Well here it is. The system everyone seems to love, but nobody seems to play. The Nintendo 64 hit me at an odd time. The N64 was in the living room where as the SNES and NES lived in my bedroom. So I largely ignored it outside of the first part titles growing up. My initial opinion of the N64 was of a small shoebox of solid titles. I eventually tackled the extended library as a teenager. So I am am specifically equipped to say this. It’s average. The good games didn’t age to well, and the bad ones are still perfectly serviceable. Almost everything is playable. That is if you take the time to learn the controls. So let’s skip straight to that.
Affectionately called “The Banana Controller” because well the Donkey Kong one was a banana bunch. People like to make fun of how you can’t hold it without three hands. Ignore those people, the adults are talking. Where as originally the PlayStation controller made it’s face buttons to be a universal template.
Triangle was to reset the camera. Being a field of vision cone. Square was to be a map or menu box for well maps and/or menus. O and X for confirm and cancel respectively. That didn’t last, and this isn’t about PlayStation so we should bring up the C-Buttons. Also intended to be Camera buttons as is shown in Mario 64. They then almost immediately became just independent buttons. Referred to as C Up, C Down, C Left, and C Right. Something made easier as the D-pad became mostly tertiary for this system. I will say the N64 can be played using modern controllers if you have to on PC or Switch, but it adds a whole different level of awkwardness to the gameplay. That reason alone is why I recommend the original hardware. The other big reason is the emulation scene is at 99% when a game does work and a few fantastic titles are still nearly unplayable on most PCs or CFW systems. So what exactly are we looking at then?
A standard one clocking in at $40, and sweet custom ones landing at $300. Official collector editions ranging from $120 all the way to $600 for what more often than not is just a different solid colored shell. I can’t recommend a robust collection of consoles just a few official ones and one amazing custom job will do you just fine.
Full games are harder to find than almost anything else do to the cheap cardboard boxes. Certain sites like DKOldies will sell just boxes or instructions separately. Not to mention a whole after market reproduction boxes are often cheaper than, and better than, getting a full game. The best games are ridiculously expensive, but often end up rereleased elsewhere like the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack N64 games app. So I won’t begin to say the games are worth it. I mean they are, but don’t make silly choices like $200 for Smash Bros 64. Then again that’s on you. The library is a wave of 90s nostalgia in and of itself. WWF games, Jetskis, 3D Platformers, and quirky titles like Quest 64 that will likely never see a comeback. The fact they are cartridges instead of disks means low to no load times. Something that helps you forgive the charming but terrible looking low poly 3D. So in that way it definitely beats PSX and Saturn in pick up and play fun. The three systems were refreshingly different from each other. Something we haven’t seen at all since the Wii days. Much like the Wiimote dictating they style of games available, or the GameCube to GBA Linkcable elevating some games to an unforgettably unique gameplay experience the N64 had a few amazing peripherals. Mainly the Rumble Pak, Gameboy Transfer Pak, and even a Microphone for a talk to Pikachu game.
There is a nice amount of variety here with plenty making good shelf pieces. Each one of them holding a special place in gaming history. The system itself though? I honestly think it’s more nostalgic than revolutionary. Of the 32 bit era of gaming the PlayStation is the real historical footnote. Nintendo 64 is a tad to old-fashioned. More like the perfection of analog gaming. The end of an era. Not the beginning of the next age. That’s the Nintendo 64’s legacy. A system that held true to what made gaming special in it’s infancy. The last of the classics is the best thing I can say about it. Just sadly there are few must play titles here. More often than not it’s creative and quirky titles like Mischief Makers or Goemon’s Great Adventure. It’s a system comfortable with itself and rarely tries to exceed what it is. My final opinion on it is get some games. Get a system and try out some titles that will likely never be coming back elsewhere. If you are collecting on a budget get in on it now. Almost every title will just keep becoming rarer and more expensive as the lose carts make their way into collections. The spares and duplicates ending up being sold by people who know their worth or atleast what the demand is around them. So they end up getting prices to match. Finally there is a whole generation of gamers who started here. So the nostalgia collections will only keep becoming more common as these players pay off their college debt, or getting promoted to a position that finally gives them pissing away money. So if you wanna start, start soon.
I can’t really say that these articles require any extra work besides a few lowballs of whiskey and a night remembering why a certain system was amazing, or sometimes overrated. That said we survive off the funding from our lovely Couch Cronies over on Patreon. Our Discord might be free for everyone to join, but the Couch Cronies get to help in the decisions on what gets made and how around the site and YouTube channel. So if you are in a position to, and want to, help us grow please consider joining us over at Patreon. If not, well we love you anyway.