HISTORY OF NINTENDO 64 (N64)
The SNES had come late in its generation’s era and stolen control of the market. The Nintendo 64 ended up doing the same thing during its era. It hit stores in 1997 at a price of $199.99 ($297 today adjusted for inflation) and immediately had commercial and critical success, blowing the Sega Saturn away and narrowly nudging out the current leader – the Sony PlayStation. A key selling and collecting point was the wide variety of colors of controllers and even the system itself. N64 sold 33 million units worldwide until it was eventually discontinued in 2003.
The N64 used 64-bit technology (hence the “64” in its name), four times the bits of its predecessor, the SNES. During development the primary focus was on 3D graphic technology. Nintendo made a wise decision when they delayed the launch, taking the time to further develop their first party titles, get an exclusive agreement with current arcade powerhouse Midway (which would later lead to N64 ports of Cruisin’ USA, Killer Instinct Gold and NFL Blitz) and to allow third party developers time to produce games. The N64 still used cartridge technology even though its competitors Sony and Sega had both already switched to CD-Roms. It’s controller had a very unique shape and a slight variation on button layouts, with two large “B” and “A” and then four “C” buttons each much smaller and arranged in a diamond pattern. It featured one 3D stick directly in the center of the controller, with its own center handle. When it launched there were only two titles, but they were both high praised by critics: Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64. The former of which is often referred to as a genre-definer in 3D console gaming.
PERSONAL HISTORY WITH THE N64
When I was a kid the N64 was all the rage. Everyone had an N64, PlayStations were few and far between and Sega Saturn practically didn’t exist in anyone’s minds. Levi and I got one for Christmas from our dad the second year it was out and we absolutely loved it. Some notable titles I grew to love most were Star Fox 64, Donkey Kong 64, 1080 Snowboarding, NFL Blitz and Pokemon Stadium. A few years later my cousins would introduce me to the epic 4 person multiplayer of other games like Goldeneye, Mario Tennis and Mario Party 2, which we still play all three of from time to time to this day. If I had to guess I would say most gamers my age (late 20’s) would deem the N64 their favorite console. It came during that early teenage year time period when you had a bit of spending money in your pocket for games, but didn’t quite yet have all the responsibilities that come late into high school and college. For me its definitely one of my favorite consoles as far as the memories I have playing it with friends and family.
COLLECTING FOR THE N64
So remember how I was just saying the N64 was super popular with guys my age? Well that’s probably the biggest problem with collecting for it. Guys in their 20s have the most disposable income of about anyone on the planet and thus N64 games don’t last long on the secondary market. That demand has driven up their price a tad bit. Average price of a top notch N64 game is typically $20-30, with some of the harder to find titles like Conker’s Bad Fur Day being well over $100. Yard sales, retro gaming stores and pawn shops may help you find most titles you want but chances are you’ll eventually have to search online for one or two of them. The console itself isn’t too difficult or expensive to find in good condition and tends to hold up pretty well with time. My biggest beef with collecting for the N64 is its controllers. The control stick tends to loosen up a lot with time to the point of just flat out not working after a certain point. Pay close attention to how tight the control stick is when purchasing a controller,. Its better to buy and test N64 controllers in person rather than online.