Here’s one to make you feel old: the beloved Nintendo 64 console turns 20 in June.
Yes, it’s been two decades since gamers first switched on their N64s and took to the amazing 3D grounds of Princess Peach’s castle in Super Mario 64, or ignited an intense multiplayer rivalry in Goldeneye 007.
All these years on, we take a misty-eyed look back at the nostalgic joys only those lucky enough to own an N64 will remember:
1. ‘Screenwatchers’ were the devil
no trust in this friendship pic.twitter.com/QvNdmvIn3y
— That Awkward Moment (@awkwardposts) December 4, 2014
Before the days of online multiplayer, friends actually had to gather in the same place before they could settle down to some Goldeneye match-ups on a ‘split-screen’ set up (imagine that).
All four players had to share the same screen, which meant that your assembled quartet would be subject to the intense urge to blatantly cheat by checking out opponents’ views on their particular quadrant.
You could have scoped out the perfect tactical position, only for one cheating scumbag to know exactly where you are and chase you down in an instant. Grrr.
2. Your lung power increased
The Nintendo 64 followed Nintendo’s long-standing tradition of cartridge based games. Good for loading times, but also good for giving that diaphragm a workout.
Yes, as with all cartridge using consoles, sometimes a game would fail to load completely. While this would usually be a cause for great concern, N64 owners all knew that a short, sharp burst of air into the game’s innards would solve 99.9% of all problems.
You’d quickly find that lung capacity increasing, especially if you resided in a particularly dusty household.
3. Gaming has never been better
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and we’re probably looking back through the sepia tinged lens that is hindsight, but the N64 really did have one of the greatest games line-ups in living memory, didn’t it?
Of course, there are the obvious classics (Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Lylat Wars etc), but even the lesser known games pack a punch, and years on we’re still discovering games that passed us by the first time around.
Jet Set Gemini, Space Station Silicon Valley and Mission: Impossible (a surprisingly worthy counterpart to Goldeneye 007) are just three underrated gems to recommend.
4. The coolest accessories were the biggest
The Nintendo 64 innovated in a lot of ways, not just in its vast library of amazing games, but also in its hardware.
The vibration feature that comes as standard in all gaming controllers these days? Nintendo were the first with the N64’s Rumble Pak.
The console also sported a number of other inventive add-ons, including the Expansion Pak (a 4mb internal memory upgrade), the Transfer Pak (used to transfer Pokemon between your Game Boy and your N64), and even a primitive voice recognition add-on.
One thing they all had in common though, were that they were absolutely massive. The technologies were in their infancy, and any peripheral that required insertion in to the controller itself would weigh you down substantially while playing. They were still super cool though.
5. You were the envy of all your friends
In our formative years before console wars were even a thing and fanboys didn’t exist, we’d just play video games from any source (no brand allegiances here!).
But still, the moment your friends found out you had an N64, you were instantly the envy of them all, and countless sleepovers would soon be organised to cram in as much Mario Kart time as possible – with your permission or without.
It’s something that continues to happen to this day, some 20 years on; the moment you find out an old friend has an N64 sitting at the bottom of a dusty cupboard, it instantly elevates said friend to a higher status of companion.
6. Gamesharks were the future
Gamesharks were amazing.
A neat little cartridge that you stacked your game on top off, they essentially allowed a game’s code to be recoded.
This led to all manner of tricky cheats being used, and magazines would have whole pages printed with reams of codes for you to try at home.
Big head mode? Check. Infinite ammo? Of course.
But where the Gameshark really came in to its own was when it was allowing gamers to modify a game’s parameters, hence all sorts of madness in games like Mario pooping coins, or fans discovering the ‘hidden dam’ level in Goldeneye.
There’s no such tech for modern day consoles, which is a real shame because we’d love to mess around with some of gaming’s densest code.
7. Christmas has never been the same since
The Nintendo 64 was atop 99% of the kiddie population of the UK’s letters to Santa, so it’s no surprise that many of us received our consoles on Christmas morning.
And what a Christmas morning it was. Filled with excitement, wonder, and trying to wrap your head around Super Mario 64 (what is this new fangled ‘3D platforming‘ thing?).
It’s a Christmas that has likely stuck in the minds of many who found an N64 under their tree and, let’s be honest, every Christmas since has been a bit crap hasn’t it?
Nothing will replace the sheer amazement as you tore away that wrapping paper and exposed Nintendo’s machine underneath.
Sure, it was nice when you got that new PlayStation 4 but – meh – it’s not an N64 is it?