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It was the best of times. But which were the best of games?

This week the year 1996 made a bombastic comeback in the form of <span class="bold">STRAFE&reg;</span>, a roguelike/FPS celebrating the feel of classic shooters that came out around that time, powered by modern technology and a retrospective eye. But 1996 was not just about FPSs - in fact it gave us a whole bunch of unparalleled classics. Let's look back at some of the ones we were playing between watching new episodes of the X-Files and marvelling at GIFs of a 3D dancing baby.

Civilization II: Sid Meier's masterpiece series of turn-based strategies was hitting its stride, while shaping a whole sub-genre in its wake. Responsible for many a failed school project.

Duke Nukem 3D: Kick-ass FPS action doesn't get much better than that! In his prime, the Duke could take on anything the competition would throw at him and still keep his cool. Best played while chewing on bubblegum.

<span class="bold">Zork: Nemesis</span>: Before this quirky adventure game series fell out of the spotlight, Nemesis tried a shift towards a more brooding, mature tone which was met with suspicion but eventually won fans over thanks to its clever puzzles and high FMV production values.

Daggerfall: The Elder Scrolls properly rose to prominence with its follow-up, <span class="bold">Morrowind</span>, but Daggerfall's massive open world was the herald of the great things the series had in store for all RPG fans.

<span class="bold">Quake</span>: STRAFE's direct competitor that year, this frantic FPS swapped DOOM's futuristic setting for an oppressive gothic maze full of pixelated demons and trend-setting weapons that earned the genre a whole lot of new fans.

<span class="bold">Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive</span>: One of the select few adventures to successfully challenge the popular opinion that FMV = trainwreck. The beloved gumshoe's fourth outing is still considered by most as the pinnacle of the series, offering amazing gameplay and a mature -albeit pulpy- story that still retained that charming goofiness Tex was known for.

<span class="bold">Master of Orion II</span>: It solidified the legend of its predecessor and made space 4X games a big thing. Celebrated for its addictive complexity and depth, MOO II oozed innovation and polish from every pore - the unmistakable markings of a true classic.

Diablo: It pretty much single-handedly spawned the genre of isometric action-RPGs with its randomized levels, criminally addictive clickety-click gameplay, and a dark lore which culminated into that unforgettable finale. Even after all these years, it's impossible not to stay a while and listen to the guitar theme on Tristram.

<span class="bold">Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars</span>: Adventure games were firing on all cylinders and Revolution's mystery point & click was a masterful blend of historical fiction, subtle comedy, and stunning cartoon graphics. The goat puzzle could have been less of a headache, though.

<span class="bold">Tomb Raider</span>: It was love at first sight. How couldn't it be? This was a bold 3D action/adventure with a sexy leading lady, beautiful locales, immersive exploration, and intense treasure-hunting - pretty much all our gaming fantasies rolled into one.

Did any 1996 game(s) manage to fulfill your fantasies? Which one do you have the fondest memories of?
Post edited May 16, 2017 by maladr0Id
I would say Wing Commander 3 was a better FMV game and came out 2 years before tex murphy did. At least it had more interesting props and costumes ;)
(The Original) Strife is still my favorite game, and I like to come back to it now and then for a play-through. It had a fairly unique setting, plus unique gameplay mechanics for its time.
high rated
I wish some of those were here like Civilization 2 and Diablo.
high rated
As amazing as the actual classic games are, that's how unamazing Strafe is.
It's not a 'comeback' of 1996, but the very definition of how lackluster game development has become for the most part in the last few years.
Post edited May 13, 2017 by Smannesman
high rated
Will you stop feeding into the complete BS that Strafe is in any way shape or form a throwback game? Or even a good game.

Haven't you done enough ignorant things lately GOG?
Post edited May 13, 2017 by ReynardFox
avatar Diablo:
Believe it or not - I only ever played the demo of that.
Liked it very much, but never got around, to actually buy the full version.
avatar <span class="bold">Tomb Raider</span>: It was love at first sight.
Absolutely - I loved it.
The sense of exploring, finding the solutions to overcome hurdles, etc.
No other game could match that (at that time).

I think, TR was the game that let me think "Ok,...this 3D fad may lead to something, eventually"
I wasn't allowed to play FPS games as a kid, so I was more an RTS/4X/Sim/Puzzle gamer at that stage of my life and most of the games from 1996 are either FPS, things I either didn't have access to at the time, things I wasn't aware of (eg. Donkey Kong Country 3), or things I didn't start playing until at least 5 years later.

In fact, 1996 was an especially bad year for that because of how heavily the market seemed to be focusing on FPS games.

The games I remember loving not too long after they came out in 1996:
- Master of Orion 2
- Rayman
- SimCity 2000
- SimTower
- Super Mario RPG
- The Time Warp of Dr. Brain
- Warcraft 2

I also missed quite a few. For example, I loved Command & Conquer: Red Alert, but missed the original C&C, which was the one that came out in 1996.
avatar Diablo:
BreOl72: Believe it or not - I only ever played the demo of that.
Liked it very much, but never got around, to actually buy the full version.
*chuckle* I've always been a bit of a collector so I was the opposite. I did eventually buy the Diable Battle Chest, but never beat either of the Diablo games because other stuff interested me more.

I still remember the "A lone monk walks into the den of the devil himself. May God have mercy on the devil." ad for Sierra's licensed Hellfire expansion from their "InterAction" magazine and finally picked up a copy off eBay a couple of years ago.
Post edited May 13, 2017 by ssokolow
" Did any 1996 game(s) manage to fulfill your fantasies? Which one do you have the fondest memories of? "

Yup, Daggerfall, big undertaking to try to complete it at the time.
Only to fail miserably, don't think i made it out of the starting dungeon, bloody imp did for me.
Did so again upon buying it again here, fired it up, died the same way from the same imp......lesson not learnt.

Diablo, Civ2, Moo2, Quake, are all still solid games, tho you don't sell Diablo, you tease, " sniff " shame that.

No interest in STRAFE, but nice try.
Yeah Tomb Raider completely wiped me out the first time I played it - don't think any game since has had quite the same impact in terms of the WOW factor for me.
Post edited May 14, 2017 by heartburnron
1996? Apart from duke3D and TR one game in particular etched itself permanently into my memory, along with one glorious number from its soundtrack : Hellmarch
1996? Diablo for certain.

And Crusader: No Regret.
Post edited May 13, 2017 by willyum
My gaming career started in 1997, but with a real 1996 classic you forgot to mention: The Settlers 2! Still an amazing game, together with it's remake (which itself is now over ten years old). Other than that, I've played Diablo pretty early on, but not much else. All other games I've played from that particular year I played much, much later.
Well, Daggerfal for me has a special place. The first open, massive world. I don't know how many times I played itbut never finishing it. It makes Skyrim a walk in the parc if you compare.

Thankfully Bethesda has put it in free dowload on their website, maybe i will give a try. I just hope it is the patched version as I have vivid memories of the numerous bugs...
Post edited May 13, 2017 by Silverbow
Matewis: 1996? Apart from duke3D and TR one game in particular etched itself permanently into my memory, along with one glorious number from its soundtrack : Hellmarch
I was going to come and shout at people for forgetting that but your video has sufficiently distracted me.