All the Games From 1995 You Should Still Be Playing

All the Games From 1995 You Should Still Be Playing

While the ’90s is known for its iconic contributions and innovations to the gaming industry, 1995 manages to stand out on its on. It gave us many unforgettable JRPGs, platformers, point-and-click adventures, and real-time strategy games. The year 1995 not only gave us some unforgettable new games and sequels for the SNES and PC, it’s also the year both the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn debuted in North America and Europe.

Almost three decades later, here are the most iconic games from 1995 every gamer should experience.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

©Cover Art for Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Starting off this list is what some consider the greatest video game of all time, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. And it didn’t get that acclaim from nowhere. Within the first several months after its release it sold over one million copies. It was originally released on the SNES in 1995 and then the Game Boy Advance several years later. In the 2010s it was ported for the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U Virtual Console, and Nintendo Switch Online.

While the gameplay is similar to Super Mario World, the art direction and visuals is what makes it so memorable. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island has a creative hand-drawn storybook style that makes the Yoshi series stand out from not only the Super Mario franchise but also from the rest of the industry.

In this prequel, Mario and Luigi are babies being delivered by a stork. But baby Luigi gets kidnaped by the Magikoopa Kamek and baby Mario falls out of the sky onto Yoshi Island. Now Yoshi must carry baby Mario on his back as he tries to recue baby Luigi and return them both to their parents in the Mushroom Kingdom.


©Screenshot of Rayman

Who doesn’t need a retro, colorful platformer to feel like a kid again? Well that is exactly what you get with Rayman. This side-scrolling game has vivid and original 2D graphics, a lively atmosphere, and a challenging difficulty. It was originally released on the MS-DOS, Windows, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation. Over the years it has been ported to the Game Boy Advance, DSiWare, iOS, and Android.

In this cartoon style game, players control Rayman, a hero who must restore the balance to his jolly world and save the kidnapped fairy guardian of the Great Protoon from the evil Mr. Dark. Rayman must travel through six different worlds to free the caged Electoons before he can confront Mr. Dark. These worlds are the Dream Forest, Band Land, Blue Mountains, Picture City, the Caves of Skops and the Candy Château.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger's plucky heroes get the ultimate reward in one of gaming's most meta secret endings.
Chrono Trigger’s plucky heroes get the ultimate reward in one of gaming’s most meta secret endings.

©Artwork from Chrono Trigger – License

There are many iconic Japanese role-playing games from the ’90s and Chrono Trigger is no exception. And it should come at no surprise it was developed and published by Square, known for their JRPGs like Final Fantasy, Mana, and Kingdom Hearts. This time-traveling game was not only the second best-selling game of the entire year, it sold over two million copies in its first two months. While the game was originally releases for the SNES in 1995, it has been ported to the Nintendo DS, PlayStation, Steam, iOS, and Android.

A young boy named Crono makes friends with Marle and brings her to see his friend’s teleportation device. But something goes wrong and Marle is transported not just from one space to another but to the past. Now Crono must not only travel backwards hundreds of years to rescue her but also travel a thousand years in the future to stop an extraterrestrial parasite from destroying Earth. This game brings not only a compelling and complex story, it also has an astonishing thirteen different endings.

Twisted Metal

©Cover Art for Twisted Metal

If you like vehicular combat, post-apocalyptic settings, and dark, campy comedy, then Twisted Metal is the game for you. This commercial success has been praised for its intense action, vehicle variety, free-roaming levels, and fun two-player mode. It is available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

The game takes place on Christmas Eve on 2005. Once a year the “Twisted Metal” competition is held throughout Los Angeles. It is a vehicle battle to the death. The last driver alive gets a single wish granted with no limit on price, size, or reality. The game has six different levels.

Trials of Mana

©Screenshot of Trials of Mana

Here we have another iconic game from Square that everyone should still be playing. Trials of Mana is the sequel to Secret of Mana and the third installment in the Mana series. This game has received high praise for its beautiful story and impressive graphics. While the original SNES game was exclusive to Japan in 1995, recently it got remade for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Set in a high fantasy world, the Mana Tree is dying and the Sanctuary of Mana is in danger. If the Mana Tree dies, the Benevodons, or God Beasts, will reawaken and destroy the world. Three heroes must try to claim the Sword of Mana, seal the monsters into the Mana Stones, and save the world.

Unlike the other games in the series, players can choose between six possible playable characters to form their team of three. Then out of those three they choose which one they will start with and the other two will be playable once they are met.

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness

©IGDB/Wowwiki Fandom

Several years before we had World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMORPGs, we had the Warcraft series. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness was the world’s most commercially successful computer game of the year. The game received enthusiastic reviews and elevated Blizzard closer to the elite gaming studios like LucasArts. It even fueled Blizzard’s rivalry with Westwood Studios’ Command & Conquer series.

This real-time strategy game takes place in the Second War, following the events after the First War in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. The survivors of Azeroth have fled to the kingdom of Lordaeron and the Orcs have decided to conquer it. The game introduces new allies, new capabilities like naval and air units, new resource types, upgradable unites, Fog of War, and more.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

©Cover Art for Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

This JRPG has been praised for its innovative storyline, unique real world and dream world settings, and improved class system. These have led the game to being compared to titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Final Fantasy V. And Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation even beat Chrono Trigger for the best-selling game of 1995. The game was originally released on the SNES in 1995 and was later remade for the Nintendo DS, iOS, and Android.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is set in a medieval world full of knights, magic, and castles. It is separated between the Real World and the Dream World. To travel between the two worlds, players can use special warps, staircases, or falling through mysterious holes. The Hero and his adventuring party face the demon king Dreadfiend Murdaw but they end up overpowered and possibly destroyed. But then the Hero wakes up in his bed and wonders if that was all a bad dream. But some things seem too familiar to have been a dream. The story is full of mystery, action, and trying to distinguish between what is real and what is an illusion.

