|5th Generation Competitors|
|3DO||Jaguar||Saturn||Playstation||CD32||FM Towns Marty||PC-FX||Pippin||Playdia||Loopy|
|Region||Release Date||Discontinued||Lifetime Sales|
|Japan||23rd Jun 1996||2002||5.54M|
|North America||26th Sep 1996||2003||20.63M|
|Europe||1st Mar 1997||2003||6.75M|
How do you follow-up two classic consoles like the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo Entertainment System? For Nintendo it was the 64. The Nintendo 64 was a 3D powerhouse designed to compete with Sony‘s Playstation and Sega‘s Saturn.
The first difference in this generation was the game medium, after the fiasco with the Super Nintendo and the CD system being designed by Sony (which ended up at the Playstation), Nintendo decided to stick to cartridges, unlike their competitors who changed to the cheaper and far more versatile CD.
Even the choice of technology wasn’t without drama. The 3D capabilities were driven by a custom SGI chip. SGI were masters of 3D, known for their workstations that helped deliver early CGI film effects.
Whilst the Nintendo 64 didn’t win in it’s generation, it was beaten by the Playstation. It was certainly a powerful machine and delivered several revolutionary games.
Mario 64 and GoldenEye laid down the rules for 3D platformers and console FPSs respectively. Mario Kart showed that fast local multiplayer games were a reality and Zelda: Ocarina of Time showed that story driven games were still possible on a cartridge medium.
The Nintendo 64 had 4 ports built-in and many games supported local multiplayer. Nintendo also sold controllers in a variety of colours.
In an effort to support some of the advantages of CD (such as streaming music and larger storage size) Nintendo released the 64DD. This was a magneto-optical storage system that more resembled large floppy disks than CDs.
The add-on wasn’t very popular and most games were cancelled, in the end it only came out in Japan (although a US prototype had been found). As an example of how versatile the system could have been, the F-Zero X extension kit was released which added a map editor.
In the end the high price of the cartridges compared to the CDs of the Playstation stopped Nintendo from truly competing. The Nintendo 64 would be the last console with cartridge support for quite a while.
|Processor||NEC 64 bit VR4300 @ 93.75MHz|
|RAM||4MB Rambus with an optional 4MB upgrade|
|Custom Chips||SGI RCP @ 62.5MHz (Reality Processor)|
|Video||16.8M Colours, first to support trilinear filtering|
|Audio||16 x 64 bit 44KHz DSP Channels|