The Best Video Games Released in 1990

The early 90’s was a genuinely game-changing era for video games, with more powerful consoles delivering better graphics and allowing developers more gameplay creativity. We take a look at some of the best titles from the year that both kicked off a entire decade of progressive gaming, and saw the release of some classic titles on older platforms.

Super Mario Bros. 3

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Super Mario Bros 3 was released worldwide on 12 February 1990.  Super Mario Bros 3 was developed and published by Nintendo for Nintendo Entertainment System. The game itself continued the mechanics of the Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 2 with some additional elements like spin jump and “float” with the aid of special items. Super Mario Bros 3 was super hit, and even after 27 years, it is the 3rd Best Selling Nintendo Entertainment System video games by sales.

Mega Man 3

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Mega Man 3 was developed by Capcom for Nintendo Entertainment System and PlayStation. The game was released in the last quarter of 1990, and Mega Man 3 was a huge success for Capcom, selling more than 1.17 million copies. Mega Man 3 continued the gameplay style of Mega Man and Mega Man 2 along with additional elements like slide “maneuver” ability to slip under enemy attacks and low-level barriers.

Super Mario World

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Super Mario World, developed by Nintendo for Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy Advance, was the latest installment of the insanely successful Super Mario series . Super Mario World alone sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. The game has the similar mechanics of Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario Bros 3. There are total 96 levels in the game, visiting overworld, castle and underwater environments long familiar to Nintendo and Super Mario fans.

Dragon Quest IV

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Dragon Quest IV is an RPG game Developed by Chunsoft and published by Enix. Dragon Quest IV was the fourth installment of the Dragon Quest Video game series. Dragon Quest IV followed the mechanics of the previous installments with some additional new features like “Tactics” which is artificial intelligence system allows the player to provide the strategies to the part members. The “Wagon” was also introduced in the Dragon Quest IV which was part of the Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI.


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F-Zero is a Futuristic racing video games developed and published by Nintendo for Super Nintendo Entertainment System and is alleged to be the fastest 16-bit game ever developed. The game was certainly fast and fun to play, as you battled it out at crazy high speeds while avoiding obstacles such as land mines and slip zones.

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

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Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse is a platform game developed and published by Sega for Sega Genesis, released on November 20, 1990. In the game, Mickey mouse enters the castle to rescue the Minnie Mouse from an evil witch named Mizrabel. Mickey Mouse visits several fantastical worlds to obtain the 7 rainbow gems required to build the rainbow bridge to the castle tower.  Mickey uses the “Bounce” and throwing apples and marbles to attack different enemies.

Military Madness

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Military Madness is a sci-fi themed, war strategy game developed and published by Hudson Soft for TurboGrafx-16. In Military Madness the player controls the Allied-Union forces against the Axis-Xenon forces as they battle it out on the surface of the moon! Receiving the “Best War Game” award in 1990, the game was reasonably well received, but its importance also lies in the influence it had over games such as Dune II  and games from the Nintendo-affiliated Intelligent Systems developers.

Act Raiser

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Act Raiser is a platform game developed by Quintet and developed by Enix for Super Nintendo Entertainment System in December 1990.  The main character of the game is “the Master”; The Master returned to the world to restore peace and defeat the evil forces, but sends “the angel” (which is also controlled by the player) to each environment to do the dirty work.


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Splatterhouse is an arcade game developed and published by Namco. Splatterhouse is inspired by the likes of Friday the 13th and Evil Dead II. The player controls Rick as he tries to save his girlfriend Jennifer and escape a mansion packed to the brim with nightmarish creatures and traps.


Arguably, not every game on this list represents the peak of what gaming could be, even in 1990. However what this list does represent is a collection of titles that pushed older hardware to the limit, took advantage of powerful new consoles, or paved the way for themes that would go on to define video gaming in the 90’s.

  • Limit Break

    good one.

  • Aaron Allen

    Mario 3 was 1988

    • Carl Houghton

      In Japan it was, but in the US and EU it was 1990. I’m all for recognising OUR own release dates so bravo Jonny boy!