. Command & Conquer still holds up, which makes it not only ground-breaking, but the point at which I feel like the genre had finally been dialed in to just the right specs to signal its maturation and the beginning of its Golden Age. The iconic conflict between GDI and Nod kicked off in spectacular fashion, introducing such brilliant mechanics as the streaming economy and asymmetrical factions. It’s one for the ages.
2. Chrono Trigger
If I had to exclude last week’s champion, Final Fantasy VI, from the running for Square’s best game, there’s little doubt I’d hand that title to Chrono Trigger. As it stands, it’s in the running for the top spot anyway, and only the fact that I have more affection for FF6’s cast relegates it to a silver medal finish. It was such a smart RPG in every way. It actually did a time travel story right, and I normally hate time travel stories due to how poorly most writers handle them. It had an exciting and innovative combat system that even surpassed FF6. It had high stakes, memorable characters, and a breathtaking final act. But the moment that I always go back to, when I really knew that I was playing something special, is less than 10 hours in: When Chrono is put on trial and literally everyone you’ve been nice and/or a jerk to so far is called up to speak to your character. It was an amazing bit of reactive storytelling that gave cues to much that came after it. And the epoch-hopping main plot continued to play with the idea that actions have consequences throughout – something that even modern story RPGs frequently bungle.