Today, as I write this on September 29, 2011, is the 15th anniversary of the Nintendo 64 console being released in the United States.
The N64 was the first console I got around launch time. My memory isn’t too clear but I don’t think it was longer than a month or so after its launch day. My mother got me one from someone (?) she worked with, not new, but like new. Only problem was that was it. No games. I had some allowance money, just enough to go to the local video store and rent one. I chose Super Mario 64. Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made during my 24 year tenure on this earth. I remember plopping that cartridge into the console, turning it on (once we figured out how to plug it in since we were used to coaxal cables and not composite cables or as I called them “the three cables with different colors”) and seeing the colorful Super Mario 64 logo careening towards me. Then I heard Mario’s voice for the first time, “It’s a-me! Mario!” Then Mario’s head appeared on the title screen, completely in 3D. “Hello!” Hi, Mario! It’s so nice to see you in this new way! I pressed start, started a new file and within a minute, I was running around outside Princess Toadstool’s castle. I noticed she called herself Peach in her letter in the beginning. I thought that was her first name; you know, Princess Peach Toadstool. I guess now it’s just Peach and Princess Toadstool was just dropped. I remember my mother admiring the water in the game. How clear it was, how peaceful that outside area was. I’ll just say it now. Super Mario 64 is my favorite Mario game ever and is my favorite game for the Nintendo 64.
Now, if you follow my blogs, then you might know that I have a, shall we say, complicated impression of the Nintendo 64. However, I would say that others share the same sentiments, although maybe not to the same level as I do. The N64 is a darling to Nintendo fans and to those who love games of a whimsical quality and with an emphasis on multiplayer. However, for those of us who are old enough to know (which makes me feel old), the N64 also signaled Nintendo’s fall from the top of the gaming world. The N64 may have been beloved but new competitor Sony’s PlayStation was more beloved and outperformed the old guard Nintendo as well as Sega’s Saturn console. I myself am on record as to saying that the N64 ultimately disappointed me but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy several games on Nintendo’s 64 monster.
Banjo-Kazooie is a game I remember blowing me away when I first played it. The colorful locals, the cartoon like sense of humor and dialogue, and the expansiveness that was built upon Mario 64’s worlds. I loved that game and although I never owned it back in the day, I would constantly rent it every week with my allowance. What’s great is that most of the time, my save file was still there so I continued from where I left off. Check in tomorrow for my review of Banjo-Kazooie. Oh, and I do own a copy now. Another game that comes to mind is Super Smash Bros.. I had a friend at the time name Mark who owned a N64 and one day, he brought over his console and this new game he got. It didn’t take long for me and my other friend Diego to be going at it with Mario, Link, Donkey Kong and Pikachu. We liked to have a computer opponent go against us as well. Also, yes. I only had two friends at that time. I eventually bought a copy from Funcoland and started unlocking characters that my friends hadn’t yet. From what I remember, Mark had only unlocked Luigi and Jigglypuff up to that point. I found Captain Falcon and Ness. Sad to say that when we saw Ness, we all wondered who that was. Don’t worry, I know now.
Oddly enough, another game my friends and I used to play was Rush 2. Now we didn’t race, we used to just go into Stunt mode and take turns doing crazy tricks and try to land them. I swear, the Rush series is a hard set of games. Although it hasn’t held up as well, I was in love with Donkey Kong 64 and I remember as a kid trying to play after my bed time by turn the volume down on my TV and being subtle with my playing because the controller made so much noise. One game that I loved was Conker’s Bad Fur Day. The story mode was great and it was strange to hear these bad words coming out of these cartoon characters on screen but the one thing I remember was the multiplayer mode, Heist. Get a bazooka, hear you guy say “Bad Ass Motherfu**er”, then blow up someone literally into pieces and try to put the controller down. It’s a shame they took those modes out of the Xbox remake. Finally, as a lapse in judgment on my part, I remember costing my mothers $60 when I decided to keep my rented Blockbuster copy of Dark Rift. WTF was I thinking?
Cheers to you, Nintendo 64. Thank you for giving us rumble support, a capable analog stick, great multiplayer support as well as single player experiences and something I neglected to mention earlier, awesome wrestling games! Sure you had some quirks, like the controller design and not too many third party games worth playing but the older you get, the more I’ve come to love you more. And now to end things is a manner most enjoy, here’s a quick list of 10 of my favorite N64 games in no particular order (except for Super Mario 64, that’s number one):
- Donkey Kong 64
- Star Fox 64
- Mario Kart 64
- Super Mario 64
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Super Smash Bros.
- Conker’s Bad Fur Day
- Paper Mario