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Leeroy ST

Going back, has the Nintendo 64 aged well?

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Posted (edited)

The Nintendo 64 was a major player, in the United States (and kind of Japan), back in 1996 onward. It was the latest of the early 3D home gaming consoles, delayed and releasing close to two years after the original launch dates of the PS1 and Saturn, and close to three years from the original launch dates of the 3DO and JagooWiya(which is how you pronounce the name of the machine, a sales rep told me so. Lol I wonder if his boss found out about that and fired him.).

 

But has the Nintendo 64 aged well looking back?

 

For me, having played years of computer gaming across multiple platforms and the first year+ of games on the first 4 3D consoles, the N64 was originally a curiosity along with a disappointment. They compromised to meet an affordable price point but ended up with limited hardware that was also somewhat difficult to develop for, which seemed to have been a feature that 3/4ths of the early 3D consoles decided to implement for some reason hee hee.

 

I actually "won" an N64 when it came out, which really was more "winning" the ability to buy the console at half-price in a drawing. I played Super Mario and Pilot wings and uh... Super Mario and Pilot wings until I decided to buy Cruisn' when it came out. Finally, after seeing the arcade machine for two years, I can finally play the game at home on a console that can run i- mmmmmmmmm. 

 

Seeing all the 3D games that were on the other systems and PC, and all the cool effects and graphical features, Mario 64 wasn't very impressive (imo) despite the artificial hype. Washed out objects, thrown together levels (later on) low polygons, flat colors and shading, sluggish mechanics, repetition, and I always felt it was some sort of strange compromise combining platforming and adventure, as if they knew they couldn't really make just a 3D platformer.

 

Issue with that to me at the time is, Tomb Raider(SAT) was an action adventure game (with jumping) that had more depth and looked better graphically. Crash Bandicoot was actually a 3D platformer that was faster paced, and looked better also. Then on PC I had Daggerfall and several other rpgs, and Action adventure games, and double dipped on TR later, putting further icing on the cake.

 

I did try to get into the library later, Crusin was a bad port, Turok was a decent attempt but with poor draw distance and somewhat poor controls it wasn't going to cut it. Bomberman 64 became hard to get through, Mario Kart was somewhat fun with friends but several of the tracks seemed poorly designed and the races just felt too slow. Star Fox was fun but it was a one-off game that for me didn't have much value after beating it.

 

Then Golden Eye released and it took up a year of my time between myself and playing with friends. However, that wouldn't last forever and I was always looking for that next big game. Mace the dark age is memorable for how bad it was and how long it took to convince the store to give me a refund, Clay Fighter 63 was drunk fun with friends at best, Rush port was bad and again slow, something that seems to happen often with several N64 racing games, Banjo was too slow for a platformer, and OOT was a joke.

 

I appreciate what Fighters Destiny was trying to do, I'm serious I get what they were going for, but I don't think that formula really makes a good home fighting game, at least not how they implemented the real world martial arts rules into the game. I really wanted to like the game but it just doesn't work. Doesn't help the characters are jokes themselves and the moves are stiff. Then there was Quest 64, man sales reps lie but wow were me and some others tricked into buying that one. After MK4 I didn't touch the system until Perfect Dark expecting Goldeneye 2, and well, it wasn't really far from that but it fell in some aspects.

 

Now looking back, many of the games I used to tolerate are unplayable to me these days. I don't have the patience for the Bomberman 64 games anymore outside Bomberman Hero. Several of the non-GoldenEye FPS games are just a pain to play, GoldenEye itself had aged poorly in many areas but is still somewhat playable so it has that going for it. Banjo is just way too much of a slog and the sequel has to0 many technical issues to playthrough. 

 

I feel like outside of those who believe in the mythology around certain games, or those who were young enough to "grow up" with the N64, I think it may have aged worse than all the other early 3D consoles outside the JagooWiya. The controller doesn't help things either. I spend more time laughing drunk with friends playing Battle Heat and it's clone games on the PC-FX (and trying to figure out how to play them) than enjoying many N64 games in current day, and that system (PC-FX) was a joke. 

 

Don't get me wrong, all those early 3D consoles have aged badly in some way, but I think between the controller, the compromises, and the game releases the N64 aged the worst out of ALMOST all of them. Saturn and PS1 have issues the Jag and 3DO don't even have, that whole generation was filled with flawed machines from 1993-1996, so don't take this as if I'm isolating the N64, but I feel like it had the most going against it (jag excluded). 

 

What do you think?

