Nintendo 64

From Academic Kids

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Black Nintendo 64 console and controller

The Nintendo 64, commonly called the N64, is Nintendo's third home video game console. The N64 was released on:

  • June 23, 1996 (Japan)
  • September 29, 1996 (North America)
  • March 1, 1997 (Europe)
  • The Nintendo 64 was released with only two launch games in Japan and North America while Europe had a third launch title:

  • Super Mario 64
  • PilotWings 64
  • Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Europe only)
  • During the developmental stages the N64 was referred to by its code name, Project Reality. The name Project Reality came from the speculation within Nintendo that this console could produce CGI on par with present day super computers. Once unveiled to the public the name changed to Ultra 64, relating to its 64-bit processor, and the abbreviation NU64 (Nintendo Ultra 64) came about. Citing brand recognition, Nintendo changed the name from Ultra 64 to Nintendo 64 on February 1, 1996 just five months before its Japanese debut.

    The N64 was first introduced in volume # 85 of Nintendo Power magazine.



    An N64 (with )
    An N64 (with Super Smash Bros.)

    After Rareware (UK) and Midway (USA), heard about the N64 system they aimed to create N64 versions of games previously only found on arcade systems. These games included titles such as Killer Instinct and Cruis'n USA. Killer Instinct was the most advanced game of its time graphically, featuring pre-rendered movie backgrounds which were streamed off of a hard drive and animated as the characters moved horizontally. Extreme hype was generated over this game because many people believed the graphics would be very similar in the N64 version. However, many people were let down by the N64 version which turned out to completely rely on real time rendering and looked much worse than the pre-rendering used in arcade systems. Without the excitement generated by these Nintendo 64 titles, the Nintendo 64 would have probably sold far less, especially since Nintendo was a late contender in that console generation. Nintendo touted many of the system's more unusual features as groundbreaking and innovative. The only problem was many of these "groundbreaking" features were in fact used in older technology. The first game console to claim 64-bit technology was actually the Atari Jaguar, although the truth of this claim is highly controversial. The Vectrex introduced the first analog joysticks, while the first to feature four controller ports was the Bally Astrocade.

    The system was designed by Silicon Graphics Inc., and features their trademark non 32-bit color dithered real time graphics look. The N64 development system was an SGI Indy equipped with an add-on board that contained a full N64 system. One graphical achievement of the N64 was that it was the first console to support mipmapping. Graphically, the N64's main drawback was the lack of memory (cartridge ROM and system RAM) to store texture maps. This forced designers to rely on low resolution texture maps that were heavily blurred by bilinear filtering.

    The N64 had a tough time getting titles for a long time since it often lacked essential third party support. The N64 has seen some particularly notable games such as:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Super Smash Bros.
  • Super Mario 64
  • Super Mario 64 is still considered to have set the standard for 3-D adventure games and is considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever published. Apart from Nintendo's own in-house development, Rareware produced a steady stream of popular titles for the N64. Some of their more popular titles include:

  • Blast Corps.
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • GoldenEye 007
  • Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Banjo-Tooie
  • Perfect Dark
  • Jet Force Gemini
  • Donkey Kong 64
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day
  • The last Nintendo 64 game to be released in the United States was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 on August 20, 2002 while Mario Party 3 released on November 16, 2001 was the last title Europe would see.

    Cartridges vs. discs

    Missing image
    The cartridge for Mario Kart 64
    The Nintendo 64 was the last mainstream home video game console to use ROM cartridges to store its games. Nintendo defended this choice for the following reasons:
    1. ROM cartridges have extremely fast load times in comparison to disc based games. This can be observed from the loading screens that appear in many PlayStation games but are non-existent in N64 versions.
    2. ROM cartridges are extremely difficult to duplicate (thus resisting unauthorized copying). Interface devices for the PC were later developed, although these devices are rare when compared to a CD drive as used on the PlayStation.
    3. It is possible to add specialized support chips (such as coprocessors) to ROM cartridges, as was done on some SNES games.

