Wednesday 22 February 2023

ChatGPT bandwagon: recommend 1990s games

The ChatGPT bot has a good reputation for making lists and summarizing things, so I asked it to make lists of 1990s computer and video games.

First question

"Give me a recommendation of important 1990s video games, including computer games. Make a balanced list between games from Japan, Europe and the United states. Use popularity and influence as a metric, how well known the games were and how much they influenced later game design. The list could include 20 games."


Sure, here are 20 important video games from the 1990s, grouped by country of origin:


  • Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990, Nintendo)
  • Street Fighter II (1991, Capcom)
  • Final Fantasy VII (1997, Square)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998, Nintendo)
  • Metal Gear Solid (1998, Konami)


  • Lemmings (1991, DMA Design)
  • Worms (1995, Team17)
  • Theme Park (1994, Bullfrog Productions)
  • Tomb Raider (1996, Core Design)
  • Championship Manager 2 (1995, Sports Interactive)

United States

  • Doom (1993, id Software)
  • Myst (1993, Cyan)
  • SimCity 2000 (1994, Maxis)
  • Half-Life (1998, Valve)
  • Starcraft (1998, Blizzard Entertainment)


  • Sonic the Hedgehog (1991, Sega)
  • Pokémon Red and Green (1996, Game Freak)
  • Resident Evil (1996, Capcom)
  • Shenmue (1999, Sega-AM2)
  • Gran Turismo (1997, Polyphony Digital)

These games were all highly popular and influential, and helped shape the gaming industry as we know it today. Each one has had a lasting impact on game design and player experiences, and many of them are still beloved by gamers today.

My observations:

A nice list, not sure why there's an additional Japan/Europe grouping.

I feel the games are well chosen for both popularity and being prime examples of works that helped establish a genre. There were many significant JRPGs before Final Fantasy VII, but it is the game that cemented the popularity of the series also in the west. Tomb Raider made third-person 3D action games interesting, and so on and on.

"Game Freak" is listed as publisher for Pokémon, although "Nintendo" could have been used.

Championship Manager 2 sounds weird to me, but then again I don't know the genre and its significance at all. Trust the bot with this one?

Second question:

"Please also make a list of obscure computer and video games from 1990s, that many do not know yet still shaped the industry."

Certainly, here are 10 relatively obscure computer and video games from the 1990s that had a significant impact on the industry:

  • System Shock (1994, Looking Glass Technologies): A first-person action-adventure game that pioneered many gameplay mechanics still used in modern games, such as audio diaries and RPG-like character progression.
  • Thief: The Dark Project (1998, Looking Glass Technologies): A first-person stealth game that introduced many now-standard stealth gameplay mechanics, such as hiding in shadows, leaning around corners, and pickpocketing.
  • Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992, Looking Glass Technologies): A first-person action-RPG that was one of the first games to feature fully 3D environments and non-linear gameplay.
  • Syndicate (1993, Bullfrog Productions): A real-time tactical game that popularized the concept of controlling multiple characters simultaneously and the use of cyberpunk themes.
  • Betrayal at Krondor (1993, Dynamix): A role-playing game that featured a complex story and well-developed characters, and was one of the first games to use 3D graphics for its world map.
  • Grim Fandango (1998, LucasArts): A classic adventure game that used a unique art style and a combination of 3D and 2D graphics to create a memorable, film noir-inspired world.
  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (1993, Sierra On-Line): A point-and-click adventure game that blended horror, mystery, and history into a compelling story, and featured some of the best writing and voice acting of its time.
  • Descent (1995, Parallax Software): A 6-degree-of-freedom first-person shooter that allowed full 3D movement and was a technical marvel for its time.
  • Battlezone (1998, Activision): A hybrid first-person shooter and real-time strategy game that used a unique blend of tank combat and base building.
  • Star Control II (1992, Toys for Bob): A sci-fi adventure game that combined space exploration, combat, and role-playing elements to create an immersive and unforgettable experience.

