Games of the Twentieth Century. The year 1996

It was a tumultuous year. The presidential elections in the United States, the war in Iraq, the Olympics and Princess Diana's divorce, airplane crashes and natural disasters. Meanwhile, the game industry gave away a whole bunch of hits. It was like yesterday... Do you remember?


  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: id Software
  • Publisher: GT Interactive Software

Every year the developers are getting harder and harder to surprise the players. The latest graphics and revolutionary mechanics are no longer able to create that "wow-effect" that was inherent in almost every hit of the last century. The time when the sun shone brighter, computers did not gobble up thousands of megabytes, and there were no silicone men walking around the streets. A time when programmers were afraid to say the words "polygonal model" out loud...

Quake Screenshot

In 1996, the famous Quake managed to literally cut a window on the future - to think, the first game without a hint of sprites! It was the apogee of technology. A modern player, who was not so impressed with Crysis, is unlikely to realize how much fun it was to run around with a shotgun in front of you through grim, poorly detailed mazes and shoot stiff-necked weirdos. And to realize that it was done in honest 3D!

By the way, we owe Quake the emergence of such a trend as cyber sports. Initially there was only a LAN network mode, but six months later the authors have introduced support for online battles. The public liked the multiplayer mode so much that id Software even organized a tournament QuakeCon, where everyone could bring their computer and have a virtual war with the other Quake players.

Quake Screenshot

What Happened Next: Next, id Software created the great Quake 2, and at the turn of the millennium saw the Quake 3: Arena, which became a cyber-sport idol on a par with StarCraft and Counter-Strike. In 2005, Raven Software launched its fourth installment, but alas, it could not repeat the success of its predecessors. A couple of years later, the online action game Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was launched, and in 2010, Quake Live, the online version of Quake 3: Arena was launched. In the workshops of id Software most likely already working on Quake 5.

Duke Nukem 3D

  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: 3D Realms Entertainment
  • Publisher: GT Interactive Software

"It's time to chew gum and kick ass, but I'm out of gum." With phrases like that, the muscular blond with sunglasses has made millions of gamers around the world fall in love with him.

Duke Nukem 3D Screenshot

Duke Nukem 3D was the only game in 1996 that could compete with Quake on equal terms, being the exact opposite. Quake first and foremost tried to scare the player by driving him through gloomy, cold locations. Duke Nukem 3D took its humor and the stunningly gruff charm of its hero.

The main character kicked his opponents, called names to the person on the other side of the monitor with sharp words, gave money to a stripper, played billiards in passing, and even used the toilet for its direct purpose. Well, instead of green humanoids in Duke Nukem 3D were the real pigs. I came, I saw, I kicked ass, as the wise Duke said.

Duke Nukem 3D Screenshot

What Happened Next: Nothing good, except for the platformer Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, which came out in 2002. Development of Duke Nukem Forever began back in 1997, and since then the game has been considered the most famous long-builder in the entertainment industry. During 13 years the project has changed engines and developers several times. The last one was Gearbox Software studio, which released Duke Nukem Forever in 2011. Amen.

While we were playing Quake and Duke Nukem 3D...

  • The all-encompassing nuclear test ban treaty was adopted.
  • The authors of The Neverhood were still trying to figure out where to put the three tons of plasticine they spent on the game.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: Westwood Studios
  • Publisher: Virgin Interactive Entertainment (Europe) Ltd.

In 1946, the great physicist Albert Einstein made his greatest discovery - a machine that allowed him to travel through time. The first thing he did, when he became convinced that he could get there and when he needed to, was to eliminate Adolf Hitler from history through a handshake. Somehow this simple gesture destroyed the future great dictator and instead of World War II, Europe got a very different war. This time the aggressor was the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert Screenshot

They say "cranberries" in games, movies, and books come in three varieties: ordinary, bifurcated, and Red Alert. The game contains so many stamps and stereotypes that it can be used as a reference book! If Stalin is in the frame, you can be sure someone is about to be shot. And the essence of his Western opponents is well expressed by the dialogue between a soldier and a general: "Private, who do you see?" - "Stalin, sir!" - "I don't see anybody..." - "My bad, sir! I don't see anybody either, sir!"

