Nintendo 64: Life and Death
Review by: Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Editorial Posted: June 23, 2001

The Nintendo 64 seemed just like the little engine that could, and it continued to chug and chug, and now it has finally run out of steam. In fact, it was 5 years ago this very day that the N64 was released over in Japan. Time flies by really fast, and unless you are out of your mind, god knows that the N64 is dead now. But it was a great and fun ride.

Although the N64 was still a great system, and it had many stellar games, it just didn't seem to cut it. Delays and broken promises tended to hurt the system. In 1996, Nintendo delayed the N64 a few months (from March to September), which led to many setbacks, although the outcome we got, which was Super Mario 64, it was an amazing game, that no gamer ought to miss.

Not long after the N64 was released worldwide, there started to be speculation about the N64 add-on, the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive. The 64DD (as it was called) was supposed to be connected to the bottom of the N64. It used disks, similar to zip disks, and you can have writeable memory, and such and such. Although the idea wasn't bad, people generally don't like the idea of spending more money for an add-on for a system.

Since Nintendo really likes delays, they should have actually made the 64DD into the N64, a disk system. So basically what I'm trying to get at here is that they implement the 64DD technology into what would have been the N64. ROM cartridges were already beginning to be slowly disintegrating, as the PSX, DC, and other systems have abandoned the format. This concept really would've brought the N64 to life, but many cost factors led to the demise of this plan.

The 64DD if it ever did come out would've made video games a dream. Like the announced F-Zero X expansion, where you can make your own racetracks on the 64DD and load 'em up on your F-Zero X game. It will add a lot more fun, as you can create your own levels.

The long awaited "sequel" to Super Mario 64 was supposed to come out on 64DD, it probably wouldn't have come out anyway. Nintendo's head honcho Shigeru Miyamoto believed that this game would be more suited to the new Nintendo system, which we now know as the GameCube. But have we seen a Mario game yet? No, we haven't, unless if you count in Luigi's Mansion...

The N64 should be more known as the "pak system", not just because it uses Game Paks for the games. Many add-ons (that weren't as significant as the 64DD) were in "pak" form. For example, Nintendo released the Controller Pak, which allowed you to save data from some games, it's hard to believe that Nintendo's own games rarely used it. The Rumble Pak, which adds force feedback to the games, it was really cool, but it's a waste of money, when the PlayStation controllers have it built in. The Expansion Pak, which upgrades the system RAM, which allows for better graphics. And then there's the Transfer Pak, which allows you to transfer GB info to the N64 (mainly Pokemon to Pokemon Stadium). And finally, the Voice Recognition Pak, where you can talk to Pikachu (!) in Hey You, Pikachu!

With all the disappointments the N64 has brought to many of us, there are still some high-quality games for the system including Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Goldeneye 007, Super Smash Bros., Perfect Dark, just to name a few. When the system first launch, there were very few decent games, and it took months for the next game to come out.

Delays, delays, and cancellations seem to be the main problems that hampered this console. If games weren't cancelled, and if they weren't delayed months and months, people would have started to pay attention to the N64. While still a great system, the N64 has continued to entertain us for the last few years, and though dead, it should still be a fun thing to play once in awhile.

-- Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)