Yesterday was the 20th anniversary—in the U.S—of the Nintendo 64, a console that came out following the Super Nintendo which dominated the first half of the 1990s.
The Nintendo 64 came out at a time when gaming consoles had firmly moved on to disc-based games and strong competition from the original PlayStation. While the Super Nintendo was still putting out games at the time of the N64’s release and getting out a few Japanese-style RPGs, most of the major franchises and RPG companies were heading over to Sony’s offering.
While analog sticks are the norm with the two major consoles of this generation using identical control layouts since the sixth generation, the Nintendo 64 had an analog stick from the jump. Having played games since 1990 with the original NES console, seeing that particular part of the controller in GameFan was very interesting.
Then there were the games. I remember Nintendo 64 not having the most massive collection of great games. There were plenty of games they you liked because that’s all you had—mainly because if your parents were like mine, you just had the one console unless you could purchase your own.
I had become an RPG fan with Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on Super Nintendo. The N64 didn’t really bring it on that front, but more on its first person titles—which were mostly action games.
That said, most of those exclusives were extremely good as I played Super Mario 64, Paper Mario and The Thousand Year Door, 1080 Snowboarding, Excitebike 64, Diddy Kong Racing, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day—which was “Only For Nintendo 64”—for hours at a time.
Most important was playing the exclusive Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Harvest Moon 64 for hours on end. There was also playing WCW/nWo Revenge and Mario Party with friends. In middle school that was what I looked forward to on the weekend.
There was also the misadventure of playing bad games such as the N64 Castlevania titles or titles with potential that simply ended like Quest 64—as well as friends and classmates putting “64” on the end of every game.
While I still love playing video games, the magic of the third to sixth generation of consoles aren’t there anymore. There’s something about consoles being able to do just about everything you want entertainment-wise and being issue patches and updates for bugs that knock a lot of that magic out of it. That’s just me coming from the earliest period of if a game at bugs or issues you just dealt with it.
For those of us who grew up in the Nintendo 64’s—and PlayStation—period of gaming and fondly remember the console, I hope you enjoyed an N64 game. As for me, I’m going to enjoy some Harvest Moon 64 before getting into Luke Cage.