And in the midst of all this ridiculously stupid whistling there's a figure in an elegant suit, Kane. What? Where did Kane come from? So Red Alert was originally conceived as a prequel to Command & Conquer: Tiberium Dawn, which came out a year earlier. And the head of the NOD brotherhood is busy turning the Soviet Union into the base of his secret organization, while at the same time sharing the latest technology and inspiring new conquests for the country's leadership.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert Screenshot

What Happened Next: Two expansions, a PlayStation version, a full sequel in 2000, and a third installment in the series more recently. Surprisingly, despite the success of the series, Red Alert had no imitators. This is most likely because very few people know how to make such nonsense with a completely serious attitude (and at the same time make a really good strategy!).

The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall

  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: Bethesda Softworks LLC
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks LLC

"Daggerfall amazed (and continues to amaze!) above all else with its scale. The map to travel across was the size of the British Isles. Scattered throughout the map were seven thousand characters, each with his or her own name. You could go anywhere, no one was holding your hand, and the "main mission" didn't remind you much of yourself.

The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall Screenshot

In cities, towns and towns you can sell all sorts of loot from traveling, go to a tavern to rent a room for the night and have a good rest, buy something useful or just interesting - for example, a book to have something to read on the long winter nights ... And you can pester passersby with silly questions: "Tell me, my man, about the guild of thieves?" Or magicians. Or warriors. Or a knightly order of some kind. Then show up at this very guild, join it and try to make his way to the "top", or even lead ...

Guilds scare away their requirements to join? No problem, because in this world there are so many unexplored dungeons and undiscovered treasures! And all the dungeons, by the way, each time re-created from ready-made "blocks" - and will be repeated very, very soon. Although it's more or less how to say - "blanks" in fact a little. But here is their location in space (and the dungeon map is drawn in three dimensions) and the "population" is completely unpredictable and new every time.

The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall Screenshot

You can also become a mage, a warrior, a thief, a werewolf, a vampire... And a lot of other things. And if you don't abandon the main quest, you can grow up to become the savior of the Empire. Or to the destroyer - that's for you to decide which of the six possible endings to choose.

What Happened Next: the world of The Elder Scrolls series started to "shrink", and the third or fourth part did not try to surprise players with such a large scale. Most likely, it's for the best, because it was so easy to get lost in Daggerfall...

Heroes of Might and Magic 2

  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: New World Computing, Inc.
  • Publisher: New World Computing, Inc.

The second part of the series was a terse continuation of the first. More races, more charms, more troops. And this all did not ruin a good balance, not complicated the game, the races have not lost their uniqueness. Added strategic choices, for example: to improve your troops or not? Black dragons are undoubtedly good, but cost so much that just seeing them on the battlefield, the enemy could give up - you have a clear advantage on the economy.

Or take another example - necromancers. Have you taken refuge from them in a castle with a whole crowd of neutral peasants in front of it? This is a fatal mistake, because most of the strong-armed men will attack you under the banners of the enemy. They will, of course, lose all the extra pounds and be left with nothing but skinless bones... But what difference does it make to you what was holding the saber that cut you down?

Heroes of Might and Magic 2 Screenshot

But the most important thing is that full-fledged campaigns were added. Yes, such that many years later, answering the question of the agonizing 3DO "what do you remember most in the entire series?", players reverently answered - the campaign of Roland and Archibald. The misadventures of the two brothers were indeed the best story in the entire series - with a corny plot, but interesting development, little, if anything, twists and choices. Who should rule the kingdom? This simple question at the very end stumped most players. And then they enthusiastically told everyone about this wonderful game.

What Happened Next: What happened next was something strange. Developed to the point of absurdity successful ideas the third part, which gained a huge popularity mainly because of the stories about the predecessor, because after them, many people sat down for the first time with this wonderful series, immediately starting with the third part. And the first time is known to be the most memorable. Then came the ugly but original fourth... which got both the first and the second. And finally, the last part, very slow in harnessing, but then how it went!

The Neverhood

  • Genre: quest
  • Developer: DreamWorks Interactive
  • Publisher: Microsoft

Plasticine games are often like their many inhabitants - golems. Everything is there - arms, legs, head, eyes, mouth... but still a long way from being human. It lacks a soul. The Neverhood is a pure soul. And three tons of plasticine on top.

The game begins, as many would now say, formulaic: we wake up in a room. Who we are, where and why - no one knows. Well, we'll have to find out as we go. It's not hard to do, you just need to find twenty video cassettes scattered around the world and watch them on any of the many players. But already here we are in for a surprise: the cassettes are found not in order! That is, we can find, for example, the second, fifth and seventeenth, start watching them and constantly wonder who all these creatures are. The whole truth we learn only at the end. And it is highly recommended to remember it - knowing what happened will help us choose the right ending.

