What is the Nintendo 64 Chronicles?
Before diving into this series, I’d like to share with you a bit of what it’s about. The Nintendo 64 was my first ever experience as a child with 3D gaming,and I fell in love when I opened it on my 8th birthday. However, I parted ways with it in my teens, but a little under a decade later I got it back and that love was still going strong. So, I decided I wanted to collect the entirety of the US released N64 library. That’s right, all 296 cartridges. But I wanted to do more than just say I owned them all, I wanted to get as much of an experience as I could out of these titles. I say “as much of” because let’s face it, not all games are great. Some you can play for hours, losing yourself in their worlds. While others you may want to introduce them to a brick wall after a few mere minutes of playtime.
Back on track though, the Chronicles is my way of exploring all of these titles. I stream them on my Twitch channel as often as I’m able to, chronicling some gameplay from each and every title. I throw in each title typically for about an hour on stream, sometimes I go further with it off stream and other times that hour feels like a day. Then, I’ll usually end the portion of my stream with a quick opinion of if I enjoyed what I played or not. But it didn’t feel like enough. So, with this series of articles, you’ll get to see a couple of games. I’ll give you a brief insight into each game (more of why it was/wasn’t enjoyable), I’ll share with you the value of each game (Loose, CIB, Sealed) and ultimately if the particular game would be worthy addition to any retro gamer’s library. At the end, I’ll wrap everything up by previewing one or two of the upcoming games that you can watch for yourself on my channel as I play them.
I feel it’s rather fitting, too, that the launch article for this series will get to cover the two launch releases for the console. So without further ado, let’s begin the Chronicles!
#1 : Super Mario 64
The head honcho for Nintendo, who better to launch a new console for them, and take their fans from a 2D to 3D perspective? In this adventure, our red-capped plumber receives a letter from Princess Peach to meet her at the castle. When he arrives, he instantly senses things are not as they should be. Inside, Bowser has stolen all the Power Stars which keep the castle safe, squirreling them away for his own selfish desires and hunger for power. Mario, being the stand-up guy that he is, travels through the magical paintings scattered throughout the castle in search of these stars, in hopes of using them to stop Bowser and (once again) save Peach.
Super Mario 64 is a keystone entry in the Mario series as a whole. Not only did this game show off the new capabilities of the console, but it gifted us with a plethora of moves and details that are still in high use today in the series. Wall jumping, the triple jump, ground pound. Even Peach gets her name, since before this game she was only ever known as Princess Toadstool. Old enemies and friends return, such as Goombas and Toad, while we’re also introduced to the magical wonder of power wielding Caps. It’s a wonder where our hero would be now if this game had been any different.
This game is hands down an instant classic, not just as a Nintendo 64 game but as a game period. It holds up beautifully to this day as far as how it looks and plays, and will surely be one of those games that passes on through the generations as a “You need to play this” game. Whether you play it just to take down Bowser, or you want to try and steal back every Power Star in the castle, you’ll fully enjoy every moment you put into this classic. Just keep your eyes peeled, because the castle has plenty of secrets besides the magic paintings. It’s a bit pricey since it carries the powerhouse name of Mario, and it’s just so good that it’s that hard to find. But, if you’re looking to get it to play it’s worth every penny.
Grade : A+
Price : Loose ($30) CIB ($50) Sealed ($200)
#2 Pilotwings 64
The flight simulator from the previous Nintendo console also makes its debut in 3D. Here, you take on the role of a pilot looking to earn his license. In it, you’ll be given a number of challenges to complete using one of the games six pilots, and three vehicles. All challenges are based around the game’s island, and are generally specific to the vehicle. The hang glider will have you flying through rings or taking photos of a landmark before landing, a jet pack (named in-game as the Rocket Belt) will require you to pop balloons or land on floating targets, or a gyro-copter where you’ll have to take off and land it while flying an obstacle-like course or destroying targets with missiles.
Each mission rewards you points, which turn into bronze, silver, and gold licenses. The points you earn are determined by a number of factors : how cleanly did you navigate the vehicle while flying? How well did you land? How much fuel did you use? How fast were you? Once you complete a challenge, a screen will pop up telling you how many points you earned in whichever of these areas apply before being given your final grade. If you don’t at least earn a bronze, you’ll be forced to repeat the challenge, and more advanced challenges will require a specific number of licenses to be earned.
While this game might not stand up perfectly today, it still stands strong. What really sets this one back by modern standards is the presence of the N64 controller’s single joystick making for some pretty wonky flights. Aside from this though, Pilotwings 64 is still a lot of fun to play. You can access a few secret challenges like making yourself a human cannonball, and the game’s Birdman suit which will allow you to freely roam the entire island of the game. Just like Mario above, this game is worth every penny you’ll spend on it, and you’ll enjoy quite a few good laughs while playing it!
Grade : A-
Price : Loose ($10) CIB ($20) Sealed ($100)
Coming Up On Stream…
I’ve already gotten quite a headstart on this series, since I started playing these games at the beginning of 2017. So the games mentioned down in this section won’t be the next ones in series (although they will be listed at the bottom). This is just for anybody who would like a peek at where I currently am in the Chronicles. One of my upcoming titles in the next couple of weeks is Robotron 64, a 3D remake of an old 2D arcade shooter that I have heard so many good things about and I can’t wait to sink into it myself. You can keep up with the Nintendo 64 Chronicles if you’d like to follow my Twitch channel, and look forward to my weekly Nintendo streams on Wednesday mornings (EST)
Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Wave Race 64