Can you believe that the Nintendo 64 was released 15 years ago as of yesterday? (Or was it as of today? Wikipedia says it hit the streets in North America on Sept. 29, 1996, while this ad suggests it hit the streets on Sept. 30 of the same year.) I can't.
I think my disbelief has something to do with the fact that I have rather fond memories of Nintendo's most curvaceous of consoles. As such, it sort of feels like the system was released just yesterday--not 15 years ago as of yesterday.
Wikipedia never lies, though, so I'll have to put aside those feelings of disbelief for the moment. Instead, why don't I share a few of my most cherished memories of the console that prompted Nintendo's marketing folks to come up with the oh-so-90s slogan of "Get N, or get Out!"
1. The earliest days of the Nintendo 64 sure were interesting, weren't they? At the time, the system was known as "Project Reality" and everybody believed the system would push graphics that would make high-end computers blush. That didn't mean much to me until I saw some screenshots of what was then called Final Fantasy 64. I know the graphics of this demo are hardly impressive today, but back in 1995 (which is when I first saw them in the pages of Diehard GameFan) they were a revelation.
2. As much as those screenshots piqued my interest in the Nintendo 64, I didn't get one at launch. In fact, I had to wait two months before getting one--for my 20th birthday. I also got a copy of Super Mario 64, of course. Strangely enough, I distinctly remember my college roommate and I playing the hell out of the game that weekend while listening to Cyndi Lauper and Sade. (News flash: He's gay, too--and he bought me both artists' greatest hits albums as birthday gifts.)
3. A year or so later, that same guy and I moved into an apartment (actually, it was more of a townhouse, but that's neither here nor there) with four girls. Surprisingly, all of them were gamers, at least to an extent. Super Mario 64 was our go-to game, and we joyously and regularly took turns playing through its many stages. I don't recall if we ever actually finished the game together, but I wouldn't be surprised if we did. We literally played it every day (and night) for quite some time.
4. If I were forced at gunpoint (hey, it could happen!) to name my favorite Nintendo 64 games of all time, I'd probably go with (in alphabetical order, not necessarily order of preference) F-Zero X, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Paper Mario and Super Mario 64. I also have a soft spot for Mischief Makers and Pokemon Snap.
I'm sure this admission will shock absolutely no one who has been coming to this blog for any amount of time, but all of these memories make me want to go out and buy a Nintendo 64 and a bunch of games. Thankfully, I know the system and at least two of the titles mentioned above are sitting in a closet in my childhood home. Maybe I'll have to have my parents ship them to me for my upcoming birthday--you know, so I can traipse through Super Mario 64 for old times' sake.