    Another advantage is that most cartridges store individual profiles and game progress on the cartridge itself, eliminating the need for separate and expensive memory cards. Graphically, benefits of the Nintendo cartridge system were mixed. While N64 games generally had higher polygon counts, resulting in characters and settings that were more complex with a high amount of 3D-detail, the limited storage size of ROM carts limited the amount of available textures, resulting in games which had an unusual flat shaded look. Later cartridges (such as Resident Evil 2) featured much more ROM space, which demonstrated that N64 was indeed capable of impressive, detailed in-game graphics when the media permitted, but this performance came late in the console war and at a high price.

    At that time, competing systems from Sony and Sega were using CD-ROM discs to store their games. These discs are much cheaper to manufacture and distribute, resulting in lower costs to third party game publishers. As a result many game developers which had traditionally supported Nintendo game consoles were now developing games for the competition because of the higher profit margins found on CD based platforms. The cartridge vs. disc debate came to an infamous climax during the release of Final Fantasy VII. Despite the fact that all six previous Final Fantasy games had been published on Nintendo systems, the series' producer, Squaresoft, chose to release Final Fantasy VII on the Sony Playstation. This incident provided a highly-publicized denunciation of Nintendo's cartridge-based system which was extremely embarrassing for Nintendo.

    Despite all the controversy the N64 still managed to support many popular games, giving it a successful life run. N64 took 2nd place for its generation of consoles with the PlayStation being 1st. Much of this success was credited to Nintendo's strong first-party franchises, such as Mario and Zelda, which had strong name brand appeal yet appeared exclusively on Nintendo platforms.

    In 2001, the Nintendo 64 was replaced by the disc-based Nintendo GameCube.


    Missing image
    Super Mario 64

    Missing image
    Screenshot Wave Race 64

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    Screenshot Diddy Kong Racing

    Super Mario 64
    Nintendo (1996)
    Wave Race 64
    Nintendo (1996)
    Diddy Kong Racing
    Nintendo/Rare (1998)
    Missing image
    Screenshot Tetrisphere

    Missing image
    Screenshot 1080° Snowboarding

    Missing image
    Screenshot Banjo-Kazooie

    Nintendo (1997)
    1080° Snowboarding
    Nintendo (1998)
    Nintendo/Rare (1998)
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    Screenshot Madden NFL 2001

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    Screenshot Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

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    Screenshot GoldenEye 007

    Madden NFL 2001
    Electronic Arts (2000)
    Zelda: Majora's Mask
    Nintendo (2000)
    GoldenEye 007
    Nintendo/Rare (1997)



    • Processor: Custom 93.75 MHz MIPS R4300i series 64-bit RISC CPU
      • L1 cache: 24KB
      • Bandwidth: 250 MB/s
      • Operations: 93 MIPs (millions of instructions/sec)
      • Manufactured by NEC using 0.35µ transistor fabrication process
    • Ram: 4MB Rambus RDRAM (Upgradeable to 8MB with Expansion Pak)
      • Bandwidth: 562.5 MB/s
      • Bus: Custom 9-bit Rambus at 500MHz (max)
    • Graphics: SGI 62.5 MHz RCP (Reality Co-Processor) contains two sub-processors:
      • RSP (Reality Signal Processor) controls 3D graphics and sound functions
      • RDP (Reality Drawing Processor) handles all pixel drawing operations in hardware, such as:
        • Z-buffering (maintains 3d spatial relationships, is Mario in front of the tree or vice-versa?)
        • Anti-aliasing (smoothes jagged lines and edges)
        • Texture mapping (placing images over shapes, for example mapping a face image to a sphere creates head)
          • Trilinear Filtered Mipmap Interpolation (increases texture map rendering speed)
          • Perspective Correction
          • Environment Mapping
      • Resolution: 256x224 to 640x480 pixels flicker-free, interlaced
      • Colors: 16.7 Million (32,000 on screen)
      • 150,000 Polygons/sec (all RDP features enabled)
    • Sound: 16-bit ADPCM Stereo
      • Channels: 100 PCM (max, 16-24 avg.)
      • Sampling: 48kHz (max, 44.1kHz is CD quality)
    • Media: 4MB to 64MB cartridges (64MB with N64DD)
    • Dimensions: 10.23" x 7.48" x 2.87" (260mm x 190mm x 73mm ) WxDxH
      • Weight: 2.42lb (1.1kg)
    • Controller: 1 analog stick; 2 shoulder buttons; one digital cross pad; six face buttons, 'start' button, and

