Written by Erik Kubik Tuesday, 08 March 2011 06:00
It’s been almost 15 years since the N64 first graced American homes. The last cartridge-based console from Nintendo would introduce gamers to 4-player multiplayer, ignore RPGs, and prove to the world that FPS titles could be done on a console. Was the N64 perfect? No, it was far from it and most of the games have aged terribly. But the mid-1990s was a great time to own a N64 and its still worth taking out today and reliving a few of the classics.
The biggest impact the N64 had on gaming is best remembered by three concepts: 3D, multiplayer, and FPS games. Concerning 3D, Mario and Zelda looked great. In fact, everything looked so much better than what the PSX or Saturn could produce. Gamers had never seen better games. Even today I’m still impressed with what they could do back then.
Multiplayer and 4-player games became the standard on the N64. No accessories or funky add-ons were needed; the N64 supported 4-players right out of the box. Looking back I remember late night matches of Turok 2, Goldeneye, Smash Brothers, Mario Kart and Perfect Dark. These were the norm in middle and high school. Even in college we dug out the N64 on slow weekends and blasted each other with rockets in Goldeneye or played 4-player matches in Smash Brothers.
FPS games were a standard on the N64, which was something most consoles didn’t have. Both the PSX, and later the Dreamcast, had FPS games but the N64 pioneered the genre on consoles. Sure the ports of Hexen, and Duke Nukem were poor. Doom 64 was terrible. But games like Perfect Dark, Goldeneye, and the Turok series redeemed the library. Not only were the games a blast to play, they looked comparable to what current PCs were capable of at the time. The controller felt designed for FPS games and the multiplayer elements made most FPS games on the N64 worth a gamers’ time.
To some the N64 was innovative; to others it had its shortcomings. The lack of RPGs for the N64 was disappointing as well as the inability to do use FMV due to the cartridge limitations. These seem to be the biggest complaints from gamers over the years. I personally disliked the fact the N64 had very few mature games. Out of about 20 mature titles only a few are worth a gamers’ time. Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Resident Evil 2 come to mind. The rest are either terrible remakes/ports of PC games or just terrible games. Although the N64 had some great wrestling games and Mortal Kombat Trilogy, most of the fighting games were very subpar to what the Saturn, Dreamcast, and PSX offered.
At least with the N64, it has a legacy that can be appreciated. Who doesn’t love games like Super Smash Brothers, Mario 64, Zelda, Perfect Dark and Goldeneye? If you are looking for a system, they are usually $25 or less at most garage sales. Do yourself a favor and get some friends together and enjoy some nostalgic N64 action.