News Article

Round Table: Remembering the Nintendo 64

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Check out the polygons!

This week we have been celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Nintendo 64, looking at memorable games, the revolutionary aspects of the system, the let-downs and disappointments, as well as the possible 3D future for N64 titles. Now it’s time to relax and get into some good old retro reminiscences, scouring our aging memory banks to recall our experiences of the console in the mid to late Nineties.

Posing questions and serving drinks is Features Editor Thomas Whitehead, joined by Downloads Editor Corbie Dillard, Editor at Large Jonathan Wahlgren, Social Media Manager Patrick Elliot, and writers/reviewers Zach Kaplan, Jamie O’Neill, Christopher Ingram and Marcel van Duyn.

Thomas Whitehead: To get us started, perhaps you should all introduce yourselves to our lovely readers?

Corbie Dillard: I'm Corbie Dillard, Downloads Editor here at Nintendo Life. I take care of all things digital download, which gives me the opportunity to work with many of the great indie developers out there. Did I mention I'm also quite good looking?

Jamie O’Neill: I'm JamieO on Nlife, I have contributed a few reviews, and I am especially fond of retro gaming. Possibly a bit obsessive about retro.

Patrick Elliot: My name's Patrick Elliot. I reviewed Dr. Franken here last Halloween and it still remains my only Game Boy review on the site. I hope the upcoming Halloween celebrations can amend this.

Marcel van Duyn: I'm Drake on the site, been there for a few years, and I've pretty much been a Nintendo fanboy ever since I first laid hands on a Game Boy around the age of two.

Jonathan Wahlgren: My name's Jon and I've been a Nintendo gamer since the day someone gave me an NES as a wee lad. It wasn't until the N64 where I actually cared enough to become more aware of the world of video games, so in that sense the console will forever have a special place in my heart.

Christopher Ingram: Hi, my name is Christopher Ingram and I write news and reviews mainly for our sister sites Movemodo and VitaGamr, but I also contribute a few reviews here at Nintendo Life when the great hand of time allows me to do so. I’ve been gaming since I was around three years old and that was a long time ago.

Zach Kaplan: I’m Zach, and I’ve been writing here since April 2010. The Nintendo 64 was an important console for me as, like Jon, it represents the first time I really got into gaming. I also really got into reading gaming magazines, and thus began my desire to write about video games myself.

Thomas Whitehead: Thanks guys. The first question for all of you — what was your first experience of the N64?

Patrick Elliot: The first time I played N64 was at my friend Jeff's house. Jeff and his uncle were playing the multiplayer of GoldenEye and gave me a controller with a burnt out analogue stick, so I was doomed to lose. It was a pretty smart idea.

Jonathan Wahlgren: Back when the Virtual Boy came out was around the time we got dial-up Internet in our home and I would spend at least 10 minutes of my online hour each week browsing, which is where I first learned of the Ultra 64. Eventually it came out and I saw the amazing demo kiosks playing Super Mario 64. Once I stretched Mario's fat nose around the screen there was no going back.

Marcel van Duyn: I was a huge SNES fan around the time the N64 was announced (who wasn't?), and my hype for it was so big that I ended up importing one from North America as soon as it was released there with Super Mario 64, which of course was and still is one of the most revolutionary games ever.

Jonathan Wahlgren: Actually, I wasn't much of a SNES guy. Its processing didn't ‘blast’ enough for me. Gotta go fast!

Christopher Ingram: My cousin had acquired a N64 console with Mario 64 and as soon as I was able to I raced over for a weekend stay. We watched the sun come up twice that weekend as sleep was definitely not top priority.

Corbie Dillard: I took time off work to go pick up my Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64 the day it was released. I had just gotten my first apartment all to myself, so I spent that entire week glued to Super Mario 64 every night. I even ordered pizzas every night so I wouldn't have to cook and could spend more time with the system.

Jamie O’Neill: I first heard of Ultra 64 in Super Play mag, during early ’95 they championed arcade Killer Instinct. PAL took ages to reach UK in spring ‘97, a year after Japan and US. Mario Kart 64 blew me away, shortly after the PAL launch.

