Co-Optimus - Editorial - Co-Op Classics: Happy 15th Birthday, Nintendo 64!

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Co-Op Classics: Happy 15th Birthday, Nintendo 64!
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Co-Op Classics: Happy 15th Birthday, Nintendo 64!

Highlighting the co-op gems of Nintendo's third generation console

Just over a week ago, the Nintendo 64 game console celebrated its fifteenth birthday.  On September 29, 1996, the third generation of Nintendo systems debuted in North America.  The Nintendo 64 (often abrbeviated N64) was certainly an innovative system, with many great games and unique features.  However, it never really lived up to its smashingly successful predecessors due to the dominance of the original Playstation in the market.  Co-op games weren't popular at the time the N64 was released, but there are still a handful of excellent cooperative experiences available, if you knew where to look.

As you might expect from the name, the Nintendo 64 was a 64-bit system.  This gave the N64 an advantage over the 32-bit Playstation.  However, Sony's system used the CD-ROM format, which allowed more storage than the N64's outdated proprietary cartridges.  It was a puzzling decision, and was one factor that led to the Playstation completely owning the format, selling three times as many units as Nintendo's console.

On the other hand, the Nintendo 64 did a lot of things right.  The standard four controller ports allowed twice as many players as the Playstation out of the box.  The odd looking controller was the first for a major console system to include an analog stick, allowing smooth control in 3D.  A vibrating add-on for the controller, the Rumble Pak, was the first use of force feedback on a controller.  Both analog control and force feedback are commonly used in modern consoles, and they owe it all to the Nintendo 64.

My own experience with the Nintendo 64 was in late 1999, when I purchased the Donkey Kong 64 bundle, which included a copy of that game as well as a delightfully cheesy translucent green N64 console and controller.  The Expansion Pak, which came in this bundle, doubled the RAM on the system.  This was required for some games, like Zelda: Majora's Mask, and allowed more players, better resolution, and other improvements to others.  Most of my memories of the Nintendo 64 are from non-co-op titles, including Mario Kart 64, Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Stadium and its sequel, and Super Smash Bros