With E3 2016 being the biggest news this week, we thought we’d rewind the clock twenty years, back to 1996 when Nintendo, Sega and the newest player on the console block, the Playstation were the headline acts.
After wowing the crowds with their hardware the previous year, Playstation ensured that the 1996 E3 event was going to be even bigger and better by announcing a price drop to get the console into more homes, sending shivers down the spines of the old guard, Nintendo and Sega. Not to be outdone in the gaming stakes, Sony Computer Entertainment introduced everyone to Crash Bandicoot, who would go on to become a PlayStation mascot (and get remastered for the the PS4 20 years later!) and Lara Croft, whose appearance in Tomb Raider was the first step towards becoming a cultural icon.
At this second ever Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sega was showing off the latest and greatest games for their Saturn in the hope of making a dent in the Playstation’s armour. With games like Virtua Fighter 3 (which was ultimately cancelled), Fighting Vipers, Virtua Cop 2, NiGHTS into Dreams, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei and Daytona USA (among others) from their own stable, Sega was ensuring that heads would be turned towards their 32-bit beast.
Third-party Saturn games were also announced by Acclaim (Alien Trilogy, Battle Monsters, The Crow: City of Angels, Dragonheart and Space Jam), Ubisoft (Rayman 2), Capcom (Marvel Super Heroes), Crystal Dyanmics (3D Baseball, Ghost Rider and Legacy Of Kain) and Konami (ISS Deluxe and NBA Hangtime).
Sega also wanted to show that there was still (some) life left in their 16-bit Mega Drive (Genesis) by showing off Arcade Classics, Sonic 3D Blast, Vectorman 2, X-Perts and X-Women (which never saw the light of day!). Perhaps Sega should have given up on their 16-bit console (and it’s many add-ons) and concentrate their might on the 32-bit battleground. Ah hindsight, it’s always 20/20.
And then there was Nintendo. The Kyoto giant chose the 1996 E3 event to showcase their latest hardware, the Nintendo 64. Nintendo chose to up the ante in the ‘bit’ wars by leaping over their two main rivals with their 32-bit systems. Basking in the glory of their 16-bit success with the SNES and full of confidence, Nintendo chose to stick with cartridges rather then the now-accepted CD format. To ensure that the Nintendo 64 was going to pull-in the crowds at E3 that year, Nintendo had a number of launch titles available to experience – Wave Race 64, Pilotwings 64, Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire and Super Mario 64. New hardware needs a ‘killer app’ that captures the public’s imagination and makes consumers snap up a machine – Super Mario 64, just like Super Mario Bros did for the NES, did exactly that! With Mario entering 3D for the first time, Nintendo no doubt were the best in show at E3 1996.
What product will wow us and become best in show at E3 2016?