Zach Kaplan: Even before the system came out I started reading about it, but I didn’t have one until maybe six months after it released. I played it for the first time at my friend Chris’s house, and he had most of the launch titles. Changed my life.

Thomas Whitehead: Some of you have already alluded to it, but would you say that, at the time, N64 graphics had a 'wow' factor?

Jonathan Wahlgren: Absolutely. The 16-bit era had some really great pixel art, but the jump to 3D was like staring into the future. The foggy, blurry future.

Jamie O’Neill: Take into account SNES Super Mario Kart is one of my favourite games, so I was massively excited to experience the N64’s polygon powers, particularly the way Mario Kart 64's tracks dipped and included humongous boost jumps (Royal Raceway), as well as a slippery ice cave (Sherbet Land). The flat SNES Mode 7 tracks could never handle that. Four player split-screen was also technically gobsmacking back then.

Patrick Elliot: Mario 64 literally had me daydreaming in class. The fact that you could explore a 3D Nintendo world seemed magical.

Zach Kaplan: Oh yes, very much so. It was so incredible to see Mario and pals in 3D. I missed out on PlayStation as well, so it was a huge leap for me.

Corbie Dillard: I think having played so much PlayStation, I wasn't quite as wowed with the 3D visuals at the time, although seeing many of the classic Nintendo characters like Mario and Link in 3D was far more impressive than anything else to me. Banjo Kazooie was probably the first N64 game that really wowed me.

Christopher Ingram: Even when we compared the PlayStation and the N64 together (Wave Race 64 vs Jet Moto) the PlayStation didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor that the N64 did. Wave Race 64 just looked amazing!

Marcel van Duyn: The PS1 was pretty much technically superior, but the N64 had much smoother textures and less jaggy edges, which made me prefer it a bit. Also, one of the last consoles to use cartridges, which mean less of those awful loading times!

The 16-bit era had some really great pixel art, but the jump to 3D was like staring into the future. The foggy, blurry future

Thomas Whitehead: Jon referred to the ‘foggy’ and ‘blurry’ graphics. At the time, did you guys think much of the blurring, or did you just accept it as a part of 3D polygon gaming?

Corbie Dillard: It just didn't really bother me too much. I know one of my buddies at the time didn't like it, but considering what the 3D visuals brought to the table, it seemed like a rather small price to pay in the overall scheme of things.

Marcel van Duyn: I didn't think much of it, I just thought of it as a necessary evil that would be gotten rid of as games continued to evolve.

Zach Kaplan: Just accepted it. Blurry or not, it was still very impressive to me.

Patrick Elliot: I don't think I had the frame of reference to call it out. It just seemed so cool nonetheless.

Jonathan Wahlgren: The only times I really was aware of the fog was when playing Turok. Incredibly obvious, and N64 Magazine kept poking fun at its pea-soup nature. The way I saw it, 3D went in one of two ways: sharp but with very schizophrenic textures, or foggy and blurry but reasonable. I much preferred the latter — the crawling textures makes it very difficult for me to play PS1 games (both then and now), but I can go back to any N64 game as long as it's played on a CRT set.

Christopher Ingram: Back then when the N64 first released, the blurry graphics were barely noticeable, but today it's a whole different story!

Thomas Whitehead: The general consensus seems to be that the graphics impressed at the time. Was there one game in the N64’s lifespan that truly, in your view, pushed the console fully?

Patrick Elliot: Well Perfect Dark seemed impressive at the time, but perhaps that's what I had to think to justify purchasing that add-on RAM you needed to play it.

Jamie O’Neill: First party N64 was still strong visually, regardless of blurry graphics. They often kept with a colourful cartoony style, Rare would match Nintendo for that, and character models often had a chunky endearing quality. As long as the art style is vivid, I don't mind the fuzziness as much. It's hard to choose one title for 'most impressive graphics'.

Zach Kaplan: At the time, Ocarina looked amazing, what with those waterfalls and everything. After that, Banjo-Kazooie, as it let you view great distances without the fog effect.

