Remember how we knew gaming was here to to stay? True gaming that is. Now what I mean is in the midst of the CD based multimedia revolution going on all around it Nintendo decided to look down from their tower and just coldly say “No”. For better or worse this is when Nintendo decided they wanted not the best technology at the time, but the best technology to affordably achieve their vision. What it lacked in some aspects like audio fidelity and file size limitations the Nintendo 64 made up for in several ways. Largely the loading times. Which honestly the origins of the 64 are incredibly interesting, but that’s not why we are here. We are here each year in November to remember the wonderful little box that wrapped up what games was while showing how they will never really change. The Nintendo 64 showed that 3D games could and would be the same mixed bag of quirky brightly colored distractions we have grown up on. Sure PlayStation has it’s own assortment of odd games. Vib Ribbon, Jumping Flash, Mr. Domino, and plenty of others. That was no match for Mischief Makers, Pokemon Snap, and Pilot Wings 64 to just name a few.
The Nintendo 64 was one of the last systems where I expected something special from even the worst games. Honestly I can say it never let me down. Sure I wish they would rerelease most of these games with better camera controls for the 3D games. That’s my only real complaint for the system. It’s controls worked well. Well enough I should say if you have the appropriate controller. We can easily overcome the issues with using a modern controller. Often bring overly responsive to the point of floaty. Yet setting the C buttons to the right stick leads to sloppy flick controls. Those two issues tend to make ROMs and ports play way worse than what they actually were. Even with that handicap these games still keep winning over new fans with just pure unrivaled fun. I’d even go as far as to say it might be the second most recognizable system system design after the NES.
Not every game made the transaction to 3D as smoothly as Mario did. Games like Zelda instead reinvented themselves into something different. One could argue Mario 64 and Zelda OoT were equally large departures in terms of gameplay. Even moreso in objective to be fair. I never considered 3D Mario titles sperate when thinking if my favorite ones. Zelda I always do. The 64 made 3D games approachable for me. I had a hard time with my earliest PlayStation 3D titles. So much so I almost always defaulted to RPGs on PSX and everything else on the N64. The games almost always felt designed around the three pronged banana paddle. Rarely over reaching what the system could deliver, but speaking of Rare.
I defy you to name another consistently solid console library from any developer on any system they didn’t make themselves than that of Rare on the N64. In it’s few years out on market Rare gave us do many solid hits that hold up to this day as solid titles not just “Good for the time” but best of all time.
Oh man, just so many good games. You’d be forgiven for just assuming those were Nintendo titles themselves. Especially since once Microsoft acquired the studio the quality instantly tanked. I won’t begin to speculate as to why, but I have a feeling it has atleast something to do with the shift in platform. I’m not even that big of a fan of Banjo. Still I can’t say it’s a bad game. The N64 was the first time I started to see other companies could be as good as the big N themselves. Sure I love me some Mega Man, but he was never and will never be Mario 3. Conker’s Bad Fur Day, why that is almost every bit as enjoyable as Mario 64. Which can we talk about Mario 64? I mean I have been waiting all month to talk to someone about Mario 64 all day. So I was looking into Mario 64 and you know what I realized? It was a launch title so good it never got a sequel on it’s system. Even Mario World had a kinda sequel. I also consider Luigi’s Mansion and Mario Sunshine sorta spiritual sequels in the GameCube. Two games where you clean up using a backpack device in 3D set in but apart from the Mario universe. That isn’t to say the N64 was lacking in Mario titles.
That’s right Mario really started to branch out. Mario was no stranger to sports titles before. Here we see the Mario Sports series establish itself as the powerhouse it became. Not to mention ya know Smash Bros. In many ways the Nintendo 64 was a second beginning for Nintendo. Expanding it’s brands and trusting in outside development teams to handle big budget releases is something they, ahem, rarely did before. The library of great games is still among the largest of any system. Yeah I know I left out Paper Mario from that list. You thought I forgot? Nah it’s not really pick up and play fun. It was a fantastic game, but it is a story first and foremost. One of the few RPGs you will find on the N64, but one that is so good you won’t be wanting more. It satiates my desire for whatever it is in my brain that hungers for ever increasing numbers and scaling equipment. While adding an extra level of engagement with it’s timed button presses for the combat system. Not to mention opening up the world of Mario far better than Mario RPG on the SNES. There is plenty to love in just the Mario and Rareware titles alone. Without even digging into the ports and collection titles.
Not only was it my first exposure to StarCraft, but that Namco Collection has a 3D walk around museum. That set a bar way to high if I’m being honest. I haven’t seen that in any other retro collection and that greatly saddens me. So there you have it. A quick run down of why every November will be N64 focused. I haven’t decided which game gets the spotlight next, and honestly it might spill over into December more often than not. So if you have any suggestions let me hear them. Until next time dust out your old system or grab some games elsewhere, and if not…
November 64 is largely thanks to a sizable donation to our Patreon. Enough to get the Nintendo Online Expansion Pack with it’s selection of N64 titles. If you are in a position to help out and want to guide the direction of our content then check out or Patreon and Discord communities, and if you can’t well we love you anyway.