Nintendo 64

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The North American Nintendo 64.

The Nintendo 64 is a fifth-generation video game console developed and sold by Nintendo. It was first released on 1996-06-23 in Japan and North America. It was the last Nintendo home console to use cartridges and the first to use an analog joystick.

Personal

I first played a Nintendo 64 after a high school friend bought one. I first watched him play Super Mario 64 and played a little myself. While I was a bit impressed with the look of the game, and found the controller to be ergonomically comfortable, I didn't care much for how you controlled Mario, the poor camera following, or the strange looking goombas and koopas. I later saw Mario Kart 64 being played which I was more impressed with. A different high school friend bought one to play the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but after it failed to meet its release date, he returned it and got a PlayStation instead. Not seeing a game that I really needed to have, I never bought an N64, and, looking back, I'm glad I didn't as it was a pretty weak console. Years later, I bought one at a garage sale and a couple games for about $10, but I still didn't play it very much. Most of my interaction with the system has come through the use of emulators long after the console was discontinued. Of course, when you have the entire catalogue of a system, it makes it difficult to focus on a single game, so I've only gotten far into couple games.

Status

I own an original dark gray Nintendo 64 and a transparent green one.

Games

These are the Nintendo 64 games that are important to me. For all Nintendo 64 games, see the category.

Cartridges

Lacking a top label, people resort to custom displays.

One of the annoying things Nintendo did with the design of the N64 cartridge was to forego a label on the top of the cartridge. The cartridge's curved shape made a single sticker impossible, and a second sticker would cost extra money. This makes it impossible to identify a game when they're packed on a shelf or in a box. Because of this oversight, gamers often resorted to writing the name on the top of the cart, creating custom labels for them, or building special displays.

Review

Good

  • There were a couple of great games released solely for the platform that took advantage of the new hardware.
  • The N64 controller is very well-designed for those 3D games made specifically for the system.
  • Technically speaking, the 3D hardware of the N64 was superior to its contemporary competitors.
  • Having 4 controllers built into the system was a wonderful way to increase the involvement of other players during parties, sleep overs, and similar gaming sessions.

Bad

  • For several reasons, Nintendo failed to attract the usual amount of third party developers to their system so the N64 saw a huge drop in the number of titles compared to their previous platforms. Around 1,500 games were released for the NES, almost 2,000 for the SNES, but only 389 for the N64.
  • Because N64 games still relied on cartridge memory with a maximum storage space of only 64 MB (though more typically 16 MB), it was impossible to make games that were as long and complex as those seen on competitor platforms which utilized CDs. This is partially why the platform saw so few epic RPGs or long adventure games.
  • 3D graphics at a resolution of only 320×240 (max of 720×576), especially with a low poly count and low-res texture mapping, look awful. When compared to the 2D pixel graphics, which were at their peak at this point in history, they look especially pathetic.
  • While the N64 controller was certainly innovative, it was awful for most traditional 2D video game genres. This meant a lot of tried-and-true game genres didn't play well on the platform.
  • With limited ROM space, speech and video had to be kept short and at low quality. So, while games for the PlayStation and Saturn, consoles released nearly 2 years prior, often featured as much video as a short movie, the N64 was incapable of this impressive feat.
  • Demonstrating both how difficult it was to program on, and how inferior fifth generation consoles were compared to the PC market, most games ported from MS-DOS and Windows looked and played worse on the N64 even though the N64 ports were released years later. Compare games like Command and Conquer, StarCraft 64, SimCity 2000, and Quake 64 to their originals to see
  • Although it wasn't Nintendo's fault, a lot of the franchises that switched from 2D to 3D looked and played terribly (e.g., Bomberman, Castlevania, Mega Man, etc.).

Ugly

  • The N64 is notoriously difficult to program for. Trying to take advantage of its more impressive graphical features requires custom coding preventing the developer from being able to easily port the game to other platforms. Game developers had to choose between making a game that could be sold only on the Nintendo 64, or one that could be sold on the PlayStation, Saturn, and Windows.

Media

Documentation

Videos

Links

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