Corbie Dillard: As I mentioned before, Banjo-Kazooie was the game that blew me away from a visual standpoint. There was just so much detail and even with the limited draw distance, the game was still insanely impressive for its time. Nobody did it better than Rare during the N64 era, in my opinion.

Marcel van Duyn: Probably any expansion pak game was the best graphically, really, but if you ask me the winner would be Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Really hope they make a 3D version of that as well!

Jamie O’Neill: I had the Expansion Pak for Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, it doubled the screen resolution, although I think it took its toll on the frame rate if I remember correctly. Rogue Squadron was a fine looking game though, it’s harder to appreciate the detail it provided 12 years on.

Jonathan Wahlgren: Rogue Squadron, Zelda and Turok 2 were all fantastic, but to me it comes down to two Rare gems: Conker's Bad Fur Day and Perfect Dark. Neither had particularly smooth frame rates, but their respective worlds were so engrossing and lively for the time that they captured my eyes like crazy. I'd have to give it to Perfect Dark though: the amount of content and boldness of it is still dizzying.

Christopher Ingram: Wave Race 64! I still remember the first time I saw the commercial for the game on TV and remember thinking, "Those can't be real in-game graphics!" They were, and still to this day the wave animations hold up nicely. What's really interesting about the great visuals in Wave Race 64 is the fact that it's an early release game, and it didn't use the Expansion Pack either.

Jamie O’Neill: Amazing 'wave physics' there. Good point!

Zach Kaplan: Yeah, I was never a huge fan of Wave Race but its visuals did blow me away now that you mention it.

Thomas Whitehead: Wave Race and Rogue Squadron stood out for me, definitely.

Jonathan Wahlgren: Yeah, the waves are still impressive today.

Christopher Ingram: And, back when the N64 first came around and the game was released, wave physics and animations were considered to be nearly impossible to recreate accurately, but nonetheless it was pulled off with fantastic results.

From the web

User Comments (37)



Kirk said:

Playing GoldenEye, both single-player and multi-player, is one of the highlights of my gaming life.



ToneDeath said:

Watching a neighbour play the Battle of Hoth level in Shadows of the Empire was what made me want to get an N64.
The game that impressed me the most in terms of graphics was Conker's Bad Fur Day, and the most played multiplayer was Super Smash Bros. Conker had an excellent multiplayer actually; my cousin and I were shocked to discover that if you killed your AI teammates enough times, they'd turn against you!

Of course my favourite game remains Ocarina of Time...which I only bought because it was going for £20 at Electronic Boutique's online shop, VERY cheap for a brand new game at the time. Before that I wasn't interested because despite scoring 98% in N64 Magazine's thorough review (spread over two issues actually) I thought it looked like 'boring Final Fantasy rubbish.'
Oh well, you live and you learn.



TKOWL said:

Since I was born in '95, I missed out on the N64 era. However, some friends of ours had a Nintendo 64 in their basement, and at 6 years old, Mario Kart 64 was one of the most fun experiences I ever had.



Ichabod said:

I miss the N64. Unlike the systems that come out today, the N64 was the last great system that felt like it brought something great and magical to the world. I remember sitting up for hours, ignoring my best friend next door (he got a PS1!) and never sleeping. It was the best time of my video game life.

Today, any system that comes out just feels like a new gadget to add to the plethora of others that a majority of us have filling the hours. Everything is so hi-tech now adays, that nothing feels revolutionary.... Not like the N64 did.(and come on Nintendo, bring the word Nintendo back to the system)



Ren said:

I remember sinking many hours into Mario 64 and really being blown away by the design and control of this fully immersed 3d world. I had a PS1 so it wasn't entirely new but still it hadn't done anything on that scale before at all.
Shadows of the Empire is a good one that I almost forgot. The mood was really nice, despite the fogginess, and a good 3D Star Wars adventure is still a pretty rare thing. It's hard to top Perfect Dark, though more people seemed to know 007. So sad that all those Rare games are just gone to us now; what a mess. Rare really did make so many of the games that made this system shine. The discussions of the potential of 64 games on 3DS just re-opens the wounds of all the lost Rare games, thanks to Microsoft.
Never really understood the excitement over Killer Instinct and Wave Race even then. It was a thing all the game magazines drooled over then, but when you actually played them they looked nice but got boring very quick. Jet Ski racing? Who is eagerly awaiting the next jet ski game? or Generic fighter for that matter? Not me.



