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History of video games/Fifth generation of video game consoles/Nintendo 64

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"Change the System" and "Get N or Get Out"
—Nintendo 64 Slogans, Polygon article,[1] LA Times article[2]


The Nintendo 64 was proceeded by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom.

The Nintendo 64 would be the first major home console released by Nintendo with no significant regional differences between American, European, and Japanese releases,[3] The analog stick on the N64 controller was designed by Genyo Takeda.[4] though the China focused iQue player would depart from the design standard of the system.

On February 11th, 1994 Nintendo announced that Project Reality would not use a CD Rom drive, surprising the industry with decision which went against industry trends.[5][6]

A chip shortage in early 1996 delayed the launch of the Nintendo 64 in North America to fall.[7]


The Nintendo 64 was launched in the United States in September of 1996 at a price of $200.[8]


In North America the Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2003.[9]

The Nintendo 64 sold 32.93 million consoles, and 224.97 million software titles.[10]

The Nintendo 64 was succeeded by the Nintendo GameCube.

A notable lasting legacy of the Nintendo 64 is the gaming journalism outlet IGN, which got its start as an online news outlet focused on the Nintendo 64.[11]

iQue Player[edit]

In 2003 the iQue player was released as a version of the N64 with enhancements and modifications for the Chinese market.[12]

The iQue Player ceased receiving updates and new games in 2006.[12] Ten years later on December 31st 2016, iQue game download support officially ended.[13] By 2018 the service was fully shuttered.[14] Also in 2018, community members figure out how to unofficially access the iQue software[15]


N64's push to SGI style pixels was technologically premature.
—John Carmack, Tweet on February 21st, 2013.[16]


The CPU of the Nintendo 64 is a 64-bit NEC VR4300 (Compatible with the SGI RISC R4300i) MIPS III architecture processor clocked at 93.75 megahertz.[17][18] Despite having a 64 bit CPU, more efficient 32 bit operations were often used by developers.[19]

The Nintendo 64 uses a SGI Reality Co-Processor clocked at 62.5 megahertz, combining the Reality Immersion Processor GPU and Reality Signal Processor Audio system on a single chip.[17][18][20] The GPU alone is capable of 500 MIPS, and can render 150,000 polygons a second.[20]

The Nintendo 64 has four megabytes of RDRAM.[17] The system could be expanded to eight megabytes of RAM.[17]

The Nintendo 64 is capable of 100 megaflops.[21]


Official Nintendo 64 Cartridges had a maximum capacity of 64MB.[22] Because of the expense of cartridges, Nintendo 64 games cost much more than games for other systems on CD.[23] To compensate for limited space on cartridges, developers were encouraged to use dynamic music progmatically rather then recorded but static soundtracks.[24]

Cartridges used a CIC lockout chip to stop bootleg games from being produced and to stop piracy.[25][26]

Nintendo 64 DD[edit]

A version was produced for an American release, but was ultimately never sold.[27]

Special Editions[edit]

Special editions and versions of the console.

  • Starlight Gaming Station - Kiosk for hospital use.[28]
  • McDonalds Kiosk - A kiosk using a Nintendo 64 for use in McDonalds restaurants.[29]

Notable Games[edit]

A translucent orange Nintendo 64, an example of the clear craze of the 1990's.


Super Mario 64[edit]

Noted developers Cliff Bleszinski and Gabe Newell cite Super Mario 64 as an influence.[30][31]

Read more about Super Mario 64 on Wikipedia.


Diddy Kong Racing[edit]

The Diddy Kong Racing soundtrack was shaped to be like Diddy Kong's head, an unusual choice.[32]

Read more about Diddy Kong Racing on Wikipedia.




The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask[edit]

A short documentary on Eiji Aonuma and the creation of Majora's Mask by YouTube channel Video Game Story Time.

Read more about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask at Wikipedia.


Post Market[edit]

A number of notable titles saw release after the platform was officially discontinued.

40 Winks[edit]

A game with a rocky development finally shipped an N64 version in December of 2018.[33][34]

Read more about 40 Winks on Wikipedia.

Dinosaur Planet[edit]

A December 1st, 2000 build of Dinosaur Planet for the Nintendo 64 by Rare was unofficially released on the 20th, of February, 2021 as the result of an online leak.[35][36]

Dinosaur Planet had previously been released under a different name following a significant overhaul. Read more about Star Fox Adventures for the GameCube on Wikipedia.


N64 Console[edit]

N64 Controllers[edit]



Developer Tools[edit]

iQue Player[edit]

The Nintnedo backed iQue Player released in 2003 exclusively in mainland China, and was an all in one system that played Nintendo 64 games.



There is a WikiBook on N64 Programming.

External Resources[edit]

Archived web materials[edit]

Other Websites[edit]


