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My thoughts on N64

On 03/30/2019 at 06:41 PM by SanAndreas

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So it's been 90s week on my Switch this week. I got Turok a little over a week ago, and then I've also been playing a certain little known PS1 RPG that somehow just found its way onto a Nintendo console over 20 years later. And that got me thinking about the N64.

The N64 is, sadly, my least favorite Nintendo console other than the Virtual Boy. That's a shame, because the system had a lot of potential, and I was really excited for it at first. I had just gotten back into console gaming and had gotten a SNES with A Link to the Past as a bundled game. I also had what was probably the best version of Mortal Kombat II, Super Metroid, and Final Fantasy III (VI). That's a pretty badass lineup of games in itself. I'd hoped the N64 would carry that great tradition into 3-D.

It wasn't to be. A couple of months after I finished FFVI came the huge bombshell that FFVII was going to be on the PlayStation instead of the N64, and it looked incredible. To give you an idea how big a bomshell that was, Nintendo's stock on the Nikkei crashed the day that announcement was made, and sales of the PS1, which had barely been holding their own against the Saturn in Japan, suddenly took off. But no matter, Super Mario 64 looked great, as did the first prototypes of Zelda 64. I got a N64 the Christmas it came out with SM64. I got Killer Instinct Gold for my birthday a couple of weeks later.

After that, othet than the occasional Turok, Star Fox, and Mario Kart, there was very little on N64 other than bad ports of PC games which generally weren't very good to begin with, and Rare games. Unlike a lot of other people, I wasn't especially a fan of Rare. And the N64 was lacking in two of my favorite genres - RPGs and fighting games. Watching Nintendo try to make War Gods and Mace: The Dark Age look like viable alternatives to Tekken was a little frustrating, but that was nothing compared to the insanity Nintendo trying to make Quest 64 look like its answer to Final Fantasy VII, which was completely ludicrous. Nintendo tried to keep the hope alive with Mother 3 on N64, and they announced that Namco was working on Tales of Phantasia 2 for N64. Hey, both of those games did come out. Mother 3 came out on the GBA, where it has continued to not be released in the US. Tales of Phantasia 2 did get reworked and came out on the Gamecube as Tales of Symphonia, which was a great RPG, though that didn't help the N64 RPG drought. The only three proper RPGs the N64 ever ended up getting were Ogre Battle 64, Harvest Moon 64, and Paper Mario. The one genre were the N64 was better than the PS1 was first-person shooters, and those are not my favorite games excepting Metroid Prime.

So I got my first ever non-Nintendo system - a PS1, and indulged myself in RPGs. 20 years later, the Nintendo Switch is amazing and loaded with all the anime RPG goodness I could ever want plus one hell of a Zelda game and the handful of Western games I regularly enjoy, like Mortal Kombat, Doom, and Civilization, but in terms of the system and Nintendo's PR, the N64 represented a low point for Nintendo for me. The titles Nintendo had promised kept getting canceled right and left or being moved to PS1. The 64DD was supposed to offer the cheap high-density storage that Square, Capcom, and Namco had switched to the PS1 for, but tha didn't go anywhere, and that, along with Shigesato Itoi's complaints that he found 3-D difficult to work with, ended up sealing Earthbound 64's fate as well as the grand plans for expansions to Ocarina of TIme.

That isn't to say the N64 was all bad. A lot of Nintendo's first party offerings were amazing. My favorite Mario game of all time is Super Mario 64. Admittedly, I have yet to try Odyssey and need to remedy that situation. Star Fox and Mario Kart were fun. Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask were successful transisitons of the Zelda series into 3-D, even though I greatly prefer Breath of the Wild and both of the Gamecube Zeldas to the N64 games. As I have said, I was not a huge fan of Rare but I did enjoy Goldeneye and Perfect Dark.  There were even a few good third party games on there. Turok was lightning fast and made Acclaim a respectable company for a  time. THQ, another compay previously known for making licensed garbage, and bad games that made Acclaim look like Activision by comparison, scored a hit with WCW vs. NWO: World Tour.  Konami actually did make four interesting games: Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, which was a 3-D Zelda game before Ocarina of Time, the Metal Gear-styled RPG Hybrid Heaven, and the two N64 Castlevanias. I know it's fashonable to dump on the N64 CV games and praise Symphony of the Night to the heavens, but I had a good time with them. Capcom even managed to fit Resident Evil 2 onto a high-capacity N64 cartridge.