FonistofCruxis said:

l was born in '95 but still got an N64 so I didn't have many games for it because of how late I got it. That and I wasn't much of a gamer back then but my most memorable experiences with it would probably be Super Mario 64 and Star wars: rougue squadron.



TheKingOfTown said:

I was born in '99, so I missed out on the N64. Sounded like a cool and fun time. I would love to be astounded by Mario 64's or OOT's transition to 3D, but my first console was the GameCube.



TheGreenSpiny said:

PS1 was not technically suprior.

Man I remember buying an N64 right around the time GoldenEye came out. The was the first FPS I ever bought and it's still my fav. Only one other person in my dorm had an N64, but after month half the people in the dorm had one and everyone was playing GoldenEye. Man I got a lot of milage on that game. And when we got bored with that we just switched to Mario Kart. Man those were the days.

@Ren: Wave Race 64 was the reason I bought an N64. I still consider that the best racing game ever made. The AI was immpecable. The levels designs are awesome. And the physics are still the best to this day (only beaten by it's sequel). Even the sheer amount of customization is pretty impressive to this day. I'm waiting for wave race's return, hopefully on the 3DS.

The only problem I have with Nintendo selling Rare was the lose of all those great franchises and never being able to see them on the VC, or as 3DS remakes.



AlbertoC said:

Banjo Kazooie is the greatest platformer on all time. It has the simplicity and humor of a cartoon, yet complex and engaging enough to want to explore every area for everything this game has to offer. The game mechanics were great, and all the worlds were so colorful and lively. But i can't longer play it confortably on my N64 because of the control sticks on the controllers being all weared down.

I agree with you Corbie.



FJOJR said:

Loved the N64. Sums up my childhood right there. Loved the uniqueness of all the console colors and controllers. Everyone had their own preference. Kinda why I was disappointed in how long it took the Wii to break away from the White scheme even though one could buy shells or skins to remedy the situation between that time.



Bass_X0 said:

I'm waiting for wave race's return, hopefully on the 3DS.

They should call it simply Wave Race 4, because it would be the fourth game.



Ben_Rage_V2 said:

I know exactly what you mean. I remember the first time I played the N64 and it just felt magical. I'm not exactly sure why, but I haven't had that feeling since.



hamispink said:

N64 multiplayer defines a large portion of my childhood. Everyday consisted of waking up late, playing with friends outside on a trampoline or bikes and such. After a few hours, go inside and break out the N64 with diddy kong racing battle mode or even better, in announcer voice SUPER SMASH BROTHERS! then of course go home when the sun starts to fall, eat, watch anime on toonami, then go back outside until bedtime(then stay up to some ungodly hour to watch adult swim).
And then repeat!



Slapshot said:

@Bass_XO You my friend just proved yourself to be a true Nintendo fan. Very few seem to know that WaveRace 64 was actually the second game in the series, as WaveRace on Gameboy preceded it.



ToneDeath said:

Good point! But you never really hear about it. I just remember looking at the back of the box and thinking it looked like the speedboat bits in Micro Machines.
Not sure if it's worth looking forward to on the VC then, but any other Wave Race stuff would be welcome! (1080° Snowboarding too).



StuffyStuff said:

It has to come down to Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. Banjo Kazooie is my favorite N64 game, but FPS are incredibly popular today and these two games had just as much fan fare in my little world growing up. Another equation is "all meat sims + unarmed = beat the meat"



Omenapoika said:

I have a very foggy memory of my first N64 experience. I was a little boy maybe 8 years old. We had a Super Nintendo but I wasn't thinking too much about the games other than what we owned. I remember it was a dark room with many people, maybe on a ship! I remember my parents were a somewhere else and there were intriguing and also scary things around, until I saw a screen with Mario's face. Someone was fiddling the controller, and when they saw my face they kindly gave the controller to me. Now remember, I played the first area with the bombs and was frustrated of how difficult it was to maneuver 3D-jumping
Didn't think too much back then, for all I knew that could've been the only machine with that game in the world! I played Mario 64 at our relatives maybe year/years later and had a silent "ohhh this".
Writing that now felt like a brain excavation



Retro_on_theGo said:

These roundtables are great. I love reading them a lot. Glad to see you guys doing this. It's fun to read.

