If I had to make a Top 5 of the decade, it'd be:
#5: Final Fantasy IV
#4: Super Metroid
#3: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
#2: Super Mario 64
#1: Super Mario Bros. 3
I count SMB3 because even though it came out in 1988 in Japan it wasn't released in North America until Feb. 1990, so as an American it counts as a 90s game to me.
Each of these games are absolute standouts, among the greatest of all time in my book. They have consistently occupied five of the top six spots in my "Greatest Games" lists here at VGC in the annual threads (Halo: CE was the other occupant). FFIV was my first Final Fantasy game, and remains my favorite JRPG ever. Super Metroid was a moody and atmospheric game with impeccable gameplay and exploration. A Link to the Past is still my favorite Zelda game, and remains a timeless adventure. Super Mario 64 was the first platformer that actually did the genre right in 3D in my opinion, and still holds up to this day as a master class in 3D platforming design.
But Super Mario Bros. 3. Man, I remember the hype for that game. Its existence was first revealed to American audiences in the May/June '89 issue Nintendo Power, with a brief blurb promising that Mario will be able to fly. The first screenshots were shows in the Nov./Dec. issue later that year, and then there was the tie-in with the movie The Wizard which was released in Dec. '89, with SMB3 featuring in the climax. And then there was this commercial:
Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 27 January 2020
Needless to say, I wanted that game as soon as possible. I think I got it for my 10th birthday... or maybe it wasn't until Christmas (I can't remember exactly when since that was 30 years ago). It was such an amazing experience. Mario could not only fly, but could get a frog suit for easier swimming or the awesomely powerful Hammer Bros. suit. There were all sorts of new blocks besides the standard brick and item blocks, many of which added new gameplay elements. The enemy roster was more diverse, as were the environments. The level design was amazing. It introduced auto-scrolling and diagonal scrolling to the series, the former introducing new types of challenges and the latter turning out to be a remarkable technical accomplishment for an NES game. And the controls were much more polished than the original.
So, SMB3 is to me not only the best game of the 90s, it is the best game of all time, which also makes my favorite NES game, Super Mario game, and platformer title.