My fellow shirkers, you see, are all keen on the wonderful games of yesteryear as I am, particularly if they are Japanese and native to a console. The N64 qualifies most comfortably based on this criteria, and yet it has long been the recipient of much scorn and vitriol from my otherwise-rational friends. Does it deserve such treatment? Should it stand proudly alongside all the other mainstream consoles, most of which are enthusiastically embraced by retro gamers, or should it stand apart?
This is the question I am aiming to answer here. As you may well have guessed, I do not really share the opinion of my friends on this issue, or I didn't prior to concocting the feature you are reading at least. Morose at the Saturn's relative failure, I bought my N64 about a year after its release along with a couple of games. I will no doubt go into in much more detail about this purchase in a future 'Gaming Memories' post here, but suffice to say, I was immediately pleased with my purchase.
|Space Station Silicon Valley - funniest game ever?|
Unlike the Saturn, the N64 was designed for and excelled at producing swanky 3D graphics. Accordingly, a vast majority of its games were of this nature too. Hardly surprising considering the 3D boom was in full swing at this time. A focus anywhere else would've surely spelled disaster? Apart from racing games, I had played few 3D games up until this point (I wasn't much of a PS1 gamer at the time) and enjoyed even less, but the N64 was home to some fantastic examples.
|Ocarina of Time featured a truly immersive world...|
Some other popular series' were found here too, such as Harvest Moon and the first Animal Crossing, and of course we had two cracking Zelda titles - Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. More violent tastes were catered for in the form of first-person shooters like the first two Quake games (great conversions) as well as the mighty Goldeneye and its semi-sequel, Perfect Dark, and there were some less FPS-ish explodey options like Blast Corps, Battletanx, and Worms Armageddon as well.
|F-Zero X - one of the best racing games ever made...|
There are plenty of other more than decent games to be found on the system too, but there were admittedly some genres that were notably lacking. Fighting games, for example, were restricted to a couple of gimmicky efforts such as Rakugakids and the first Smash Bros game, and a couple of Virtua Fighter wannabes in the form of Fighters Destiny and Flying Dragon. Faring even worse were shoot 'em ups with the few available being 3D ones like Star Fox and Star Wars Rogue Squadron, but there wasn't really anything for fans of the more traditional forms of these games.
|Goldeneye 007 introduced me to the sniper rifle...|
There are other arguments against the N64 though. There are claims that its only good games come from Rare or Nintendo themselves, with the former even giving the latter a run for their money, and it's another point that it's hard to argue with, but in my experience, a lot of people seem to take issue with the N64 simply because it's a Nintendo console, whether they would admit it or not. After all, no one can possibly be tough and manly if they play a game with bright colours or cute characters.
|Wave Race 64 - the most summery game ever...|
Despite this splendour, however, it's a console that gets a lukewarm reaction at best from most retro gaming enthusiasts these days. I know of few fans and no one that collects for it. The system itself has become quite collectible, with numerous colour variations and special editions seeing release (I still think the Pikachu version is crap though) but it's definitely not held in anywhere close to the same regard as other consoles, even ones that were around at the same time like the Saturn.
As far as I'm concerned, if you're one of those stubborn gamers looking for nothing more than hardcore old-school 2D action, then the N64 is definitely not the console for you. Even I, as something of a fan, can't possibly argue that point. I guess the question is: does an absence of 2D games make a console ineligible for consideration by retro gamers? While it's true that many 3D games from the mid-to-late 90's have aged badly from a graphical point of view, that alone doesn't make them unplayable, and N64 games don't suffer from this nearly as much, I don't think.
It doesn't have a huge number of titles to get through, and they may be mainly 3D action/adventure games or racing games, but most of them really are superb, and can't be played on any other system either. If you simply want to play bright, cheerful, and above all fun games, without being concerned about the very latest cutting-edge graphics or finding new gruesomely depraved ways of killing people, then the N64 is one of the finest consoles out there in my opinion.
An unpopular opinion with the retro-gaming community I suspect but... so what? I can't be alone in my appreciation for this splendid console? So lets hear from some more of you. Do you like, or at least respect the N64 and its contributions to the world of gaming? What is your favourite game? Let's celebrate the N64! :)
* - Special Disclaimer: This is of course a joke. Neither I nor my fellow chatters of Team Flicky would dream of spending any work time on such a frivolous endeavour, obviously.
Gameplay Video: Here's a look at some of the splendid games the N64 has to offer courtesy of YouTube user 'jvgsjeff'.