Remembering The Nintendo 64
Metal Arcade takes a fond look back at the Nintendo 64.
The Nintendo 64 was the first console I got at launch. My mother obtained one from a person she worked with; not brand new, but close. Only one problem- that was it. No games. I had some allowance money, just enough to go to the local video store and rent one. I chose Super Mario 64. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made during my 24 year tenure on this earth. I vividly remember plopping that cartridge into the console, turning it on (once I figured out how to plug it in, since I was used to coaxial cables and not composite cables), and seeing the colorful Super Mario 64 logo careening towards me.
Next, I heard Mario’s voice for the first time. “It’s a-me! Mario!” Mario’s head appeared on the title screen, rendered completely in real-time, glorious 3D. “Hello!” Hi, Mario! It’s so nice to see you in this new way! I pressed start, started a new file and within a minute, I was running around outside Princess Toadstool’s castle. I noticed she called herself Peach in her letter at the beginning. I thought that was her first name- you know, Princess Peach Toadstool. It seems that nowadays it’s just Peach, and Princess Toadstool has been dropped. I remember my mother admiring the water in the game. How beautiful the water looked, how peaceful that outside area was. I’ll just say it now- Super Mario 64 is my favorite Mario game, and my favorite title for the Nintendo 64.
I have a, shall we say, complicated impression of the Nintendo 64. However, I would say that others share the same sentiments. The N64 is a darling to Nintendo fans, and to those who love games of a whimsical quality as well as multiplayer. However, for those of us who are old enough to remember (which makes me feel old), the N64 also signaled Nintendo’s fall from the top tier of the gaming world. The system may have been beloved, but the new competitor, Sony’s PlayStation, had more hype behind it, and outperformed the old guard Nintendo as well as Sega’s Saturn console. I will go on record stating that the N64 ultimately underwhelmed me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy several games on Nintendo’s 64 bit monster.
Banjo-Kazooie blew me away when I first played it. The colorful locals, the cartoon-like sense of humor and dialogue, and the expansiveness that built upon Mario 64’s worlds. I loved that game, and although I never owned it back then, I made sure to rent it every week with my allowance. Oh, and I do own a copy now.
Another game that comes to mind is Super Smash Bros. I had a friend at the time who owned a Nintendo 64, and one day, he brought over his console and this great fighting game. It didn’t take long us and our friends to be causing a ruckus with Mario, Link, Donkey Kong and Pikachu. I eventually bought a copy from Funcoland (remember them? Now they’re the evil empire known as GameStop) and started unlocking characters. From what I remember, my friends had only unlocked Luigi and Jigglypuff up to that point. I found Captain Falcon and Ness. I’m embarrassed to say that when we unlocked Ness, we all wondered who that was. Don’t worry, I know now.
Although it hasn’t held up as well, I fell in love with Donkey Kong 64. I remember trying to play after my bed time, turning the volume down on my TV and being subtle with the controller. That controller made so much noise.
I loved Conker’s Bad Fur Day. The story mode was great, and I was surprised by the vulgarities from the cartoon characters on screen, but the one thing I remember most was the multiplayer mode, Heist. Grab a bazooka, hear your character say “Bad Ass Motherfu**er”, then blow someone literally into pieces and try to put the controller down. It’s a shame they took those modes out of the Xbox remake.
Finally, as a lapse in judgment on my part, I remember costing my mother $60 when I decided to keep my rented Blockbuster copy of Dark Rift. WTF was I thinking?
Cheers to you, Nintendo 64. Thank you for giving us rumble support, a capable analog stick, and great multiplayer and single player memories. And who could forget, awesome wrestling games! Sure you had some quirks, like a bad controller design and few third party games worth playing, but the older you get, the more I’ve come to love you.