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Episode 89: When I'm N64

by Jonathan Metts - March 6, 2008, 11:06 pm PST
Total comments: 24

Three special guests help Jonny remember the ups and downs of Nintendo 64. Starring: Billy Berghammer, Chris Kohler, and Evan Burchfield!

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It really wasn't all that great.


This special episode is a full-length retrospective on one of history's least appreciated consoles, the Nintendo 64. To make the occasion even specialer, we brought in three guests to accompany Jonny down memory lane: Evan Burchfield from NWR (and formerly of The Nformant), Chris Kohler from Wired's Game|Life, and freelancer Billy Berghammer (formerly of Game Informer and founder of this very site).

Our motley crew dives into the system's launch, hardware oddities and drawbacks, success of the platform (or lack thereof), and our favorite non-obvious games. It's an in-depth look at a turning point in Nintendo's history, as well as a fond remembrance of a time that brought all four of us into the gaming media. Don't miss this exciting and hilarious and blood-curdling and spine-tingling and love-mongering episode!

Credits:

This podcast was edited by James Jones.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Rare, Natsume, and Hudson and is included under fair use protection.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their new album, Rocket Number 9, directly from the record label, or download it from iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Talkback

ShyGuyMarch 06, 2008

So, Billy is a freelancer now... I was wondering what was up when he wasn't in the staff/industry peeps photos at the beginning of the latest GI issue. He always seemed to have at least one photo in there every magazine.

SerialcodeMarch 07, 2008

RFN has gotten so much better since Sklens left.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 07, 2008

Haven't had a chance to hear it totally (i'll save it for my trip home tomorrow), but I have great memories of N64's launch. It was actually the FIRST system I actually got at launch, I remember playing SM64 at Toys R Us and was blown away, it was amazing and I constantly tried to go back to play it more. When the N64 launch was close, I remember the excitement being so great I would have been happy with the system by itself.

Playing SM64 all the way through after launch was so exhilarating, although when I was done with it (Including getting all 120 stars) I looked for other games. That is when things weren't so great, I did enjoy Pilot Wings but never tried to buy it, though I did pick up Wave Race 64 which blew me away visually even if I wasn't a huge fan of the game. Then there was that huge drought, which forced me to get Cruis'n USA for $70, and while I know it isn't a very good game, I had a blast back then, especially using the unlockable vehicles like the Police Car and just screwing around. For Christmas I got Shadows of the Empire, and I believe we paid around $90 for it. That was a game I still have good memories of and would love to see it on VC.

Beyond that N64 offered me some of my all time favorites from the BK games, Zelda: OOT, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye and Paper Mario.

Shift KeyMarch 07, 2008

"WHY AREN'T THEY MAKING THIS FOR THE NINTENDO SIXTEE FOUWAH!"

TheFleeceMarch 07, 2008

I never had the N64, when it was out I was working in a video game shop and just really into portable games at the time. The boss didn't like me and at teh time the N64 was a dead system so I was in charge of all the Nintendo stuff. I would demo insane games, whatever I felt like because no one bought anything. I've always like Conker's Bad Fur Day.
I don't really have a solid opinion about the system, I don't hate it, but it seems so short lived that it's easy to sort of forget about it. I had friends who had it and played whatever I could. I was happy with the fact that cartridges were used. In my high school I remember kids at the end of the school year just playing Golden Eye and Mario Kart all day. It was a multiplayer deity, still could be.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 07, 2008

I have to say, Animal Leader is the first import game I've ever purchased and played through and I loved every minute of it.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 07, 2008

Great tribute to the N64 guys. This was a very memorable episode. The N64 is probably my favorite game system of all time. I know it caught a lot of flack and people really don't like it much for a number of reasons, but I played my N64 to freaking death. There were so many great games on the system, and so few of them that people actually knew about.

At the time, there was too much obsession over, IMO, the absolutely mediocre Playstation. Maybe it's just the fanboi in me, but I never saw what was so great about it's offerings. Even now, being a collector and going back and picking up all the great games I missed, I have a hard time coming up with a bunch of quality titles.

In any event, I'm glad Jonny and Evan had some good experiences with the system and gave a shout out to some of the awesome, wacky 3rd party titles on the system. Sure the system had a very small library, but of the small library, there are probably about 80 games that should be played by anyone serious about gaming.

PS: When is episode 2 of the Lords of Thunder podcast coming. I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more LoT podcast!

GoldenPhoenixMarch 07, 2008

I don't understand how anyone can hate the n64 and can think of it as anything other than a system with a few great games. Mario 64 set the standard for ALL 3D games, isn't that a pretty big accomplishment? Not to mention that Goldeneye showed that FPS don't have to suck on consoles. Even Zelda: OOT set the standard for years to come.

ShyGuyMarch 07, 2008

I remember the first time I saw the Nintendo 64 it was at Comdex '96. When I looked at it and Mario 64 on the screen, I immediately thought to myself, "Well, that's the future right there." And what do you know? it was.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 07, 2008

For me, I was at a strange gaming point in my life.  I got really into upgrading my family's home computer with stuff.  I had vowed that I was going to be a PC gamer from that point on.  I stuck to that vow so much, that I didn't even follow what Nintendo was doing.  My NP subscription lapsed.  I honestly didn't care.