These games may not be as well-known as some of the more mainstream titles from the 1990s, but they all had a significant impact on the industry and helped shape the future of gaming in their own unique ways.

My observations:

These were actually well known games at their time, but I wouldn't except younger people to know these now. I like how the first list included some brands and franchises widely known even now by "non-gamers", whereas none of the same games appear here. The list has become exclusively about PC games.

Interesting that the bot remembers some of my qualifiers from the first question, but chose not to give a Japan/Europe/USA balance here.

I'm maybe less qualified to say whether all these games were both obscure and influential. System Shock and Ultima Underworld alone were portents of things to come, even though the ideas in them were largely abandoned in favor of simpler games like Doom and Tomb Raider.

I didn't check the release years one by one, but I can see the bot gives publishers for some entries and developers for others, a mismatch that one could easily make when compiling such lists.

I'm not sure why I needed to say "please" here.

Third Question:

"Now, one more list with really non-commercial, public domain, fringe and cult computer and video games from the 1990s that were not sold in high street stores."


Sure, here are 10 really obscure, public domain, fringe and cult computer and video games from the 1990s that were not sold in high street stores:

  • ZZT (1991, Tim Sweeney): A shareware game that allowed players to create their own levels and stories using a built-in text editor and simple graphics.
  • ADRIFT (1995, Campbell Wild): A text adventure game creation system that allowed users to create their own interactive fiction games using a simple interface.
  • Captain Blood (1990, Exxos): A surreal and trippy adventure game that takes place in a strange alien universe.
  • The 7th Guest (1993, Trilobyte): A puzzle game with live-action video sequences and a horror theme, which was one of the first games to be released exclusively on CD-ROM.
  • Bolo (1993, Stuart Cheshire): A real-time strategy game that focused on tank combat and was one of the earliest games to support multiplayer over a network.
  • Angband (1990, Alex Cutler): A roguelike game that features randomly generated levels and permadeath, and is still actively developed and played today.
  • Slime Volleyball (1998, Quin Pendragon): A simple and addictive one-on-one volleyball game featuring blobs of slime.
  • WinTrek (1995, Dan Baker): A multiplayer game that allows players to command their own starship and engage in battles with other players over the internet.
  • Nethack (1993, The NetHack DevTeam): A classic roguelike game that features randomly generated levels and a vast array of items, spells, and enemies.
  • The Incredible Machine (1993, Kevin Ryan and Jeff Tunnell): A puzzle game that challenges players to use various everyday objects to create Rube Goldberg-style machines to complete a goal.

These games were not sold in high street stores and are relatively unknown to most people, but they still had a significant impact on the gaming industry and helped inspire future generations of game developers.

My observations:

Ok, that's pretty obscure and included also games I haven't heard of. Still, the "not sold in high street stores" part was not taken very strongly, because Captain Blood and The Incredible Machine were commercial games.

The bot may have considered the categories as broadly inclusive, because certainly Captain Blood is a cult game.

Here I felt the need to actually check the list entries.

One entry I consider a full error. ADRIFT appears to be an adventure-authoring system, and not a game as such. Besides, it was released in 2002 according to Wikipedia. I didn't challenge the bot about it, but presumable it would argue the author already was working on it in the 1990s.

Captain Blood was, according to many sources, released in 1988.

Bolo might have been originally released in 1987, but I'll give the bot a pass as the later Macintosh version is probably the more significant one.

Angband probably has more credits than "Alex Cutler".

According to sources I could find, Wintrek was not authored by Dan Baker but by Joseph Jaworski in 1992.

Slime Volleyball has apparently a somewhat contested authorship and year of release.


The bot did a good job in my opinion, it mostly didn't invent bullshit or non-existing products, kept in 1990s almost entirely, and made relevant suggestions. For the last category, there seem to be more uncertainty about authors and release years.

I didn't ask for game descriptions, but these were actually relevant for the less known games and as far as I see they are quite correct too.

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