 

 

Edited by Leeroy ST

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I don't know, but I think the delay was a year out from Saturn and PS1, they were 1995 weren't they as N64 was 1996 but they wished/tried for 95 and failed miserably which sadly killed off the Virtual Boy sooner and helped kill Starfox 2 until recent years(mini console.) :(

 

I owned a PC (DOS 5/386) since 1990 Christmas, so I was used to both good quality 2D gaming but also some various levels of 3D whether it was flat shaded polygons from a Future Crew demo to Alone in the Dark, and the better detailed raycasted faux 3D to the sprite rotated stuff of Wing Commander too.  When N64 popped up to me it was a breath of fresh air in how it displayed stuff, and also using controllers of the time, that was mostly an improvement too.  I liked the way the AA filter worked, when applied right, not when someone used it like throwing mud at a wall like Hudson annoyingly did in Bomberman64.  I never did like the long draw distance on PC games because you'd either just have a hard edge, bad pop in where you see stuff pop in after a distance, or like n64 they used fog...which to me was the best choice to keep framerates nice and happy.

 

I didn't win any lotto to buy, I just went to retail and got my system day one at the store, got Mario only at that point.  Pilotwings didn't interest me so I didn't get it until sometime later, so I jumped into Cruisin USA which I couldn't put down around Mario.  I also got Wave Race which the water effect at the time was just insane, it really sucked you in and was just a blast to either chill doing stunts on the open course, or going nuts for the races.  After that was Star Wars, then Mario Kart and Turok, I did have Blast Corps but not sure if it was day one(doubtful) but Starfox was followed by the immortal to many Goldeneye.

 

N64 was both a boon and a pain in the ass at times, it had a consistent flow of quality games that played well and were fun at least that first year.  When Sony finally got their crap together but also used their media ties to just rip into and wreck Nintendo things took a slide pegging it as the kiddie box, despite at that point, they had more T/M games than Sony. ;)  Around then I became more of a handheld player, then finally diversified, got my first non-Nintendo console, the Turbo Duo.

 

In the end I didn't like the 3D graphics the PS1 did, not until they found better ways of doing quality detailed patterns to the textures to kind of mask the overly angular bland designs of the stuff I had seen, that PC had done better so I got stuff there instead or N64, or Gmaeboy/Color those years and yeah the Duo.  That worked best.  Nintendo 64 became a system after a couple years where I could buy a game every quarter on average and focus on the title while then doing other things too so it worked.  Sure it would have been nice had it been CD based and treated better with releases, but that's history.

 

 

You may feel tricked, yet I loved Quest 64...other than the fact one could opt into club thumping most creatures to death instead of magic.  But unlike FF7 at the time that claimed it was the first full 3D console RPG, bullshit, Quest was, right down to the fights and the terrain that it seamlessly used in battles. :)  Also loved the fact it middle fingered the RPG trope of...save the world, but everyone charges you for everything and often treat you like crap.  Free board, free restoratives, helpful people to save the world -- very nice.

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Everyone says it didn't age well, but I started using it on a CRT with S-video and i'm sorry but it's stunningly gorgeous.  When I got back into older systems I was using the n64 on an HD flat panel for years. HORRIBLE!   I do now have one of those upscaler cables for it, but I still prefer it on the CRT.   I just wish it had more games.  I have my everdrive all filled up, but it doesn't have enough games..  However, it has some amazing racing games and that's my genre du jour.

 

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Posted (edited)

My first two paychecks bought me an N64--the first console I ever bought (vs being gifted by friends' parents). I purchased it during the first year's new-game drought after the initial launch batch. The N64 was a system that I initially disliked so much BITD that it turned my gaming preferences on their head.

 

Previously I'd really enjoyed the super mario series, and the legend of zelda series, but putting them in emptier 3d worlds and letting them speak/squeak made me realize that I was no longer on board with nintendo's mascot franchises. Outside of a few 2d throwback handheld titles we got over the next couple generations, my dislike of mario/link/samus holds through to this day. But as much as 3d graphics and then-modern polygon technology completely ruined platforming for me, it only helped (and *greatly* helped) the various racing or vehicle-based genres, which then became my primary means of entertainment from that moment on. 