The Neverhood Screenshot

The game is packed like a cucumber with all sorts of surprises, jokes, and just good finds. From the second screen all the way to the end. For example, to get one of the much-needed tapes, you have to walk a couple dozen (!) screens long. And all of it is written with a story about the creation of the world. Or you go down to the bottom of a former lake and see a huge hole at the bottom. Nearby there are signs with unambiguous inscriptions "do not jump"... As far as we know, no one could resist. And the jump ended with a fall into outer space and the end of the game.

The gameplay was varied and non-linear. We had to use our memory, observation, logic, and even our ears to pick out the right tune! A puzzle could begin in one part of the world and end in another. Many locations had to be visited several times, because the world was changing from our actions. Though it was desolate - there were only five intelligent characters - it immediately became familiar. Despite all its Carrollian surrealism. And every joy was experienced as his own. Not to mention the sorrows. The demise of Big Robot Bill still haunts many who played it in their worst nightmares.

The Neverhood Screenshot

What Happened Next: It didn't quite work out that way. Two years later, a sequel came out... but only on the PlayStation, Skullmonkeys. Very few people know of its existence. And the studio that gave us the game, exactly ten years ago was bought from "that" Dreamworks. The buyer was EA. Now the movie studio releases "Shrek" and "Madagascar", and the separated gaming - its new name EA Los Angeles - Command & Conquer 4...

While we were playing The Elder Scrolls and The Neverhood...

  • The U.S. fired 44 missiles at air defense positions in Iraq. (And you say don't believe in evil!)

Road Rash

  • Genre: racing arcade
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

A motorcycle is a dangerous thing and mistakes are not forgiven. Met a tree or just a signpost? Collided with a car? Spread your arms and prepare to fly a dozen or so meters. Driving over not so big objects, be it a tire or a careless pedestrian, only throws the bike high in the air, but often ends fatally - flying out of the track into the ocean, or killing against the wall.

Road Rash Screenshot

But this is not the only danger of the bikers' severe routine. The gentlemanly behavior on the track is not welcome - you can shove each other's legs, beat your fist in the face or whip with a heavy metal chain. If you do not have a gun at the start, you can take it from an opponent or even a policeman, carelessly waving his truncheon at you.

Road Rash is a game about falls. Crashes happen with terrific regularity here. The driver doesn't care, he's immortal. He gets beaten, hit under the wheels and hit obstacles, but every time he bravely gets up and runs back to his iron horse to continue the race. Or straight to the finish line, if the crash has already happened on the entrances or the motorcycle has finally turned into a pile of junk.

Road Rash Screenshot

With each level the speed gets higher, the bikes get more expensive and the tracks get longer and more obstacles. Each victory or defeat is accompanied by excellent videos with professional stuntmen. And in the bar with the sonorous name of Der Panzer Klub beer other competitors are always ready to help you with advice or to give you another taunt.

What Happened Next: The series began on consoles, and returned to the consoles, only once, but with a proper scale of marking on PCs. There have been rumors of a full-fledged remake floating around the web, but no official announcements have been made yet. That's too bad.


  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

It's hard to believe right now, but Diablo was originally conceived as a turn-based tactical role-playing game. But in the process of development someone suggested changing everything, and in just a few hours the project became familiar to all of us. The emphasis shifted from the wagering role in favor of dynamic battles. The plot has receded into the background and, devoid of any historical references, boiled down to "evil came to the world - kill it.

Diablo Screenshot

The world could be saved by one of the three heroes. They differed from each other in one skill only. A warrior could repair weapons and armor, a mage could reload staffs, and an archer could unleash traps. Otherwise, the characters wore the same armor, used the same items, and wielded the same spells. Some differences surfaced only in the end, when it suddenly became clear that the characteristics have a "ceiling" of development and a mage will never become the most powerful, and a warrior - clever.

Diablo's success is based on fierce combat, a plethora of items, and great mechanics. The game had a somber atmosphere, soulful music, and levels generated right on the fly - each launch created a personal, unique sixteen-tiered dungeon for the player. And, of course, charismatic characters - from the inhabitants of the dilapidated village of Tristram to the main villain juicy bright red.

Diablo Screenshot

What Happened Next: The Hellfire expansion with a new hero and levels. The second installment, which set a record in terms of sales - the first million copies were sold within two weeks of launch. Then the add-on, still popular on servers. And now in the bowels of Blizzard is very busy working on the third part, this time a fully three-dimensional. And we can't even list the numerous imitators.

