Initially announced as Project Reality, and codenamed the Ultra 64 before its release, the Nintendo 64 was the first 64-bit contender in the home console market and the first Nintendo system to be designed for 3D graphics thanks to its Silicon Graphics processor.
The system also saw Nintendo lose a significant portion of its market share to the competition, largely thanks to a lack of software support due to the decision to use cartridges instead of the more common CD format.
Nintendo 64 hardware uses the serial code NUS (Nintendo Ultra Sixty-four). It was the first Nintendo home console to use the same name and serial codes worldwide.
Unveiled in November 1995 and released in 1996, the Nintendo 64 is a cartridge-based, 64-bit console that uses a cartridge game format. The system itself features a power and reset button on the top, a hatch that allows the Jumper Pak to be replaced with an Expansion Pak, and an extension port on the base, used for the 64DD.
The system has four control ports on the front for 4-player multiplayer gaming, which provided the system many of its biggest successes.
Pikachu Nintendo 64
A redesigned Nintendo 64 was designed to celebrate the success of the Pokémon series. The system was coloured blue and yellow, the power switch was replaced with a Poke Ball, and the reset button was replaced with one of the feet on the large, plastic Pikachu that sits on the right.
Unlike other console redesigns, the Pikachu Nintendo 64 was actually larger than the original model.
|NUS-101||Pikachu Nintendo 64|
A disk drive that connected to the base of the Nintendo 64 and took proprietary 64MB magneto-optical disks for expanded data storage. The system also featured an internal clock and the ability to expand and change games inserted into the N64.
The system was announced in 1995, and originally it was intended that many Nintendo 64 games would be released on the device. However, the system was repeatedly delayed and many of its key titles were converted to cartridge format. The system eventually received a limited released through a RANDnet service in Japan in December 1999, after fears that the system would be a commercial failure.
The iconic trident-shaped Nintendo 64 controller featured an analogue Control Stick and a digital + Directional Pad, plus 10 buttons: blue and green A and B buttons, four yellow C buttons, a red Start button, L and R shoulder buttons, and a Z trigger button positioned on the central prong behind the analogue stick.
The back of the controller features a port that is used for the Contoller Pak, Rumble Pak or Transfer Pak.
Despite initial surprise at the bizarre shape, the analogue and button layout were considered ideally suited for early 3D gaming, and drove the development of future analogue controllers.
Despite using cartridges that could feature battery backup, the Nintendo 64 Controller Pak was available to save game data. The Controller Pak was used to save many early Nintendo 64 games, but later it was more often used to transfer game data between different copies of the game.
The Nintendo 64 Rumble Pak was the first force-feedback accessory for a home console, and originally came packaged with Star Fox 64, as well as available separately.
The Rumble Pak plugged into the back of the Nintendo 64 Controller, and vibrated in reaction to events taking place on screen. Nearly all games released after 1997 were compatible with the Rumble Pak.
The Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak was used to allow Game Boy and Game Boy Color games to communicate with Nintendo 64 games.
The Transfer Pak was originally released as a pack-in with Pokémon Stadium, allowing the player's Pokémon team from the Game Boy games to be used in full 3D in the Nintendo 64 game. Pokémon Stadium was also one of the rare occasions when the Game Boy title could be played on the TV. Most Transfer Pak compatible games did not allow for this.
Voice Recognition Unit
The Nintendo 64 VRU consisted of the Voice Recognition Unit and a microphone that could be attached to the Nintendo 64 Controller. It allowed the player to communicate with compatible games using voice commands.
The VRU was packaged with Hey You, Pikachu! which was the only first party title to use the device. The VRU was never released in Europe.
|NUS-020||Voice Recognition Unit|
|NUS-026||Microphone Foam Ball|
The Expansion Pak expanded the Nintendo 64's RAM from 4MB to 8MB, often used to output better graphics. The user would have to open the hatch on the top of the Nintendo 64 and remove the Jumper Pak and replace it with the Expansion Pak.
66 games in total used the device, but only two required it to play: Donkey Kong 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. A number of games, such as Perfect Dark featured additional gameplay options if used with the Expansion Pak.
|NUS-012||Jumper Pak Ejector|
|NUS-023||SmartMedia Game Pak (Mario's Photopy)|
|NUS-014||Control Deck Cleaner|