Monday, November 16, 2015

Gaming Bits: Nintendo 64 (56k Warning)

Earlier this Year, I talked Nintendo in the 5th generation of video game consoles, Which talked among other things the N64. It was my first game console, it's games were arguably just as, if not more influential than the PS1's, it created some of the things we take for granted in games today. The analog stick, the popularization of FPS games on consoles, 4 players right out of the box, rumble, targeting, enhanced resolution, all this and more in the fun machine, this segment in gaming bits, we'll be talking it's ups, downs, lefts, rights, and my personal experiences with it...

The year was 1993, Nintendo was working on the successor to the SNES. It needed something big to continue after a decade of console dominance. It lost valuable business partnerships for all the stupid decisions they made as the king of the video game world in the 1980s. Conveniently, Silicon Graphics Inc. (or SGI) pitched the idea of a 64 bit system that was going to be the most powerful system on the market. SGI Previously pitched the idea to Sega, but they rejected it. The system was codenamed Project Reality and was set to debut in arcades in 1994, and be available in console form in Christmas of 1995. Around the time a more official name was announced (Ultra 64), 2 games were announced Cruisin' USA and Killer Instinct. They said both games were running on N64 hardware, but unfortunately they were playing fast and loose with a little white fib and... Yeah, they were pretty much lying. They were running on hardware much more powerful than the N64, and when they were released, they were much downgraded from their arcade counterparts. OK They didn't totally lie, they expected it to be much more powerful than it was released as, but they sure as hell weren't N64 based. There's many explanations why the 64 was cartridge based (from Production costs, to Graphical Power, to arceus knows what else), but we'll get to the implications of that later. It had all they hype in the world, but did it deliver? We'll see as we go along.

The Nintendo 64 (released like that because of Konami pretty much), released on July 23, 1996 in Japan, September 26 of that same year in america, and on 1997 elsewhere for $200. If you're wondering about the delay, That was because the Nintendo wanted the system to be the best it can be essentially. It had a 64 bit CPU by NEC with a 64 bit GPU by SGI, 32 bit bus, and 4MB of RAM initially. The best part is if you had some spare SNES video cables, you could use them on the 64. It was capable of 16.8 MILLION COLORS, a resolution of 320x240, and not enough technical terms, initialisms, and numbers for you, how about this... KFC 9001 Read Only Memory. It only had like 2 launch games, and we'll get to the better of which later, 64.

Let's talk features...

If you look at the N64's controller, you might think it's confusing, basically you can hold it 3 different ways. Analog Stick + Buttons, D-Pad + Buttons, and D-Pad + Analog Stick. it had an analog stick (the MOST Important feature of the 64), a Z-Trigger, a D-Pad, 2 Shoulder buttons, 6 face buttons (which would be great for fighting games, considering there are any that aren't smash), and a start button. In back there was a slot for all this stuff, 64...

These are the Rumble Pak (introducing rumble to gaming), Controller Pak (which was a memory card), and the transfer pak (connecting Game Boy/Game Boy Color games to N64 Games). that's not counting the wealth of 3rd party expansions, 64.

You could also make your system more powerful with the Expansion Pak. It replaced the N64's standard jumper pak, and made some games play at double the resolution for a clearer picture, and gave the 64 double the RAM, 64...

Sadly the 64 was losing to the Playstation and even the Saturn in Japan, because it they were easier to develop for thanks to their CD Based nature. Games like Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, Tekken, Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil were doing so well on CD that the 64 wanted a piece of that pie. Cartridges could load faster, but CDs cost less, and could hold more. Here comes the 64DD, which could be a show onto itself. it came out when nobody gave a S**t, The PS2 was months away, the Dreamcast was out worldwide, and Nintendo was ready to move on to the Gamecube. had it released in 1997/1998, it could've been as successful as the Sega CD, maybe, but it was the fascinating failure as it was for having so much buildup, for a piss poor payoff, 64.

What did the console mean for me?

To put it simply, this my favorite console of all time. The best? Maybe, but I had so much memories playing it. It was my first game console, I had so much fun with it, and I wish I had an N64 T-Shirt to show my love for the system. I want to get one for my house since my old one broke long ago. Unless you know me personally do me favor and don't give one to me, I don't trust you guys with my personal info. I Played Kirby, Mario, Pokemon, and Zelda. I could totally geek out about this system. Crazy? I'm not crazy, You're Crazy, 64!!!!!

OK, I love the N64, but my early memories of it are kind of vague, except that it was my first game console, 64...


I already discussed these games not too long ago, so I'll provide you with what I originally said about each game...

"Mario 64 Changed Video Games forever. Full 360 degree control of your character. Graphics that haven't been matched up to that point, This was as good as a Mario game could get. Mario wasn't just limited to stomping on enemies, he could punch, kick, throw, body slam, any attack you can think of, He also had crazy Acrobatics, at times he could have been in the WWF, (fast fact, He actually was, Former WWF Superstar Captain Lou Albano played Mario in the live action segments in the original Super Mario Cartoon in 1989), 64."

"The Sequel to The Groundbreaking Star Fox, Star Fox 64 even better Graphics, a cool multiplayer mode, methods of traveling on the land in the air, and under the sea, a better story, and the Groundbreaking Rumble Feature, Made Possible by the N64 Rumble Pak, 64."

"Nintendo wasn't done churning out hit games just yet. They released Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Arguably the best game of all time, This made up for Square Soft switching Final Fantasy VII from the N64 to the Playstation. It had an epic scale, long cutscenes, big bosses, great graphics, unique puzzles, and it topped many best of lists to this very day. There's often many debates in which "Did Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time single handedly make owning a N64 worthwhile?", 64."

In the Multiplayer Department, We had Games like Goldeneye 64 (from British developer Rareware), and Mario Kart 64. These games fueled late night game parties and these were the funnest games to play with friends or sometimes alone. Mario Kart changed the obstacle course based gameplay of Super Mario Kart into 3D Funhouses, While Goldeneye made FPS Games Great on Consoles. These were must-haves for the 64, 64.

"Super Smash Bros. was Nintendo's answer to the fighting games on the Playstation like Battle Arena Toshiden, Dead or Alive, Tekken, Street Fighter, and Soul Edge. Sure it was a game that didn't take a big budget to make, but it was insane multiplayer fun for all ages. 4 player madness, a simple to understand, yet hard to master system, certain characters were dangerous in the right hands. It introduced many players to obscure franchises like Earthbound and games that haven't made an appearance on the N64 like Metroid, 64."

Lastly, Rareware was in it's heyday back on the N64, with platformers with colorful characters, like Banjo, Conker, and Donkey Kong, to intergalactic shooters, like Perfect Dark, 64.


As usual, either Get an N64 and games (while the console itself isn't to ridiculous since it was so popular, The games have risen in price, so strike sooner rather than later if you want to build any sort of collection for this thing), or emulate it (N64 Emulation's a mess, not all of the games run perfectly on all emulators, and there's so many choices and so many variables, that it isn't as worthwhile as say 16-bit or 8-bit machines). Your choice, 64...


The other half of my early gaming career...

Not enough 64 for you? Was today some day special?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOSHI, 64!!!!! The other half of my Birthday celebration is coming later tonight, 64...

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