Greetings fellow retro devotees and welcome back to a series I like to call, The Last Official Release. Here, we take a gander at a particular console and focus in on its final official game release. Previous entries have delved into the Game Gear, NES, Atari 2600 and Game Boy. But today, it’s all about the Nintendo 64 – Nintendo’s phenomenal fifth generation consoles from 1996.
The N64 was crazy popular. Not only did it stand out because it gave cartridges one last hurrah while the competition moved onto CD-ROMs, but it became an excellent multiplayer and party console since it included four controller ports – virtually unheard of at the time. Multitaps were beginning to get the boot, which I’m sure earned a collected cheer from lounge rooms and college dorms alike, and the N64 was partly to thank. Just short of 33 million units were sold over its lifetime – with it entering a much-earned retirement in the November of 2003.
A list on Wikipedia estimates that 389 games were released in total (not including titles for the 64DD) – but since it is the point of this article, let’s now focus on the very last one. I’m yet to come across a console or handheld that has a universal last game spanning oceans – but the N64’s winner definitely has the most distinct margin of time over the losing regions and stands apart since you’ve most likely played it. While the final game in Asia was Bomberman 64 (December 20th, 2001) and Mario Party 3 in PAL-land (November 16th, 2001) North America received a port of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 months later on the 20th of August, 2002.
One of the most popular entries in the Tony Hawks series, THPS3 introduced a gnarly boardslide of new features. Among other facets, the revert was introduced that allowed longer combos which of course led to higher scores. As if the game wasn’t competitive enough.
What I find interesting about THPS3, though, is the large spread of systems that it was released on. As you’d expect for a popular N64 game, it was also released on the PSone. But additionally, it also saw ports on systems such as the Xbox, GameCube and PS2, Game Boy Color AND the Game Boy Advance. Imagine that – a game released on a console like the PS2 at the same time as the N64. It’s a fascinating cross of gaming histories when you think about it.
And ultimately, it was the PS2 version that was the star of the show. Not only was it the first PS2 game ever to support online play, but it was highly commended to no end. It scored favourably in the all the major publications of the time, and because of that, now has a score of 97/100 on Metacritic cementing it as one of the highest scoring PS2 games ever.