Board games have seen an increase in popularity in the last decade, but the 90s are often considered the peak of board game culture. We have found that some of our favorite board games we play today are actually considered some of the best board games of the 90s.
With the introduction of Saturday morning cartoons and the birth of the Spice Girls, you’d be forgiven for looking back and reminiscing on the culture that the decade provided. But what about all those board games we used to play (and might still play today)?
With their clever marketing and catchy TV commercial jingles, it’s no surprise that more and more people are taking to the Internet and buying all their favorite board games from back in the day.
The Best Board Games of the 90s
In this list, we’ll take you on a trip deep down memory lane and pick out the top 5 board games the 90s had to offer.
Best of all? You can still get your hands on them today!
Atmosfear was originally released back in 1995 and is often seen as a spin-off of the 1991 horror game “Nightmare” which required the use of a VCR player.
While Nightmare is perhaps more nostalgic to some, we think Atmosfear is a much more playable game in the 21st century. Nevertheless, they didn’t ditch the video format completely, instead opting for a DVD experience.
Still sticking with the horror theme, Atmosfear gameplay involves having to obtain a total of six keys, one from each section of the board prior to making your way to the Well of Fears in the middle.
When you reach the Well of Fears, you must try to get your fear from other players in the game to win.
But there’s a catch: you must complete the game within 49 minutes in order to win. If nobody manages this, all players will automatically lose. The game is hosted by the Gatekeeper, a hooded demonic-looking man that appears on your screen when you push play on the DVD.
While the Gatekeeper is there to guide you, he’s also there to cause problems and throw you off your path at times. He also comes armed with plenty of puns and jabs to keep players on their toes.
Atmosfear is by no means a relaxing game and the horror aspects, while somewhat outdated, are still creepy enough to make your skin crawl and get everyone’s heart racing. Players must rush to take their turn and rid themselves of the dice before the Gatekeeper invades the screen and presents them with consequences and problems.
Atmosfear can be played with 3-6 players and due to the horror aspects of the game, it shouldn’t be played by anyone under the age of 12 years old.
Due to the nature of the gameplay, this game is most suitable for extroverts and those who won’t mind meeting mummies, vampires, and other creatures and ghouls along the way.
While the concept of Atmosfear was considered cutting-edge in its day, it’s best enjoyed today for nostalgia. If you’re looking for a modern equivalent, we recommend checking out the updated version that has smartphone compatibility.
- Detailed and easy to understand instructions included
- Fast-paced entertainment makes it perfect for parties
- Quick gameplay is limited to a maximum of 49 minutes
- This game requires the use of a DVD player
- Atmosfear Interactive Board Game with DVD
The Settlers Of Catan, now sometimes shortened to just Catan, first hit the shelves back in 1995 and has sold a whopping 18 million copies since. It’s manufactured by Mayfair Games and it has won a whole host of awards in its time, and it’s easy to see why.
Catan sits deservingly among the most popular and celebrated board games ever made, most likely thanks to its strong appeal to experienced gamers as well as those who aren’t usually huge fans of tabletop games.
The game has undergone various adaptations throughout the decades including deluxe collector’s editions, travel editions, and even a beginner-friendly version.
But it’s important to note that even the standard version is suitable for those new to the game, thanks to the detailed instructions. Nevertheless, it always helps to have at least one player present who is familiar with the game.
By constructing villages, cities, and roadways, players attempt to establish themselves as the dominant power on the territory of Catan. Every round, dice are thrown to see what supplies the island generates.
Players construct by spending resources represented by these resource cards, which include animals, grains, timber, brick, and ore.
Each territory form, excluding the fruitless desert, generates a given resource: hills yield brick, woodlands yield timber, mountains generate ore, grasslands produce wheat, and farms produce animals.
A round involves drawing a development card, tossing the dice, gathering resource cards linked to the result and location of buildings or cities unless a 7 is scored, handing in resource cards for upgrades, trading cards at a dock, and trading resource cards with your opponents.
If a 7 is scored, the current player advances the thief to a new hex tile and collects resource cards from opponents who have constructed projects on that tile.
Points are earned through constructing colonies and cities, possessing the greatest roadway and army, and collecting special development cards which award bonus rewards. When a player has accumulated 10 points, he reveals his total and declares victory.
- The durable tabletop board that can withstand decades of gameplay
- Simple enough for youngsters but complex enough to keep adults entertained
- The attractive design is eye-catching and color-coded for easier play
- This game is pretty expensive in comparison to other tabletop games
- Players: 3-4, Time To Play: 90 Minutes
- Dimensions: 9.25" H x 11.5" W x 3" D, Ship Weight: 2.098 pounds
- The Settlers of Catan is fun, easy to learn, and keeps advanced players on their toes
- English (Publication Language)
Countless people regard this game as quintessential ’90s nostalgia. Investing several hours as a child attempting to pull the wool over their opponents’ eyes in order to keep their character alive.
