August 3, 2021

Anniversary: The Nintendo 64 Launched 25 Years Ago Today


N64N64© Nintendo Life

On 23rd June 1996, Nintendo launched its latest home console, the Nintendo 64, in Japan. Boasting a 64-bit processing unit and good old clunky cartridges (incidentally, the N64 would go on to be the last home console to use game cartridges until the Switch), the system has become one of the most iconic consoles in gaming history.

It landed on store shelves alongside Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Saikyō Habu Shōgi in Japan; North America and Europe had to wait several more months before it was available overseas, but were also treated to Mario and Pilotwings on launch day (European players could also grab Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter).

The successor to the SNES, the N64 caught the attention of gaming fans thanks to its jump to 3D graphics – who could forget running around Super Mario 64 or Zelda: Ocarina of Time‘s worlds for the first time? – as well as its, erm, unique controller design. The three-pronged lump of plastic bundled with each machine has never seen its design repeated since, and it still divides player opinion to this day.

N64N64© Nintendo Life

Despite having to compete with Sony’s super-popular PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, the N64 went on to sell 32.93 million units in total. 224.97 million games were also sold for the machine.

Did you own a Nintendo 64 back when it launched in the ’90s? What games do you remember playing on it? Feel free to share your fondest memories in the comments below.


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