15 Best Classic Games on Steam for a Major Throwback

Missed These Classics The First Time Around? Find Out Why These Games Have a Well-Deserved Cult Following

ESG Quick Review:

We spend a lot of time talking about the latest and greatest game releases – whether it’s VR compatible or give NPCs a mind of their own with AI. But sometimes it’s nice to take a stroll down memory lane and load up one of your favorite classic games on Steam.

Luckily for nostalgic gamers everywhere, you can play some of your favorite titles even if your PS1 didn’t survive your last move or your OG Xbox is in dire need of a tuneup, you can find lots of your old favorites on Steam.

And you don’t have to take our word for it – the games on this list are among some of the best games ever released, including award-winners, genre changers, and classic games with overwhelmingly positive reviews.

We’ll be covering:

  • FPS games that defined the genre
  • Turned-based strategy games that definitely kept you from your homework
  • And some of our favorite 2D platformers outside of the Mario universe

So let’s get to it!

1. Mega Man (1987)

Your Favorite 2D Platformer Featuring a Robo Kid

Megaman Classic 2D platformer game on Steam

Very Positive (87%) | Single Player | $14.99

Mega Man (aka Rockman in Japan) has been battling evil robots since the late 80s. Using his Mega Buster arm cannon and special ability to copy a defeated enemy’s special attack, he has been fighting for “everlasting peace” for 11 title games and counting.

This bundle includes faithful reproductions of the original 6 Mega Man games, so you can fight through all of his earliest foes for under 15 bucks.

🎮 Buy Megaman: Legacy Collection on Steam

2. Doom (1993)

A Relentless Modern Day Shooter from Pioneers in the Genre

a Demon from the classic 1993 game Doom

Overwhelmingly Positive (96%) | Single Player | $19.99

iD Software is known for being the studio that pioneered the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. Set on Mars in a research facility that has been overrun by demons, DOOM invites players to fight their way through the nightmare scenario until there are no monsters left. Choose from futuristic or iconic weapons, or simply use the advanced melee attack system to stomp, slash, and crush your way to victory.

Doom is rated “M” for Mature for blood and gore, intense violence, and strong language.

🎮 Buy Doom on Steam

3. Quake (1996)

The Original Dark Fantasy First Person Shooter

player facing a monster in the video game Quake

Overwhelmingly Positive (96%) | Single Player / Co-Op / PvP | $39.99

Another iconic title from iD Software, Quake continues to inspire retro-style FPS games to this day. Why all the hype? The original campaign will capture your imagination; play as a warrior and take on corrupted knights, deformed ogres, and an army of other creatures across four dark dimensions. You’ll fight your way through military bases, medieval castles, lava-filled dungeons, and more as you use runes to defeat an ancient evil threatening to end the world.

Quake brought home awards for Best Sound Effects, Best Music or Soundtrack, and Best On-Line/Internet Game at the Developer’s Choice Awards in 1997.

Quake is rated “M” for Mature for violence and blood and gore.

🎮 Buy Quake on Steam

4. Half-Life (1998)

The Award-Winning Alien Shooter Game

Half-Life game still showing the FPS player facing off against some mutant monsters

Overwhelmingly Positive (96%) | Single Player / PvP | $9.99

What game received over 50 awards from different publications? That’s right, it was Valve’s debut game Half-Life. Developers brought in science fiction writer Marc Laidlaw to work out the story, and it paid off. Play as scientist Gordon Freeman as he tries to escape the Black Mesa Research Facility. It’s not a bad place to work, or at least, it wasn’t – until it was overrun by aliens.

The goal of the game was to create an “immersive world” rather than a shooting gallery style game, which was the standard at the time. This more immersive style of FPS game is now common – making Half-Life one of the most influential and highest-rated video games ever made.

Half-Life is rated “M” for Mature for blood and gore.

🎮 Buy Half-Life on Steam

5. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (1996)

Join Your Favorite Scientifically Enhanced Marsupial on His Original Adventure

Crash Bandicoot running from an obstacle

Very Positive (93%) | Single Player | $39.99

Crash Bandicoot is a genetically enhanced bandicoot created by the nefarious Dr. Neo Cortex. But Dr. Cortex isn’t happy with his mad science experiments – he aims to take over the world. Help Crash rescue the world and his girlfriend, Tawna, who is still in Dr. Cortex’s clutches.

The original Crash Bandicoot game was nominated for awards in character design, and also scored a nomination for an orange blimp at the 1999 Kids’ Choice Awards.

🎮 Buy Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy on Steam

6. Roller Coaster Tycoon (1999)

Create the Ultimate Theme Park in This Management Game

creating a theme park in the Roller Coaster Tycoon sandbox

Very Positive (94%) | Single Player | $5.99

Nothing says summer like heading to the theme park to ride the biggest, scariest coasters around… except, perhaps, sitting on the family computer and building a theme park of your own. This Deluxe Edition contains the original Roller Coaster Tycoon as well as its expansion packs, Corkscrew Follies and Loopy Landscapes.

🎮 Buy Roller Coaster Tycoon on Steam

7. Age of Empires II (1999)

The Pivotal Real Time Strategy (RTS) Game

Age of Empires game still showing a coastline and several battling ships

Very Positive (92%) | Single Player / Co-op | $19.99

Age of Empires is one of the greats in the RTS genre. This, the original game, launched a 20 year legacy of popular games. In this definitive edition, you can enjoy modernized gameplay, updated campaigns, 4k visuals, and up to 8-player multiplayer mode.

By two months after its release, Age of Empires II had sold over two million copies, topping sales charts in seven countries. The game received “universal acclaim,” won several awards, and had a massive influence on other games in the genre, which lands it squarely on our list.

