"Which year was the best in video game history? Which 12 month period had the biggest releases and the most influential games? Join us over the next few days as we look back in time at five of the most outstanding years in games. Today, we look back at 1996.
In 1996, the industry landscape was forever altered with a handful of game-changing new franchises. It was a golden year for strong leading characters and equally strong new gameplay ideas, both from Japanese and Western studios. Icons that are now household names—including Lara Croft and Crash Bandicoot--were born in 1996. It was a good year to be a Mario fan as well, with still-beloved favorites from two branches of the franchise making their debut. Not to mention this was the year the world got Pokémon, a series that would reach dizzying heights of popularity nearly two decades later."