Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy 10th, N64!

Ten years ago today, the Nintendo 64 debuted in the US. In some ways it's hard to believe it's only been 10 years - a decade is a short time to go from birth to near obscurity.

I think my first time seeing a N64 was in Toys R Us around Xmas '96 shopping for presents. There were a lot of kids around the display/demo cases. I remember seeing Mario 64 and being pretty impressed. But, I knew that a big expense like a new game system was out of the question. Just the system and a game would have been nearly $300.

So I waited until the price came down. My opportunity came when the Jungle Green model was released with DK64. I vaguely remember it being around $150 and that came with a coupon for a banana colored controller by mail. I also thought it was too cool being made of clear green plastic - it and all other consoles were usually black or grey.

I never minded that the N64 only used cartridges. Being a longtime user of the SNES, I was more at home with a cartridge based system. You never had to worry about load times or scratched discs. And the controller worked great for FPS games - something the Playstation was never able to really support either in hardware or by controller. Unfortunately, the rest of the industry wasn't as open minded. The N64 faded too soon and took with it much of Nintendo's glory. A few weeks before this writing, I was in a Gamestop store and I heard a child ask her mother what those things were in a display basket. She replied that they were what old video game systems used. The basket held N64 cartridges.

Some of my favorite N64 memories:

Mario Kart 64 - my choice for Best Mario Kart game because of the really large courses
Zelda: Orcarina of Time - an amazing adventure that I really wanted to finish, but the "review all your enemies" battles at the end wore me out
Turok 2 - a great dinosaur FPS that was only hampered by a silly system by which level checkpoints really didn't do shit
Duke Nukem Zero Hour - a time traveling Duke Nukem game that was so addictive I finally had to sell it so I would stop playing it
Space Station Silicon Valley - a game as bizzare as it title sounded
DK64 - great platformer that I wish I had had the time to explore more of
Goldeneye - great (but by current standards, dated) FPS that I played until it started to repeat levels
Beetle Adventure Racing - I had a ton of fun racing this one!
Pokemon Snap - I don't think I'll ever play another game as unique as this one was
Shadowman - the first game I ever heard swearing in and it came with the best round lens sunglasses I've ever owned

Over the years I've thinned my collection a little and picked up some ones I either missed or wish I hadn't sold (like Majora's Mask). I was also able to get a backup system with controller at one point for about the price of a new controller, and got the Pikachu edition too. While our daughter is the only one in the family who still plays it regularly, I still like popping in a cart every once in awhile. Not having to wait for a game to load from disc is still nice. I suspect that I'll do some N64 gaming tonight myself and remember back to a time when consoles weren't sold to push a new media format or online service. Back then, it was only about the games.

No comments: