Though we think of arcades as on a downward spiral by 1996, they weren't dying without a fight. Area 51 was one of the last great gun games, San Francsico Rush's addictive racing won fans, and Metal Slug launched a 2D dynasty. Whether you preferred the 3D fighting of Virtua Fighter 3 and its mind-blowing graphics or the polish of Street Fighter Alpha 2 - which also made it out on PlayStation and Saturn this year - you had a place to drop your quarters.
The Saturn gave its all in the face of Sony's onslaught, producing a pile of memorable games: Dragon Force is still talked about in hushed tones by strategy addicts, while Sega took a left turn with NiGHTS into dreams..., a thoroughly beautiful and inventive actioner. Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei delivered great, 3D shooting action, while Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge was another of Capcom's memorable contributions to Saturn fighting fans.
The PlayStation began to hit its stride in its second year, offering up its first slate of fully-formed sequels: Wipeout XL was near-perfect futuristic racing while Twisted Metal 2 got car combat right. The often-overlooked Jumping Flash! 2 proved even more engaging and adorable than the original... shame there's no sequel in sight 10 years later. That's not to say that sequels were it: Tomb Raider and Resident Evil are 1996's twin stars, each defining the PlayStation era in its own way.