 

For me the n64 absolutely requires a CRT setup--my previous attempts feeding it into the framemeister for upscaling left me highly disappointed and it wasn't until this year when built myself a new (CRT setup) that I could once again appreciated the N64. I was extremely shocked when I even liked N64 enough to give it a permanent spot in there. My N64 favorites are all vehicle based, and lean heavily toward the midway/atari-games side:

 

Rush 2 Extreme

San Francisco Rush 2049

California Speed

Hydro Thunder

Cruis'n World

F-Zero X

Star Wars Episode I Racer

Star Wars Rogue Squadron

 

N64's got very polarizing games for me, I either loved them to bits, or dropped the franchise for the rest of its existence. It introduced the concept of punishing skill in mario kart 64, broke controllers with mario party, introduced brain-dead fighting games with smash. N64 is a very influential console that introduced many nintendo gaming trends that I didn't like, but...I dunno, there's still a lot to like about n64's arcade racers. It's nice having the rush trilogy in one spot.

Edited by Reaperman
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YES! 3D platformers ruined the genre for me too!!!!!!  It opened up racing games amazingly though.  Nice selection of games you listed there.  Hydro Thunder is amazing.  And I only learned about "?PB" a few weeks ago :/

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I'll play devil's advocate and say no, because it used too many shortcuts like gourand shading, fog distancing, trilinear filtering to not make the graphics look better but "smoother".  That's why it needed a CRT like someone said to look good.

 

OTOH, the games look way better using High Level Emulation which is the best way to play them on modern displays.  I've had Octrine of Time on the Gamecube and Conker's Bad Fur Day through Rare Replay.

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 The N64 was home to the absolute best wrestling franchise of all time. I still play these games, with friends and beer, to this day. I feel two of these games (*), at their time, were essentially perfect, and remain so to this day.

Virtual Pro Wrestling (JPN)
Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 (JPN)
WCW vs. NWO: World Tour
WCW/NWO Revenge*
WWF Wrestlemania 2000*
WWF No Mercy

 

The engine is deep, balanced, and fair. Skill is rewarded, but so is being a heel POS, as it should be in a wrestling game. Excellent fun for one player, ridiculous amounts of fun for four people, regardless of skill level. Fire Pro can't hold this game's jock. Oh and SOMEHOW this game feels like the weird ass N64 controller was made for it. 

 

Holy crap I think I need to fire up a 40 man battle royale match on hard difficulty and see if I can solo it.

 

I can stand up for a few other N64 games, Mario Golf and Tennis for two. I'm really NOT actually an N64 guy, as the system lives in my house just for a small selection of wrestling games. I totally get that isn't the best argument for it. But they are the best damn wrestling games ever made.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MrMaddog said:

I'll play devil's advocate and say no, because it used too many shortcuts like gourand shading, fog distancing, trilinear filtering to not make the graphics look better but "smoother". 

And going straight for the throat, N64's texture quality was behind pretty much all of the competition, especially the psx. Whether it was the 4kb texture cache (whatever that means) or cart storage/economics, one didn't have to look too hard to find simplified textures blown up way bigger than they had any business being even on the console's 'big' titles.

Edited by Reaperman

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Okay I'm totally firing up the everdrive to play those wrestling games tonight after that endorsement.  I don't think I've ever even tried a wrestling game other than a nes one..

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21 minutes ago, NeonSpaceBeagle said:

Okay I'm totally firing up the everdrive to play those wrestling games tonight after that endorsement.  I don't think I've ever even tried a wrestling game other than a nes one..

 

That's what I'm talking about! I'd start with Revenge (watch the intro!) or WWF 2000.


Learn the engine for sure--long grabs vs short, and the differing moves base on directionals.

Use the triggers, hugely important: L shrugs of a grab (with perfect timing) and ducks otherwise, R directly counters strike (with perfect timing) and blocks when held otherwise. This is where a LOT of timing comes in.
C buttons make you run and allow you to whip opponents.
Analog is needed only to taunt and to activate special.

 

If you are more into a Story Mode with run-ins. multiple paths, etc, try No Mercy! The other two are more of a no-or-low story affair.
 

 

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N64 will always have a special place in my (dragon)heart as it was the first console I ever got for Christmas, the family's NES (my current NES and is always staying with me) was around before I hatched and the Game Boy was originally my brother's. Even so the N64 is not one of my favorite consoles now. How much I love a console is directly related to how many shoot 'em ups are on the platform. heh And as far as I know there was only one that was officially released: Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth. 

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All systems have their charms. The N64 is probably the most reliable console I have. All my games were acquired second hand, but once I cleaned and caig'ed them, I've never had to fool with cartridges like I do with virtually any other cartridge system. I also think of it as the Last Great Cartridge console.

The complete collection is actually reasonably attainable, other than niche items, and there are interesting controllers and attachments. Many of the games are fun and I play something on it regularly.

I give it a thumbs up in modern days.

