Wrongfully Accused: Demystifying N64 Hatred

Misinformation, distortions and prejudices R us...

Ever since the N64's release in 1996, practically right on day one, the console has been met with... Less than glowing reception from avid players. As time went on, before, during and well beyond the system's retail death, the N64's reputation for broken promises and disappointing releases only grew in intensity. It did in fact deserve some of that flack, but unfortunately like most disappointing things, the internet has just kept magnifying and exaggerating the N64's flaws, right into the realm of absurdity. These days those same baseless accusations have become commonly accepted fact by the general video game crowd. Those ignorant or indifferent of the console perpetuate this issue even further. Don't get us wrong, Micro-64 may be a Nintendo 64 fansite, but we are not blind to its flaws. Yes, the official N64 stick wears out and is therefore faulty... Yes, there's several genres poorly represented... Yes, the graphics are blurry... But all those flaws and more are not unfixable, nor do they make the N64 a bad system.

In this little article, each of the console's most common problems will be given a proper, factual and neutral response, in the hopes that rampant exaggerations and illogical prejudices can be put to rest.

The Graphics are too blurry
Yes, the N64 does look a bit blurry, some games are worse than others. While right now the N64's hardware blurring "feature" seems to be permanently in place, there is a way to reduce the severity of the blurring effect. The N64 is capable of RF, composite and s-video out of the box. Component and RGB are also possible, but require a hardware modification. Most people happen to use Composite, which is inherently blurry, making the N64 seem worse than it actually is. S-Video* is much clearer and easily available, making it a good choice for the average player. RGB is technically the best, resulting in near-emulator quality video, but unfortunately no N64 ever made has the analog RGB lines connected to the Multi-AV port, so a modification is required. It's a relatively simple mod to do on older motherboard revisions, but most people aren't capable of such a procedure, so S-Video stands as the overall best and most convenient option.

*Be wary, bad Nintendo S-Video cables exist, please read this article on the subject.

The official N64 controller has three prongs/handles
This, out of everything else in this feature, stands as the most absurd complaint of all, to put it politely. Few to no N64 games need all the buttons and D-Pad/stick to be played properly, let alone have them all mapped with a function to begin with, so you do not actually need three hands to use the official N64 controller. Most games use the middle and right prongs, making the L Button and D-Pad the least used functions of the controller. Any games which use them almost always leave the middle or right prongs unused. There are of course exceptions, but here it's a very, very small number.

The official N64 control stick wears out
It's true the control stick does wear away into a somewhat unusable mess, but there do exist options to get around this. You could get a new/unused N64 controller and lubricate the control stick, buy a GameCube-style Control Stick replacement or obtain a third party controller, like the SuperPad/Mako 64 or the Hori Mini.

The N64 is a kiddie console/it's not mature enough
Much like the prongs thing, this also is a rather pointless complaint. It sprung up from the superficial annoyance many people had with the console's appearance, use of cartridges, colorful range of controllers and systems, the somewhat blocky looking accessories and the misconception that most N64 games were cutesy platformers and kart racers. Not much can be done about the hardware, but there are certainly plenty of mature and adult-themed games on the N64.

  • 007: The World is Not Enough
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day (arguably)
  • Doom 64
  • Duke Nukem 64
  • Duke Nukem: Zero Hour
  • GoldenEye 007
  • Mortal Kombat 4
  • Mortal Kombat Trilogy
  • Nightmare Creatures
  • Perfect Dark
  • Quake
  • Quake II
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Shadowman
  • Turok (series)

There are more T and M rated games out there, that list is just an example. Point is though, the N64 is absolutely not a kiddie console, there's too many violent games for it to be labeled as such.

There's no good games to play (aside from X, Y and Z)
Now this is just simply untrue, unless one doesn't like early 3D games to begin with, which in this case is a bit of a silly complaint. While game quality has always been a subjective thing, it's hard to argue with magazine and internet review sources, as well as hordes of fans.

Metacritic scores
Game Rankings scores

The following games all tend to get positive review scores and aren't made by Nintendo or Rareware.

  • 007: The World is Not Enough
  • Beetle Adventure Racing
  • Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition
  • Doom 64
  • Goemon's Great Adventure
  • Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine
  • Mischief Makers
  • Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
  • Ogre Battle 64
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Rocket: Robot on Wheels
  • Sin & Punishment (import)
  • Snowboard Kids
  • Space Station Silicon Valley
  • Star Wars: Battle for Naboo
  • Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer
  • Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
  • Tetrisphere
  • Winback
  • Wipeout 64
  • WWF No Mercy

And that, again, is only the tip of the iceberg. There's lots of cult favorites on the N64 which aren't well known or are a bit polarizing.

Good games were far and few between
Yes, this is a legitimate complaint. N64 releases as a whole were rather sporadic and genre variety was never the system's strong point. That said, the N64 is well over 15 years old now, spotty releases is an outdated complaint which only applies to judging the N64's market performance.

There weren't enough good games
This is, yet another, pointless complaint. Most often this comes up when the N64 is compared to the PlayStation. Despite competing with each other, they are very, very different systems. It is absolutely ridiculous and near impossible to compare the PS1 and N64, with any hope of an even comparison. The PS1 has its strengths and weaknesses, as does the N64. In fact, they complement each other very well because they are so different. Unfortunately, most people think a person can only have one of the two systems, for no logical reason.

FPS games are hard to play, I hate using the C-Buttons
This complaint usually stems from people accustomed to modern FPS control layouts, which involve two analog sticks. Virtually every first person shooter on N64 offers more than one button configuration, including one which maps movement to the D-Pad and aiming to the control stick. Even the earliest FPS release, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, offers such a configuration, called "Left-Hand Mode" in-game.

There's no RPGs (Japanese, strategy, western, etc)
RPGs are yes, a rare sight on the N64, but there certainly aren't no RPGs at all. There may not be successful franchises like Final Fantasy, but what the N64 does have is still pretty decent, albeit meager.

  • Aydin Chronicles: The First Mage
  • Hybrid Heaven
  • Ogre Battle 64
  • Quest 64
  • Paper Mario

There's about 5 other Japan-exclusive RPGs but they aren't really worth mentioning.

There's no fighters
This is quite easily the least true of all the limited genres complaints. There are many 3D fighters for N64, some quite good. Yes there are hardly any 2D ones, but there aren't none.

  • Bio F.R.E.A.K.S
  • Clayfighter: 63 1/3
  • Clayfighter: Sculptor's Cut
  • Dark Rift
  • Deadly Arts
  • Dual Heroes
  • Fighter's Destiny
  • Fighter Destiny 2
  • Flying Dragon
  • Killer Instinct Gold
  • Mace: The Dark Age
  • Mortal Kombat 4
  • Mortal Kombat Trilogy
  • Rakuga Kids (import)
  • Super Smash Bros.
  • Transformers Beast Wars: Transmetals
  • War Gods

That covers pretty much all of the most common N64 gripes. If you have reached this paragraph and still strongly dislike the N64 for whatever reason, then what you should do is find another console to play and ignore the N64. It's not a system for everyone. Expecting to find a game made just for you, in a genre the console lacks in, is not only a waste of time but it's also very foolish.

Hopefully this feature has stomped out at least a few ignorant and widespread complaints, or has convinced you to give the N64 a second look. If this article could be summed up in a nutshell, it'd be that rumors, exaggerations and unfair comparisons shouldn't get in the way of one's enjoyment with a particular console.

Written by Aaron Wilcott
May 4 2012