The Nintendo 64 (N64) arrived in North America 25 years ago, on September 29, 1996. In the years that followed, the N64 enjoyed resounding success in Japan, North America, and elsewhere. At the time of its release, the N64 brought innovation to the console world through features such as the trident controller, designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, allowing players to play 360 degree analog controll. The critically-acclaimed console was one of the first to allow four players to play at once, and the last cartridge-based system Nintendo would make.
And while the N64 faces stiff competition from Sony’s PlayStation, it has gone on to become an extremely recognizable console with its own fans. That recognition was evident in 2015, when it was named the ninth best console on the list by IGN. Top 25 video game consoles. It proves that the N64 is still loved by players and the industry in the 21st century. That love is especially in the temporary players turned collectors.
Ahead of the N64’s 25th anniversary, I had the opportunity to speak with two collectors who share a passion for consoles, games, and some of the key memories associated with their collections. . The general sense of nostalgia about the console served as a driving factor in why both collectors turned to N64 collectibles; a sentiment that will most likely resonate with many N64 fans who grew up playing in front of the family television.
When it comes to collecting video games, there’s certainly no shortage of variety. Are from From current generation consoles to systems like the Atari, collectors have a choice of gaming systems they can use.
So what exactly happened about the N64 that set the console apart from others for collectors and what made them actively interested in collecting? Talking to Julie, an artist who has been collecting for about 10 years, and Nankoshi, a collector and gamer who frequently shares his diverse collections on Instagram, (both choose not to share their last names)
Julie: An important element of my N64 collection is nostalgia. Some of the games in my collection are games from my childhood, while others are games I didn’t play as a kid. Expanding my collection is a way to reconnect with all the fun and surprises I had while playing my first N64 game.
I also play a lot of new releases and sometimes I feel exhausted, I should take a step back and boot to N64 for a different perspective. I think it made me appreciate both new and a little older games.
I have been collecting for about 10 years. I saved up and bought games as a kid, and now as an adult I’ve collected more elusive games.
Nankoshi: I got really into the N64 in 1998 when I was 11 years old. I only had a small collection back then, but made great use of the Blockbuster summer game rentals they had around 2000 and played a bunch of games.
Like many older gamers, I unfortunately sold all of my N64 games to save up and buy the next big console. My current collection started in 2007 when my boyfriend, who worked at a local game store at the time, bought me my favorite N64 games for Christmas. and we’ve been collecting ever since.
Nostalgia plays an important role for both collectors as to why they focus on the N64 as both pointed out above; a general feeling that other N64 fans can relate to. From the familiarity of the console and the chance to replay old favorites, the nostalgia seems to only add to the collection experience.
Julie: Definitely nostalgia and the chance to get more of that feeling. There’s a comfort in the way the bulky controller feels in your hand. While they’re out there, a lot of N64 games haven’t broken for me yet, so it’s fun to go into something completely obscure. It’s almost like opening a time capsule.
Nankoshi: I grew up playing Nintendo and Sega consoles before the N64, but nothing impressed me how the N64 did. I love the incredible games that came out of it and the memories of them are so vivid. I collect N64 games because I still have a great desire to play them and they have amazing results as I always remember them!
On the topic of nostalgia, that brought us to discuss one or two standout memories related to the N64 game for both collectors. Most players can point to some standout moments tied to their favorite game that they remember, and Julie and Nankosh are no different.
Julie: I miss the days of playing Mario Party and Mario Kart with my twin sister. We are complete opposites, so our shared interest in video games really brought us together and remains one of the happiest memories of my childhood.
I remember one day we were both watching TV Mule in the midst of a terrible storm and a power outage. The console was off and we lost all our progress. In that game, there is an evil mole character named Mr. Resetti who will scream at you if you shut down the console without saving and he shows up and starts yelling at us. We have been devastated! We stayed up past bedtime trying to repair the damage we had done.
Nankoshi: Probably my most memorable memory of playing N64 is when my dad played with me Mario Kart 64. I’ve played as Yoshi and he always picks Wario and will have very little impression of him when we play. That makes me really love Wario. I also smile when I remember that he often blames the driver for his deviation, but we know the driver is not to blame.
The specifics of the collection
There is generally a view that the collection of video games and related items may be limited to a certain category. And when it comes to the N64, there’s certainly no shortage of games or different versions of the console to consider. End 300 games were released during its existence, and Nintendo also produced 20 different variations of the console.
While talking to Julie and Nankoshi, I learned that both have their own areas of focus for the games they seek.
Julie: I’m sure there’s a light spot for Rareware games in their partnership with Nintendo. I love the silly art direction and have also kept my old guidebooks for those games because they are so much fun to flip through. There is a unique nature to those games that are products of their era.
I also really love Mario Party and have only one or two games left in my collection. I love how it shows different personalities in my friends as we play; some are highly competitive and some just really love mini games. The N64 Mario Party games have such a captivating, vibrant, and well-done art style that they always leave me satisfied to watch even when I’m in last place.
Nankoshi: I’m really just focused on collecting any games I played when I was younger, although I’m still missing a few games. I’ve also filled the collection a bit with some games that others seem to love that I’ve missed before.
When I asked about a particular game that stood out in their collection, both collectors had one thing in common about the popular game that almost anyone would be familiar with.
Julie: I didn’t know this until I learned more about the game versions, but I have a somewhat rare version of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That’s the copy I had when I was a kid and didn’t know it! One of the most jarring differences is that my clone gets red when you defeat the final boss. I think that’s also my preference; Like many kids born in the 90s, I spent many hours with Ocarina of Time.
Nankoshi: Gold version of Ocarina of Time, my favorite game ever and narrowly beat Majora’s mask with a holographic sticker for that location. Both games were, and still are, hard to believe for me. Between the events of the story, the exploration of each area, the well-made dungeons, and the best soundtrack, they are all perfect games in my eyes.
When it comes to collecting, there are games that are harder to find and may require cleanup. Or maybe there’s a game you stumble across at a random time.
Julie: Catch Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a bit difficult. I want a legitimate copy, but don’t want to spend too much money. Lately, the prices of games that came out in the early 2000s have gone up, so I know the clock is ticking so I can buy it at a good price. I had a daily warning on eBay about that – you never know when a deal will come out.
I watched the list like a hawk and then my friend surprised me with it on my birthday. The copy was old and had to be cleaned a few times with isopropyl alcohol, but we did it.
Nankoshi: Nothing I’ve been particularly hard to find, but there’s one game I’ve always wanted and somewhat got. North American version of Bomberman 64: Second Attack is one of the rarest games for the N64 and a bit pricey, but recently I came across the complete Japanese version in the box on a whim!
The conversations I’ve had with both Julie and Nankoshi offer a unique insight into what collecting for the N64 could be for two different collectors. While collecting can certainly be about the physical items themselves, there is also a real power to be found in nostalgia that can come into play in collecting. For both, nostalgia plays a big part of why they collect, and it’s an indicator of how much the console and its library of games mean to them even 25 years on. from the date of first release.
Interview responses have been slightly edited for clarity.