Wow, the N64. This article brought up so many memories. That console was great! It was a party machine for sure. Smash Bros., Goldeneye, Mario Kart64, and countless other games. Plus all the great single player games and the fact this was Nintendo's first step into 3D! This console was revolutionary. I love the fact there was very little to no loading times...unlike the PS1 >:[ (worth it for MGS though.)
I still have my N64 hooked up. I play Smash Bros. with my brother a lot and still play Pokemon Stadium 2 by myself and with friends sometime.



NX01Trekkie1992 said:

@TheDarkness: It's still totally possible to see a rare game, either remake, sequel or new franchise, on the 3DS, since Microsoft doesn't have a competing handheld they do allow Rare to occasionally work on handheld projects for Nintendo, consider the following rumour posted right here back in April:
Therefore, it IS possible, just not as likely as we'd like it to be.

But to get back on topic, there are no greater memories of my childhood than Ocarina of Time and Banjo Kazooie, best games EVER



nintygaming said:

I'm a huge Zelda fan. Its my favorite series. And the N64 is suppose to have 2 great Zelda games (and Ocarina is a great game).


I'm currently playing Majora's Mask, and may God have mercy on my sanity and stress tolerance, because it is the first horrible experience that I've ever had with a Zelda game. Don't get me wrong, I've played, completed, and enjoyed every single Zelda game except for Majora's Mask. This is my first real attempt to finish the game, and so far, I'm really frustrated, even with a walkthrough. The consistent, forced backtracking, re-beating boses, re-gathering items, re-playing songs, ultra-high difficulty in side-quests, and only 4 dungeons? The whole game is nothing so far but back-tracking, loaded with re-doing and un-doing what I've been constantly re-doing, and loaded with side-quests, so many in fact that it makes the game itself a side-quest, with no real depth.

But hey, I'm not yet finished with it, so maybe it will get better, and redeem itself to me toward the end. But then again, so far, its getting worse and worse and worse. Thank God that Skyward Sword is coming soon, a REAL Zelda game.

--EDIT/UPDATE---- I just finished Majora's Mask a few days ago. I must admit, it did get better toward the end. My conclusion is simple. If you play the game primarily to finish it, then it's worthy of a purchase. However, if your hoping that its Ocarina of Time x2, then you're going to be disappointed, unless you have strong nerves, alot of patience, and side-quests are your thing. (I did manage to find out that some of the side quests are not so difficult once I learned a few simple tricks).

Overall, I feel that Gamespot's score of a 8.3 is very fair, and perhaps a bit too generous. Gamespot is usually the harsh critic (or at least they use to be). To quote Gamespot.............

"Majora's Mask is a great game, but it isn't for everybody. Even though it uses the same engine that drove Ocarina of Time, and the gameplay is the same on the surface, the adventure is extremely different. Some will appreciate the game's differences, while others will find the game's focus on minigames and side quests tedious and slightly out of place. While the game definitely has a lot going for it, and in the end comes together in a pretty tight package, skeptics should definitely rent this one first."--end of quote.

Could not have said it better myself.

Check out their original review here--->

Oh, and the same guy (Jeff Gerstmann) gave Ocarina of Time a 10, and said it was perfect. So, he's not anti-Zelda at all.



RedYoshi999 said:

Majora's Mask is my probably my favourite N64 game but it's hard to choose. It definitely is my favourite Zelda game just ahead of Wind Waker. I just loved everything about Majora's Mask. It was so much darker and deeper than Ocarina. There were less dungeons, yes, but there were so many interesting sidequests and all the characters had a story and a schedule to follow, something Nintendo has never done since. The Expansion Pak made it a graphically better game than Ocarina too. I really hope Nintendo remakes it in 3D. Maybe then it would be more appreciated.

