A lot of things in life we take on faith. The blowing of air into disagreeable cartridges was just one of those. We were never told to do it, yet as we saw friends do it, we simply continued and assumed. Whilst you should never assume in life, with Nintendo and especially the N64, we did not need to. The console was a powerhouse for the few.
The Nintendo 64 arrived for me later than most. Whilst everyone was talking about GoldenEye, I was busy raising my Pokémon to level 100.
Despite arriving late to the party, there was no disappointment. More games were available and GoldenEye was as addictive as it ever had been. Seeing the film come to life in a fast-paced, exciting shooter was everything that the 12-year-old me could hope for.
Whilst the need to buy additional memory and the Rumble Pak was a little annoying (in hindsight), the games more than made up for it. There aren't hundreds of good games but there are plenty of great/amazing games, which is the hallmark of Nintendo. Let’s have a look at a few of the best.
The licence to kill alongside what now looks like Pierce Brosnan after a few Vodka Martinis was something to savour. From the opening level where you drop in behind a guard to the bonus, Aztec level, it was a quickfire challenge.
Whilst laser beams do not play a part in the film, they make for frantic action in multiplayer. Having a group of friends sit around the console with the overly priced controllers, all leaning forward to get a better shot, is where this pixel-perfect multiplayer excelled. It is a feeling that Call of Duty has not managed for quite some time.
It wasn't that the main game was a slouch, it was that this added hours to its life by providing an engaging multiplayer experience. Have four friends with a console and you had your Friday nights sorted.
This may not be the Pokémon game that stands out for everyone, but it did for me. It was an evolution, it was different and whilst the challenge was largely passive, it worked.
Taking photos of Pokémon was not something you could admit to enjoying as a teenager. None of my friends had the game, yet it was still enticing, like the dessert at the end of the meal. You knew you shouldn't and it wouldn't last for long, yet you couldn’t resist.
Elements of the central games were added to entice or wake up the Pokémon. From Snorlax to the final level which required you to capture Mewtwo/Mew, not in the traditional sense but via film. It sounds ludicrous, but it worked.
Shoot a few Russians in GoldenEye, before taking a break to capture some Pokémon on film. As an only child, my evenings rarely got more exciting.
WWF No Mercy
The best wrestling game ever (that I've played), with the craziest glitch ever. Wrestling has always been a niche enjoyment of many and that will not change anytime soon. For me, it was the epitome of my teenage years.
Seeing stories come to life that then culminated in a battle was engrossing in a way that EastEnders could never offer. Changing loyalties quicker than my underpants each day was one to keep an eye on. Always copied, never beaten. No Mercy is the best, for the gameplay and for the unique glitch.
Why was it the best? The career mode, whilst you were unable to save, offered you the greatest level of freedom. You could customize everything, with momentum taking hours not minutes to achieve. It was the complete personification of what I believe a wrestling game should enable.
This glitch found in WWF No Mercy is a little less predictable. WWF No Mercy used on-cart saving and would save using FLASH. … some gamers were having issues with save data suddenly being completely lost… THQ created a replacement program and gamers affected by the glitch were able to send their copies back to THQ for a fixed replacement copy
WWF No Mercy Version 1.1, Micro64.com
The career mode glitch was annoying, yet despite needing to send your game off to THQ to be repaired it is still a top game on my list. Seeing the random excitement of wrestling come to life in a manner that could be controlled was everything I wanted and more.
Missing the Classics
A confession has to be made here...I have played none of the following games.
- Super Mario 64
- Rogue Squadron
- Smash Bros
After a couple of years, the GameCube was arriving and with updated and newer versions of the series indicated above, the loyalties soon ran dry. Peer pressure drove the choice to ditch the console.
Despite trading in the console, the desire to play these games has been seen throughout future generations. Smash Bros, Zelda, and Rogue Squadron (the sequels) are being purchased by me for the GameCube and Super Mario 64 is being picked up at Christmas as part of the 'Superstar Collection'. It is something that showcases the strength of Nintendo for me. Years later we still have the desire to play these games.
Emulators run wild for all the classic N64 games and many of them have been remade and can be experienced on subsequent consoles. It is why, for me, Nintendo will always have a place at home.
A Final Thought
The Nintendo 64 turned 25 years old in 2021. It was a console that required a lot of huffing and puffing, with expensive add-ons and upgrades. It could also have been the start of a partnership between Sony and Nintendo, the result of which would have us looking at a very different market today. And the games, like those on every Nintendo console, are engaging and have an innate way of staying with you. Regardless of the glitches and the graphics, the N64 will always have a fond place in my heart.
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