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N64 is an utter tank, and I can give a couple situations I can think of.  Build quality, when I was at Midway we had one that started to fail, and they didn't bother repairing, it just was ran for 10s of 1000s of hours in testing, yet believe it or not, throwing it at the ground in the parking lot to destroy it failed.  Hitting it failed.  It still powered on.  It took a wanna-be AAA level "pro" wrestler on the crew to put it at an angle on a curb and then stomp it to put it to death, and even then, just barely, because Nintendo put this ridiculously big heat sync long bar thick piece of metal in there that worked like some adamantium spine for the thing.  And the other, daycares and afterschool programs I used to do some after school/summer teaching at 15+ years ago, they'd get tossed, dropped, thrashed, food...damn things still worked keeping pace without fail like it was made by an army of swiss watch makers. ;)

 

Oh and that CRT part, that's not N64 specific, it's that 1st full generation of 3D console specific and looking back at it, it made a lot of sense.  Despite all the boasts how fast stuff was, how many amazing 100s of thousands of polygons they could push at some relative speed to beat the other guy, ultimately, against what a PC could do at the time, were crap, since they were built on a budget.  So to get around it, some of those 'features' they talked about, weren't features, at least not ones on the console, but ones the console would tease out of a TV from its native CRT design.  LCDs made it very obvious some of the stuff companies did to cheat some more oomph out of the system passing it off to the CRT itself.  Lucasarts/Factor 5 for one is obvious, go fire up Rogue Squadron and go to any stage that's land based, at night, where you have like lit up shadowy areas.  They don't actually exist on LCD TVs, you have just pitch black walls to slam into and die never realizing it other than maybe a few draw on floating windows on buildings.  They'd use the lighting off the CRT to create the image they wanted, since that's gone on a LCD, you get invisible walls to die on.  Another...the N64 did use AA, but not always, or at least not cranked up to a degree to save more processing time, they'd use the CRTs output itself to soften the visuals too.  Some companies were very blatant with it, and if you run their games on a LCD they look like someone went nuts with the 4xeagle/SAI emulator features which basically looks almost paintball muddy like to 'soften' pixel edges.  Bomberman 64/Hero looks like utter shit on a LCD, looks just right on a CRT, the games look like they took a mud bath who blown out and splotchy softy they are.  PS1 has the same issues minus the AA, as does the Saturn or other early ones like the Jag and 3DO that had a few.

 

I used my N64 on a CRT for some years off LCD as it drove me nuts playing stuff, so when I had my Sharp NES TV it along with a Master System got routed into the one COAX jack using a switcher box in the rear.  Once that was gone I tolerated it, didn't bother with star wars RS.  Yet when marshall created UltraHDMI for N64, as soon as I could get on a list, I got my day one pick up system hacked and stacked with that kit.  The games, all the display issues, entirely gone, displays like perfection just utter beauty on my LCD TV.  It's like when you use a PC emulator that accounts for those failings I wrote about earlier so it doesn't happen.  I can soften things, or have it all PC emulator sharp (which I do) and it's amazing.  So CRT isn't required, but the fix isn't a cheap one, that's for certain but it does work.

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Age well? It didn't start well to begin with. 

 

Games twice the price of PS1 and saturn

Composite quality at best for Europe, the last console where that was the best was the NES. 

Graphically stunted,

; 3D but ugly - barely a progression from the Jaguar looking back at it.

Small library in comparison. 

 

It had 2 things going for it. 

 

Price drop to £99 within a month of its release. 

4 ports on the front for controllers - Multiplayer was it's strongest element. 

 

Don't get me wrong, there is nostalgic games I love on the system, blast corps, Diddy Kong Racing, at the time Zelda OoT and Goldeneye but now that just looks a mess and the controls of a single analogue stick... I struggled when 2 analogue controls came out but I'd never go back to the 1 model. 

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to be fair, cartridges feel intrinsically worth more than than cd/dvd/blue ray based games anyway.  granted I wasn't playing games when the N64 came out so I never dealt with paying full prices.  I got a bag of about 60 N64 games for 20 dollars back in '06.

 

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I would say that the N64 perhaps hasn't aged as well as the Saturn and/or Playstation due to its more limited gaming library.  However, having never played barely any N64 back its heyday, I think it has plenty of games that are fun and hold up well enough today.  Again, its game library depth hurt it compared to its contemporaries, but there is still lots of fun to be had, especially if one likes FPS (Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Doom 64), racing (F-Zero X, Hydro Thunder, San Francisco Rush 2049, Beetle Adventure Racing), and sports (NFL Blitz, CyberTiger, various wrestling titles) games.

