25 years of the Nintendo 64: A look back


The newly unveiled Nintendo 64 video, the world’s first true 64-bit home video game, is displayed during a news conference Wednesday, May 15, 1996, in Los Angeles. The introduction of the Nintendo system will be a big event as developers and marketers gather in Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Nintendo 64 will be available for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $249.95. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

FRESNO, Calif. (YourCentralValley.com) — On June 23, 1996, Nintendo unleashed its next-generation “Nintendo 64” console in Japan. On Wednesday the console celebrates its 25th year.

What is the Nintendo 64?

The Nintendo 64 video game console, or N64 for short, was the 64-bit successor to the Super Nintendo. The fifth-generation console would be the last major system to use game cartridges as the main medium for games, at least until 2017 when Nintendo would bring the idea back for its Switch platform.

The N64 launched with three games, the favorite Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Saikyō Habu Shōgi which was a Japan exclusive.

Why does it matter?

Named Machine of the Year in 1996 by Time Magazine, the Nintendo 64 received critical acclaim upon release. Launched for $199 in the U.S., the N64 supported 16.8 million colors, resolutions ranging from 320×240 to 640×480, and had a unique “M-shaped” controller that worked with the system’s revolutionary four(!) control inputs allowing for more robust multiplayer action.

Reviews upon release called the N64 “the most realistic and compelling three-dimensional experience ever presented by a computer.”

Standing the test of time, in 2015 IGN named the Nintendo 64 the ninth-greatest video game console of all time.

What could you play on it?

While the top-selling games of all time are Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64, one of the most loved N64 games of all time remains GoldenEye 007.

The 1997 movie tie-in featured a multiplayer mode in-which up to four players could compete in a first-person shooter “deathmatch.” Receiving rave reviews, GoldenEye was a commercial success and became the third-best-selling Nintendo 64 game of all time.

Other best-selling Nintendo 64 games include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros., Pokémon Stadium, Donkey Kong 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox 64, and Banjo-Kazooie.

What is the Nintendo 64 legacy?

Widely considered to be the console that spawned some of the most influential games of all time, the N64 remains relevant 25 years after its initial release. Thanks to the modern-day “speedrunning” community that dedicates itself to recording play-throughs of certain levels, or complete games as fast as possible, the Nintendo 64 continues to have a following years after a typical game system would fall out of favor with popular culture.

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