When it comes to the current '90s revival, I'll pass on a lot of the fashion but keep the entertainment. This includes the throwback board games that preceded my habits of crushing candy and playing word puzzles on my smartphone. From hours-long strategic challenges to fun spins on Truth or Dare, the best '90s board games will leave players of a certain age waxing nostalgic, but they'll also entertain post-millennial crowds. More importantly, they'll remind you that analog games are just as fun as digital ones.
The first rule when choosing a board game is to know your audience. Are you looking for innocent fun that takes you back to the days of grade school, or do you want a
complex game that engages your brain? The options on the following list span a range of styles, including strategy games, trivia, and games of chance. There are also a variety of genres, such as sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery. There's even one with a shopping mall theme, which is guaranteed to give some '90s teens the feels.
You’ll also want to consider some logistics like how many people you plan to play with and your stamina. The
best board games from the ‘90s can accommodate as few as two or as many as six players, and their playing times range between 20 minutes and six hours. So decide whether you want a board game for the sake of nostalgic novelty or a time-intensive, competitive pursuit that just happens to be a '90s relic.
If you're ready for a blast from the past, here are the
best ‘90s board games on Amazon right now. Shop The Best ‘90s Board Games In a hurry? These are the best ‘90s board games: A Timeless Strategic Board Game About Building Civilizations: Catan An In-Depth Strategy Game For Advanced Players: Twilight Imperium A Talent-Testing Board Game That’s Great For Parties: Cranium A Sneaky Childhood Game That’s Full Of Suspense: Don’t Wake Daddy A Classic Mall Board Game That Will Remind You Of Life Before Online Shopping: Mall Madness A Multiplayer Board Game That Marries 2 Nostalgic Icons: Pokémon Labyrinth A Mystery Game That Tests Your Bluffing Ability: 13 Dead End Drive A 2-Player Strategy Game That Will Never Go Out Of Style: Connect Four A Fun Twist On Truth Or Dare: Girl Talk A Cute But Competitive Game That Still Holds Up: Mouse Trap A Nostalgic Board Game That Tests Your ‘90s Knowledge: Hella ‘90s 1 A Timeless Strategic Board Game About Building Civilizations Highlights: Easy to learn; expansion packs available Catan is an updated edition of the breakout 1995 board game previously known as The Settlers of Catan. In it, players represent settlers on a fictional island and earn points as their settlements grow — but you’ll have to watch out for thieves, those looking to buy up monopolies, and other obstacles that’ll keep you from success.
It’s designed for up to four players, but an
extension pack (sold separately) allows you to accommodate two additional people. There are even expansion packs that add new adventures and scenarios to the base game (also sold separately). Catan has an impressive 4.8-star overall rating after 32,000 reviews on Amazon, making it a worthy addition to your game shelf. One fan raved: “I have been playing Settlers of Catan for over 15 years and while many other games have come and gone, I still think this is my favorite game of all time. This is a great strategy game that isn't hard to learn, but like an onion there are many levels to peel back. [...] If you have never tried it then you should give it a go because it really is awesome.” Recommended number of players: 3 to 4 (5 to 6 with expansion set) | Playing time: 1 to 2 hours | Ages: 10 and up 2 An In-Depth Strategy Game For Advanced Players Highlights: Long playing time is ideal for marathon gamers; great for sci-fi fans
First released in 1997,
Twilight Imperium is an intense sci-fi fantasy game that tests your ability to strategize in the form of military battles, trade deals, political moves, and bargaining. Each players represents a rising empire in outer space and vies for dominance against their competitors — and the game has earned a near-perfect 4.9-star overall rating after 1,100 reviews. To keep things interesting, there are 14 factions you can join, and each one offers a unique game play experience, making this a pick you can play again and again.
It’s designed for three to six players, but make sure everyone has cleared their schedules — because the game is known to run anywhere from four to eight hours. But the time investment comes with a handsome payoff: “If you can gather a group of 6 eager gamers you may get a better game out of some other box but NONE will give you the same preposterous thrill-ride that Twilight Imperium has been imparting since the 90s” wrote one enthusiastic Amazon reviewer.
