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1996, Game of the Year

Civilization II 3 3.66%
Quake 0 0%
Pokemon R/G/B/Y 12 14.63%
Super Mario RPG 3 3.66%
Crash Bandicoot 0 0%
Resident Evil 6 7.32%
Tomb Raider 6 7.32%
Super Mario 64 39 47.56%
Mario Kart 64 3 3.66%
Other (please specify) 10 12.20%

The 1996 Game of the Year is Super Mario 64.
The runner up is Pokemon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow.
The master thread for all of these contests can be found here.

Please comment on what you believe to be the Game of the Year for 1996.  You might even want to discuss/argue with other posters first before you vote.  Or maybe you just want to argue with yourself first?  Whatever.  Please vote for Game of the Year for 1996 and post why.  Without further ado, here is the list of games.


Sid Meier’s Civilization II (PC)
This second entry into the Civilization series was even more popular than the first, selling 3 million copies total.  It was later ported to Mac and Playstation.


Quake (PC/Linux)
Quake was the next big FPS from id Software.  Unlike Doom, it was considered “true 3D”, while Doom is sometimes called “2.5D” for using some 2D elements.  Quake went on to sell over 1.4 million units by the end of 1997 and it was ported to several other platforms including N64 and Saturn.

Pokemon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow (Game Boy)
The Game Boy was outdated technology when it launched back in 1989, so by 1996 it was more than ready to be retired.  Or was it?  When this first Pokemon game released it revitalized the Game Boy platform effectively giving it a lifespan lasting 2 generations, a feat not repeated by any other major console.  This first Gameboy entry in the Pokemon series, across all SKU’s, has gone on to sell over 46 million copies making it even more popular than Tetris on the Game Boy with it’s measly 35 million copies.


Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)
Squaresoft and Nintendo had gotten so close, that Nintendo had them make a RPG using their beloved Mario characters.  And since these years represent Squaresoft at their best, they made what is often considered the best Mario RPG of all time.  Super Mario RPG sold over 2.1 million copies on the SNES and has a highly anticipated remake coming out later this year.

Crash Bandicoot (Playstation)
The small development team at Naughty Dog decided to expand their studio and make this platformer for the Playstation.  It would go on to be Sony’s mascot during the Playstation years.  Crash Bandicoot would sell over 6.8 million copies on the Playstation.


Resident Evil (Playstation/PC)
Capcom creates the definitive name in survival horror with Resident Evil.  Survive in a mansion while being chased by zombies and running out of ammo.  Resident Evil would sell over 5 million copies on the Playstation alone, while also getting ported to the PC the same year and Saturn in the following year.


Tomb Raider (Saturn/PC/Playstation)
Combine guns, platforming, interesting level design and some polygonal T&A, and you’ve got a winning combination.  Tomb Raider would sell over 7.1 million copies on the Playstation alone, making it even more popular of a title than the one with Sony’s mascot.


Super Mario 64 (N64)
While Playstation was making games with 3D graphics, this first 3D Mario title would show off how to use a dynamic camera and an analogue stick in a 3D action game.  It would become the best-selling title on the N64 with over 11.9 million copies sold.


Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Mario Kart would go 3D the same year that Mario platforming went 3D.  Mario Kart was the second-best selling title on the N64 with over 9.8 million copies sold.


Other (please specify)
If you think another game deserves to be "Game of the Year" other than one of the 9 I listed above, then please vote “Other” and say your game in the comments.  If the "Other" category takes at least 2nd place and no other game gets at least 50% of the vote, then I will do a runoff vote including the most mentioned game(s) from the comments.

The winner of this vote will be decided Thursday, Oct 12 at 11:59 EST.


Last edited by The_Liquid_Laser - on 13 October 2023

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Here are some other notable games from 1996:

Dead or Alive (Arcade)
House of the Dead (Arcade)
Metal Slug (Arcade)
X-Men vs Street Fighter (Arcade)
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (PC)
Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
Heroes of Might and Magic 2 (PC)
Lords of the Realm 2 (PC/Mac)
Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares (PC)
Command and Conquer: Red Alert (PC)
Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri (PC)
Sonic CD (Sega CD)
Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES)
Kirby Super Star (SNES)
Nights into Dreams (Saturn)
Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn)
PaRappa the Rapper (Playstation)
Twisted Metal 2 (Playstation)
Wave Race 64 (N64)
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (N64)

Pokemon Red/Blue is my favourite here. Lots of great games in that list though, and the beginning of some huge franchises.

Pretty crazy how many big series/subseries started in 96. This is the closest one for me so far between Pokémon and Mario 64, both have aged quite a bit but were really great starts to their respective series. But since I have to choose one it will be Pokémon because I still think gen 1 is the best one in a few regards (best pokémon designs by a mile for example) while I think Galaxy and Odyssey surpassed 64 in pretty much every way.

So my top 3 would be:

  1. Pokémon Gen 1
  2. Super Mario 64
  3. Super Mario RPG

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People are entitled to their opinions but for me Mario 64 is easily the most revolutionary game made. It ushered in 3D and analog as a standard.


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It's Mario 64.
It wrote the book on how camera and controls should work in a 3D game, to the point where if you've played almost any modern 3D game, the DNA of Mario 64 is readily apparent.
Beyond being revolutionary, it was also packed with content, bursting with clever ideas, and justr great fun.

At the time, I think Crash was probably my favorite game of those in the poll. But, Super Mario 64 was certainly a bigger deal overall, especially with the benefit of hindsight. So, that's what I voted for.

While Quake is a major step technologically I never liked the mushy textures of the game. I am enjoying (to this day actually) much more the recogniozable settings and the refined gameplay of Duke Nukem 3D, with great level design. So this gets my vote.

Shoutout to Chaos Overlords, a pretty good turn based strategy game with you overtaking a city. It is from New World Computing, which manifested as a pinnacle in strategy games, including making Heroes of Might and Magic 3 later, which I love.

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I went other. Command and Conquer red alert. I just had more fun playing that then anything else that year.

Like I said on the 1995 thread, the Golden Age of Gaming has shifted into gear. This year is no exception, and the trend is even going up and will still be going up for the next couple of years. I mean, look at the list. Both of them.

Here in Europe, the N64 wasn't released until 1997 so the N64 games for me, are 1997 games, but obviously, that doesn't make them less good. The mentioned N64 games here; Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Wave Race 64 and Star Wars Shadows of the Empire, have all been played to death by yours truly and two of them are really special. Then, besides that, there's the likes of Pokémon, which while not released in Europe until as late as 1999 became one of my greatest addictions for a while. I cannot just ignore that. I owned the Blue version. Furthermore I played Quake, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Duke Nukem 3D, C&C Red Alert and Donkey Kong Country 3 just from the lists here. There's probably a bunch more which I can't even remember right now. Crash Bandicoot in particular deserves a shoutout, the start of a great series, but its two sequels were better.

Still though, like 1995, this year has a very clear winner. The game that's basically the perfect game. It embodies what it is to be a video game and it is one of the most important games ever made. This is of course Super Mario 64. What I mentioned Yoshi's Island was for 2D platforming, Super Mario 64 is for 3D platforming. It is fun, it is intuitive, it has the greatest levels, a perfect difficulty curve, the most memorable music and last but not least Charles Martinet's iconic voice-work.