Console Talk – Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64 Logo.

Time to break up the past few posts that I have done with a new category for the blog! I want this to focus on some of the most influential, redefining game consoles that have ever been produced. Giving some background and history on these platforms is just my way of showing some love to all the great systems we have seen over the past few decades. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the console that brought Nintendo into the 3-D era.

A variety of color options were given to the Nintendo 64 over it’s lifetime. Some colors have become collector’s items and are widely sought after.

The Nintendo 64 was released June 1996 in Japan and later September 1996 and March 1997 in North America, Europe and Australia respectively. The system claimed to bring arcade-level graphics and gameplay to the home setting. Nintendo started partnering with Silicon Graphics in the creation of what was codenamed “Project Reality”. The system was one of the last home consoles to feature the concept of using cartridges rather than CD-ROM technology as Nintendo claims that “the graphical capabilities could not be done on disc”. Nintendo needed to set up it’s game as companies like Sega and Sony were beginning to take a larger hold on the gaming industry. This console would elevate Nintendo’s status in the gaming industry as they pushed forward from 16 bit to 64 bit entertainment. Upon it’s release to the world in 1996, the console received universal acclaim for it’s controller and many titles that saw release, such as Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Orcarina of Time, and Goldeneye 007, are considered some of the most influential games in history.

Super Mario 64 has been widely regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time. Several developers and designers have stated that this game inspired them to create games and see it as a work of art.

I’m going to take a step back to explain what this means in terms of it’s notoriety in gaming history. For starters, Nintendo had already established itself as the powerhouse of the gaming industry after they saved it from total collapse after the Video Game Crash of 1983. The influences that they had presented already in terms of game design, consoles, and memorable titles have always provided them with opportunity to take it to the next level (no pun intended). This console was the really point that showed just how well Nintendo could handle competition in a market that saw many changes in demographics and preferences. Secondly, The N64 is just an amazing piece of hardware both inside and out. The outer designs and various colors produced over it’s lifetime made each console unique and told a story about the owner themselves. Beyond the difficulties in programming for the console, the addons and accessories paved way for many different routes of development for a variety of genres. Not many consoles could offer the ability to expand the amount of memory available and give players games that had longer draw distances, better textures, and more details to game worlds without the need to rip apart the console to do so. The customization of the console really gave it that character that any gamer would want to own. Lastly, the games that came from this console are still some of the best games made in history. Goldeneye 007 was responsible for creating new standards for the shooter genre and Super Smash Bros. became the fighting title that resounds across the industry to this day. Not to mention that Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are considered two of the greatest games ever made. Though many of these titles are first party licenses, that is why Nintendo is still a powerhouse considering that they can make consoles and games all of their own. That truly speaks volumes about Nintendo as both a company and an icon.

Screenshot taken from Rayman 2 showing the graphical improvements when using the memory expansion. There were some games that had the peripheral as optional, while other games like Donkey Kong 64 needed the expansion to run properly.

I would say to all those out there looking for a good game from the past, pick up a N64 and play one of many titles that released over it’s life cycle. I promise that you will see the start of many of today’s best games that take influence from this era of gaming and come to appreciate what this one console did for the industry and Nintendo’s reputation.

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