My friend and I have been debating this for the past hour. I say 1995, he says 1996. Let me lay out our arguements.
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
- Chrono Trigger
- Donkey Kong Country 2
- Resident Evil
- Super Mario RPG
- Super Mario 64
- NiGHTS into Dreams
- Tomb Raider
- Crash Bandicoot
Despite the launching of several important and industry-changing IP's in '96, I still say '95 was a better year just for Chrono Trigger and Earthbound. This probably all comes down to preference, but the games that affected my life the most were from '95. Let's see, I was 12/13, right at that impressionable age. Just finishing junior high school and entering high school. Yup. That's the year.
1994 is a very close second with the following: Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country (launched the series, but DKC2 was ultimately better), and Final Fantasy III (VI if you're keeping count).