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Gaming Memories – The N64
Years: 1996 – 2003
To this day, the N64 holds my fondest gaming memories on a console. The PC may have stolen my heart eventually, but I’ll never forget the fun of my childhood, playing multiplayer games on my N64 with a bunch of mates after school, and during sleepovers.
One such sleepover took place at my friend Andrew’s house. There were 4 of us, and we played Perfect Dark for 17 hours straight. This is an estimate, but I do know that Andrew’s mother came in to say good night to us all, which must have been around 10 or 11oclock, and sometime later, after the sun had risen, she reappeared in the door to say good morning. We were still all sitting in the same spot. Still holding a controller each, and still playing Perfect Dark. I have no idea what his mother thought of us, but I doubt she was as impressed as we were.
I know for a fact my father wasn’t impressed with my gaming habits. He has never liked or really understood games, but he at least allowed me to play them as a kid which I am forever grateful for. He was also a fairly responsible parent in that he tried his best to limit my exposure to them. Whenever he caught me playing for too long, or if it was past my bedtime or I was supposed to be doing my homework, he’d say “goto sleep, or do your homework” but if he caught me AGAIN he would come in and confiscate the controllers. Not the games, or the console itself, just the controllers so I couldn’t actually play on it. I one day got wise and discovered that he had been hiding them in the garage, so the next time it happened, I snuck down and stole them back. He caught me again…
I used to read and collect N64 Magazine back in those days. Not the official Nintendo magazine (how could you trust reviews for games by a magazine that is run by the same company that made the console?!), N64 magazine had some excellent writers and freelancers, and the magazine was something to look forward to each month. I even wrote in a bunch of times, and once had a picture of Link printed in the fan letters section. They sent me a pin badge and a thank you letter! It was awesome.
The N64 was also a great console for trading games. The cartridges were so robust and solid, they couldn’t get easily scratched like the Playstation’s CD’s, so buying second hand games was an affordable way to try new games on a regular basis. There was a small shop just down the road from my house called Virtual Games. I’d sometimes go there on an almost weekly basis to see what they had on offer, to trade an old game for something new. In this way, I managed to experience so many different games, and the memory of simply going to that shop is something I’ll always look back on fondly. The internet has changed gaming forever, and its mostly for the better, but I’m glad I was young enough to experience the act of going into a games shop in person, to browse and chat to the enthusiastic shop keeper. Amazon and Steam can’t replicate that.
So, a list of some of the awesome games that the N64 had, because there were so many… Zelda Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Super Smash Bros, F-Zero X, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing, Rampage!, 1080 Snowboarding, Wave Race 64, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Bomberman 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Excitebike 64, Starfox, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo Kazooie, Pokemon Stadium, Jet Force Gemini, Rogue Squadron, Mario Party, Turok, Blast Corps, Mario Tennis…
I tend to sell a console after I’ve moved onto the next generation, but the N64 is the only retro console that I couldn’t bring myself to part with. I had to sell my Sega Saturn, my Megadrive, my Gamecube, my Xbox 360… But I kept my N64, it still works, and I’ll never let it go. Read More ››
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Gaming Memories – Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Release date: 2001
Now and then one can’t help climbing aboard the hype train. You work yourself up into a frothing frenzy in anticipation of some new game whose trailers and screenshots make it seem like the best…thing…EVER. That’s how I felt about Conker’s Bad Fur Day when I first read about it in N64 Magazine (before the internet butchered the magazine industry). They did several preview write-ups about it in the years before it was released, and it changed from being a cutesy 3D adventure, to merely looking like a cutesy 3D adventure plastered with a layer of adult filth. I couldn’t have been more excited to play it. Did it live up to my expectations? Hell yes.
The game was made by Rare, so any right-minded Nintendo gamer should have been excited – they were responsible for some of the best games the console had to offer. But several delays seemed to kill the momentum of the game, and it was finally released in March 2001, right at the end of the N64’s lifecycle. Perhaps because of that, the game didn’t seem to sell as well as Rare may have hoped. Perhaps the fact it was one of the only ‘Mature’ rated games Nintendo had ever published at the time.
The funny thing is, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is far from mature. It’s fucking hilarious, though. As a kid, I felt so naughty playing a game with swear words in. I can still recite lines of dialogue in my head, I played it so many times. The cow-shitting level never ceases to have me in stitches… “Oh I do hope Mavis and Olive don’t see this!” And the rude cog in the tower near the dogfish, utters the frankly genius line, “Twatting shite, don’t ever do that again!” The game was beautiful too, the colourful cartoon graphics pushing the N64 to its limit. Great games always tend to come out towards the end of a console’s life, when the devs know exactly what they can do with the technology, and CBFD is a prime example.
Rare released an inferior remake of the game on the Xbox, with nice fancy new graphics, but it isn’t nearly as good as the original because they added a load of unnecessary combat and even changed some of the dialogue!
The reason I mentioned how badly the game must have sold is because the game seems to be a bit of a collector’s item these days, though there are plenty of them going on eBay. It’s bloody expensive though! £80 for a mint boxed copy. I only wish I still had mine. I lent it to some kid called Stephen who I barely knew, eager to introduce a child to a game that starts off with a hungover squirrel staggering around a cornfield. But the little git never gave it back to me. I hope he looked after it… Read More ››
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