13 Dead End Drive is a traditional 1990s dice throw and move game where everything has to be up to luck.
The game’s idea is that wealthy Aunt Agatha has died with no heirs, so her pals and even her cat must work out who gets the money before the investigator reaches the house to read her will and testament. There are several ways to win, the most important of which is to survive.
13 Dead End Drive is a 2-4 player game in which you move more than 1 token per round while attempting to deceive everyone else into falling into traps. The portrait over the mantle shows who is the current favorite to win the game, but the secret is to leave well before the picture changes.
The method in which traps are triggered is what truly distinguishes this game from many of the board games available today. It is a 3D board game in which you actually trigger traps to see what occurs and how it affects the character token. It’s so much more fun to see it rather than just imagine it!
This game’s design is fairly different compared to that of recent games, which is acceptable given that it was created in 1993. Given this, it is possible that it will not appeal to all. It bridges the gap between nostalgia and families with kids admirably.
But it’s not a game you’d pull out for a game night with pals. It’s a lot of fun and will make you laugh as you play it. It’s also fantastic for Halloween!
- Interactive elements provide an immersive experience
- This game is powered by luck rather than strategy, making it ideal for kids
- Well-made game board, cards, and pieces mean it will withstand wear and tear
- A maximum of only 4 people can play this game
- Great Family Game
- Classic Game From 1994
- 3 Ways To Win The Game
- Number Of Players: 2 To 4
In our opinion, creating clay models, painting images, and making strange noises is far more entertaining than Trivial Pursuit.
Every one of these ideas had been used before in some other board games in one way or another, but Cranium was able to incorporate all of these elements into one crazy game.
It attracted such a wide variety of people and age groups that it was typically very easy to convince the entire family to participate.
Cranium is a 4-16 person family party board game made by Hasbro in which teams of participants must perform a variety of activities in several locations to win the match.
In order to advance to the center “Cranium,” players must navigate across the board, doing various actions based on the color of the area they are in.
To take the victory, a team must execute a final task chosen by the other team while in the center “Cranium” spot.
Cranium players begin the game on a purple square, which enables the team to select their task. The card will be drawn and spoken out by the team to the right side of the current team.
The game continues, with each team executing the appropriate task based on the place they are in and traveling around the table. The very first team to reach the “Cranium” zone in the middle must perform one extra activity of the other team’s choosing.
If they are victorious, they win the match; but if they are not, they must try again the following round. Ultimately, it’s a great party game intended for the non-gaming audience that gamers may also appreciate.
It’s cheerful and amusing, and it makes a lot of people laugh. The 4 categories keep things interesting from round to round, and the cards are diverse. This may be a great game to play with the right circle of family and friends, and we’d definitely recommend giving it a try.
- This game is very cheap compared to other options on this list
- It includes over 600 cards making it perfect for repeated gameplay
- This game is a team effort so it is ideal for party settings
- Some of the question cards are pretty difficult, especially for kids
- Players can show off their talents
- Move around the board completing activities in 4 fun categories
- Featuring word play, sketching, sleuthing, acting, and more
- Play in teams
- Includes 600 cards, 4 movers, Cranium Clay, timer, die, 1 notepad, and instructions
If you were a child in the 90s, you’ll definitely remember the game MouseTrap. While it was originally produced in the early 1960s, a reissue in the 1990s allowed this nostalgic game to be introduced to practically every family’s arsenal.
Throughout the decade, Milton Bradley produced clever advertising for Mouse Trap, and although there are no current advertisements for it, Mouse Trap is still available in stores 58 years after its initial debut.
Mouse Trap sets 2-4 gamers as mice against each other as they strive to traverse a sophisticated mousetrap. While they navigate their mice all across the board, they construct the Rube Goldberg-style mousetrap.
Mice also attempt to gather cheese cards that enable them to send other mice players to the cheese wheel, which serves as the trap’s lure. When the mousetrap is full, players can try to catch one another’s piece in it by spinning the crank, which initiates the mousetrap.
If the contraption does not break, the rodent is caught and removed from the game. The very last mouse to avoid getting trapped is the champion and takes the victory.
Hasbro has brought out newer editions of this game since the 90s, but we’d strongly advise getting the original version we’ve linked above if you want the full nostalgic experience, and reviewers on Amazon seem to agree.
