I received an Xbox 360 and Kinect for Christmas, and boy was I excited. My love for the system reached epic proportions after watching a friend play Child of Eden for four hours nonstop. Everything fell to the wayside: the portable consoles, mobile devices, and even my trusty Nintendo 64. I flailed around like an idiot for six hours for around a week.
Then the newness of the situation began to fade and when friends came over, who also became used to the Xbox at this point, we went back to the N64. Why is this? What has kept us hooked on this one system time and time again?
- Hardiness: I’ve had an N64 in my house since it first came out in 1996. I was in college and loved the crap out of that thing. It would go to a friend’s house, to my parents house, everywhere. That console would get banged up. I’ve only had to replace it once, and that was in 2007…that’s ELEVEN YEARS. Most people have issues with their Xboxes due to red rings of death within a few years of owning the console. I’ve also never had to replace a cartridge…sure, I’ve had to blow on them a gazillion times, but they’ve always worked.
- Simplicity: Everything was basically provided. You have your system, your games, and your controllers…that’s it. There aren’t any crazy online clubs (remind me…was the internet even a thing back in 1996?), game add-ons, glitchy ports, crazy contraptions to hook onto your controllers (minus the Rumble Pack, which fit right in without any additional cables to get tangled)…everything was self-explanatory and basically right there.
- Playability: Nintendo really got the games right when it came to the N64. In my arsenal, I always keep Mario 64, Pokémon Stadium, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros, Cruis’n USA, and Mario Cart. Whatever the situation or audience, I have a game ready. The graphics are definitely a bit dated by now, but the learning curve in these games isn’t very steep, and most people know how to play them anyway. Which brings me to my biggest point
- Nostalgia: You can’t really claim to have been playing on an Xbox since you were a child. You can for a PSX, Dreamcast, and the like. But at almost every convention I’ve gone to, the crowd forms around the N64 booth playing Super Smash Bros. That’s what people seem to relate to the most, notwithstanding Nintendo’s brand power. It also says something that when Nintendo ported Ocarina of Time to the 3DS, they left in many of the glitches that were unique to the N64 game…they did this for the gamers and received rave reviews for it
The N64 was part of my childhood and remains a huge staple in my gaming life. I can, without a doubt, say the same for many of my gaming friends. At college, everyone wanted a chance to race each other at Mario Kart. It didn’t matter whom you were racing against or if you knew each other previously…you both knew how to play the game and were brought together by it.
Sixteen years after it first came onto the American scene, the N64 still holds a strong place in the heart of gamers…and I doubt anything, including the fanciness of the Xbox 360, has the power to replace it.