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18 hours ago, NeonSpaceBeagle said:

Everyone says it didn't age well, but I started using it on a CRT with S-video and i'm sorry but it's stunningly gorgeous.  When I got back into older systems I was using the n64 on an HD flat panel for years. HORRIBLE!   I do now have one of those upscaler cables for it, but I still prefer it on the CRT.   I just wish it had more games.  I have my everdrive all filled up, but it doesn't have enough games..  However, it has some amazing racing games and that's my genre du jour.

 

It isn’t about just the graphics; it’s early 3D gaming in general that hasn’t aged well, especially with the N64’s controller. Don’t get me wrong; I’m actually a fan of the layout of the thing, but that analog stick is absolutely terrible. 
 

The controls were not yet perfected yet, and it has changed so drastically in the past 25 years. And like others have said, I think you’re the minority when it comes to how the N64’s graphics looks. 
 

Why I think the PS1 aged better than the N64 is because of its dual analog sticks on the newer DualShock controllers, and its share of 2D games, which were long since perfected by the time they PlayStation came along. 

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Oh yeah the stick is terrible.  I replaced a few sticks with ones I found for cheap on amazon from china and they work amazingly well.  At least for racing games that I am aware of.   Some people say these replacement sticks might not be accurate, but they feel a LOT better and I can't tell any difference, but I really do only play racing games for the most part.  Also people keep saying early 3D gaming hasn't aged well.. Perhaps, but it's an aesthetic that I can see a lot of people having deep feelings for.  I also prefer polygon faces to photo realistic ones.  Human faces, especially in video games, are a major turn off.  The more abstract the better.

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Posted (edited)

If anything the Saturn's general lack of graphical effects over its polys, and the resulting bright/contrasty style, probably aged the best of its generation. I might even enjoy looking at its games now even more than I did back in the day.

 

N64 probably aged the worst of the bunch. It's 'svideo or worse' video connection is not in line with modern standards, nor is its general reliance on CRT technology.  I've looked into the HDMI option, but in reality, I probably don't like N64 enough to fork over that much cash on it (also evidenced by my fake everdrive...). Still, if turbografx is the 'shmup system,' n64 is the one for arcade racers.

 

I also tried wrestlemania 2000 last night, and while wrestling's still not my thing (godzilla games aside) holy heck is that polished. So many characters, and a couple pages of slots for rolling your own. Then there's the character intro animations, and the surprisingly detailed crowd. A lot of care went into that even if that scorpion guy from the mummy movie is the only one I know.

 

I was also playing the Aleck 64 library on the fake ED last night--there's a nice bonus I didn't expect.

Edited by Reaperman
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7 minutes ago, Reaperman said:

If anything the Saturn's general lack of graphical effects over its polys, and the resulting bright/contrasty style, probably aged the best of its generation. I might even enjoy looking at its games now even more than I did back in the day.

 

N64 probably aged the worst of the bunch. It's 'svideo or worse' video connection is not in line with modern standards, nor is its general reliance on CRT technology.  I've looked into the HDMI option, but in reality, I probably don't like N64 enough to fork over that much cash on it (also evidenced by my fake everdrive...). Still, if turbografx is the 'shmup system,' n64 is the one for arcade racers.

 

I also tried wrestlemania 2000 last night, and while wrestling's still not my thing (godzilla games aside) holy heck is that polished. So many characters, and a couple pages of slots for rolling your own. Then there's the character intro animations, and the surprisingly detailed crowd. A lot of care went into that even if that scorpion guy from the mummy movie is the only one I know.

 

I was also playing the Aleck 64 library on the fake ED last night--there's a nice bonus I didn't expect.

The Saturn is best at 2D games... most of the Saturn games I have played are and 2D games tend to age very well. I would say PC Engine over TG-16 is the shmups system (yes same hardware but many of the best shmups were never released on the TG-16) and Saturn would be the next shmups system though people tend to think of it has a fighters system well the cheaper fighters system. lol

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I'd think that there are about a dozen N64 games that are outstanding to play and still look passable, and would even consider the likes of Paper Mario, Perfect Dark and Ocarina of Time among the best of that generation. However, the quality rapidly slips off after that and the bulk of the machine's library, small though it is, was never that great. The Saturn has more good games overall and the PlayStation more than the other two combined.

 

There are very few developers other than Rare and Nintendo themselves who you could say truly got to grips with the hardware too; the system got a few technically good ports but they're still kinda bad in comparison to the originals because the space limitations of the cartridges meant that much had to be left out and the audio was ludicrously compressed.

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