All the Games From 1996 You Should Still Be Playing

All the Games From 1996 You Should Still Be Playing

The year 1996 represents a high point in the gaming industry. Many of the games released that year became titans that made the industry into what it is today. These games dominated the scene and created iconic series. The games that were released in 1996 may be retro, but they still have that superstar quality that made them exciting and fun in the first place.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest games from 1996. Each of these games is a must-play just so you gain a better understanding of gaming history. These games may be more than twenty-five years old, but they more than hold up to the test of time. Let’s jump right into this list of bangers.

Super Mario 64

©Screenshot from Super Mario 64 – License

We’re starting off this list with one of the greatest games to ever grace the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 64 has a legacy that reaches far and wide. Super Mario 64 took the typical story of a little plumber saving Princess Peach from the evil Bowers and turned it into the very first Super Mario 3D platformer. It was an ambitious title that became a smash hit for Nintendo.

Super Mario 64 won four different Game of the Year awards, cementing it in the video game Hall of Fame. Even today, Super Mario 64 is still an incredibly popular game. There is a dedicated speedrunning and modding community for the decades-old game. Super Mario 64 definitely deserves to be on this list, but it could be argued that it is a contender for the greatest game of all time.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider 96 promo poster

©Core Design

Our next entry created one of the most iconic female characters in gaming. Tomb Raider lets players control the archeologist Lara Croft as she delves through ancient ruins, looking for powerful artifacts. Tomb Raider was a thrilling action-adventure game that left a permanent mark on the gaming industry. The importance of this game cannot be understated. Tomb Raider helped pave the way for all the amazing female protagonists we have today.

The franchise this game spawned is still alive and well today. A remaster of the original three Tomb Raider games was recently released in February of 2024. Gamers get to experience this legendary game with the quality of modern-day consoles. 

Resident Evil

Resident Evil title screen

©Gameplay screenshot

The year 1996 gave birth to one of the greatest survival horror series to ever exist. Resident Evil was originally supposed to be a remake of a horror game called Sweet Home. It quickly morphed into a zombie game about a special task force attempting to escape a mansion infested with the dead. Resident Evil’s high-tension gameplay offered a unique experience that’s still rememberable today.

This singular game sparked a massive franchise filled with sequels, movies, novels, and plays. Over the years, there have been multiple remakes and remasters of the original Resident Evil. The latest one came out in 2015. If you have an interest in survival horror, Resident Evil is the perfect place to start.


©Quake cover art

Quake was a spiritual successor to id Software’s popular Doom series. Just like DoomQuake is a first-person shooter where players must fight monsters in maze-like levels. Quake has its own engine that created a thriving multiplayer community surrounding the game’s online deathmatch mode.

The quality and popularity of Quake resulted in a yearly convention called QuakeCon. The convention has been called the “Woodstock of gaming”. Just like with Super Mario 64, there is a dedicated speedrunning community for Quake that is always looking for new techniques and exploits. Not only is Quake a phenomenal game, it’s also a game that brings people together.

Pokemon Red/Blue

Pokémon Red Version

©IGDB – License

The original Pokemon games might be the most important games to ever exist. Pokemon Red & Blue kickstarted the single biggest video game franchise in the world. Pokemon has generated more than $88 billion since its creation in 1996.

Who would have guessed that this simple little game about collecting and fighting monsters would become the behemoth that it is today? The original 151 Pokemon are some of the most recognizable designs in the world. The initial success of Pokemon Red & Blue was the beginning of a dynasty that seems to have no end.

Super Mario RPG

This screenshot from the remake of Super Mario RPG shows the redesigned main characters.

©Screenshot from Super Mario RPG – License

Another Super Mario game has managed to earn a spot on this list. Just like how Super Mario 64 was the first 3D platformer in the series, Super Mario RPG was the first roleplaying game. This game follows Mario and his friends as they try to restore a magical wish-granting pathway called the Star Road.

Many consider Super Mario RPG to be one of the best games of all time. This RPG was like a breath of fresh air for Super Mario. Although Super Mario RPG never got a direct sequel, it did inspire multiple other Mario RPGs. If you want to experience one of the greatest games ever made you can play the remake of Super Mario RPG, released in 2023 on the Nintendo Switch.

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot Screenshot


During its marketing, Crash Bandicoot was portrayed as the killer of Mario and Sonic. While the wacky platformer didn’t murder the plumber and the hedgehog, it did become a worthy competitor. This game about a mutated bandicoot trying to save his girlfriend would become one of PlayStation’s best-selling games.

Just like many other games on this list, Crash Bandicoot was the first step in a massively successful franchise. The game’s developer, Naughty Dog, went on to create multiple sequels and a kart racing game. Fans of the franchise can now play the original Crash Bandicoot, and two of its sequels on modern consoles in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy remaster.

Mario Kart 64

©Start screen of Mario Kart 64

1996 was a really good year for Mario fans, because once again, a Mario game has found its way onto our list. Mario Kart 64 took the original Mario Kart from flat 2D graphics to 3D graphics and four-player support. This game represented a huge step in the Mario Kart series and set the tone for the rest of the games in the series.

Many fans consider Mario Kart 64 to be the best game in the series by far. There exists a long and rich speeding running history that has kept the competitive racing scene alive. Although there isn’t a current-day remake of the game, many of the tracks have been redesigned for Mario Kart 8.

Mega Man 8

Mega Man 8 Cover Art

©Mega Man 8 Cover Art

We’ve added a game to our list that many consider to be the king of side-scrolling platformersMega Man 8 upgraded the classic 8-bit Mega Man for 32-bit consoles. Once again, Mega Man must defeat the evil Dr. Wily and his powerful robot masters. Although Mega Man 8 doesn’t change much of the usual Mega Man formula, it does refine it to its finest form.

Mega Man 8 has been re-released multiple times on newer consoles. It has been compiled in both Mega Man Anniversary Collection and Mega Man Legacy Collection 2. This game is an important part of the Mega Man series that introduced players to a new art style and graphics.

Metal Slug

©Metal Slug

The arcade games of 1996 certainly deserve some recognition on this list. Metal Slug is a dynamic run-and-gun arcade game. The game dominated the arcade scene after its release, becoming one of the highest-grossing arcade games during that year.

The game’s nonstop action, tongue-in-cheek humor, and hand-drawn animation made Metal Slug beloved. The success of Metal Slug resulted in many different sequels and spin-offs. The original Metal Slug game has been re-released on a number of consoles, including the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

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