Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nintendo 64: A Debatable Masterpiece

The Nintendo 64 to this day remains one of the most sought after and influential gaming consoles to ever be sold. This wonderfully designed console boasted some the industry's greatest hits and helped shape the gaming world as we know it. In this post I will just cover a couple topics that helped make this console so great.

The shortcomings of the N64 have been gone over time and time again. So I'm not going to talk about these, yet again, here. What I do want to talk about are the amazingly innovative ideas that were actually released with this console, including one of the most important hardware releases to ever hit the gaming world, the analog thumbstick. This little, gray piece of plastic protruding from the center prong of the awkward, trident shaped controller, changed the gaming industry forever. As a gamer taking hold of this controller for the first time and starting their 3D journey, typically just outside of Princess Peach's castle, you realize that this is the how navigating within this 3D world is supposed to feel. This stick released us from the bounds of the 8-direction D-Pad and gave us full, 360 degree control of our character. Just about a year later, PlayStation adopted this wacky thumbstick idea and added it to their controllers, however, they added an additional one for the right hand. By today's standard, the single thumbstick on the N64 controller would be sheer lunacy, but back in the day, it was pure genius.

Some amazing games were released for the N64. Many of which are, well, game changers. Super Mario 64 is one the greatest, if not the greatest 3D platformers to ever be released. Nintendo managed to take a traditionally 2D series and transform it into a 3D masterpiece. Oh, did I forget to mention that this was also a launch title? This is still one of the most enjoyable games to sit down and play for extended periods of time. Among the list of greatest games for the N64, comes a title that is not only one of the greatest action-adventure games of all time, but is considered by many to be the greatest game EVER. As you probably already guessed, I'm talking about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This title introduced a number of innovative ideas that have since become industry standards. The Z-Targeting system truly revolutionary. Named for the manner in which you would activate this targeting system, users would hit the Z-button to direct Links focus on the enemy, crate, or whatever interactive object was within striking distance. While locked on to your opponent, you were able to aim your attacks or use your shield directly towards the enemy that you were targeting. Context sensitive controls is another standard that was introduced with this title. This system opened up the world of Hyrule Kingdom to become an interactive, open world environment. The A-button would now allow you to performed a slew of tasks from mounting your horse, having an in-depth conversation with an NPC or simply nabbing a Cucco. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a must own. This next genre of game was really nonexistent on the home gaming consoles until the N64 and its amazing thumbstick came out. The first person shooter. Up until this time, the FPS was dominated by PC world. It wasn't until the release of Goldeneye 007 that console gamers were able to enjoy a shooter the way it was supposed to be enjoyed, from all angles. Aiming with the thumbstick became second nature almost instantly. Now, FPS titles are a standard among the industry.

Sure the N64 had some downfalls that ultimately limited the success and the total number of released titles, but the gaming world would not be the same without it. Nintendo might have definitely made some mistakes with this console, but they sure got a lot correct. And although it is said that the N64 was the console that broke loose Nintendo's stranglehold on the industry and ultimately made Nintendo what it is today, it is also one of the greatest consoles to ever be released. One thing we know about Nintendo is that they are always trying to think up new ideas and innovations and have never lacked the Poke Balls to actually try them.  

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