In 1995, I finally ditched the 386 and built my first PC. I searched through magazines for months, researching the best value components and finding the best prices I could. A whole world of games I had never previously been able to play were suddenly at my mercy.
For me, this era was the Golden Age of PC gaming. The things had had been holding the PC back as a legitimate gaming platform (most people had a console or an Amiga for that) were suddenly being addressed apace and, ironically, this was all down to Microsoft Windows. The need for higher bandwidth graphics to adequately run a GUI brought in local bus technology such as VESA Local Bus and PCI. Clock doubling revolutionised CPU speeds and then, in 1993, Intel's Pentium was released. Although out of reach for most home users, developers such as id Software harnessed the additional horsepower to create Quake. Both that and Doom were so revolutionary that I (and others) were willing to play them at a snail's pace on outdated hardware because they were that good. They were also the reason many people upgraded.
Wavetable audio also became standard on desktop soundcards, Windows 95 was released and, in around 1997, 3DFX completely changed the game. Although the name fizzled out in the wake of competition from ATi and nVidia, it kicked off the 3D graphics revolution.
It was also during this time that gaming on Windows really took off, with the development of DirectX and DOS gaming slipped away into the past. It had a good run and produced some of the most iconic gaming titles of all time. Here are the ones I played over and over again, and still play today.
All screenshots originate from Moby Games, and each game is linked in the caption.
18 November 2018: added Mechwarrior 2, Beavis & Butthead and The Hive.