Over the recent years, board games have been stumbling into a recession since adults and kids have ditched their traditional games and switched to high-tech games and e-games. Yet, in the 90s, people couldn’t make it through their favorite TV shows unless it was interrupted by the ongoing board game commercials.
Many look back at the 1990s as a golden age for board games that blended tradition with innovation. Before the industry experienced a downturn, this decade was filled with games that paid homage to the classics and introduced exciting new ideas, along with the ones already popular back then, like Monopoly.
Find the eight best 90s board games below.
1: The Settlers Of Catan (1995)
The Settlers of Catan, often referred to simply as ‘Catan’ or ‘Settlers,’ was a groundbreaking addition to tabletop games. Created by a former dental technician from Germany, this game, designed for 3-4 players, involves collecting resources, trading goods, and constructing settlements and roads on a fictional island made up of hexagonal tiles.
When it was launched in the mid-90s, Catan was like no other game on the market and quickly became a favorite at gatherings and game nights worldwide.
With over 40 million units sold in 30 languages by 2023, Catan has secured its place as one of the best-selling board games in history.
2: Jumanji (1995)
One of the classic board games of the 90s, Jumanji, was inspired by the famous movie Jumanji, which lets you experience the same enchantment as the movie right at your home. Released by Milton Bradley, the game is based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1981 picture book.
Playing the game is pretty straightforward, and despite the wild adventures depicted in the movie, no wild animals will actually burst into your home during play. Instead, players roll dice to see if the jungle will overtake them before they can finish the game. The winner is the first player to reach the center before the Doomsday Grid fills up, but victory isn’t complete without shouting ‘Jumanji!’
In 2017, Cardinal Games released a refreshed version of this nostalgic game. But heed the warning: “Don’t begin the game unless you intend to finish it.”
3: Gooey Louie (1995)
Many board games are forgotten with age, but Gooey Louie is undoubtedly not one of them. It might be intentionally overlooked due to its peculiar and somewhat gross nature. Centered around a character with cringe-worthy strings of mucus hanging from his nose, the game certainly embraces its unique concept.
Players take turns pulling these strings until one triggers Louie’s brain to pop out of his head in a cartoonish manner. Gooey Louie is about embracing childlike silliness and simplicity, with its quirky themes and gameplay left entirely to chance.
There is no depth or enduring appeal to be found here, but then again, in a game that revolves around pulling snot, you probably wouldn’t expect anything more.
4: Crocodile Dentist (1990)
The next on our trip down the memory lane of best 90s board games is Crocodile Dentist. It was a simple game where the players had to pull out teeth from the crocodile’s mouth. Based sheerly on luck, you must watch out for pulling the wrong tooth, as the crocodile’s mouth will snap shut on your fingers.
Even though the gameplay was a bit strange, Crocodile Dentist became one of the best-selling 1990s board games in 1991 Christmas and won an award from The Bizzare Toys in 1992.
5: Mouse Trap (1963)
While it was initially launched in the 60s, this game ensured that it would be liked in the 90s and by future generations. This 90s board game aims to build a Rube Goldberg-like machine to trap the mouse in a cheese trap. The first player to trap every other’s mouse wins!
Milton Bradley released a series of memorable commercials for Mouse Trap throughout the decade, contributing to the game’s enduring appeal. Even without new advertisements, Mouse Trap remains available in stores, a testament to its staying power 58 years after its initial release.
6: Monopoly Junior (1990)
This game really taught the kids to become the best real-estate tycoons! Our list of the best 90s party games would not be completed without mentioning the game everybody loves to hate: Monopoly!
The Monopoly Juinor version was introduced as a simplified version of the original by the Parker brothers for kids aged five to eight. The gameplay remained the same, but instead of using the famous street names, Monopoly Junior features child-friendly attractions like a zoo, games arcade, parks, etc.
In 2013, Parker Brothers revamped Monopoly Junior to give it a more contemporary appearance. Since then, the game has tapped into various popular trends by releasing themed editions, including ones inspired by Frozen, Peppa Pig, Cars, and Finding Nemo.
7: Titanic: The Board Game (1998)
Titanic: The Board Game was released shortly after the 1997 film Titanic hit the big screen, though the game had no real connection to the movie itself. It merely capitalized on the tragic historical event.
Since Paramount Pictures did not hold the rights to the sunken ship, the game’s release timing close to the movie’s launch was considered fair game. The board game offers an unrealistic portrayal of the 1912 disaster, tasking players with racing to a lifeboat as the ship sinks.
Oddly enough, players must gather various items like a passport, a life vest, and even a room key before escaping – as if there would be a need to return to one’s room during the sinking. Failure to reach the lifeboat on time leads to a fictional and watery demise for the player in the game.
Oh, the 90s! It has brought and taken away, unfortunately, so many classic things from us, including some of the popular 90s party games back then! But the good thing is they have helped form who we are today! Hope you liked our favorite picks from the 90s board games. Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Explore the nostalgic realm of 90s board games with our handy FAQ section below.
What Were the Top-Selling Board Games in the 90s?
The 90s offered a plethora of popular board games, with standouts like “The Settlers of Catan,” “Jumanji,” and “Monopoly Junior” stealing the spotlight due to their innovative gameplay and widespread appeal.
How Can I Purchase Vintage 90s Board Games Today?
You can explore online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or even Amazon for vintage 90s board games, and may also find treasures in local thrift stores, garage sales, or specialty shops that sell vintage items.
Are There Modern Versions of Classic 90s Board Games Available?
Yes, many 90s board games have modern versions or adaptations. For instance, “The Settlers of Catan” has numerous editions and expansions, and “Jumanji” saw a refreshed version released in 2017.
Where Can I Find the Original Rules for 90s Board Games?
Some manufacturers provide digital versions of game rules on their websites. Additionally, various online forums and websites are dedicated to preserving and sharing rules for vintage board games.
Are 90s Board Games Considered Collectible Items Today?
Absolutely! Many board games from the 90s are considered collectibles, especially if they are in good condition, have all their original pieces, or are in an unopened box.
Why Have 90s Board Games Maintained Their Popularity Over Time?
The blend of innovative gameplay, social interaction, and nostalgia associated with 90s board games continues to captivate audiences, offering a tangible and communal gaming experience that contrasts with today’s digital age.
How Do I Determine the Value of My 90s Board Games?
The value can be determined by factors like rarity, condition, and demand among collectors. Online marketplaces can provide a ballpark figure, while professional appraisers and dedicated forums might offer deeper insights.
Are There Any Conventions or Events Dedicated to Vintage Board Games?
Yes, numerous conventions, such as the Essen Game Fair in Germany and Gen Con in the USA, provide platforms for enthusiasts of vintage and modern board games alike to explore, play, and discuss their favorite games.
Have Any 90s Board Games Been Adapted into Other Media?
Yes, “Jumanji” is a notable example, inspiring a successful film series. Similarly, other board games have inspired TV shows, films, and even video games over the years.
Can 90s Board Games Be Used for Educational Purposes Today?
Absolutely! 90s board games can be utilized to teach various skills such as strategy, negotiation, and critical thinking, and can also be used to explore historical and cultural contexts in a fun and engaging way.