20 Years Later, The N64 Still Amazes Me

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Nintendo 64 in North America. A chiefly innovative console as games made the jump between 2-D and 3-D, the Nintendo 64's release was one of the most important gaming moments of all time.

The Nintendo 64 was originally released on June 23, 1996 in Japan before seeing a limited release on September 26th in North America and a full release three days later.

I remember the first time I played a Nintendo 64 game. I was seven years old and received a N64 as a Christmas gift from my father. Excitedly, I started up Super Mario 64. It was a total revelation. Mario could move anywhere he wanted; he didn't just go from left to right. This was a huge deal at the time.

It was so hard to initially adjust to 3-D that I found myself bonking into walls and having so much trouble walking diagonally that my sister couldn't stop laughing.

One of the best things about the Nintendo 64 is just how much it truly defined the industry's approach to various genres. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time helped solidify camera controls for 3-D and brought concepts of open world adventuring to an audience outside the PC.

Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark irrevocably shifted the first person shooter genre towards a focus on objectives. Super Smash Bros. offered an entirely different approach to fighting games.

The Nintendo 64 is a curious stepping stone in gaming history. Unlike the Sony Playstation, it refused to embrace emerging technology like discs and opted to remain with cartridges. The controller was a haphazard and confusing beast that grew only more complicated as modular add ons like the Rumble Pak and Transfer Pak were introduced. The console was a mix of ambitious hardware ideas with less than elegant implementation. This lack of elegance and hesitance to use newer tech would eventually end up costing Nintendo their dominance in the console market.

Still, the N64 became the little console that could. From oddball games like Mischief Makers to experimental titles like the mic reliant Hey You, Pikachu! there was always something strange happening on the Nintendo 64 to counterbalance traditional hits like Shadows of the Empire or the beautiful Wave Race 64.

It was also a great console for playing with friends with no end of kart racers, shooters, or puzzle games at hand for some good competitive couch time. As long as you weren't the unlucky sap who had to use that one Mad Catz controller.

After 20 years, I think it's safe to say that while the N64 might not have been as lasting as the competition, there was a wonderful joy surrounding the console. Creatives like Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma explore new dimensions and laid a groundwork for the future of gaming as a whole. Their exploration was curious, playful, and charming. And it left us with some of the greatest games ever made.

Good work, Nintendo 64. Here's to you!


Comments

    For the big deal they made about the PS1, i only knew 3 people who had one, the N64 was the dominant console with everyone i knew had one.

    even in high school no one i knew bought or ever talked about a PS2 even then it was still nintendo as the main talking point

    i can definitively say that even after seeing the what games the ps1 or even the games the PS2 had, i would never regret buying the N64 or Gamecube over them.

      Opposite story for me, I and most of my friends all had PS1. One kid had an N64...but he also had a PS1.

    The N64 gave us Mario Party, it can never be forgiven for this.

    I'm with @leigh, the N64 is totally my favourite. So many iconic games! So many hours spent holding that weird ass controller. Weird experiments that turned out great like Pokemon snap.

    The Nintendo64 is probably also my favourite console. I'm also loving the Wii U (Splatoon!), it will be interesting to see how that holds up as time passes by.
    Super Mario 64
    Goldeneye
    Banjo Kazooie
    Diddy Kong Racing
    TWO WHOLE ZELDA GAMES
    Blast Corps

    Soooo many classics...

    Best. Console. Ever. Mario 64, LoZ:OoT, Goldeneye, Mariokart 64, Banjo Kazooie, Paper Mario, Lylat Wars, Perfect Dark, Mario Party, Smash Brothers, CBFD, DK64, LoZ:MM! Quality. Nintendo in it's prime and a golden age I have never forgotten.

    I still don't think any game wowed me as much as playing Goldeneye for the 1st time, with "rumble pak".
    That moment when I pulled the trigger, and felt it... just incredible.
    So much so that I went home, packed up my sega saturn and all the games so I could trade it in for an N64.

    There will always be that something special for me with the N64. It was the first console I really put some time into with the likes of Mario 64, Goldeneye & The Legend of Zelda: OoT. Still have the console and games - I'll never sell them!

    I remember getting one for Xmas as a kid, my first game console ever. My parents got me Blast Corp, Diddy Kong Racing and Superman 64. Well, two out of three ain't bad haha.

    I too was 7 years old. The 64 years really were the best gaming years to date, and the 64 was a huge part of that amazing period. I just couldn't dig the PS (still can't) despite trading my 64 with a friend for a few weeks. It was fun at times. though it simply wasn't as memorable. Not even close.

    The 64 has some of the best games ever made, and I can fondly remember the good times, which in turn makes me sad to see what Nintendo has turned into.

    I guess I should consider myself lucky that I was there.

    I was already used to 3D by the time the 64 came out; mostly due to Doom, Fury 3, MechWarrior 2 etc on the PC, but the 64 was certainly the first system that had games I could become utterly obsessed with. I had GoldenEye and Lylat Wars to begin with, then we got Diddy Kong Racing for my sister. Seriously loved that console with the standouts being 007, Perfect Dark, Operation WinBack (an under-rated classic!), Rogue Squadron, Mario Party, OoT (obviously) and the Turok games. Even the bad games like Mission Impossible or GoldenEye clones like TWINE amused me at the time. Not sure I ever thought Shadows of the Empire was a standout though :s

    And, as I always mention when there's an N64 thread, N64 Gamer magazine was the best thing ever. I recall one of the writers even commenting on here when I said that once, would have been a few years back though. The days with Narayan and Troy were certainly the highlight.

    Oh, to be young again!

    The N64 era defined my childhood. My family had owned a Super NES and a NES prior, and I'd loved and played the heck out of them, but the Nintendo 64 was when I... 'got' it, I guess? Something clicked in my little brain and my whole approach to games and gaming totally changed. It was the best of times.

    Will never forget playing Super Mario 64 for the first time with my father & hours of Goldeneye with my younger brother. Those games were era defining.

    Last edited 28/09/16 3:19 pm

    I played mario 64 at the videostore at was immediately wowed. Enough that i spent of all my minimal paycheck on it (lived on sardines for a week afterwards).
    Up until goldeneye every game i ever played failed to live up to my expectations/imaginations. They always looked better on the back of the cover. Goldeneye was actually better in reality! It was also the last console i bought until i got a psp go in 2010. I thought that was revolutionary too. 100 games in my pocket!! I guess it wont be remembered in 20 yrs time (probably for good reason but i liked it).
    Now i have the psp, a vita, a ps3 and a ps4. It took borderlands 2 the handsome edition to knock off goldeneyw as my fave fps ever. Goldeneye, number one for almost 19 yrs! First love and all that.

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