Star Wars: TIE Fighter (LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC, 1994)
The next logical step for LucasArts after the success of X-Wing, TIE Fighter gives you exactly what you expect; huge space battles, in a range of different ships you’re bound to recognize, and a decent set of variety in missions. It really captures the feeling of the political issues of the source material, with some beautiful cutscene art to illustrate it, and there are a ton of missions to play through. If you’re a fan of space combat, this one will keep you busy for a long time.
The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate (Westwood Studios, Inc., 1993)
A funnier, prettier, better designed and tighter game than the first Kyrandia, Hand of Fate is an absolute joy to play. Great animation, no end of creativity and some of the prettiest locations you’ll ever see in a low resolution game make exploring this world a sheer delight. Westwood knew their pixel art, and it’s rarely been more apparent than it is here. One of the genre’s finest.
Duke Nukem 3D (3D Realms Entertainment, 1996)
Explosive, bombastic, gratuitous, self-aware and extremely fun, Duke Nukem 3D is a yardstick which all other shooters can be measured by. Never before had FPS games been quite so vibrant or interactive, and the genuinely fun shooting mechanics and level designs put most other games to shame. Filled with pop culture references, cheeky schoolboy humour and a sense of epic movie set design to the levels, it’s crude but never feels like it’s in bad taste. It’s a classic; just as current today as it ever was. Play it.
Alien Breed (Team17 Software Limited, 1993)
This top down science fiction shooter sees you battling your way through hordes of Alien like beasts, finding keys and completing various tasks in order to clear the base of enemies. You’ll learn to conserve ammo, keys and health very quickly, as the levels demand careful strategy, but there’s a great action game to be found here, and it has a great retro style that’s bound to satisfy any lover of pixel art.
Wetlands (Hypnotix, Inc., 1995)
An on-rails shooter with gorgeous video backdrops, Wetlands is a pulpy science fiction adventure that will have you blasting away at ranks of troops, submarines, spaceships and even blasting down enemy torpedoes. Where it truly shines, though, is in the beautifully animated cutscenes, which do a great job of setting the story in motion. Be warned though, this is a tough game, and it will take plenty of skill with your joystick to make your way through it.
King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! (Sierra On-Line, Inc., 1990)
A marked change in style for Sierra adventures, King’s Quest V introduced stunning VGA graphics which create an excellent sense of atmosphere. Some frustrating puzzles do put a damper on the experience - at times the game is downright unfair or inane, particularly in the very last section - and yet it offers a great sense of exploration and discovery, and for this it’s at least worth playing once. It’s far from a perfect game, but you’ll find some parts in here to like - as long as you’re prepared to weather the weaker sections to find them.
Brutal: Paws of Fury (Eurocom Developments Ltd, 1994)
A vibrant, colourful vs fighter, Brutal shunned the gore of other fighters of the time and focused on a more friendly, light hearted feeling. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of fun to be had here, with a bunch of unique characters and some delightful graphics. It might not have the legacy of other, similar titles, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re keen for some cute, arcadey action.
Eradicator (Accolade, Inc., 1996)
Science fiction shooter action with a bunch of tricks up its sleeve, Eradicator lets you choose between one of 3 characters, drops you in the middle of a station filled with enemies and puzzles and gives you a handful of weapons both familiar and new to play with. Fast paced action, a choice between third and first person POV and some tricky levels - all wrapped up in a great science fiction style. Just don’t be shy of using your automap.
Archimedean Dynasty (Massive Development GmbH, 1996)
Archimedean Dynasty fits somewhere between Subwar 2050 and Wing Commander: Privateer in terms of gameplay - more strategic but less open ended than Privateer, yet less serious and linear than Subwar. It’s an excellent, challenging and beautiful game full of fun writing and excellent combat. Archimedean Dynasty is an action game that manages to tell a story, let you explore and yet doesn’t skimp on quality when it comes to combat, either. Multi-faceted, excellent fun and properly challenging; Archimedean Dynasty is truly glorious.
Reunion/Merit’s Galactic Reunion (Amnesty Design, 1994)
A complex, unique and interesting game of strategy and exploration, Reunion sees you trying to slowly expand your little band of humans’ hold on the universe colony by colony, with the aim of reigning supreme. From a single base on New Earth, you’ll send your satellites and ships across the galaxy, finding new planets and moons, and exploiting the resources of each new find. Despite having a steep learning curve and a complex interface, the depth here is impressive, and the game has absolutely stunning low res graphics and an excellent soundtrack. It’s an interesting game, that will keep you on your toes - just don’t expect conquering the universe to be easy.