When I finally turned up to the Nintendo 64 party, I was fashionably late. To be precise, I bought the thing in 2013. I don’t even really know why, other than a kind of half-formed idea to buy Pokemon Snap. What really clinched the deal, though, was the crazy cheap price (£11 for an unboxed model with controller and leads) and I have to say, I really wasn’t expecting much from it.
When it arrived, though, and I held it in my hands…. I was instantly besotted. Normally I don’t really pay attention to how a console looks but In this case I’ll make an exception. The N64’s sweeping curves and contours make this thing just seem inviting and friendly. It looks unique, distinctive, and that’s before we even get to that controller.
The controller looks like a spaceship, and working out which of the three handles to actually hold can be a challenge at first (is there something Nintendo isn’t telling us about their design staff during the 90s?). I’m really not sure if there’s ever been an ‘accepted’ or ‘proper’ way to hold it, but feel free to argue your side in the comments. Outside of that, once you’ve figured out how to wrap your hands around the thing, it feels good. The buttons are responsive, easy to reach and comfortable. I’ve heard reports that the analogue stick can become loose over time but this hasn’t happened to me (yet). It’s strictly ‘your milage may vary’ but definitely something to be aware of.
I have to say, though, my absolute favourite thing about the console is that gloriously satisfying ‘thunk’ when you push on a cartridge. Maybe this was just new to me because this was the first cart-based console I’ve owned, but even the experience of putting the game in the slot felt amazing.
The cartridges are also extremely robust, much like the console itself. They’re made of very strong, durable plastic (Nintendonium?) and could probably take a lot of punishment. Of course the cart eventually lost out to the technologically superior but less robust CD but they still managed to cram a lot of goodness into the relatively small memory. The Nintendo 64 had some absolute gems in it’s library, including The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time; Major’s Mask, Goldeneye 64, Paper Mario, Super Mario 64, Smash Bros. Star Fox 64; Banjo-Kazooie, Pokemon Snap and, of course, Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
In closing, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the N64 to…. Pretty much anyone. The console was produced in large numbers, meaning the price of entry is now very low, and there are a stunning array of high-quality and fun games for the system. If you don’t have one, and you’re the slightest bit hesitant, go get one. Trust me, it’s worth it.
What are your favourite Nintendo 64 memories? What would compel you to buy one today? Let me know in the comments