Even with the newer hardware making the rounds these days, it seems a lot more people as of late are getting into retro systems. And you can't really get any more retro than the Nintendo 64.
This hardware debuted in 1996 and became an instant hit with gamers, thanks to games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. And even though it's based around cartridges instead of the usual CD disk format, it benefitted from getting a number of great classics, from StarFox 64 to F-Zero X to Goldeneye. And we're just hitting the tip of the iceberg.
So it's understood that you're feeling those retro vibes again, but when it comes to hunting down a Nintendo 64 in this day and age, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. Here are some buyer tips when it comes to re-adding the system to your game collection:
Make Sure You Purchase a Clean Unit
This should go without saying right off the bat when it comes to buying a used system, but you'd be surprised how many people would pick up a game system without taking the time to look inside, only to get home and wonder, "How the hell did all this cat hair get in here?" (Don't laugh, I've actually seen this.)
So before you plunk down your hard-earned cash on a system offer from Craiglist or eBay, get a good look at the system. Does it have any scratches or nicks, or frayed wires, or anything that would get in the way of performance? And is the cartridge slot clean? Obviously, N64 cartridges plugging into a system is nowhere as finicky as the classic NES console, but it never hurts to be sure.
If everything looks good – and better yet, if you're able to test it and it works – then by all means, make your purchase.prevnext
Make Sure You Pick Up an Expansion Pak
The base Nintendo 64 console runs smoothly enough in its own right, but if you're snagging your first system, you might want to go ahead and set a few dollars aside for an Expansion Pak.
This was released midway through the N64's life cycle, and provides additional visual enhancement for certain games like Rogue Squadron. But it's also necessary for certain releases, like Perfect Dark, in order to get the full experience out of them.
It's not entirely needed if you're just interested in certain games, but if you want to get the most out of your N64 hardware, go ahead and add it to your shopping cart. There are third party ones out there, but go with the Nintendo one if you can. It's easy to install, and then you can get right into the games.prevnext
Make Sure You Get Plenty of Controllers
Most of the time, players are concerned with just having one good controller to get into their games – and for the most part, this is true if you're getting into games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, the way that the hardware is built, it's meant for multiplayer sessions.
So, if you're picking up a system, make sure to throw a few controllers into the mix. You'll thank yourself later when you're taking part in frenzied split-screen sessions of Goldeneye, StarFox 64, F-Zero and so forth. In fact, the N64 is home to some of the best versions of games out there because of their multiplayer support, such as Ridge Racer 64 and Hydro Thunder 64. Just a few laps in and you'll see what all the fun is about.
Oh, and if you do get controllers, try to stick with the first-party Nintendo ones if you can. There are some decent third-party ones, but there are also those that are pretty uncomfortable – and a bit unreliable. This is the one time you probably don't want to go cheap.prevnext
Try To Track Down a Funtastic and Pokemon System
While the general black-and-gray Nintendo 64 model is pretty cool, there are better models to go after if you've got the extra cash. In this case, it's the Funtastic systems, which feature transparent colors for both consoles and controllers. They look rather spiffy in a game room set-up, whether you go with watermelon, orange, smoke, blue, purple or something else.
These can be a bit pricier than the usual N64 model, but they're definitely worth it if you're looking to be a show-off with your collection. Or, if you prefer, you can really go all out and hunt down the Pikachu edition, complete with light-up cheeks. It's the perfect way to enjoy a game like Pokemon Snap or Super Smash Bros. PIKA!prevnext
It’s a Good Time To Check Out Games You Missed
Obviously, as you build up your N64 library, you're going to go with must-have favorites, like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Conker's Bad Fur Day. But it's also a great opportunity to check out some excellent third-party games you might have missed the first time around.
For instance, EA's Beetle Adventure Racing and Nintendo's own Ridge Racer 64 are terrific games, packed with great track design and solid gameplay. For that matter, arcade classics like Asteroids 64 and Robotron 64 are worth the revisit as well. And, who knows, Starcraft 64 might just grow on you, especially if you can find a devoted player to go along for the ride. (Ask any die-hard Blizzard fan – it's also a terrific collectible, especially if you can find it with box.)
Sure, you may not be able to rent these games from Blockbuster anymore, but you can find most of these for relatively cheap. So it never hurts to give them a try.prevnext
Eventually, You’ll Need To Get Goldeneye
Look, you can talk about games that you don't mind owning, and games that you might even try out just for the sake of curiosity. But when it comes down to it, one title really feels like an essential one when it comes to the Nintendo 64 – and that's Goldeneye.
Though we've seen remakes of this game over the past few years (namely with Goldeneye Reloaded), nothing beats the charm of the original, whether you're taking on the great single player missions, or trying your luck in split-screen multiplayer, and see who's really using screen glances to cheat and find your position. (You know you're out there.) It's an incredible party favorite, even after two decades, and no devoted N64 owner should be without it.
Well, unless you hate shooters. But even then…you get access to a laser watch, man. Come on.prev