Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, The Legend of Zelda, GoldenEye and more; today, June 23, 2021, marks 25 years of glorious memories on the Nintendo 64.
Picture the scene: it’s Saturday morning. You’ve got your bowl of cereal, a carton of juice and a comfy seat right in front of the TV. You take out your favourite N64 cartridge, give it a blow to clear the dust, whack it in the console and immerse yourself in the plains of Hyrule, waters of Dire Dire Docks or skies of Pilotwings.
Two-and-a-half decades later, with geeky nostalgia reigning over pop culture, the N64 remains treasured. It’s one of the most significant, wonderful consoles of all time, laying the foundations of gaming lives and loves all across the world.
Arriving as a fifth-generation console alongside Sony’s PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, the N64 was highly-anticipated off the successes of the 8-bit NES and 16-bit SNES. Time had come to change the system, and working with Silicon Graphics Inc., Nintendo dropped the N64 in 1996 to near-universal acclaim (some took issue with the controller, to which I say, git gud).
Next Generation magazine earlier described it as ‘the most anticipated videogaming event of the 1990s, possibly of all time’, while the Los Angeles Times wrote that it was ‘quite simply, the fastest, most graceful game machine on the market.’
Just like every next-gen frenzy post-millennium, the N64 was a hot product, with people fighting to get it in stores. Over the course of its lifetime, nearly 33 million units were sold; it was later walloped by the PS1, which sold 102 million units, but easily beat the Saturn, which sold less than 10 million units.
While it launched with just Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 in the US, plus Saikyō Habu Shōgi in Japan and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in Europe, it hardly felt like a cheap deal with arguably the best platformer to date.
‘If the gaming press was to be believed, Super Mario 64 was going to be the greatest game ever released anywhere, and it might also cure cancer and feed the world’s starving children,’ Ars Technica wrote. Today, its influence is immeasurable, with timeless gameplay, irresistible music and warmth for anyone who somersaulted through one of those portraits.
Seriously, this just sounds like happiness:
As well as the aforementioned titles, we’d be remiss not to mention Super Smash Bros., Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, Pokémon Stadium and Snap, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Star Fox 64, Perfect Dark, F-Zero X and Conker’s Bad Fury Day. Don’t worry, I’ve already searched ‘N64’ for you on eBay, click here to see what’s available.
Tell the truth: what’s the first console you think of when you hear ‘retro gaming’? The N64 may be from a bygone technical generation, but its legacy stands steadfast.
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