The Gamecube was a welcome return to form for Nintendo, with plenty of RPGs, fighting games, and unique original fare like Viewtiful Joe, but sadly sold even worse than the N64, with the freshman Xbox just barely edging the Gamecube out in total sales. 

So, friends, what are your thoughts on the N64. 

Oh, and I got a new computer to replace my old computer which was literally fallong apart- pieces of the casing were actually falling off and the computer was slow and laboring. My old computer was a Sony Vaio, and Sony no longer makes PCs. So I got a used MacBook Air for $240 at a pawn shop. I really like it, it works great and works pretty well with my iPhone.




03/30/2019 at 07:41 PM

I've discovered that systems around the 20 years mark leave my collection. I dunno, I just lose interest - and space. I ditched my N64 last year. I loved it back in the day, though. I always wanted Paper Mario but it was always too expensive at cons and flea markets. 

I liked some of the ports such as: Duke Nukem 64, Destruction Derby 64 and Hexen.  

Some others I liked were Diddy Kong Racing, Pokemon Snap, Clayfighter 63 1/3, and Star Wars Rogue Squadron. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/30/2019 at 09:08 PM

I pretty much loved the first party games, plus Snowboard Kids 1 & 2. I have an overall fond memory of N64 and never got that jealous of my older brother's PlayStation, in part cause I was not technically allowed to play many of those games anyway. Plus, I actually liked Rare EXCEPT for Goldeneye, so I viewed Donkey Kong 64 as a nice addition to my library. 

I liked the Gamecube as well, but that's when PS2's superiority in the third-party gaming market was REALLY apparent to me. 

Cary Woodham

03/31/2019 at 09:36 AM

Before the N64 I was pretty much strictly a Nintendo customer, as I never got into the Genesis or Master System.  So I was pretty excited for the N64.  And I really did enjoy it a lot, especially games like Mario 64, Zelda, Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, DK64, and many more.  

However, a year after the N64 came out, their big holiday title was Diddy Kong Racing.  And as much as I like Diddy Kong Racing, at the time I felt that wasn't going to cut it and I needed another gaming system.  Plus I was reviewing games at The Dallas Morning News at the time, and the N64 wasn't providing enough games for me to review, especially since I was getting paid for it then.  So even though I was a poor college student and really couldn't afford it, that next Spring I got a PlayStation.  That ended up being one of the best gaming purchases I ever made, as I was reviewing games left and right for it after that.  It also ended up being one of my favorite game consoles, with titles such as Tron Bonne, Puzzle Fighter, Brave Fencer Musashi, Namco Museums, Tail Concerto, Ridge Racer Type 4, and many, many more.

So yeah, while I did like my N64 a lot, it really was the first console that made me want another competitor's console.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

03/31/2019 at 09:53 AM

I remember Mace! It wasnt good...but it wasnt bad...I played more than my fair share of it. 

I enjoyed the N64, but you're right... it could have been more. The PSONE is probably my favorite console of all time, but the Switch is close. 

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

04/01/2019 at 10:15 AM

I enjoyed this brief look into the goings on in planet Nintendo back then. Personally, I was a Nintendo guy all the way (and Sega too) up until the N64 came out. I didn't dislike the system, but the PlayStation had captured my attention sooner since it came out first and all my friends had one or would soon have it. Games like Ridge Racer, Jumping Flash, and Crash Bandicoot really caught my eye. And Sony marketing strategy put the PlayStation to the forfront of my mind way more than Nintendo did with the N64.

That having been said, I always loved playing Mario 64 when I had the chance at kiosk somehwere. Back then, I could only have one gaming system at a time, and the PlayStation was what I went for, saving for it with my own allowance money from chores. The one thing I didn't like about the N64 was that the game were noticeably more expensive compared to PlayStation.

While the average new PlayStation game ranged from about $45 to $50, N64 were almost always priced around $60-$80. And if it was a first-party Nintendo game, that price would rarely drop until they started doing $30 "Player's Choice" games.

So yeah, PlayStation had more liked, plus a more economical price point.


04/02/2019 at 01:51 AM

In 2000, you could get FFIX new for $40, or MM new for $60. I paid $50 for Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete brand new on PS1 with all the extra goodies that came with it. Still cheaper than a high level N64 game.

Even now, Nintendo games really hold their value, like Apple products, though Nintendo games aren't priced at a premium at launch over other companies' games. At this point, ironically, I have a greater appreciation for Switch cartridges versus PS4 or Xbox One discs.

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