But as for mulitplayer experiences, Mario Party 3 is my favourite game on the N64. I first played it when I was like 5 and for years I searched for the game again that I could barely remember. After getting Mario Party 1 I knew what series it was in and had to guess whether it was Mario Party 2 or 3. I eventually got Mario Party 3 and at last I had found it. But the length of one game meant my family wanted to play Mario Kart 64 instead. I grew to love it though and I have never played a better battle mode than Mario Kart 64's. I didn't get Mario Party 2 until it came out on VC last year and I didn't get Smash Bros until this year too. I played little bits of Goldeneye 007 when I was little but we never owned it.



JimLad said:

Me and my brother had to pool our money and do extra chores for months to buy the N64 when it first came out. We'd read about it in Official Nintendo Magazine (or Nintendo Magazine System as it was known then) and were blown away by the screenshots. At launch the console was something insane like £270-£300, and the games were £50 each (Turok was £70!)
If it had been anything else, it wouldn't have been worth it, but the N64 was a landmark console in the same way the NES and Atari 2600 were. It wasn't the first with 3D graphics (although they were much smoother than the PlayStation and Saturn's) but bringing in the analogue stick as standard, and the trigger, and camera control, and force feedback, and 4 player ports, made it so much more than just a step up. Of course the games are what made it really great. It was at that time when developers couldn't exactly push for realism, so they focused more on gameplay. And family games like Banjo Kazooie were still cool to play even if you were a teenager.
Not sure when we'll see a leap like that again, if again. Maybe when some kind of virtual reality becomes available to the public, in the not too distant future.



NintyMan said:

I for one was not a grown-up during the N64 era but was a kid, and I think the system and its games were even more magical from a kid's standpoint. Still, it gets me how many memories games like Super Mario 64 and Super Smash Bros. have made for all age groups. There might not be another leap like from the SNES to the N64 again. Now it makes me think what the kids will remember after playing the Wii down the road.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

I was so happy when the yellow controller came out. I hadn't been able to have one for a console before or since. I love the colour yellow, and there is a severe lack of yellow in consoles ( the only other yellow gaming item I have is my yellow dsiXL. Thank you Nintendo for being more adventurous with the colour options.



Simon_Deku said:

Same here! I'm playing Majora's Mask and hate it too! Exept, im kinda new with zelda, so the only games ive played are twilight princess(wii), spirit tracks, and phantom hourglass. phantom hourglass was kinda mediocre, but OMG i couldnt stop playing the other two! The only reason I havent given OOT a try is because I dont have a 3DS and want to get the 3D version(playing songs on VC just isnt the same)!



TheGreenSpiny said:

@nintygaming: You do realize you can save your game in Majora's Mask right? All your items and such stay with you when you save the game. Anyway, I never did like that game much... Zelda on a time limit is just wrong. Maybe if the dungeons were not on a time limit I would have liked it a whole lot better.

@25 yasha: I know that Rare made DKC for the GBA, and Diddy Kong Racing and Viva Pinata for the DS, but I doubt that MS would have them port any N64 classics to the 3DS. If they remade Perfect Dark and Conker, the 3DS would be the greatest system ever.



Ren said:

Ah, the good old days. after a certain hour of the evening it always came back to 'slappers only'.
a 'slappers only' victory is a victory indeed.



Bikeage said:

When the N64 was new it was too kiddy for my lifestyle of PSX, loose women, and booze. I came around after experiencing four player Goldeneye, Mario Kart, and WCW/NWO Revenge, and the system has aged much better than the Playstation.



StarDust4Ever said:

@thedarkness: They did do a remake of Conker for the Xbox, but they dumbed the game down and censored the swearing. Based on reviews, the original N64 version was far better. I hunted down Conker's Bad Fur Day N64 and thoroughly enjoyed it. While I stongly dislike blood/violence in video games, good old-fasioned raunchy potty humour is fine with me. Conker is one of those rare M-rated titles without the blood-gore-violence factor. It's like comparing a slash-n-gash horror movie to an raunchy comedy flick. Totally worth the admission price in my book.



TheN64Dude said:

I have an N64 that doesn't work, but I didn't get rid of it because there is too many memories.

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