    one digital trigger.


    Missing image
    The 4MB Expansion Pak
    • Controller Pak - a memory card that plugged into the controller and allowed the player to save game progress and configuration. The original models from Nintendo offered 256 kb Flash RAM, split into 123 pages, but third party models had much more. The number of pages that a game occupied varied. A Controller Pak was initially useful or even necessary for the earlier N64 games. Over time, the Controller Pak lost ground to the convenience of a back-up battery found in some cartridges. Games by Konami were particularly infamous as they often required the controller pak to save even though the games could have easily contained three or more save-slots (such as in the case of Holy Magic Century)
    • Expansion Pak - a memory expansion that plugged into the console's memory expansion port. It contained 4 MB of RAM. Only few games such as Perfect Dark and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron supported the expansion, while games such as Donkey Kong 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask required it for play. Supporting games usually offered higher video resolutions when it was present, or in the case of Perfect Dark, unlocked 100% of game play. The expansion pack was both shipped with Donkey Kong 64 and available seperately.
    • Rumble Pak - an accessory that plugged into the controller and vibrated during game play. It has (since its release in 1997 alongside Star Fox 64) become a built-in standard for the current generation console controllers.
    • Transfer Pak - an accessory that plugged into the controller and allowed the Nintendo 64 to transfer data between Game Boy and N64 games. Pokémon Stadium is a game that relies heavily on the Transfer Pak. Rare's Perfect Dark was initially going to be compatible with the Transfer Pak in order to use pictures taken with the Game Boy Camera in the game but this function was scrapped.
    • 64DD - The official disk drive that was a commercial failure and consequently never released outside of Japan. It featured networking capabilities similar to the (SNES) Satellaview.
    • Adapters to play Game Boy games - there is an unofficial adaptor to play Game Boy cartridges, similar to the Super Game Boy and an official adaptor, able to play Game Boy Color games (never released)

    Coloured/Special Systems

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    "Pokémon Pikachu Nintendo 64"
    • Standard

    The standard Nintendo 64 comes in dark grey

    • Transparent

    Five were released in total. The first of the five released possessed a transparent white bottom moiety and a purple top. The other four, which were released a year or two following the purple one, featured full colours of blue, pink, orange, and green.

    • Gold Coloured

    Nintendo released a gold Nintendo64 controller for the debut of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in Japan. Soon after, bundle packs of the game, controller and gold Nintendo 64 were released for the US and European markets.

    • Pokémon Pikachu Nintendo64

    With a large yellow Pikachu model on the top of a blue Nintendo 64, this console was set to promote N64 Pokémon games such as Pokémon Stadium. It is a different shape on the bottom, and the expansion port is covered. In Japan, a red edition was also released.

    Piracy and copyright infringement

    Each Nintendo 64 cartridge contains a so-called boot chip to prevent manufacturers from creating pirate copies of the games.

    Backup/development units:

    See also

    Template:Dedicated video game consoles


    External links


    es:Nintendo 64 fi:Nintendo 64 fr:Nintendo 64 ja:NINTENDO64 nl:Nintendo 64 no:Nintendo 64 pl:Nintendo 64 pt:Nintendo 64 ru:Nintendo 64 sv:Nintendo 64 zh:任天堂64


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