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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
In 1996 my roommate and I used to play Duke Nukem 3D quite a bit. Since we didn't have a LAN at the time, we would connect via modem, which seems pretty silly but it worked out fine.

Death Rally is another 1996 title that I really enjoyed. It was Remedy's first game, when they still had members of the Future Crew working for them.
jdvegmond: I loved Toonstruck and Discworld II. I'm still waiting for the latter to come to GOG.
Oh man, Toonstruck was the first point & click I ever completed! I was playing it parallel to Pandora Directive, but that game took me forever to finish.

Oh, and even though its visuals haven't aged as gracefully, I will always prefer Discworld: Noir over Missing Presumed..!? (or Mortality Bytes, depending on your location). Sold me into giving the Watch books a try, plus its manual had some pretty good jokes :)
Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix 2. Proper texture mapping, decent physics given technical limitations, accurate tracks, great AI and forced you to set up your car for the race weekend. I still prefer it to any other simulator, although GP4 gave it a run for its money.

Geeky comment, but the menus went downhill after GP2; they were meant to be more intuitive, but it was like moving from Excel 97 to the one with the ribbon...
I loved Diablo and CIV II, played them both like crazy. But, why do you mention the games, they are NOT on GoG!
21 years ago! Holy cow.... I'm not the strapping young lad I used to be :( These incredible games + high school didn't go over so well for me. Many missed assignments, sleepless nights, and flat out skipping school due to that awesome decade for PC gaming.

I know I shouldn't, but I do miss it dearly.
I would add Heroes of Might and Magic II to this list. The game that really put turn-based heroic fantasy themed PC strategy games on the map. IIRC Warlords 3: Reign of Heroes was also released in 1996 but it really did not get its legs until the Warlords III: Darklords Rising version a few years later.

I still play Civilization II and consider it the best of the Civ' games.

Duke Nukem 3D remains the best FPS in my opinion (though Shadow Warrior -classic and Blood and Outlaws all deserve mention as well though they were all released later than 1996).

EDIT: Ack! I did not realize this thread had two pages and HoMM II was already mentioned several times. LOL.

Also Diablo did not spawn the randomized dungeon generation. Look up the term "rogue-like games" (and Rogue specifically) for that.
Post edited May 16, 2017 by SkeleTony
Silverbow: 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...
Erm, not sure I'm stating the obvious here, but since it's easy to miss...
Daggerfall is actually on Gog as well, included as a free "goodie" with the purchase of Morrowind. Just in case you find yourself already in possession of that game ;)

As for the topic at hand, from the list items I only played Diablo and Quake around that time, both in English, which I had only the faintest grasp on back then... Didn't really understand what was going on most of the time, not that this fact hampered enjoyment of the games that much.
I do distinctly remember playing LOL2 (which apparently, is a '97 release?) and being majorly impressed by the graphics, gameplay and semi-open world. Ah, the sense of wonder and discovery... Good times!

Edit: Oh, and Albion! Apparently the international release was in '96, so I suppose that counts.
Post edited May 17, 2017 by WildHobgoblin
Yes, though I think that 1999 is a much better year fir gaming than 1996, Still, I Enjoyed Quake, Duke3D, Diablo, Master of Orion II and Megarace 2
No-one mentioning C&C Red Alert?

Kinda curious why the mentions on certain games that GoG don't have though.
DariusAPB: No-one mentioning C&C Red Alert?
Eight people before you mentioned Red Alert. It's amazing that you missed all of them.
Marvel Superheroes in War of the Gems: A great forgotten sequel to Mutant Apocalypse, a fun platformer and Roguelike
Mario 64: The definitive 3D platformer
Donkey kong Country 3: Easier than the other games, but still awesome.
Crash Bandicoot: A great 2D platformer on a system that had way too many boring 3D platformers.
Bad Mojo, Discworld 2, Leisure Suit larry 7, Rama, Spycraft: great creative adventure games.
Puzzle Bubble 2 and 3 and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo: Awesome games that turn action games into puzzle games but are exactly as exciting.
Wing Commander 4: Great space simulator with a great ending
Terra Nova: Fun tactical game with more crewativity than most.
Sexy Parodius: Wonderfully surreal shooter.
Metal Slug: Fine Contra tribute
Duke Nukem 3D: Classic Doom clone.
Legacy of Kain: blood Omen: Great game that really makes you feel like a vampire. Why is every other game here but not this?
Milon's Doremi Fantasy: Not a great game, but an enjoyable platformer.