The Nintendo 64
I remember the year the Nintendo 64 was released. I was an elementary school student in the 4th grade. One of my classmates’ parents recently divorced, so they would buy him anything. Of course, he got a Nintendo 64, and I was hearing all sorts of amazing things about it. The moment finally arrived when he invited me to spend the night at his dad’s house. This meant I would get a hands-on look at the new Nintendo 64! I remember staying awake long after my friend had fallen asleep to play Super Mario 64 by myself. I would eventually get a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, which was the start of many years of fun for me and my friends.
Let me go over the main games of which I have the most memories.
Super Mario 64
The first game I ever played on the N64 was Super Mario 64. This game was simply amazing. This was Mario, the ultimate gaming-mascot, in an entirely 3D world! I had never played anything like this before. I was mesmerized as soon as I heard Mario speak for the first time. He said a phrase that would forever be in the minds of gamers: “it’s-a-me, Mario!”
I must have spent an hour or so simply running around outside the castle, investigating every little inch of the 3D world. Eventually finding my way into the castle and into the levels, the most impressive was the first water level. The music set the atmosphere perfectly as I guided Mario into the water and dived into the mysterious depths of the lake. It was a bit freaky to see that scary eel that came out and attack you if you got too close.
Super Mario Kart 64
After conquering single player, I’d spend hours racing my friends. Besides normal racing, there was a battle mode. There were four levels, but I only enjoyed playing on two of them. Block Fort was the main level everyone seemed to agree was the most enjoyable. My friend and I had a habit of shooting as many green shells as possible off the tops of the forts so that if anyone were to go to the lower part of the level, he/she would face an onslaught of green shells ricocheting off walls. This pretty much guaranteed a heart rate increase if I found myself on the lowest level.
Starfox 64 was mostly an enjoyable and challenging single player game, but it also had multiplayer. Unfortunately, the multiplayer was no where near as fun as other Nintendo 64 games. It felt very incomplete and seemed it was tacked on at the last minute.
The game was already fun enough, but it took on another level of trying to unlock cheats and versus in multiplayer. My friend and I got so good at this game, that no one else could touch us. We learned to play with the cheat “fast mode” on so that our characters could move at a much faster speed than default. This led to much more fast-paced shoot-outs/dodging. When other friends would try to play us, they were not accustomed to playing in Fast Mode, so they would complain about it and we’d have to go back to normal. (For the record: Fast Mode allowed all players to move fast)
While I loved Goldeneye, my love for it couldn’t compare with my friend. He was obsessed with with it. He’d constantly be using a Game Shark (game enhancing/cheat device) to try and hack the game. It was due to his passion for this game that we both ended up discovering how to play multiplayer on some single-player-only levels. He also liked to hack the game so he could move around during cutscenes or access areas not normally accessible.
It was through Goldeneye that I eventually discovered the movie of the same name which lead me into the world of James Bond and all the other movies.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I remember first seeing/hearing about "Zelda 64" on the Internet back in 1996. There wasn't much information available, only the tentative title "Zelda 64" and some very tiny thumbnails.
Let me jump to launch day in the US. It was my first year in middle school. It was the month of November, and I distinctly remember going with my Mom to Toys "R" Us before noon and asking if they received their copies of Zelda for the N64. The employee said they didn't receive them yet, but to check back later in the day. So, with a disappointed sigh, I went back home and probably paced for hours until we went back at 3 or 4 PM. This time they had it! They HAD THE NEW ZELDA! The world's first 3D Zelda game!
The box was the collector's edition (I preordered it, of course!) which had a glossy cover and a gold cartridge inside. This was very similar to how the first Zelda game was released, because it also was a gold cartridge.
After bringing it home and popping it into my N64, I was taken into another world. It was the fantasy world of Hyrule. Link, the main character, starts off in Kokiri forest. Everything from the graphics to the music and sound effects came together to form this new universe I was entering.
I definitely agree that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the best video games of all time. The game's design and spirit are like none other, pulling the player into an epic adventure that perhaps other games can't seem to replicate as well. Of course, there are other amazing games out there, but I think Ocarina of Time should be somewhere on everyone's top video games list. It's a masterpiece and should be experienced by everyone. I'm really glad that Nintendo re-released it for the Nintendo 3DS so that gamers old and new can relive the magic all over again.