Nintendo 64 ROMs

Console History: Nintendo 64

For many gamers, the Nintendo 64 holds a special place in their heart. It was an odd, yet innovative console that competed with the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation upon its release in 1996. It was not only the first console with a 64-bit processor, it was also the first console to have an analog stick for controlling character movement — and who can forget that wacky three-pronged controller?

The N64 also used cartridges in an age where its competitors were turning to CDs. The decision was a controversial one, since the largest cartridges could only hold 64MB of data, whereas CDs could hold over 640MB. Cartridges also were much more expensive and time-consuming to manufacture than CDs, but Nintendo cherished them because of the fast loading times. While CDs often required long loading times in between sequences, the N64 could load content super fast. However, the decision scared away many third party developers, including Square Enix, who cancelled their plans for a Final Fantasy on the N64 and instead developed for the PlayStation.

The console would go on to sell 30 million consoles worldwide, which wasn’t world-dominating, but it was enough to keep them in the game. Its codename while in production was Project Reality, because its graphics were supposed to be so advanced that they could much more closely resemble reality (in retrospect, it’s laughable, but for a generation that had only seen 2D games, it makes sense). Before its launch, its rumored name was the Ultra 64, but thankfully Nintendo dropped that awkward name.

When it launched, it cost $200, which was significantly cheaper than its competitors; both the PlayStation and Saturn were selling for $300 at the time. This allowed Nintendo to squeeze its way into the market, despite launching a year after the PlayStation.

It’s most popular game, which was available at launch, was Super Mario 64. This game pioneered the way for 3D gaming in the coming years, and it was widely heralded as one of the most revolutionary and innovative games ever. For a world that had only seen 2D platformers, an open world game based on exploration where the user could move in any direction was mind-blowing. It was even remade into a Nintendo DS game later in 2004. Still, this game remains a classic for any Mario fan.

The N64 also saw the release of Goldeneye 007, which broke ground in the first person shooter genre. On top of that, both the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask would go on to become N64 classics, building upon the 3D principles from Super Mario 64 to create outstanding single player action adventure games.

Despite these fantastic games, the N64 generally had a poor selection of games. It launched with only two games, Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64, and over the course of its lifetime it only had slightly more than 380 games made for it. That pales in comparison to the over 1,000 games made for the PlayStation, and even the NES and SNES had both received over 700 games each. Still, the N64 managed to sneak its way into history thanks to the rule of quality over quantity.

Today, a physical N64 can be hard to come by, but emulation has sprung up to fill the gap left by this legendary system. PC emulators like Project 64, and Android emulators like Mupen64Plus allow this console to live on in our computers, smartphones, and tablets. Some of the most popular N64 games are playable on the Nintendo Virtual Console for the Wii as well.

As a console that brought us into the 3D world, the N64 remains one of the most well-known consoles in the world. Its unique design, incredible first party games, and support for up to four players really made it a game console to remember.

That is why so many people try to emulate this great console on modern devices. Imagine playing all your favorite old N64 games on your PC or mobile device. It’s like all of the nostalgia of the past with the convenience of modern technology.