Panzer Dragoon

©Cover Art for Panzer Dragoon

Panzer Dragoon is the first installment of a well-loved dragon-riding shoot-’em-up series. This rail shooter has been praised for its brilliant 3D graphics, incredible storyline, innovative gameplay, and hard difficulty. It was originally released for the Sega Saturn but later ported for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Windows. And in more recent years it was remade for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Amazon Luna.

Panzer Dragoon is set in the distant future after a war between humans a biologically engineered weapons. Now many humans live in small tribes and know little of their technological past. The Empire gained access to ancient weapons that helped them beat the monsters in the world but now they have become the new conquerors of this world instead of freeing the rest of society. Now it is up to Keil Fluge and his new dragon to stop the Empire’s control.

Command & Conquer

©Screenshot of Command & Conquer

While the ’90s were an amazing time for RPGs, they also brought us an iconic real-time strategy series, Command & Conquer. The game was not only a commercial hit, the series is in the Guinness World Records for selling over 30 million copies as of 2009. The first game was praised for nonstop action, full motion video cutscenes, and high quality in every aspect.

This game is set in an alternate timeline than our own and starts with a meteor crashing in Italy in 1995. The meteor brings an alien substance that absorbs precious metals from the soil and produces toxic gases and radiation. And if that wasn’t enough, there is an ancient, cultic society called the Brotherhood of Nod who want to harvest this substance. These events plus Nod commit terrorist attacks in wealthy countries starts a world-wide war between Nod and the GDI formed by the United Nations. Players who choose to join the GDI campaign take control of events in Europe while players who choose Nod’s side are tasked with securing Africa.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

©Cover Art for Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

It should come as no surprise we have another memorable game from Nintendo for you. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest was one of the best-selling games of the year and retailers could not keep up with the demand. It has been praised for being longer, more graphically impressive, and more fun than Donkey Kong Country. The game was originally released on the SNES in 1995 and was later re-released for the Game Boy Advance and Wii Virtual Console.

After his latest adventures in Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong is relaxing on a beach before he is attacked by Kremlings. Donkey Kong gets kidnapped and brought to Kaptain K. Rool, the pirate alter ego of King K. Rool. It is up to Diddy Kong and his girlfriend Dixie to rescue Donkey Kong from Crocodile Island.


©Screenshot of Phantasmagoria

The year 1995 was an amazing year for gothic horror fans. Made by the same studio as the Gabriel Knight series, Phantasmagoria is a unique point-and-click adventure horror game. It quickly became one of the bestselling games in the United States. It has a darker tone than most games which led to it being a success in the adult gaming market. The game has been praised for its frightening visuals, live action footage, and dialogue as good as a gothic novel. And a year later it got a sequel, Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh.

Adrienne Delaney, a successful author, and her photographer husband buy a mysterious mansion in a small New England town. But it doesn’t take long before the horrors of the house and the previous owner make themselves known. While Phantasmagoria is a 1995 favorite, it does contain dark themes like domestic abuse, animal abuse, and sexual assault.

Castlevania: Dracula X

©Screenshot of Castlevania: Dracula X

Castlevania: Dracula X is considered one of the best traditional Castlevania games of all time. It holds its own with impressive graphics, a brighter color palette, and a challenging level of difficulty. This remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is a fantastic 2D linear action platformer, even for those who played the original. The game was released on the SNES in 1995, three years after the original.

This platformer is set in medieval Transylvania several hundred years after the heroic Simon Belmont sealed Count Dracula away. But somehow, the evil Count Dracula has been revived and is feasting on innocents in the night to rebuild his strength. Players control Richter Belmont, Simon’s descendent. To lure Richter into his lair, Dracula kidnapped his girlfriend Annet and her sister. It is now up to you to not only save them but also defeat the evil count for good.

The game has three different endings depending on who you choose, or manage, to save. And for gamers who enjoy unique cheat codes, Castlevania: Dracula X has a creative way of implementing them. Instead of your usual button-mashing, passwords can be entered by clicking on objects like holy water, axes, hearts, and fire in different orders in the “Password” menu.

Tekken 2

©Screenshot of Tekken 2

If all of these RPGs and RTS games weren’t enough, 1995 also brought us the arcade game Tekken 2. This fighting game is the second installment in the Tekken series. Tekken 2 was not only major success in Japan but also a worldwide hit. The game has been praised for its fluid character movement, complex move sets, detailed graphics, and practice mode. It was later ported for the PlayStation in 1996.

The game has a whopping 25 fighters to choose from, including a genetically-altered boxing dinosaur, an animal rights activist, a Hong Kong cop, and taekwondo practitioner who participates in the tournament to challenge Marshall Law.

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

©Cover Art for The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight® Mystery

The iconic Gabriel Knight series is full of suspense and adventure point-and-click games, and The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery is one of them. What makes this installment stand out is its designed like an interactive movie. It was produced entirely with full-motion video. While the game may not have been a major commercial success, it was praised by critics for its impressive gameplay and storyline, blend of fantasy and real history, fleshed out female leads, and unparalleled degree of realism for an adventure game in the 90s.

Our favorite horror novelist from Louisiana has left his bookshop behind and taken over his family’s ancestral castle in Germany. While he may have written a bestseller novel, he once again has to focus on stopping the supernatural from terrorizing the locals. This time he must uncover who the werewolf is and stop the Black Wolf curse before it is too late.

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