The Nintendo 64 (codenamed "Project Reality"; sometimes referred to as the "N64"; parsed on the logo as "NINTENDO®64") is a video game console created by Nintendo. It was released in 1996 to compete with the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation.
After failing to beat the PlayStation and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System's sales, the Nintendo 64 was described as "a step backwards for the company in terms of commercial success" due to a number of poor business decisions associated with the system, most notably the choice to use ROM cartridges for its games (instead of the higher-capacity CD-ROMs used by competing systems) and a lack of substantial third-party support, the latter of which is commonly pinned on frustrations with Nintendo's licensing policies. Despite this, the Nintendo 64 gained popularity during the first few months of its release, mainly due to the release of the critically acclaimed Super Mario 64. Furthermore, although its sales figures were lackluster, the Nintendo 64 is not considered a true commercial failure, still generating a profit for Nintendo and outselling the Sega Saturn outside of Japan.
Super Mario 64 was one of the first games of its kind to feature full 3D graphics and depth of field effects. The Nintendo 64 was able to pull this off because it was the first system to feature a 64-bit processor and 32-bit graphics chip (aside from the failed Atari Jaguar, which featured multiple co-processors using 64-bit architecture on a 32-bit main processor). The Nintendo 64 also featured the first successful analog control stick implementation and four built-in controller ports, unlike its competitors, the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn. The Nintendo 64 is also noted as the last home console system to use cartridges until the Nintendo Switch. Starting with the Nintendo GameCube and carrying on until the Wii U, Nintendo would shift to using optical discs like its competitors, albeit with proprietary formats instead of industry standard ones.
The Nintendo 64 is best known for Super Mario 64, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 64, Mario Party, Paper Mario, Star Fox 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and F-Zero X. Rareware, however, developed quite a few games for the N64, such as GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong 64. Production of the N64 ended in 2002. The Nintendo 64 sold 32.93 million units during its lifetime.
In 1999, Nintendo released the Nintendo 64DD; similarly to the Family Computer Disk System, it was an add-on that enabled support for games on proprietary magnetic disks. The add-on was intended as a cheaper alternative to optical disc-based competitors, but ultimately became a commercial failure due to its belated and limited release. In total, four Mario games were released on the 64DD, all in the Mario Artist series.
In 2003, the iQue Player was released in China, serving as the Chinese equivalent of the Nintendo 64, albeit with a differently designed controller. Its D-Pad and analog stick are placed as on the Nintendo GameCube controller. The entire system only consists of the controller, which has the chip on-board. It has a limited selection of Mario titles, all of which were released for the Nintendo 64 outside China. These include Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Paper Mario, Yoshi's Story, Dr. Mario 64, and Super Smash Bros.
Accessories and peripherals
The Nintendo 64 Controller is the standard controller for the Nintendo 64. It is unique among video game controllers, as it has three grips instead of the more common two, resembling the letter M. There are many color variations of the controller, including solid and clear colors. This was a unique concept at the time.
Contrary to popular belief, the Nintendo 64 is not the first console to use analog control sticks; it is just the first successful console to use them. The Vectrex was the first home console to have an analog stick; it also had four controller ports, a feature that was not popularized until the Nintendo 64.
The Nintendo 64 Controller lost the , , and buttons from the SNES, but instead features additional buttons:
* - Signifies new buttons
The Transfer Pak allows Game Boy and Game Boy Color games to connect to select Nintendo 64 games. It was bundled with Pokémon Stadium, although Mario Golf (Nintendo 64) and Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64) can connect with Mario Golf (Game Boy Color) and Mario Tennis (Game Boy Color), respectively. Interestingly, the Game Boy Camera is the only Game Boy game to connect with a Nintendo 64DD game: Mario Artist: Paint Studio.
Bundled with Star Fox 64, the Rumble Pak made the Nintendo 64 the first home console to utilize force-feedback vibration and has since become standard in gaming. Almost all Mario games include it as a feature. Super Mario 64 initially did not have Rumble Pak support, but later a Rumble Pak-supported version named Super Mario 64: Shindō Pak Taiō Version was released.
The Nintendo 64DD accessory was only commercially available in Japan and was a failure, although it was planned for an international release. Only four Mario games were released for it, all of them being part of the Mario Artist series.