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Nintendo 64 and GoldenEye 007
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N64 nostalgia: is it the best games console ever?

There’s something still quite satisfying sticking a cartridge through those flaps and flicking that switch to start it up…

I don’t know how the Undrafted gaming guys do it.

Feels like every time I switch on my XBox, I have a 50/60gb update for COD, GTA or just because Microsoft wants to make sure I never ever play any of the games I’ve remortgaged my house to pay for. 

By the time it’s updated, the moment has passed and I refuse to play.

It’s the main reason that the only game I’ve played and finished in the past 2 years is Ghost Recon Wildlands. One month of gameplay but 23 months of updates.

During the last COD update, I’d had enough. I dusted off my old N64, plugged it in and waited a 30 seconds for it to load. 20 years and no updates. Almost cried. I was 8 years old again but with a house, a wife and responsibilities.

The N64 is the only console I’ve ever kept. It’s special. I want to be able to pass it down to my grandkids and watch their eyes grow wide in wonder as I tell them why their Grandad has crippling arthritis from hours and hours of smashing buttons and smashing world records on Track and Field (105m in the Javelin – I know you’re impressed).

There will never be another console as good as the N64. And here’s why:

The graphics

The PS5 can keep its 8k UHD graphics.

In 1996, the N64 was cutting edge with its advanced smooth 3D graphics. Sure, some would argue the textures on the PS1 made the games look more realistic but the N64 was sharper.

As sharp as Natalya Simonova, who regularly ran into walls or in front of your rocket launcher as you tried to take out a squad of Russian soldiers in GoldenEye.

Screenshot from N64's GoldenEye 007: Natalya Simonova
Image: Screenshot from GoldenEye 007

The cartridges

A whole game on a single cartridge. No CDs and no downloads. And those cartridges loaded a whole lot quicker than PS1 CDs. 

The N64 was the last of its kind to use cartridges as CDs could hold a lot more data. In the late 90s everything was converting to CDs: tapes to CDs, videos to DVDs. But Nintendo stuck its middle finger up to the world – at least in my head that’s what they did – and doubled down on its cartridges*

There’s something still quite satisfying sticking a cartridge through those flaps and flicking that switch to start it up. Sounds filthy – please only stick cartridges in your N64. 

* Until the GameCube in 2001, when Nintendo sold their soul.

The controller

When you look at the shape of an N64 controller, what do you see?

I see a Space Invader or a bird’s eye view of an X-Wing fighter. My imagination runs wild.

When you look at the shape of any Playstation or XBox controller, what do you see? 

A controller. Something that is probably quite comfortable to hold.

I don’t want comfortable. The N64 controller wasn’t the most practical but looked great. Having the trigger on the back of the controller gave you that feeling that you were actually pulling the trigger of a gun. As an 8-year old boy, I needed that feeling.

You just don’t get that with any other console controller.

The multiplayer experience

Sure, it’s amazing that you can run a heist in GTA with players around the world. However, I miss having to decide which 3 friends I wanted to invite around to sit and squint at 20 inch TV for a game of World Cup 98 or split-screen Diddy Kong Racing. All sharing the same gaming experience together.

The combination of the games, graphics and controllers makes the N64 one of the best multiplayer consoles ever. 

The games

Picture the scene: you’re in an air vent in a dam somewhere Russia. You peer out through the only opening but itt just happens to be above a busy men’s toilets that’s full of Russian soldiers waiting to pepper you with bullets. Which one do you kill first and how do you do it quietly?

You go for the one in the cubicle first. Just his head can be seen. You go for the headshot but shit, you missed and only shot his beret off.

You’ve been rumbled. 

Yes, you’re playing GoldenEye. The best first-person shooter ever. The game that helped pave the way for every FPS you have played. Great to play alone, riding around the streets of Russia in a tank and even better playing split-screen, dropping proximity mines round respawn points and watching your friends die instantly. 

However, there was more to the N64 than just GoldenEye. Can’t forget to mention:

  • Super Mario 64
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • 1080 Snowboarding
  • Banjo Kazooie 
  • Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
  • International Track and Field: Summer Games

And the list of great games goes on.

Check out Business Insider’s list of the 50 best N64 games for further proof of the N64’s legendary console status. 

And back to 2020…

If you want to re-live the glory days of N64 gaming without the console, there are plenty of free emulators out there and cheap USB controllers on Amazon that will give you that experience. Apart from giving you the chance to handle those cartridges. Filthy.

If you’ve got this far and you still don’t agree, let us know why in the comments.

Otherwise, head on over and check out the guys who sit through the hours of updates to give you some splendid gaming content. Madden, NBA, COD, MLB – they’ve got you covered.

One day, they will let me join them with my Pokemon Stadium Twitch stream…

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