Confession: I never liked the Nintendo 64

You would think that a kid who grew up enthralled with the NES era in the 1980s and was fiercely devoted to his Super Nintendo in the early 1990s would be a shoo-in for jumping on board with Nintendo’s third console. Yet when the Nintendo 64 came out in 1996, I had zero interest in buying one.

This raises the question, why?

There’s a few answers to that, starting with the fact that I was a broke college student who couldn’t really afford a new console at the time. Plus, I was already interesting in saving up for the PlayStation, which I got a year or two later for all of the roleplaying games that seemed to have jumped onto that bandwagon.

But I think that the biggest reason I snubbed the 64 is that it didn’t interest me at all. I hated the physical design of the controllers and console itself, I really disliked its ugly 3D graphics, and I wasn’t that on board with Nintendo’s key properties any more. You know how you’ll bump into tons of kids who grew up playing Mario 64 and Orcana of Time? I feel very alienated from that crowd, because those games had nothing that called to me.

Oh, I eventually got a Nintendo 64, but it was for my youth group. We installed it in our youth room, and I spent more than a few Sunday afternoons playing GoldenEye and Perfect Dark in four-player. That was kind of fun, sure, but I wasn’t a die-hard FPS gamer or anything.

I also remember trying out Majora’s Mask (which creeped me out) and a couple other titles, but in the end, I deliberately missed out on this console entirely. It wasn’t for me — and as I gradually realized in the early 2000s, consoles in general weren’t for me any more.

I know there have been calls for a N64 Classic, but I wonder how much such a product would remind people that the early 3D games haven’t really aged well at all. There’s a reason why sprite-based games on the SNES and Genesis are still attractive to our modern eyes but those chunky polygons of a bygone era are best not spoken of in polite company.

Did you — do you — like the Nintendo 64? How much is it a part of your gaming history?

7 thoughts on “Confession: I never liked the Nintendo 64

  1. hawkinson88 July 16, 2021 / 10:20 am

    I loved my N64, but I grew up on a direct Nintendo lineage, owning every Nintendo console from the NES on. That thing aged like bad cheese and I have zero nostalgia for it. I have more love for the GameCube and even that is for a couple of titles only. Rogue Squadron 2 and Smash Melee come to mind. PC stole me away with Diablo and Warcraft 2 and Battlefield 1942, even though my PC couldn’t play 1942, the allure was so strong to figure out how to get it to work. Main as a PC player since then even though I dabble in consoles still.

  2. Azuriel July 16, 2021 / 11:44 am

    The N64 certainly had an outsized effect on my high school and college years. Mario 64 was groundbreaking on its own, but Goldeneye and OG Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart 64 were party staples for almost a decade. Half the friends I made Freshman year in college were from people walking by and then stepping into our open room while playing Smash. The fact that the N64 had four controller ports right on the console itself was also amazing.

    Oh, and Wave Race 64 and Pilot Wings 64? Ocarina of Time? Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire? They do not visually hold up after 20+ years, but again, they were groundbreaking at the time. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ve played any other game that felt as good as the water effects in Wave Race.

  3. EpochAWOL July 16, 2021 / 12:15 pm

    You’ve described my feelings to a T. I jumped ship to the PS1 and have never really looked back to Nintendo. Or at least mostly. I did play Goldeneye MP at a friend’s house and had a GameCube that I literally only played Metroid Prime 1&2 on before trading it in. I owned a DS Lite that I barely ever touched because I realized I didn’t like the hand held experience (just in general). I have never played a 3D Mario or Zelda. And after a period with the PS1 I mainly just went PCMR until the last couple of years where my PC is just too old and I jumped to PS4 to play FFXIV instead.

  4. Yeebo July 16, 2021 / 6:19 pm

    I already have six consoles attached to my television. If I had room for another one, it would definitely be the N64. It had a much deeper library than most people that didn’t have one or only ever played the few popular games seem to realize. For example Blast Corps and Body Harvest were really unique jems than most people have never heard of.

    Unfortunately, what it didn’t have was good RPGs, which are my main jam. Eventually the PS1 library vastly eclipsed the N64 library, it had at least an order of magnitude more good games than the N64. That’s why I have a PS2 that plays PS1 games attached to my TV, and I haven’t taken the N64 out of the box in more than a decade. However, the N64 was a very good system it it’s own way, and I’m glad I own one.

  5. Grokk July 17, 2021 / 11:52 am

    I had a similar opinion after a while, but I didn’t figure it out until after I had already bought one. That was the first time I added a console to my collection and failed to play it obsessively – something that to this day bothers me when I do it. I guess maybe I’m done with consoles? I’ve currently got an Xbox 1 and a PS4 and almost all of their predecessors, but somehow it feels like a chore to trudge into the room with the huge 4K TV and 7.1 speaker system for the purposes of playing one of them. I feel really old now, after considering that for a moment!

    Anyway, I too was not really in love with the N64, despite being very interested in 3D graphics at the time, but could never quite figure out why. I remember really trying to like the Mario game – Super Mario 64 (just looked it up) but not getting there. Which again, I found weird even at the time, as I played it’s predecessor through to the end. Repeatedly.

    So no, you’re not the only one to feel that way.

  6. Aaron Butler July 23, 2021 / 11:12 am

    You may say that those chunky 3D graphics haven’t aged well, but I think they’ve aged like fine wine.

    I distinctly remember back in the day, thinking that the early 3D graphics were so bloody horrible, that I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just make it in 2D instead. If it’s that bad, what’s the point! They were horrendous! I hated them!

    Nowadays though, I kinda like them. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I feel as though they have a distinct aesthetic to them that’s missing from most modern games now. In other words, the low-poly 3D is now an interesting style in a world where the only styles around are either Anime, Realism, or Disney-like CGI.

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