13 Things Every '90s Gamer Will Instantly Relate To

Over 200 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 13 Things Every '90s Gamer Will Instantly Relate To
Voting Rules
Vote up the best '90s gaming tropes that are no longer around.

Being a '90s gamer is something special; a real badge of gaming honor. If you played any of the best classic video games in the '90s, you were essentially a pioneer alongside companies like Nintendo and Sega, journeying across new frontiers of entertainment. You saw the insane growth of an industry so big that it surpassed film as the most lucrative entertainment form. So if you were unboxing a brand new Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo Entertainment System back in the day, congrats: you're part of the cool kids club.

It's not all about gaming street cred, though. The reality is, many aspects of gaming were just objectively superior back in the good old days. Gaming in the '90s was a time before the over-simplification of video games, a time when you could game on the couch with your best friend, and a time before companies decided gouge you with seedy DLC tactics. Take a look at the list below and vote up the things you miss about the '90s gaming scene.

  • 1
    153 VOTES

    Blowing On Cartridges

    There's a whole bunch of ancient technology that went into making the ye olde gaming cartridges of yesterday produce their 16-bit magic. From time to time, the games would bug out and every kid knew what to do: pop the cartridge out, blow on the insertion slot, then shove 'er back in to watch the game magically spring to life.

    Did you know why this was supposed to fix the problem? Nope. Was there any science to even back it up? Probably not. Was it a fun little bit of easy troubleshooting that's now a long-lost gaming tradition? Yep.

    153 votes
  • 2
    138 VOTES

    Couch Co-op Only, No Online Play

    Couch Co-op Only, No Online Play
    Photo: Konami

    Without the Internet, there was only one way to get your digital kicks with a friend: couch co-op. After school, you and a buddy would sit down and fight over the better controller, who had to be Player 2, and who got to sit in the cooler bean bag chair. It was classic buddy-bonding at its finest, an experience born from the limitations of '90s hardware and the lack of online gaming. It was a blissful, innocent time when gaming was an actual social experience, not just kids sh*ttalking each other from behind anonymous screens and immature Xbox Live gamertags.

    138 votes
  • 3
    118 VOTES

    Flipping Through Paper Instruction Booklets That Are Included With The Cartridges

    In the pre-Internet era, video games would include a paper instruction booklet in the case. The booklet would feature background information on characters, concept art for the game, and a straightforward description of how the controls worked. It was always fun to flip through the booklet and see pictures of what those 8-bit heroes on your screen were supposed to look like. 

    118 votes
  • 4
    114 VOTES

    That Feeling When You Hold A New Game Your Parents Just Bought You From The Store

    That Feeling When You Hold A New Game Your Parents Just Bought You From The Store
    Photo: SEGA

    For a lot of '90s gamers, adults were a necessity in reaching game stores to purchase new titles. This was before the era of digital downloads, so you had to physically go to a store and buy a hardcopy of a game. Then you got to feel the shiny case gripped tightly in your hands as you eagerly waited to put it in your console as you rode a car back home, building minutes, sometimes hours of anticipation, all leading up to that blissful moment when the new game finally appeared on your TV screen. 

    114 votes
  • 5
    129 VOTES

    Getting The Complete Game At Launch

    Getting The Complete Game At Launch
    Photo: Imgur

    No DLC, no season passes, none of that bullsh*t. The '90s were a simpler time, one without the Internet and therefore without modern gaming's "we'll fix it later" mentality. Before the ability to patch games post-release came along and enabled a level of corporate greed the world had yet to meet, games were sold as a complete, fully functional product. 

    129 votes
  • 6
    106 VOTES

    The Insane Difficulty Of The Games

    The Insane Difficulty Of The Games
    Photo: Rare

    If there's one thing that can be unanimously stated about games from the '90s, it's how freaking difficult they were. The industry don't make 'em like Battletoads anymore, where grizzly, grueling difficulty awaited at every turn, and more often than not, the cost of failure was complete erasure of all progress made thus far.

    This stemmed from the fact that most '90s games employed a lives system, meaning you only got a finite amount of chances to best an especially difficult boss before you were kicked out of the fight altogether. Pixel-perfect jumps, impossibly precise attacks, and insane amounts of hand-eye coordination were a gamer's only hope for survival back in the day. 

    106 votes