Sunday, December 4, 2011

TechnologySpeaks: The Nintendo 64 - Best Console Ever?

Evan-Amos; Wikimedia

The Nintendo 64 was undoubtedly the best cartridges had to offer, but was it the best console ever?

As someone who grew up during the emergence of modern console gaming – I was born not too long before the 1985 US debut of the NES, which was my first console – it isn't easy to pick out a favorite. Sega, when it still developed consoles, was always innovating (Sega CD anyone?) and had the top sports games. In recent years, Sony and Microsoft have taken that mantel and pushed realism and graphics to amazing places.  My favorite series of all time, however, is still probably Zelda, which means Nintendo, and though I do love the Wii, I need to give due credit to the Nintendo 64.

My primary argument for the N64 is that it was groundbreaking for a lot of the parts of gaming that are still my favorites. Even though it still used cartridges when everyone else was using CDs – which, besides the debatable nostalgiac charm of blowing on a game to get it to work, at least meant I couldn't scratch up my games like I did on my early Playstation – it had 3D graphics that are still playable over a decade after its debut. Also key was the fact that it had four controllers when other consoles still had two during a time before internet multiplayer.  This meant it was by far the most fun to play in a group. This singlehandedly made games like GoldenEye 007 and Super Smash Brothers amazing, exposing console gamers to a kind of exciting fast-twitch experience that just wasn't an option before. And of course, plenty of single player games like Zelda: Ocarina of Time were deep, well thought out and just as fun to play as those on any other console.

The Wii might have started the most recent revolution with motion sensing, the N64 may not have the graphics chops to compete anymore, and Final Fantasy VII for the Playstation just could be my favorite game from that era (don't make me pick!). Still, the early implementation of four person gaming and the genres it spawned, combined with the strong focus still given to its single player classics, makes the N64 the best console of all time to me. Set next to a Sega Genesis and an Xbox 360 in front of my TV (truly), I'll still pick up the N64 with surprising regularity.

What do you think the best console ever was, and why?

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