🎮 Buy Age of Empires II (Definitive Edition) on Steam

8. Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Join the FIght to Save Midgar’s Natural Resources

a still from Final Fantasy VII showing the options to attack an opponent

Very Positive (92%) | Single Player | $11.99

The city of Midgar is in turmoil. The evil company Shinra, Inc. has been absorbing energy and destroying the planet’s natural resources. Luckily, rebellion is brewing. A group called AVALANCHE has set out to destroy the mega-corporations controlling their city – and they’ve just blown up one of Shinra’s reactors.

Are you ready to join in the fight?

🎮 Buy Final Fantasy VII on Steam

9. Counter Strike (2000)

Get In On the World’s #1 Action Game

two Counter Strike player avatars moving through a city street

Overwhelmingly Positive (96%) | PvP | $9.99

This shooting game is made for teams. Join up with a friend sitting next to you on the couch, or find teammates online for your battle against the terrorist threat. You’ll work together to take out enemy bases, rescue hostages, and save the day.

As of this writing, Counter Strike is only available in bundles on Steam. The cheapest one is $9.99 and contains Counter Strike and Counter Strike: Condition Zero.

🎮 Buy Counter Strike on Steam

10. Halo (2001)

Join Master Chief in One of the Most Beloved Games of All Time

a first person view of Master Chief venturing into the world of Halo

Very Positive (92%) | Single Player / Co-Op / PvP | $9.99

Halo: Combat Evolved is the game that started it all. After crash landing on a ring-shaped world called Halo, the Master Chief must help the remaining humans on the planet survive the attacks of the Covenant forces. Also known as John-117, Master Chief is a genetically augmented human soldier, part of the Spartan program. Can he and Cortana, his AI assistant, uncover Halo’s secret and figure out how to protect life in the galaxy?

The Master Chief Collection contains Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, Halo 2 Anniversary Edition, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo 4, and Halo: Reach to give you the ultimate Halo experience.

P.S. - If you haven’t tried Grunt Birthday Party, try Grunt Birthday Party. You’re welcome.

Halo is rated “M” for Mature for blood and gore, violence, and language.

🎮 Buy Halo: Combat Evolved on Steam

11. Sid Meier's Civilization III (2001)

The Classic Turn-Based Strategy Game at Its Best

a map showing a player's civilization in Sid Meier's Civ 3

Very Positive (91%) | Single Player | $4.99

If you find yourself glued to your computer for the whole game, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Sid Meier’s Civilization III is one of the most beloved installments of the Civilization Franchise. Explore new civilizations, more strategies, and more ways to win.

🎮 Buy Civilization III on Steam

12. RuneScape (2001)

The Classic Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) Game

diverse runescape characters ranging from warriors to dragons

Very Positive (86%) | Single Player | Free

It’s not too late to get in on the fun. RuneScape is an online multiplayer game set in the fantasy world of Gielinor. Filled with diverse characters and over 200 story-driven quests, players can join guilds, battle with ancient gods, and form alliances with other players. Everything in the game is optional, so players can do whatever they’d like with their player, whether that’s simply exploring or becoming the most powerful player in history.

🎮 Buy RuneScape on Steam

13. Mafia (2002)

Can You Survive the World of Organized Crime?

Mafia NPCS firing in the classic game Mafia

Very Positive (89%) | Single Player | $14.99

It’s 1930, and cabdriver Tommy Angelo was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. After a run-in with the mafia, he finds himself sucked into the dark underbelly of organized crime. Despite the risks, the rewards become hard to ignore. Eventually, Tommy must earn the respect of the notorious Salieri crime family, but can he cope with the dirty jobs his new life demands of him?

Mafia won awards for its music, and it also got nominations for its cutting edge graphics, gripping story, and having the one of the biggest video game surprises of the year, amongst others.

🎮 Buy Mafia on Steam

14. Portal (2007)

The Cake is a Lie

portals opened up in Aperture Space Laboratory

Overwhelmingly Positive (98%) | Single Player | $9.99

Set in the mysterious Aperture Space Laboratory, Portal completely changes the way players interact with their video game world. Human Chell spends the game being taunted by artificial intelligence GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) with challenges to complete using the portal gun. The light at the end of the tunnel? Cake when all of the challenges are done.

Solve physical logic puzzles, open portals, and maneuver objects (including yourself) through space to get through the game and earn your reward.

Portal brought home the Game of the Year award in 2008, as well as trophies for innovation and game design.

🎮 Buy Portal on Steam

15. Fallout 3 (2008)

Get In On the Post-Apocalyptic Retro-Future Fun in This Action RPG

Player and their dog companion on a ruined neighborhood street in the Bethesda classic Fallout 3

Mostly Positive (79%) | Single Player | $9.99

Vault-Tec is a company that has offered up a liferaft for people facing a nuclear threat – buying their place in bunkers called vaults, which have everything they need to survive. Centuries after nuclear war turns the world as we know it into a wasteland, a teenager leaves the safety of his vault to find their father, who left to create a water purifier for the community.

Fallout 3 by Bethesda received several Game of the Year awards for its open-ended gameplay and character leveling system. Like some of the other games on this list, Fallout 3 is considered one of the best video games ever made.

🎮 Buy Fallout 3 on Steam

That’s it for our favorite classic games on Steam.

There you have it. If you’re feeling nostalgic, these classic games on Steam are some of the best of the best. Haven’t quite found your next campaign here? The Classic tag on Steam is always getting updated. Although if you’re a fellow millennial, you might want to stay here rather than finding out which one of your favorite games will be considered “classic” next ☠️

But whatever you choose, happy gaming!

All images courtesy of steampowered.com.

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