A massive number of classics were released in 1996 across a wide variety of platforms, and in this article, we are going to talk about some of our favorites from 1996. And yes, we might miss some of your favorites because picking 10-12 games out of so many good ones was literally a Sophie’s choice.Without further ado, here are the best video games from 1996 (in no particular order)
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was one of the flagship titles for the Nintendo 64, and it is a brilliant showcase for both the power of the console, and the creative brilliance of Shigeru Miyamoto and the development team. This is virtually a perfect platform title. The graphics are brilliant, the gameplay is silky-smooth and the sheer sense of joy you feel while playing this game is incomparable. Making the jump from 2D to 3D for one of gaming’s most iconic franchises was a huge leap, and Super Mario 64 absolutely nails it. It has everything you would expect from a 3D version of Mario – a bigger world filled with lots of secrets, way more freedom of movement through the environment, more gameplay options and a super-tight control scheme. If you’re a gaming fan, you need to play this game. Now.
Super Mario RPG
I know what you’re thinking – 2 games from the same franchise on a best-of list in the same year? YES. That’s how good Super Mario RPG is. Also called “Legend of the Seven Stars”, this game is a classic adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom. The game has deep and satisfying combat, a ton of hilarious mini-games, playful humor, memorable characters and fantastic graphics. It’s a great RPG game, a great Mario game, and a great game in general.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert
Command and Conquer is one of the franchises that helped establish the RTS genre and was one of its shining examples during its heyday. Red Alert is a fantastic strategy game that puts players into an immersive universe with an alternative history plot. Einstein has figured out how to travel back in time and assassinates Hitler before he became the feared dictator we know him as. But as you would expect, things rarely pan out as you want them to. Due to the time-travel shenanigans, Nazi Germany never became a thing but the Soviet Red Menace does. Red Alert puts players into the shoes of the Allied and Soviet factions, each of whom have distinct unit types and strategies for domination. The tactical gameplay is beautifully complemented with live-action cinematics in a B-movie style that would become a staple of the series.
Resident Evil is a shining, gore-and-splatter-soaked testament to what the survival horror genre is capable of. It’s incredibly violent, incredibly tense and offers players one of the best thrill rides put on gaming screens. You play an elite cop who’s investigating a number of creepy, paranormal occurrences in a dilapidated old mansion. Predictably, things go horribly, horribly wrong quickly. The gameplay is challenging – you’ll often find yourself sandwiched in a narrow corridor with nowhere to go and a horde of bloodthirsty beings closing in upon you. The graphics are truly spectacular, and the grotesque creatures you’ll come up against will send shivers down your spine and stay etched in your memory long after you’ve dispatched them to the hell they came from. If shooting the body parts off mutant monsters and other grisly abominations sounds like your idea of a good time, check out Resident Evil.
Killer Instinct 2 / Killer Instinct Gold
Instinct 2 was a breath of fresh air in the fighting game market. Which was released in the arcades in early 1996, but by the end of the year it was releaed on the Nintendo 64 as Killer Instinct Gold. It was a breath of fresh air, I mean it was a spine-shattering, limb-smashing, combo-monster that took players all over the world by storm. Building on the already stellar fighting mechanics of the first game, Killer Instinct 2 delivered better graphics, a more refined combat system (this was the first game in the series featuring the Super Meter) and a few new characters. Throws, which is now a staple of all fighting games, were also first introduced in Killer Instinct 2. This was one of the perfect games to play with your friends, strapping yourself to your couch and smashing each other in the face until you went back for one more match, over and over again.
So, what did you think about this list? Do you think we left out something that absolutely MUST be on here? Let us know in the comments, and watch out for Part 2 where we will talk about some more classic games from 1996.