Then, I was in a Wal-mart I believe... it could have been a different store, and I saw the kiosk.  I went over to check it out and did a... "wait, this is what Nintendo's next system is?  HOLY FRIGGING CRAP!"  My sisters and I then pestered my parents enough that it was the big family christmas present for that year.

DAaaMan64March 07, 2008

HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE JET FORCE GEMINI?!?!

GoldenPhoenixMarch 07, 2008

Quote from: Obi-Kanobi

link=topic=24346.msg409513#msg409513 date=1204915624]
HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE JET FORCE GEMINI?!?!

I never really played JFG much, from what I did it was alright but I never was thrilled with it though I did appreciate a female protagonist in it.

DAaaMan64March 07, 2008

Thank you for mentioning Cubivore and Mischief Makers!

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Obi-Kanobi

link=topic=24346.msg409513#msg409513 date=1204915624]
HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE JET FORCE GEMINI?!?!

I never really played JFG much, from what I did it was alright but I never was thrilled with it though I did appreciate a female protagonist in it.

People shouldn't be allowed to appreciate the female protagonist in JFG. She was a textbook example of female characters passed off as strong, yet really being used for objectification. Vela had jiggle physics.

vuduMarch 07, 2008

I played JFG back in the day and hated it.  Maybe it's because I bought it used, and it didn't come with an instruction manual, so I wasn't entirely sure how to play the game.  I remember there were multiple branching paths, and levels had numerous exits, but it was never clear to me what path was the "correct" one, and if I was supposed to go back and make my way through other paths.  It just seemed to be a tangled mess that required way too much effort to figure out.

I remember reading that JFG was the game that convinced Miyamoto that Third person shooting had flaws, which of course led to Metroid Prime becoming First-person at his behest.

Quote from: Mr.

PS: When is episode 2 of the Lords of Thunder podcast coming. I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more LoT podcast!

I really should cut together everything that went in to us recording that.  It was pretty funny.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 08, 2008

Listened to the whole podcast, I have never played Winback or Body Harvest, so I can't comment but I do agree with Evan about the Castlevania games for N64 being underrated. Speaking of underrated I was shocked no one brought up Shadows of the Empire when talking about Star Wars games. Yeah the game may not have been super polished, but it was quite diversified and really started putting the pieces together for fun space battles. It is easily one of my favorite games on N64, in fact I played it a bit via emulation and it still is a solid game. I really remember the neat codes that allowed you to take control of different characters.

Caffeinated CheeseMarch 08, 2008

Does Billy know his phone number is on the interweb?

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 08, 2008

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Listened to the whole podcast, I have never played Winback or Body Harvest, so I can't comment but I do agree with Evan about the Castlevania games for N64 being underrated. Speaking of underrated I was shocked no one brought up Shadows of the Empire when talking about Star Wars games. Yeah the game may not have been super polished, but it was quite diversified and really started putting the pieces together for fun space battles. It is easily one of my favorite games on N64, in fact I played it a bit via emulation and it still is a solid game. I really remember the neat codes that allowed you to take control of different characters.

WAMPASTOMPA!!!!

I'll probably include this in the next podcast article, but devoted fans should check it out ASAP:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=gmH1bkltqSk&feature=related

It's a video of Jason Ricci & New Blood from a recent live show... face-meltingly awesome.  Go out and see these guys in a club near you!

ShyGuyMarch 09, 2008

Heh, finally finished it. LORDS OF THUNDER PODCAST FOREVER

vuduApril 11, 2008

Why is it that everything Chris Kohler is a part of is made of pure awesome?  Also, major props to Jonny's Retronauts joke at the beginning. 

P.S. - Can you tell I'm behind on RNF?

SpiritMaskJune 18, 2018

Love the episode! And I want to add my own N64 faves:
Star Wars Ep.1 Racer (endless fun!)
Command and Conquer 64 (short and limited, but fun, with great graphics for the time)
StarCraft 64 (an imperfect port but a great template for RTS controls on console)
Shadows of the Empire (I think this was the last generation when high difficulty due to poor design was appreciated and even loved in spite of the god awful flaws)

Another thing I wanted to touch on that seems to get skipped over, on the topic of the oddball Nintendo 64 hardware design choices: I think a big motivator for Nintendo go with cartridges over discs is the low cost of the console itself. The only moving parts on the whole thing were a button, a switch, and the dust flaps over the cartridge slot. N64 was basically a circuit board covered in plastic, and was absolutely cheaper to make than any disc system, and easy for Nintendo to make a profit on. Meanwhile Sony had to pay engineers for more robust piracy protection in addition to the sensors, laser, motors, door mechanism, and extra circuitry required for optical disc reading in the PS1, and the two systems were sold at exactly the same price at the time of the N64 launch. Nintendo probably could have sold the '64 at close to $99 and still have broken even.

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