When I was a little kid, the two biggest consoles of the day were the Nintendo 64 and Playstation. It’s not that the Sega Saturn didn’t exist, but most people I knew didn’t seem to give a damn about the Sega Saturn, mainly because it was an inferior console. Thankfully, I have both the N64 and the PS1, so I think I can judge whether or not the N64 holds up today.
The Nintendo 64 is one of the most famous and well-remembered consoles in the history of gaming. It was definitely one of the first home consoles I remember playing. It’s also the home of some of the most critically acclaimed games of 90’s, such as GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64, and Star Fox 64. Unfortunately, the N64 went out of style when I was 8 years old. By then, the PS2 dominated the scene, and the Gamecube had just come to the UK. However, I was more fond of the Game Boy Advance than both the Gamecube and the N64.
Meanwhile, I also grew up with the Playstation, but I was unfortunate enough to not have a memory card for it. In fact, for some reason, I wasn’t able to acquire a memory card until I was 16 years old. Anyway, some of my favourite games came from the Playstation, including Crash Bandicoot 2, Spyro the Dragon, and Kula World. Even though I liked to think of myself as a strong Nintendo supporter, I always had some affection for the PS1, mainly because it had a better controller, and also better graphics.
With that brief moment of nostalgia out of the way, I’d like to talk about the N64 from a design point of view. I just mentioned at the end of the last paragraph that the PS1 had a better controller than the N64. I say this because the PS1 controller is simple and efficient. The N64 controller, in retrospect, still looks a bit weird. My guess is that Nintendo didn’t want to repeat the same design that was present in the SNES controller, so they went for a typically weird 90’s design.
My biggest problem is that using the analog stick requires you to hold the centre prong coming from the middle of the controller. Occasionally, this made the analog stick seem quite stiff, and it made Ocarina of Time harder for me to enjoy. Also, this was before every analog stick had round edges, so the N64 analog stick felt like a pain on my thumb if I used it long enough. To top it off, some games didn’t use the analog stick, as though they thought the analog stick would be somewhat uncomfortable.
Another thing to note about the N64 is that it’s one of the last consoles to use traditional plastic cartridges. Nintendo chose cartridges over the more conventional CD format because they worried that having a CD-ROM drive would make the N64 more expensive. It does some a little outdated, but the cartridges are more durable than CD’s, and the load times are so fast that loading screens are usually non-existent on N64 games. However, the cartridges have less memory, which meant that N64 games were usually incapable of achieving the same high-quality graphics as the PS1. Also, the N64 cartridges didn’t have end labels, which would allow you to conveniently identify a game on your shelf without having to pick it up. This is especially weird sense PS1 games came in boxes that showed the name of the game on the side.
In conclusion, the N64 was great, but in my opinion, it’s not as great as the Gamecube, or the SNES. For me, the Playstation was the best console of the fifth generation of consoles, but the N64, though outdated by today’s standards, still holds up today.