One fan raved: “An amazing game! Complex and fun. Not for the faint of heart. To learn this game will take you hours but it is worth absolutely every minute. [...] If you have a group of friends that love complex and thought provoking games, buy this now, you will not regret it.” Recommended number of players: 3 to 6 | Playing time: 4 to 8 hours | Ages: 14 and up 3 A Talent-Testing Board Game That’s Great For Parties Highlights: Great for entertaining; can play in teams; different types of challenges allow various talents to shine
If you want to win at one of the
best party games of the ‘90s, you’ll need a myriad of skills. First released in 1998, Cranium combines aspects of trivia, performance, problem-solving, and creativity in a single game. Players make their way around the board by proving their mastery in all four areas, and challenges can include anything from humming a recognizable tune to making clay sculptures. There are 600 prompts, so things never get boring. However, if you want something for a more mature audience, an adult version, Cranium Dark, is also available. One fan raved: “This is a perfect game for game night with a group of family or friends. It has a little bit of everything for everyone. It's as if you bought 4 games for the price of 1. There are plenty of cards so you don't really need to worry about repeating questions for some time.” Recommended number of players: 4 or more | Playing time: 45 minutes to 3 hours, according to reviewers | Ages: 16 and up 4 A Sneaky Childhood Game That’s Full Of Suspense Highlights: A simple game that will take you back to a younger age; high-suspense
Relive your your youth (or introduce a new generation to a classic board game) with
Don’t Wake Daddy. The object of the game is to make your way toward the finish line, aka the Rainbow Refrigerator, for a midnight snack. Those who land in the wrong spots on the board must press an alarm clock button — and if it rouses dad from his peaceful slumber, you have to go back to the starting line. Although the game is designed for younger audiences, the element of suspense will keep nostalgic adults happily on their toes. One fan raved: “I had this game as a kid [...] i cant believe amazon has it. You can not find this in any store. I was searching through games for my kids and me and my 5 year old found this and he wanted it so bad. He got it for his birthday and has been playing it literally every night [...] 1000% recommend” Recommended number of players: 2 to 4 | Playing time: not specified | Ages: 3 and up 5 A Classic Mall Board Game That Will Remind You Of Life Before Online Shopping Highlights: A fun throwback for former mall rats
Relive your high school days with this
mall-themed board game. Similar to the 1989 release, this updated version of Mall Madness sends players on a shopping spree using a 3-D game board with 22 retail locations including a nail salon, electronics store, and shoe store — in fact, there’s even a food court. The first person to buy six items on their shopping list and make it back to the parking lot is declared the winner. One fan raved: “I always wanted this game as a kid because it was one of my favorites; so I purchased this as a gift to myself for my birthday and I am not disappointed. This game is silly and fun; it's well made and definitely easier to assemble than the original. I played it with friends and we had a great time.” Recommended number of players: 2 to 4 | Playing time: not specified | Ages: 9 and up 6 A Multiplayer Board Game That Marries 2 Nostalgic Icons Highlights: Perfect for fans of Pokémon; standard Labyrinth and Super Mario versions also available
special version of Labyrinth marries the popular maze game with a classic ‘90s pop culture icon: Pokémon. Players must use strategy and spatial skills to rearrange an ever-shifting maze and collect various characters on the board. It’s a fun throwback for millennials who grew up collecting Pokémon trading cards, not to mention a great choice for anyone (of any age) who currently loves the Japanese franchise. One fan raved: “My family loves this cute pokemon-themed game. Even my tween daughter, who doesn't typically join in on family game night, loves to play this game with us. It requires some strategy but it is not complicated. It is also not too childish for my husband and I that we don't get bored playing, which is why it is a great game for all age levels in my family.” Recommended number of players: 2 to 4 | Playing time: 20 to 30 minutes | Ages: 7 and up 7 A Mystery Game That Tests Your Bluffing Ability Highlights: Great for fans of whodunnit murder mysteries
Originally released in 1993,
