It's March 1, 2017 today, and that means it's been a full twenty years since the Nintendo 64 launched (in Europe and Australia, at least) on March 1, 1997. America, as it tends to, got their hands on the console five months prior, in September 1996, so perhaps a celebration is a bit overdue at this point, but I digress. Originally retailing for £250 in the UK, which, going off of a few inflation calculators, £250 translates to around £410 in today's money. That's around £100 more than what the Switch will cost when it launches! In terms of games, the N64 launched with a whopping five titles, such as Pilotwings 64, FIFA Soccer 64, Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire, Wayne Gretzky's Hockey, and finally, the ever-lovable flagship title, Super Mario 64.
It was a console created to compete with in the fifth generation of gaming, although it was a bit late to the party, coming out two years after the PlayStation and Saturn. The N64 was Nintendo's first foray into the fledgling market of 64-bit games, moving from pixels and sprites to polygons and large, open worlds. Super Mario 64 would revolutionize the platforming genre, and become such a classic, that it still impacts platforming games to this day. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time would release nearly two years later, on December 11, 1998, and would further innovate gaming, as it brought the Zelda series to 3D for the first time, as well. Third-party company Rare would continue their partnership with Nintendo, and go on to create well-remembered games such as GoldenEye 007, Killer Instinct, Diddy Kong Racing, and what is probably their most beloved N64 release, Banjo-Kazooie.
Nintendo would also release a litany of other standout titles, like Pokemon Stadium, which would showcase player's favorite Pokemon in more than just black-and-white pixels. There was F-Zero X, which would become one of the N64's only 60fps titles, reportedly becoming the first 3D racing game to run at such a smooth speed. Mario Sports titles would also find their beginnings here, with Golf and Tennis making their debuts. Paper Mario continued Super Mario RPG's turn-based legacy, offering a sprawling adventure across the Mushroom Kingdom. Super Smash Bros. would become an expected success, creating a party brawler who's sequel is still rabidly played to this day. Everyone's favorite love-to-hate, rage-quit ridden, joystick breaking game, Mario Party also had it's roots on the N64. Multiplatform games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Rayman 2, Resident Evil 2, and more, also found success on Nintendo's at-the-time current home console. Nintendo franchises like Yoshi, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Star Fox all thrived as well, with their releases on the N64 being some of the best in Nintendo history. It wasn't all success, though. Mother 3, Fire Emblem 64, and other third party projects would find themselves cancelled, or moved to other platforms, as companies parted ways with Nintendo, such as Square Enix and Final Fantasy.
When all was said and done, the Nintendo 64 sold just a tick under 33 million units. Many loved the console, and many found the lack of certain titles enough to jump ship and join the Sony side of things. So, what's your opinion on the N64? Any cherished memories of the console that you fondly remember? Or do you view the N64 a bit more cynically? Share your thoughts and opinions below!
Last edited by Chary,