Saturday, August 17, 2013

Everyone owns the same ten Nintendo 64 games.

I never owned a Nintendo 64. The only game consoles my parents let me have as a kid were Game Boys. The only time I got to play N64 was when I went to friends' or relatives' houses. It didn't matter where I went: everyone had the same ten games.

People say Sony's first PlayStation "won" the console war against Nintendo, but I definitely saw way more N64s than PS1s. Maybe it's because N64 was aimed at my demographic and PS1 was aimed slightly older. Today, I know a lot of people my age who still have their childhood N64s and play them regularly. Everyone has the same ten games.

Recognize these cartridges?

The launch title

The game people are still playing today

"No screen looking!"

Gold cartridge!

The other game people are still playing today

The "alternative" karting game. It had planes!

Yellow cartridge!

Do a barrel roll!

Why didn't it have all 151?

Better than the movie it was based on

I say "cartridges" rather than "game boxes" because of course, this was the era when everyone had the cartridge, but the cardboard case and instruction booklet were nowhere to be found. Often, your name was written in sharpie on the cartridge so you wouldn't mix it up with your friends' games.

Unlike the Super Nintendo before it, Nintendo 64 didn't feature the games' titles on the spines of the cartridges. So when you wanted to sift through someone's collection to find the game you wanted, you couldn't just glance at the tops of them; you had to actually lift each one up to see the title. Why did Nintendo think this was a good idea?

Anyway, why did everyone own the same ten games? Nintendo gets a lot of crap for the lack of third-party support on its consoles. The top-selling games on all its platforms are almost always games published by Nintendo themselves. But Nintendo makes great games.

I see it like the Beatles. No musician today could ever become as popular as the Beatles. The Beatles are great, but that's not the reason they were so popular. The Beatles existed at the height of major record labels' power. They existed in an age when there were only a few radio stations to listen to, and only a few TV channels to watch. So everyone listened to the same radio and watched the same TV. Who was on all those radio and TV stations? The Beatles.

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