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By this time, the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn were both on the market dueling each other for market supremacy, while gamers were left to wonder when they would see the N64.  That being the case, most now wanted to see what was in store for this next generation of consoles now that the ball had started rolling.  Looking back, one thing that can be discerned is that even a decade ago sequels were king, despite certain message board denizens today’s claims that this is somehow a new phenomenon.




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E3 Chronicles: The First 10 Years - 1996


The Hardware:




Really the only company at the show with a major hardware showing, partially due to the delay of the N64’s release, there were a few things to look at from Nintendo in ’96.  There were still plenty of demos running for the N64, we saw the signs that the Virtual Boy was on its way to an early grave after Nintendo announced they were dropping the price of the thing to $100US, and the Gameboy Pocket was announced as a new version of the popular handheld, but 35% smaller.




Things were already looking uncertain for the Saturn by the time the second E3 rolled around.  Due to Sony announcing a price cut to the PlayStation bringing its MSRP down to $199US, Sega was forced to match it, thus having to sell the system at half the price it was at a year earlier.  Despite this, Sega did have an interesting add-on to show for the Saturn with the NetLink, which would allow Saturn users to get on the Web, though as neat as the peripheral sounded, the $200US price tag wasn’t going to make it many friends.




The Games:




Still in a time when Acclaim had the rights to make wrestling games, they got a fair bit of attention for WWF: In Your House, and WWF: The Arcade game at E3 1996.  Also of note was their latest installment in the NBA Jam series, NBA Jam Extreme.




For 1996, Capcom had a slightly quieter showing than the year previous at 


E3.  In their booth one could find the 2D title Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems for SNES, Street Fighter Alpha 2, and the home version of their first 3D arcade fighting game, Star Gladiator for the PlayStation, which would eventually be doomed to drastic discounting and bargain bins across North America.




Coming into the expo swinging, Konami made another strong showing this year.  Despite the publisher starting the downward spiral of the Contra series with Contra: Legacy of War, which was shown at this E3, complete with 3D glasses hype, there were quite a few games that got gamers attention.  Firstly, the Snatcher sequel, Policenauts, was going to be making its way to the Saturn, and Lethal Enforces I and II were going to be combined onto one CD for the PlayStation.




Walk over to where Namco was on the show floor, and it quickly became apparent that sequels were the order of the day.  They had Ridge Racer Revolution, and Tekken 2 on display, sequels to games that were being shown at E3 only a year ago.  What caught most people’s attention, though, was the new sword-swinging fighting game, Soul Edge, for the PlayStation.  The things people could do in this game looked so great that few could resist checking it out.




It was a very busy year for the big N at E3 1996.  With the Nintendo 64 delayed, they had a lot to do to prove they wouldn’t disappoint when the console was finally released.  The one title that had everyone’s jaws on the floor that year was Mario 64.  It was 3D, gorgeous, and looked like a ton of fun, making it the game everyone was talking about at the show.  Gamers got their first look at Shadows of the Empire, taking the first level of the game for a spin in the demo on display at the show.  Besides this, Nintendo showed that perhaps games where people use jet skis may be a good idea, with Wave Race, and we also saw the return of a classic with Pilotwings 64.




Hello, and welcome to Sequel County.  While there were a lot of sequels shown in 1996, it seemed like absolutely every game shown by Psygnosis was a sequel.  There was WipEout XL, Destruction Derby 2, and lots of lemmings to look at.  The only new franchise to be seen was Tenka.




Coming in with legions of upcoming PlayStation games to show off, there was a lot to look at from Sony in 1996.  While some classics of the early days of the PlayStation debuted here, like Jet Moto and Jumping Flash! 2, what really got pushed this year were RPGs, one good, the other the butt of many jokes to this day.  On the good side, Arc the Lad was displayed with its strategy gaming approach to play.  On the bad side one could find Beyond the Beyond, which, for all intents and purposes, looked and played like a game that should have been released five years earlier.  Also of note at the Sony booth in 1996 was Squaresoft’s fighting game, Tobal No.1.




Despite the tough time Sega was having with hardware come this E3, they did make a decent showing of games.  With games like Fighting Vipers, Virtua Cop 2, Virtua Fighter Kids, and Virtua Fighter 3 being shown for the Saturn, Sega fans had a lot to be excited about.  However, what got most people falling out of their seats was NiGHTS, which would go on to become one of the best games of all time.


Back to E3 1995 // To E3 Hub  //  On to E3 1997


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