Hey guys, Bulba here and I have something special for my sixty forth article here today. I am reviewing the Nintendo 64, Nintendo’s first attempt at a 3D system entry. It released in time for the 1996 Christmas season to compete against the PlayStation and SEGA Saturn which came the previous year, launching with a small handful of games (one of which had the biggest impact in 3D as we know it today; Super Mario 64). So what do I think of the Nintendo 64 considering I had never purchased one until a few years ago? I will analyze the system, it’s controller and six games owned for the console. Let’s get to it!
The system had 4 megabytes of ram (ram could be extended using a Expansion Pak) and 64 bit processors. Contrary to the trend in the mid to late 90s, Nintendo decided to stick with cartridges which held storage data due to the greater loading times and durability. Although this lead to many loyal third parties leaning towards PlayStation, this did not stop Nintendo and their second party (at the time) Rareware from publishing quality titles such as Smash, Banjo- Kazooie, Zelda titles and the previously mentioned Super Mario 64. Design wise the console looked very sleek and still holds up coming with four controller ports off the gate. The only thing left to mention is that the console had many variants which there are too many of to discuss, so next is the controller.
The controller was, well, interesting to say the least. It supported a alien ship like design having one handle for the d-pad, one handle for the joy stick, and one handle for the buttons. Four of said buttons were originally for camera control alongside the standard A and B. There were also three shoulder buttons, two at the top and one behind the handle with the joystick. The position in which you held the controller depended if the game was 2D or 3D, feeling somewhat awkward either way. Overall the controller was certainly decent but just not up to the standards of Nintendo’s previous or upcoming controller. It worked for the majority of games without ruining the experience.
The first game which will be discussed is one that you must have on your Nintendo 64 and one that has been mentioned twice on this article, Super Mario 64. Overall it was a game groundbreaking at the time for good reason but it doesn’t hold up too greatly in recent years. The camera can be very frustrating at times and the graphics look very dated. Fortunately, the gameplay still mostly holds up and the game is still fun to play. The music is decent and there is nothing much more to say about it other than it’s a game you must play at least once in life.
Next up is another must play game with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It is the greatest puzzle action adventure game you can find in that entire console generation, the gameplay still holds up very well while the graphics are bearable. It follows Link, a boy from Hyrule set on a journey to stop the villainous Ganondorf going between past and future. Overall this is regarded as one of the greatest Zelda games as it completely changed the entire franchise with a new formula for many years to come.
Third is Banjo- Kazooie, a glorified Super Mario 64 with bigger levels, orchestrated music, better visuals and almost no camera issues. It revolves around Banjo and Kazooie, a bear and a bird, who is going after the witch Gruntilda as she captured Tootie (Banjo’s sister) to steal Tootie’s good looks for herself. Banjo and Kazooie collect puzzle pieces to open worlds which are used to collect even more puzzles which eventually leads to the final showdown. Since then Rareware has been bought by Microsoft, so you can find these games on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One as well.
Fourth is Diddy Kong Racing. Once again just how Rareware made a glorified Super Mario 64, they did the same for Mario Kart 64. It featured a story mode, multiplayer, and even Banjo and Conker before their games came out. Overall there is not too much to say on this, it is just Mario Kart with a story, hub and a few other added features.
Fifth is Yoshi’s Story, the semi sequel to Yoshi’s Island on SNES. Overall it is a decent game, nothing mind blowing but surely not trash. In order to complete levels it is required to eat the amount of fruits which show around the border of the screen. However, you need to earn the fruits by going through somewhat difficult platforming. The visuals are in a very happy mood, charming and unique just as it’s prequel. Honestly this is one of the few good 2D experiences on Nintendo 64 and is definitely worth a play.
Finally there is Rayman 2, a more linear 3D platformer with very solid mechanics and platforming in general. Although most third parties did not release on Nintendo 64, Ubisoft decided to regardless which ended up working amazingly in the end. While sometimes tricky it stands as a very nice balance of easy and hard to the extent that you wont find yourself constantly raging. The music is fine as it as, and the visuals look exceptionally well for the time while still holding up. Overall, this is a very fun package which is made available on many platforms including PlayStation and Dreamcast.
Overall, I give this console a solid 7/10. The console was majorly lacking in third party support, has an awkward controller and used cartridges meaning games lacked in file size, music, etc. Fortunately the system has more than a few amazing exclusives and supported 4 player gaming right out of the box. It lies somewhere in the middle for being the greatest and worst Nintendo console. Thank you so much for reading! What do you think of the Nintendo 64? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter or Discord. I will see you soon!
(IMAGE CREDIT: Image was taken by and from Polygon. Nintendo 64 is a property of Nintendo)