The Nintendo 64 is a video game console by Nintendo. Released on June 23, 1996 in Japan, it is part of the fifth generation of gaming consoles.
The Nintendo 64 was both a relic of the past and a step toward the future, having a mishmash of modern and retro features. On one hand, it was the last major console to ever use cartridges to play games, rather than discs such as CD-ROMs. On the other hand, it was the first console specifically designed to play 3D games, and its controller featured the first modern analog stick.
Its chief competitor was the Sega Saturn.
Arguably, the concept of the Nintendo 64 went back at least as far as the early SNES era, when the first 2.5D games were created. By 1993, a partnership was formed with Silicon Graphics to create the technology that would power the system. The system, then known as the "Project Reality" and later as "Ultra 64" before receiving its final name, was first revealed to the public in April 1994. Playable demos of games were ready by late 1995. Although the system was originally meant to be out by the holidays of that year in Japan, it was delayed for several months.
On June 23, 1996, the Nintendo 64 launched in Japan with three games: Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Saikyō Habu Shōgi. The American launch in September, which priced the N64 at $249.99, had just the first two games. The Nintendo 64 was later launched throughout Europe, Australia and Brazil the following year.
Establishing its Place
The Nintendo 64 quickly established itself as a console for Nintendo, multiplayer, and role-playing games. By its one year anniversary on June 23, 1997, the console was home not only to the revolutionary Super Mario 64, but also to major hits such as Star Fox 64, Mario Kart 64, Rare's Blast Corps, and Square Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy Tactics. Although the system's library would only get larger from there, these games established the tone of the system's library.
Other key Nintendo 64 games of 1997 and 1998 included Goldeneye 007, the game that revolutionized console FPS's, Diddy Kong Racing, which built off of the Mario Kart formula, Banjo-Kazooie, one of several notable 3D platformers from Rare during this era, and, most importantly, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which revolutionized how games in three dimensional spaces are made. At the very end of the year, the original Mario Party was released.
By the end of 1998, it was clear that the Nintendo 64 was a success, albeit not an overwhelming one. The system proved that Nintendo, with minimal support from a few select third party developers, was capable of holding its own in the console wars even without a bulk of third party support. In future generations, more developers would at least port their games to the GameCube.
Although the games that defined the Nintendo 64 were mostly released by 1999, the system was not without hits during the second half of its life. 1999 started with the release of Super Smash Bros, the first entry in what would become one of Nintendo's most notable series. Final Fantasy 8 from Square continued the trend of great RPG's on the Nintendo 64. Pokemon spinoffs such as Stadium and Snap began to grace Nintendo consoles in 1999, and became solid sellers. And by the end of the year, Donkey Kong 64, possibly the most acclaimed entry in the series yet, would be released.
2000 and 2001 saw less games from Nintendo proper, but the flow of major titles from Rare and Japanese RPG developers continued. Nintendo's efforts during this era included Kirby 64, Pokemon Stadium 2, Earthbound 64, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and Paper Mario. Second party games included Rare's Perfect Dark and Conker's Bad Fur Day, and third party games included RPG classics such as Final Fantasy 9 and Dragon Quest 7. The last two games in particular are known for helping extend the N64's life in Japan despite the release of the far more advanced Dreamcast.
The Nintendo 64 had several remarkable features upon its release. For one, it had a 64-bit CPU, which it is named after. For another, the console was designed to display fully 3D graphics, unlike its competitor, the Saturn. Also notable was its use of cartridges, which had a fairly limited memory compared to CD-ROMs, with even the largest cartridges holding only a fraction of the data a Saturn's CD's could hold.
The N64's CPU ran at 94 MHz, while the GPU ran at 63 MHz. This was significantly more than the Saturn. The Saturn, however, had 5 MB of RAM, compared to the N64's 4 MB of RAM. However, later in the Nintendo 64's life, an attachment was released that increased RAM to 8 MB, allowing the system to play certain games.
About 550 games were released for the Nintendo 64, notably less than the NES's and SNES's 700 to 800 and the Saturn's 1,100. This was due to the relatively poor third party support received by the Nintendo 64. With the chief exceptions of Square and Enix, most major publishers preferred to release games for the Saturn. This was because, although the Saturn was inferior at running 3D games, its CD-ROMs were cheaper to produce and sell, and could contain far more data.
Nevertheless, the Nintendo 64 had a wide variety of million-selling games and critical hits.
List of Million Seller Games
The following is a list of games on the Nintendo 64 that have sold a million or more units worldwide. Please note that this list may be incomplete.
- Super Mario 64 - 18 million
- Mario Kart 64 - 15 million
- Goldeneye 007 - 12 million
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - 10 million
- Super Smash Bros - 8 million
- Pokemon Stadium - 8 million
- Donkey Kong 64 - 8 million
- Diddy Kong Racing - 7 million
- Star Fox 64 - 6 million
- Final Fantasy 7 - 6 million
- Banjo-Kazooie - 5 million
- Final Fantasy 8 - 5 million
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater - 4 million
- Dragon Quest 7 - 4 million
- Pokemon Snap - 4 million
- Star Wars Episode 1 Racer - 4 million
- Mario Party - 4 million
- Final Fantasy 9 - 4 million
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron - 3 million
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - 3 million
- Wave Race 64 - 3 million
- Yoshi's Story - 3 million
- Pokemon Stadium 2 - 3 million
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire - 3 million
- Perfect Dark - 3 million
- Mario Party 2 - 3 million
- 1080°: TenEighty Snowboarding - 3 million
- WCW/nWo Revenge - 3 million
- Turok 2 - 2 million
- WWF War Zone - 2 million
- 007: The World is not Enough - 2 million
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - 2 million
- Namco Museum 64 - 2 million
- Mario Party 3 - 2 million
- Hey You, Pikachu! - 2 million
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards - 2 million
- Cruis'n USA - 2 million
- Banjo-Tooie - 2 million
- Paper Mario - 2 million
- Final Fantasy Tactics - 2 million
- WCW vs. nWo: World Tour - 2 million
- WWF No Mercy - 2 million
- WWF Wrestlemania 2000 - 2 million
- F-1 World Grand Prix - 2 million
- South Park - 1 million
- NFL Quarterback Club 98 - 1 million
- Toy Story 2 - 1 million
- NASCAR 99 - 1 million
- Knockout Kings 2000 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 99 - 1 million
- Madden Football 64 - 1 million
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - 1 million
- Mortal Kombat Trilogy - 1 million
- Glover - 1 million
- Bomberman 64 - 1 million
- NFL Blitz - 1 million
- Jet Force Jemini - 1 million
- Pilotwings 64 - 1 million
- F-Zero X - 1 million
- Excitebike 64 - 1 million
- Killer Instinct Gold - 1 million
- Earthbound 64 - 1 million
- Chrono Cross - 1 million
- Legend of Mana - 1 million