  1. Tach, Dave (29 September 2014). "Celebrate the N64's 18th anniversary with this 1996 VHS tape" (in en). Polygon. https://www.polygon.com/2014/9/29/6863407/n64-anniversary-change-system-vhs. 
  2. "New Nintendo Game, Same Distasteful Slogan". Los Angeles Times. 2 April 1998. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-apr-02-fi-35155-story.html. 
  3. "Lance Barr Interview". nintendojo ~ a site to see. 13 February 2006. https://web.archive.org/web/20060213124455/http://www.nintendojo.com/interviews/view_item.php?1130801472. 
  4. "Nintendo's hardware visionary is calling it a day" (in en). Engadget. https://www.engadget.com/2017-04-27-nintendos-hardware-visionary-is-calling-it-a-day.html. Retrieved 26 October 2020. 
  5. Times, Special to The New York (11 February 1994). "COMPANY NEWS; Nintendo's Focus (Published 1994)". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/11/business/company-news-nintendo-s-focus.html?searchResultPosition=8. 
  6. "Retro: This Is Why We Should Probably Be Glad Nintendo Stuck With Carts For The N64". Nintendo Life. 20 February 2017. https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2017/02/retro_this_is_why_we_should_probably_be_glad_nintendo_stuck_with_carts_for_the_n64. 
  7. "Nintendo Game Is Delayed (Published 1996)". The New York Times. 5 February 1996. https://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/05/business/nintendo-game-is-delayed.html. 
  8. "New Nintendo 64 Is a Technical Wonder". 30 September 1996. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-09-30-fi-49002-story.html. Retrieved 1 November 2020. 
  9. "That Was Quick: Nintendo 64 Is 20 Years Old" (in en). https://fortune.com/2016/06/23/nintendo-64-20-years-old/. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  10. "IR Information : Sales Data - Dedicated Video Game Sales Units" (in en). https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/hard_soft/. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  11. "Welcome to N64.com - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/1996/10/16/welcome-to-n64com. 
  12. a b "Meet the iQue Player, a Nintendo console that was only available in China" (in en-us). News. https://news.avclub.com/meet-the-ique-player-a-nintendo-console-that-was-only-1798244884. 
  13. "https://twitter.com/zhugeex/status/793369039766712320" (in en). Twitter. https://twitter.com/zhugeex/status/793369039766712320. 
  14. "Nintendo Planned to Make a Pokémon MMO for the GameBoy Advance". 31 July 2020. https://www.cbr.com/nintendo-planned-pokemon-mmo-game-boy-advance/. 
  15. "Nintendo’s iQue Player Hacked Fifteen Years After Launch". 29 April 2018. https://nintendosoup.com/nintendos-ique-player-hacked-fifteen-years-after-launches/. 
  16. "@ID_AA_Carmack". Twitter. https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack/status/304662242627031040?. 
  17. a b c d "PS1 Strengths and Weaknesses vs N64 and Sega Saturn" (in en). 11 January 2020. https://www.racketboy.com/journal/ps1-strength-and-weaknesses-vs-n64-sega-saturn. Retrieved 29 October 2020. 
  18. a b "Nintendo 64 Architecture A Practical Analysis" (in en). 12 September 2019. https://www.copetti.org/projects/consoles/nintendo-64/. Retrieved 29 October 2020. 
  19. "Advanced Navigation". http://classes.kvcc.edu/students/~nlahman1850/final/n64.html. Retrieved 1 November 2020. 
  20. a b "How N64 Works" (in en). HowStuffWorks. 18 October 2000. https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/n64.htm. 
  21. "Console Power Comparison Chart". 7 April 2020. https://thegamingsetup.com/guides/console-power-comparison-chart. Retrieved 4 November 2020. 
  22. "A Brief and Abbreviated History of Gaming Storage – Techbytes". https://blogs.umass.edu/Techbytes/2014/02/10/history-of-gaming-storage/. Retrieved 18 October 2020. 
  23. "The Game: Sony PlayStation versus Nintendo64" (in en). Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/1997/09/19/feat.html?sh=5073f9c27dd9. 
  24. "Shigeru Miyamoto Interview - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/1997/02/07/shigeru-miyamoto-interview. 
  25. Ryan, Mike (15 August 2020). "mikeryan/UltraCIC". https://github.com/mikeryan/UltraCIC. Retrieved 9 November 2020. 
  26. "How Nintendo Stopped Bootleg Games on the Nintendo 64 MVG". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5uOK0nR934. Retrieved 9 November 2020. 
  27. Machkovech, Sam (15 July 2016). "Rare US version of the N64’s disc-drive add-on unearthed near Seattle [Updated"] (in en-us). Ars Technica. https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/07/rare-us-version-of-the-n64s-disc-drive-add-on-unearthed-near-seattle/. 
  28. "Announcing the Starlight Nintendo Switch Gaming Station!" (in en). https://www.starlight.org/stories/announcing-the-starlight-nintendo-switch-gaming-station/. 
  29. "Nintendo And McDonalds: A Short History" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/nintendo-and-mcdonalds-a-short-history-5498833. 
  30. "Nintendo 64: Launching a Legacy - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/2011/09/24/nintendo-64-launching-a-legacy. 
  31. "Valve's Gabe Newell Thinks Super Mario 64 Is Just Swell". Nintendo Life. 6 March 2014. https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/03/valves_gabe_newell_thinks_super_mario_64_is_just_swell. 
  32. Elston, Brett. "Game music of the (holi)day: Diddy Kong Racing" (in en). https://www.gamesradar.com/game-music-of-the-holiday-diddy-kong-racing/. 
  33. "Update 19: Shipping · 40 Winks - A New Nintendo 64 Game" (in en). https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/retrogames/40-winks-a-new-nintendo-64-game/posts/2362713. 
  34. "40 Winks Future Uncertain - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/1999/12/17/40-winks-future-uncertain. 
  35. Welch, Chris (20 February 2021). "Rare’s unreleased N64 game Dinosaur Planet has leaked" (in en). The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/20/22292964/dinosaur-planet-rare-n64-game-leak-star-fox. 
  36. Yin-Poole, Wesley (20 February 2021). "Rare's unreleased Dinosaur Planet for N64 out in the wild, gameplay emerges" (in en). Eurogamer. https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-02-20-rares-unreleased-dinosaur-planet-for-n64-out-in-the-wild-gameplay-emerges.