Review by Azure Edge
"Good? No. Bad? No. Fair? Definitely."
Aah, the N64. It gave us all some good times (Banjo-Kazooie), it gave us all some week-long migraines (Superman 64), and it gave us month-long addictions (Conker's Bad Fur Day, Zelda: OoT). But was it as great as some of you make it out to be? Probably not.
When I got N64 soon after it came out, I must admit, I was impressed with the graphics (but then again, I was about nine then. cut me some slack =P). Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was my first N64 game, and after some replaying a few years later I noticed a lot of jagged edges. Not good, but not horribly bad either. Some of the more 'cartoony' games, like Diddy Kong Racing, looked fairly decent. Later games such as the aforementioned Conker's Bad Fur Day looked incredibly impressive compared to SotE. The Expansion Pak adds on 4 MB of RAM and cleans up the graphics, so overall the N64 generates some decent-looking iamges.
If the graphics were eye crack, the games are a smack in the face. The cartridge format, a mistake from the beginning, heavily limited the amount of space usable for games, forcing many developers to rely on pitiful midis for their sound (how I reveled in the beautiful mp3 glory of Conker's BFD ^_^). Most N64 games were aimed at the younger audience, while the majority of gamers are teenage (and more willing to spend 150$ on a console than exasperated parents). There were a few bright spots, like Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64, but on the average, game quality is lower than the N64's Sony counterpart.
The console itself is a sharp-looking piece of technology, with a black outer casing and four controller ports. The controller, however, is quite the opposite, seemingly designed for that elusive three-handed gamer (genetic mutations aren't THAT common, Nintendo). The C buttons are fingernail-sized droplets of plastic, and those gamers with large hands may find themselves hitting all four C buttons instead of just one. However, the buttons used most are easily accessible, the only ones out-of-the-way being the L button and the D-pad (I don't remember ever playing an N64 game that used either very much, if at all). The controller design is excusable solely because of the four-player option (Goldeneye, anyone?). However, the short cord length soon became a large pain in the ass.
There are two accessories that snap right into the controller. One is the Rumble Pak, which vibrates when it gets commands from the game to simulate the feel of being there in the game. The second is the Controller Pak, Nintendo's own version of a memory card. It isn't as practical as Sony's however, and ends up being mostly optional.
The Expansion Pak I really love. It doubles the N64's RAM capability, in effect making all of the games pretty (or prettier, depending on the game). Nothing like seeing detailed brains when my head is blown apart in Conker's Bad Fur Day.
The Final Judgement
If you've got the cash and a lot of friends, buy an N64 and four controllers. Believe me, a Super Smash Brothers or Goldeneye free-for-all is a great hit when you've got pals over at the house. All in all, it's not the perfect console - a load of below average games killed its score - but it's definitely got some major hits that are worth playing.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 09/20/01, Updated 09/20/01
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