How time flies eh !
It was literally 5 years ago I wrote a little piece for my old website, on the 15th Anniversary of the Nintendo 64 and here we are again, 5 years later remembering the N64’s 20th anniversary (boy am I getting old!)…
I was going to publish this last night, since the N64’s release date in Japan was officially the 23rd of June 1996. Alas, my ISP thought it would be funny to kill the internet and TV in the house last night, so today will have to suffice.
In the article I’m going to cover why the N64 was a special console not just for myself, but I think for everyone who ended up purchasing one. If you’ve never owned an N64 and are thinking about buying one then read more to find out why you might just want one.
The Nintendo 64 (Japanese: ニンテンドー64 Hepburn: ”Nintendō Rokujūyon”), also known as the N64 and stylised as NINTENDO64 was Nintendo’s 3rd home console released in Japan on the 23rd of June 1996. The console utilised a 64-bit processor and was the last entry into the 5th generation of consoles after the Sony PlayStation.
I still remember very vividly the day it was released over here in the UK, I was walking through my local shopping centre past the well known gaming shop, GAME, and saw all these cardboard cut outs of the N64 console / Mario etc all outside the store. Someone from the shop was dressed up in a Mario costume as well, so I decided to pop in to see if I could get a shot of the console before heading home. A couple steps into the store and there were tonnes of people, a queue at least 8-9 people long all crowding round the N64 like it was some sort of holy grail (and it was !) and at least 25 people waiting in line just to buy the thing.
I was an owner of the PS1 at the time the N64 released in the UK and when I saw Mario on the screen for the first time in 3D, I was blown away. I just sort of stood there for a minute thinking ”Mario…in 3D, no way !”. At that point I was determined to wait in line for a shot of it for as long as it took. About 30-40 minutes had passed and it was my turn next and I remember stepping forward to the booth and gazing down at the controller for the first time and thinking ”how am I even suppose to hold this controller?!” – its design was just so strange and new to everyone at the time, but a controller that everyone came to love in the end.
I played through 2 levels in the game (Mario64) and was loving every second of it, I didn’t want to leave. Eventually I passed the controller to the chap behind me and whilst walking away, I was kind of jealous of all the older folk (I was 9 when it was released) walking out the shop with their brand new console they just bought.
After the buzz of launch calmed down, I accepted the fact that I’d never have my own N64 and that was fine, I was happy with my PS1 at the time and inevitably I knew the PS2 would come sooner or later.
To my amazement though, heres another wee story for you – 3 months later (so were talking June 1997, 3 months after the N64’s UK release), my younger sister (whos birthday is in July) starts saying she would like a PS1 for her birthday. And quite rightly so my parents were like: ”your big brother already has one” and, I was more than happy to let her play on it or get games for it if she wanted. So a week later when doing the shopping with my parents, we all popped into GAME again and my sister walks over to the N64, has a 10-15 minute shot of Mario and was like, ”I’m putting this on my Xmas list its so good”.
Time goes by, and I actually forget she said she wanted one for her Xmas and on Christmas day 1997…shes opened a few presents and as I’m opening my present, I see her tear open a large(ish) box shaped parcel and almost in disbelief, I see the side of the Nintendo 64 packaging and I just stare at it for what felt like eternity before shouting out ”no wayyyyy!!”. My sister starts opening it faster and faster until finally revealing the N64 with the biggest smile on her face. I was happy she got it but super jealous at the same time.
From then on we’d play games of Mario Kart, Mario party, Goldeneye, we collected all golden coins in Mario64, played through the Zelda games, perfect dark and tonnes more. Eventually we got an extra x2 controllers (so x4 total) and my parents would sometimes play mario party with us, or our friends / other family members (cousins etc) would join in when they were over. Over the course of the next 6-7 years we added a lot of great games to the collection of N64 launch games and had plenty of fun on the system, but one day something happened…
One day, when I was going down GAME to trade in some old PS1 games, my sister was like ”hey can you trade in my N64?” and at the time (this is when game shops were giving you peanuts for the N64 as trade in) I said to her: ”you do realise they will give you 50p per game and about £5 for the console?”. Thankfully my sister didn’t believe me and asked me to take them down to the shop anyway to get them valued. So I did.
The shop owner explained to me ”50p a game and £3-£5 for the console, £1 for accessories like memory cards and controllers” and I was thinking ”right its approx £40-£50 max for everything, thats a rip-off”, I put everything back in the massive bag I had, got home and explained that she’d get £40, £50 max for it all.
Being 16 at the time of this, and having a part time job down the road, I said to my sister ”listen, I’ll double that and you can play it whenever you want”, and she agreed. So I finally owned the N64. Over the next couple of years I purchased some of the games I couldn’t afford when I was a bit younger and had loads of fun revisiting Goldeneye on the hardest difficulty, and doing multiple playthroughs of resident Evil 2 and playing Super Smash Bros with mates every time they came over to chill.
Goldeneye still is, to this day, one of the best games I ever got to experience on the N64. Developed by Rare and released in August 1997, Goldeneye pretty much revolutionised the whole FPS genre on gaming consoles, with its addition of multiplayer death-match (which included character, weapon and map set-up options), weapon zooms, visible bullet-wounds on enemies and stealth elements of gameplay.
Super Mario 64
Mario Kart 64
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Donkey Kong 64
Super Smash Bros.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The World Is not Enough
Lylat Wars (aka Star Fox 64)
Zelda: Majora’s mask
WWF No Mercy
I could easily have added a lot more to that list, but the games above were games I remember having the most laughs and fun on. Still remember me and my friend doing a x40 man Royal Rumble on WWF No mercy as the Dudley Boyz and 3D’ing every single opponent (including Mae Young – who was an old woman wrestler haha – good times).
Unfortunately, and I don’t say that lightly, when I was in university (seriously broke), I regretfully had to sell the N64 and all the games. I did make a decent amount of cash from it back then, but I still kind of regret it, as I had all the best games for that system. One day I may buy it back again, but we’ll see.
If your on the fence about buying one, or perhaps you are thinking of buying one, just buy one ! The games are quite expensive though (boxed), most of the cartridges unboxed I’ve seen at expos and online for reasonably cheap (Mario Kart is about £5-£8 unboxed). Your best bet would be to check around independent gaming stores / markets / car boot sales first to see if you can snap up any bargains. Ebay will always seem to have the more pricey goods on there. That being said being on ebay at the right time can net you some bargains too !
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Nintendo 64 for me will always be remembered as a classic games console, a tech-powerhouse for its generation, that has definitely made an impact-and had a major influence on – the types of games we see in this modern age of gaming. Although it had its downfalls, such as the expensive manufacturing costs for producing the cartridges, there are so many more positives that came out of the N64 that make the negatives look like drops of rain in the ocean.
Tell me in the comments what your favourite games / memories of the N64 were, I’d love to hear them.