The mousetrap, which is a fantastically intricate mechanism, is the major attraction of Mouse Trap. Even small children can work out how to put it together from the designs on the board, and everyone likes watching it work its magic.
- This original edition is exactly the same as the game that was sold in the 90s
- The components of this game are sturdy and will withstand years of gameplay
- Easy to understand for children and entertaining to adults
- Setup can take a long time if you’re unfamiliar with the game
- CLASSIC MOUSE TRAP GAMEPLAY: Do you remember playing the Mouse Trap game when you were a child? Introduce your kids to classic Mouse Trap gameplay
- FUN AND EXCITING KIDS' BOARD GAME: Scurry-to-the-finish! This fun kids' board game challenges players to get their mouse around the gameboard without getting trapped
- BUILD THE MOUSE TRAP: Take turns building the Mouse Trap while moving around the gameboard. Use the trap to capture opponents' mice
- DON'T GET TRAPPED: Try to be the last uncaptured mouse on the Mouse Trap gameboard to win
- GAME FOR 2 TO 4 PLAYERS: This fun board game is for 2 to 4 players; it's a great game for boys and girls ages 6 and up
Buyer’s Guide for Best Board Games of the 90s
The 90s saw the development of all sorts of board games varying in difficulty, gameplay technique, and length of play. If you’re struggling to work out what kind of 90s board game is right for you, check out our handy buying guide below!
Did you know that there are over 40 different categories of board games? Some are more suitable for adults whereas others are aimed at only adults.
Some games rely entirely on strategy and technique whereas others operate solely by luck.
Including a chance factor in a strategy game can increase interest and diversity in the techniques that can be used in the game. The ability to grasp ideas such as predicted values and risk management can be enhanced.
A variety of approaches can be used to introduce luck. The introduction of dice, for example, can be traced back to the oldest board games. One method of introducing luck is to use a deck of cards that, once shuffled, provide unpredictability. Spinners and timers are two other types.
Another element of a good board game is diplomacy. In a diplomatic board game, players can make agreements and bargain with each other. This comprises persuading another person to engage with you rather than another opponent or collaborating with other players to beat a specific person.
Board games for youngsters frequently utilize pure chance and do not require the players to make any judgments.
They are simple to master and employ a variety of spinners and counters. The majority of board games for youngsters build both comprehensive and social abilities.
Age is an important factor in ensuring that the most beneficial benefits of a board game are realized.
Different board games are created for various age groups. The government even supervises the toy sector to guarantee that producers create and market their board games appropriately for the age range of the participants.
A variety of variables are used to decide these age labels, particularly when it comes to safeguarding children.
Age labels, like those on other toys, are critical. Some board games have elements that are too little for your children to play with and may even present a choking risk.
Age appropriateness ensures that your kid is not put under undue pressure to acquire rules that are inappropriate for his age. Make certain that the board game you select for your family is appropriate for your children’s ages.
Length of Gameplay
Some games are over in just a matter of minutes whereas others can take up hours and sometimes even days of your time. Choosing the appropriate game in terms of length of gameplay will all come down to personal preference.
Each round of the ideal board game for kids should take no more than 15 to 30 minutes. This amount of game time must be sufficient to keep them engaged while not overburdening or boring them.
A game night with the family should be something to enjoy and look forward to. Yes, even though we call it game night, but that doesn’t mean it should take all night to complete the game.
Number Of Players
Most family board games can support a minimum of two players and a maximum of six players per match.
The greatest board game for the whole family is one that everyone in the family can enjoy. Board games are best appreciated by the entire family, so be sure the game allows all family members to participate.
If you’re planning on having a board game party or want to play with a large group of friends, then it’s vital to check how many players can actually participate in the game. No one wants to sit back and watch everyone else play a game without being able to join in the fun!
Ease Of Use
The ideal type of board game to buy is one that is simple to assemble.
A board game that requires more than just a few minutes to set up might be disheartening and may eventually wind up being stowed away since no one wants to pull it out and bother with the lengthy setup.
If you plan on playing a board game with kids, you should also consider how easy the rules are to understand.
Besides being simple to set up, a quality board game for kids is also simple to clean up. This should come with a small number of accessories in its package so that tidying up isn’t too difficult.
An excellent board game is one that is simple to store and keep in good condition. It should be simple to keep note of all the components that should be included in the board game set. When 1 or 2 pieces of a board game are lost, it can render the game unplayable.
Best Board Games of the 90s
We hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane! One of our favorite games to play from the 90s that we still play today is Catan. If you enjoy Catan like us, be sure to check out our article on board games like Catan where you can find games with a similar play style to Catan that are also tons of fun!