Usually the beginning of these editorials starts with a small discussion about a popular tv show that was released in the given year, however, 1996 is a different beast. In 1996, the cinematic masterpiece Space Jam was released to movie theaters worldwide only for absolutely everyone to love it. Not to be outshone by the Citizen Kane of the ’90s though, there was an absolute avalanche of video games that were released in 1996 and this editorial will attempt to salvage them from freezing to death similar to the way a specially-trained dog would.
Starting off for the year of 1996 in notable video game releases is Duke Nukem 3D which released in January and proved to be a success after selling over 3 million copies despite the fact that it was much harder in some regions to buy than the average game due to restrictions placed upon more adult games at the time. Duke Nukem 3D was not the only major first-person shooter released at the time though as Quake was also released in June of 1996 and only got bigger and bigger as time went on with more additions and new games in the franchise. 1996 was also a big year for new franchises with games such as Tomb Raider, Diablo, and Resident Evil, all of which sold millions of copies and were critically-acclaimed at the time. Meanwhile, there were some other newcomers that were positively-recieved, but did not go on to sell as many copies like Nights Into Dreams for the Sega Saturn and Revelations: Persona for the PlayStation. Mario also had a very good year in 1996 as Super Mario RPG and Super Mario 64 were released in North America within a six-month period both doing extremely well in their own right. Nintendo really thought they had taken the gaming realm by storm with the latter, until an intrepid hero found his way into the third-dimension of gaming with Bubsy 3D, a classic title that ages like a fine wine each year.
But how does one play video games without a console to play them on? Are gamers expected to make the console around the video game the same way one arranges a room around the couch? No, Nintendo answered the cries of gamers with the release of the Nintendo 64 so that players could then plug their games into a pre-made console in a work of sheer brilliance. With a price of only $200 at the time coupled with some major Nintendo franchises going 3D, the Nintendo 64 did well with over 30 million units sold but was ultimately unable to defeat the PlayStation which sold 100 million units in its lifetime. Nintendo also released a redesign of the original Game Boy called the Game Boy Pocket which was faster and lighter than its previous iteration, however it was not until 1998 that a Game Boy with a built-in backlight was released which was a common complaint for the original Game Boy and the Pocket model. Consoles were not the only interesting pieces of hardware released in 1996 though as Sega released the Sega Model 3 which was the most powerful arcade system board at the time and had games such as Virtua Fighter 3 and Daytona USA 2. N
Now it is time to close this editorial out with the new companies of 1996 and where they are today starting off with Valve, famous for games like Half-Life 2 and Portal who has since then moved on to the cultivation of the Steam marketplace along with multiple pieces of software and hardware such as Source Filmmaker and the Steam Link. The popular gaming website GameSpot also saw its creation in 1996 and at its peak had over 60 million annual visitors. In 1996 the late Tom Clancy co-founded Red Storm Entertainment which is in turn known for franchises such as “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” and “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon.” Although, Red Storm is also responsible for co-developing some of the games in the “Far Cry” franchise as it is owned by Ubisoft as well. Last up is Firaxis games which was founded by Sid Meier along with partners Jeff Briggs, and Brian Reynolds and is famous for the “Civilization” franchise of video games along with the “XCOM” franchise. Please note that they are not responsible, however, for the upcoming Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
So that is all that and bag of chips for the year of 1996, the only thing left is for you to leave a comment below to let us know what you think. Did you play any of these fantastic games, or do you think they were less than fantastic? What was your stake in the competition between the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn? Whatever the case may be, make your voice heard!