13 Dead End Drive is a murder mystery board game that brings out your sly side. Players represent the potential heirs of a wealthy deceased woman named Aunt Agatha, and each must resort to deception and deadly traps in order to get their hands on her estate. Although this retro board game is suitable for adults, you may find yourself awash in nostalgia (one fan noted that it’s “exactly like the original with a few minor upgrades to how the board is put together.”). One fan raved: “I can’t believe I was able to get a piece of my childhood back! Playing with my kids brought back so many memories! I never thought I would get this chance!” Recommended number of players: 2 to 4 | Playing time: not specified | Ages: 8 and up 8 A 2-Player Strategy Game That Will Never Go Out Of Style Highlights: New blocker discs add a twist to the classic version; perfect if you want to play quick rounds
Although it was originally released by Hasbro in 1974,
Connect Four maintained its popularity through the ‘90s, and it’s still going strong. There’s a good chance you know the object of the game is to connect four checkers on the grid, but the latest version adds a twist by including special blue blocker discs. This optional bonus allows players to throw a wrench in their opponent’s strategy, and one satisfied Amazon reviewer called it a literal “game-changer.” One fan raved: “Connect Four is a family fun game from my childhood. This game is built with a bit better construction than the game of my youth although played just the same. My 6 yr old twins and 10 yr old grandkids all enjoy competing in this game for bragging rights of who is the most clever for the day. [...] It’s a two-player game, but we play it tournament style so all can play when more than 2 want to compete. If you don’t lose the checkers... you’ll love this game still in 2050!” Recommended number of players: 2 | Playing time: not specified | Ages: 6 and up 9 A Fun Twist On Truth Or Dare Highlights: Questions and challenges are updated for a modern audience
Released in 1988 and popular throughout the 1990s, the
Girl Talk board game reimagines “truth or dare” in a board game format. Players take turns spinning a wheel to determine whether they will draw a “truth” or “dare” challenge, and the first person to finish 10 consecutive challenges wins. The latest version is updated with mentions of selfies, texting, and other tech-savvy references, but anyone who grew up playing the game will still enjoy the trip down memory lane. One fan raved: “I remember me and my friends playing this growing up. Brought back so much laughter.” Recommended number of players: 2 to 10 | Playing time: not specified | Ages: 10 and up 10 A Cute But Competitive Game That Still Holds Up Highlights: A fun game for fans of engineering; building the trap makes for fun hands-on play
One of the all-time classic childhood board games,
Mouse Trap debuted in 1963, but its popularity endured into the 1990s (and my toddler is among its current generation of fans). The object of the game is to collect cardboard wedges of cheese and avoid getting your game piece (shaped like a mouse, naturally) caught in a complicated contraption. The cause-and-effect mouse trap, inspired by Rube Goldberg machines, will tickle anyone who is into engineering. Of the more than 5,000 five-star Amazon reviews, over a dozen shared fond memories of playing this game in their youth. “You haven't had a childhood unless you've played Mouse Trap,” wrote one reviewer. One fan raved: “This is the same durable version I remember playing as a kid. Now I get to share my childhood favorite with my kids! If you have those engineering minds who love legos, or just love fun, don't hesitate...buy this game!” Recommended number of players: 4 | Playing time: not specified | Ages: 6 and up 11 A Nostalgic Board Game That Tests Your ‘90s Knowledge Highlights: Great for trivia aficionados; accompanying Spotify playlist adds to the vibe
Take a trip back to the days of flannels and dial-up modems with this
‘90s pop culture trivia game. It comes with 200 cards and over 400 questions related to the most memorable trends of the decade. A 30-second timer puts the pressure on to deliver answers, and there’s even a complementary Spotify soundtrack available to set the mood while you play. One fan raved: “If you were a child or teen of the 90's, this is nostalgia in a box. My husband and I love to play games with friends and have a hard time finding games that aren't repetitive or ornery. [...] Even better is the Spotify playlist that they have to go along with the game! Put on your parachute pants and brush up on your 90's slang so you can ‘Whip It’ out of the park.” Recommended number of players: 3 or more | Playing time: not specified | Ages: not specified
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This article was originally published on
June 29, 2022