As the Nintendo 64 nears its twenty fourth birthday I can’t help but feel ever more enamored with the aging console. You see, when I was 16 I walked into a Target store and experienced Bloody Roar playing on the Playstation kiosk, and being 16 meant expendable time and income were my only assets. It was right then and there that I made the choice to buy myself a Playstation. Within an hour I was back home playing through a demo disc and thoroughly loving it. Nearly all of my future paychecks were spent on Playstation games, so I never had any reason to so much as think about the Nintendo 64.
I do, however, have fond memories of spending countless weekends at a friend’s house who had what felt like every gaming console imaginable. Nearly every single Friday I would rush home to ask my parents if I could go spend the weekend at my friend’s house. The weekend would often start at a local rental place by the name of Movieland USA. My friend and I would often pick up racing games, or at least something that we could compete against each other in. There is still one game he and I both remember, with varying degrees of details between the two of us, but we do agree that whatever it was that game was obviously fun enough to still remember. Even with all the fun we had I never saw anything within the Nintendo 64 that struck me as a console I needed to own, as I was still trying to financially support my Playstation addiction.
I didn’t personally own a N64 until ten years ago, just before the vintage gaming boom really took control. I saw a Nintendo 64 for sale on Craigslist and decided to purchase it. Prior to that I did pickup a few N64 games from thrift stores that were too cheap to pass up, even knowing full well I didn’t have a console to play them on. As the Nintendo 64 games continued to fall into my hands, slowly, throughout many many thrift store trips, the N64 became an important console to me on a more personal level.
A year or so before buying my first N64 my life fell apart at the seams, so I relied heavily on video games to take me away from reality. Besides using them to escape reality it helped rekindle some of that nostalgia of spending weekends at my friend’s house and it also set me on a journey to discover a console that I had never given a fair chance before. One of my favorite N64 games at the time was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, with its bright banana yellow cart. I own the Playstation version, but for some reason the N64 version calms me and helps me unwind after dealing with the reality of life.
Fast forward to 2020 and life has yet again become a sea of anxieties, unknowns and for much of the world’s population a lesson in desperation. With all the consoles I now own I’ve preferred to pull out my Nintendo 64 far more than I have any of my other options. It seems the Nintendo 64 has also been receiving quite a bit of love from third-party companies like Retro-Bit with their Tribute 64 controllers. Current situations plus brand new controllers, that are actually really good, plus games being readily available from online retailers means I’m finding myself wanting to discover, and rediscover, what exactly the era of the Nintendo 64 was all about.
I still believe the Playstation is superior in terms of performance, but the memories of time spent with the N64 throughout my life, coupled with the unknown territory that I’m still exploring about the console and its library has made it an important console in my life. Recently I’ve discovered games such as Diddy Kong Racing, BattleTanx Global Assault and most recently World Driver Championship, which absolutely blew away with how good the game looks compared to many of the other racing games on the console. The more I play these games the more I want to fully explore the N64 library, and that is what keeps me focused on the good times that are still ahead.
Times get tough and scary, but if you manager your assets wisely and focus on a hobby you truly enjoy things do get better. Now more than ever I think it helps to find that hobby, or in my case console, that most interests you and give it what attention you can afford. If you’re like me pull out your old consoles, blow off the dust and give it a go with a game you may have never given a proper play through before. Or maybe a game that brings back a lot of nostalgia, like sitting down with friends or family for a round of Mario Party, just make sure everyone wears palm protection.