Tomb Raider

  • Genre: TPS
  • Developer: Core Design
  • Publisher: Eidos Interactive

The name of Lara Croft has long been a household name, every new action heroine is inevitably compared to her. She was, is and probably will be the most famous woman in the computer games industry for a long time to come. Forever young, athletic and very charming, Lara will soon celebrate her fifteenth birthday.

Tomb Raider Screenshot

The charm of the game lurked precisely in the image of the protagonist. Although, of course, to discern the outstanding virtues of Lady Croft in an angular figure of 1996, oh how not easy. Maybe earlier players had a better imagination? Otherwise, it was quite a monotonous action movie with awkward controls, naughty camera and an abundance of jumping exercises that can drive even a Zen Buddhist to the brink. But in its genre, Tomb Raider was one of the first, pointing the direction for the development of numerous followers.

Tomb Raider Screenshot

What Happened Next: New parts of Tomb Raider were released almost every year. The series went through a decline, the funeral of the main character, and then an unexpected return to the peak of popularity. Based on Lara's adventure comics and movies were created, and the poster with her image decorated the walls of many players.

Master of Orion 2

  • Genre: global strategy
  • Developer: Simtex
  • Publisher: Microprose

The universe hasn't changed much in the time we've been away. Same stars, though they no longer have a single planet as before, but entire systems, and there can be several colonies in one system. The same hand-assembled ships fly from one sun to another. And even the same mrshans and silicoids lead them to their goal... Although in this time the space has become more crowded, added "newcomers" - young races with new unique features. But the space jellyfish haven't gone anywhere, have they? What is a galaxy without space jellyfish?

Master of Orion 2 Screenshot

A little differently now are conducting research, a little different colony building and a little different manifestation of the innate characteristics of intelligent creatures familiar from the first part of the series. Everything seems to be very similar - and if you don't see it for yourself, it may seem too similar.

However, Master of Orion 2 is a full-fledged second game, not just an "overblown addition" as sometimes happens. It's just that the changes, unnoticeable at first glance, catch your eye a little later. And then it becomes clear why this game continues to be compared to the space global strategies for many years.

But the most important innovations in the second part are just two. But what new ones! Firstly, now you can play not just some Klakons and Meklons, created by some unknown designer. What he knows about galactic empires and their creators! Press the "custom" button in the race selection window to create some completely unique and irresistible Krakozabs. Will they be dictators or democrats? Farmers or industrialists? Or maybe even telepaths? And now, after the dream creatures have been created, you can unleash them on the big world against... the same creatures, but already someone else's dreams - and prove to the opponent whose dreams have more right to life. Yes, this is what was so lacking in the first part of Master of Orion - the ability to play not only against the computer, but also with real people.

Master of Orion 2 Screenshot

Then we had a third part, which wasn't as successful as the first one. And that seems to be the end of it. So far we can say that the story of the Orion Conquerors is over. And only its second part continues to be compared to all the other global space strategies.

While we played Road Rash, Tomb Raider and Master of Orion 2...

  • Gymnast Alison Carroll, who was the prototype of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: Underworld, turned 11 years old.
  • Remains of microorganisms that existed three billion years ago were found in the meteorite ALH 84001, which broke off from Mars and fell to Earth.

Settlers 2: Vedi, Vini, Vici

  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: Blue Byte Software
  • Publisher: Blue Byte Software

Sometimes it happens that a series does not become popular all at once. Not everyone has heard of the first part of Settlers, also known as Serf City, but that's not surprising. Except for the concept of flags and tracks, moved then in the second part, to boast the game was absolutely nothing.

Settlers 2 Screenshot

But the Settlers 2 immediately conquered the players' meditative gameplay and adorable graphics. On the green lawns jumped bunnies on the paths ran back and forth tubby little man, hauling goods. Soldiers were on duty in the barracks, farmers grew wheat and donkeys, lumberjacks chopped trees, from which planks were sawn and houses were built... The battles looked as frivolous as possible, but at the same time convincing - the opponents split up into pairs and exchanged blows until someone ran out of health and turned into a white skeleton, which still decorated the landscape for some time. And the winner would occupy the next building, biting off a piece of the opponent's trajectory.

Settlers 2 Screenshot

One could spend endless hours watching this anthill, and it was even upsetting when the campaign came to an abrupt end. But the fun could be extended by connecting two mice to the computer and playing a game with a neighbor.

What Happened Next: The series continued to evolve, regularly changing the concept. In the third Settlers pathways were treated by the settlers themselves, and the fifth has evolved into a real-time strategy in the image of Age of Empires. Now the seventh part has already been released, and the legendary second part has a full-fledged remake.