Hello! How nice to see you here again! Today we will talk about a stage in the history of gaming that, for me, is one of the strangest. I’m talking about the mid-90s, when three-dimensionality took over the medium.

In the 16-bit era, some flashes of 3D environments had already been seen, for example, with Star Fox on the Super Nintendo, but it was not until the arrival of the fifth generation of video games that we had more awareness and an idea clearer of the implications of this type of graphics. The 2 largest representatives were the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64, in which true classics arose, which is still being talked about to date. However, the apparent magic of those early years of 3D was ultimately not as special as expected. Perhaps at that time we did not notice it, but now it is much more evident. What do I mean? Because most of the proposals that adopted this new type of graphics aged in the worst way.

Did we really need polygons?

We were happy. The Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and even the first Sony console proved that 2D games with that pixel art we love so much still had a lot to give. In these years we were able to enjoy the wonderful Symphony of the Night, while on the Nintendo side we still had in mind the Donkey Kong Country trilogy and the unforgettable Super Mario RPG. Despite this, the move was necessary and unavoidable simply because the industry and new consoles were pointing towards 3D. We had to make the leap and we soon discovered that not all of those who took it did what was expected. Let’s not say transcend in time, but rather that the titles were memorable from the moment they left.

A very clear and timely example is Superman (better known as Superman 64). Yes, we all know it’s an unplayable abomination, but beyond that it was never attractive. On the other side of the coin we can mention GoldenEye 007, where the polygons are just as ugly, but the game mechanics, the challenge and the replay value go through the roof, especially because of the excellent multiplayer it has. The problem for me was not the way the games were played, but how they looked. It was even a bit of a disappointment in cases where those franchises that I fell in love with in previous generations just didn’t make up for the next. I think, for example, of Castlevania. I must say that the start of the Nintendo 64 version shocked me even though the castle looks like paper and the 3D model of Malus is not the best. I was won over by music and I think that that area was the one that saved a large part of this title that even had a sequel on the same console. Another case that comes to mind is that of Resident Evil in its version of PlayStation. It is one of the best games on the console, but not for its graphics. We could define all these titles as “very good, but ugly.” So good that someone took on the task of giving them a cat’s hand and releasing them again on later consoles. So ugly that it became necessary to rescue them and give them the treatment they deserved so that they were known to more people.

Graphics are scarier than the castle itselfGraphics are scarier than the castle itself

Despite the fact that 2D seemed to be forgotten, the Nintendo 64 had some exponents in which developers dared to step out of the mold a bit and not cling to the idea that, no matter what type of game they were making, This one had to be in 3D if it wasn’t to be a complete failure. We were able to enjoy, for example, Killer Instinct: Gold, Paper Mario or Yoshi’s Story. In each case, I actually took a lot of rest from 3D environments.

Hence the question: was all this really necessary? Maybe yes, because it served as a missing link between 2 eras that, despite their apparent separation, have many points of convergence. I’m sure many thought that the path this generation took was one of no return. Fortunately, we soon realized that it was not, although there was a scar that we have seen in our gamer history to date. You had to start with something and, as in the case of Alva Edison, it was necessary to spoil something many times to create something else that was worthwhile.

The best multiplayer of the time

Nintendo’s 64-bit system had something the others didn’t: 4 ports for controls. To my understanding, it was precisely this feature that saved the console, giving it a very special appeal that could not be found elsewhere. The Big N had a few aces up its sleeve to take advantage of this quality.

At the time I did not have a Nintendo 64, but that did not stop me from playing it. A couple of friends did have it and with them I was able to enjoy long multiplayer games of Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye 007 and Star Fox 64. They all had their charm and we each dedicated a considerable amount of time to them, but for me the most significant was the Rare FPS. I remember that we could spend hours and hours searching the recesses of each level, placing proximity or time mines in strategic places and even generating alliances that later dissolved when it was time to kill or die. Such was the impact of this title, that it not only won the Game of the Year award, but also laid the foundations for a genre that would be over-exploited in its generation and beyond. What’s more, some consider him the father of FPS.

To remember the glory days, many years later I bought a Nintendo 64 with 4 controllers and the GoldenEye cartridge. I invited my friends and we were chilling at ease and remembering our younger years. It was a lot of fun, but once again I remembered how badly the games of that era aged. They just look… ugly. I think this is the case where the idea that nostalgia is sometimes above quality is most applicable. If I didn’t have those memories, that console wouldn’t have a place on my shelf.

I'd say it's from my desert island games, but I need 3 other peopleI’d say it’s from my desert island games, but I need 3 other people

Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64 also took great advantage of the multiplayer. Its game mechanics were well above the graphic quality or the sharpness of its textures, which was a distinguishing characteristic of almost all the titles of the moment. Let’s say that for lack of fun we could not complain, but aesthetically there was always something that did not finish conquering me. What multiplayers on Nintendo 64 do you like or do you think are worth it?

The worst controller Nintendo ever made

Some people complain about the straight and uncomfortable edges of the NES controller, but for me the worst attempt at a revolutionary controller is the one on the Nintendo 64. The reason? The stick. It seemed to decompose or loosen at the slightest provocation and I always felt it strange. I appreciated the existence of some titles in which it was possible to play with the D-Pad, such as World Cup 98. Having the Z button on the back as a trigger is cool, but the stick has always caused me a lot of conflict . What’s more, when I want to play a Nintendo 64 title, I prefer to go to the Wii or WiiU Virtual Console and play with the respective controls to avoid the original.

Nintendo has made controls of excellent quality and very comfortable, but the best hunter loses the hare. I recently bought the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and it looks great to me. The GameCube one also seemed like a very good update to its predecessor. Even the Wii Pro Controller is much better than the Nintendo 64.

Different?  Yes, but not very good for my tasteDifferent? Yes, but not very good for my taste

Maybe you grew up playing this console. I’d like to know what you think of the controller compared to the following from Nintendo. It was certainly something different than what the other companies offered, but it wasn’t good. Nintendo’s habit of doing things with a different mindset is fine, but the results are not always as expected.

The ultimate home console with cartridges

Along with three-dimensionality came the new disc format, but Nintendo made the decision to stick with cartridges. It was a move that was expensive for them, as several projects that could stay with them ended up being developed for competing consoles (read, Final Fantasy VII). However, we must recognize that the loading times were much shorter than on the Sony console, where you could live a full life while the classic legend “Now loading” was seen on the screen. In terms of technical and performance, I didn’t think it was a bad idea to keep the cartridges, but from a market and scope point of view, the discs were the best option at the time. I was very surprised that Capcom made a version of Resident Evil 2 for the console. It left me thinking about the possibilities that the system had and at times I wondered how difficult it would be to transfer the great exponents of PlayStation to Nintendo grounds. Perhaps it could have been exploited more. In the end, it was more powerful than its closest competitor, although in sales it lagged far behind.

The ones who saved the day

The Nintendo 64 was a good console overall. It’s fair to say that he gifted us with various gems, like Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time, both of which made it worth opening up the wallet and taking the system home. Specifically these 2 titles are so well done that they do not suffer from the bad aging syndrome that I mentioned earlier. They are works that have transcended time and it is a real pleasure to visit them again from time to time. The console also served as a platform for the growth of some franchises that still exist, such as Mario Party or Paper Mario, so not everything is bad.

Reason enough to dust off the consoleReason enough to dust off the console

My relationship with this peculiar console is complicated because it is the one that I remember least fondly for the reasons already stated, although thanks to it I keep memories that largely motivated me to write this text. Remember that I await your comments and hope to see you here again in our next #Retro Friday.

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