Originally starting life as "Project Reality" the Nintendo 64 was the follow up to the SNES. The press went wild over the new console, with articles claiming it could generate graphics on a par with high end Silicon Graphics workstations.
Two arcade games (Cruis'n USA and Killer Instinct) were made in 1994 to show the public what the Ultra 64, as it was now known, would be capable of. The announcement on the Killer Instinct intro "available for your home in 1995, own a Nintendo Ultra 64!" may have seemed like good publicity, but was a bit misleading. The N64 wasn't released until 1996, and the change of name to Nintendo 64 meant nobody could buy an Ultra 64 even if they wanted one. To make matters worse, both games used different hardware, not only from that of the N64 but each other as well!
By the time the N64 launched it could only ever be a victim of its own hype. The CD-ROM was rapidly becoming the favoured format for consoles, mainly due to the increased storage space and lower production costs, and Nintendo's decision to stick with cartridges would prove costly. The limited storage size of cartridges, coupled with a tiny 4 KB limit on texture size, meant the N64 could never live up to the stunning rendered images that had been printed in the press.
The machine received a number of great games, most notably GoldenEye and the classic launch title Super Mario 64, but this simply wasn't enough. Third party publishers abandoned the N64 in favour of the PlayStation and the releases started to dry up, with very few games being released towards the end of the console's lifespan.
In December 1999 the 64DD was released in Japan. First announced in 1995, before the N64 was even launched, most people were expecting a CD based add-on. Instead it used magnetic disks, similar to those used in Zip drives. Although the disks were cheaper to produce they had the same 64 MB maximum size as the cartridges, rendering the whole idea somewhat pointless. Like most console add-ons of this type, the 64DD was largely considered to be a failure. Only nine pieces of software were ever released for the 64DD and the machine's world-wide launch was cancelled.
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The description here is very biased and makes it sound as though the N64 was a complete flop. Actually it was very popular, selling almost 33 million units and had a game library of almost 400 games. The durability and speed of carts and the fact that with the speed of the N64''s cpu you could compress well over 64 megs of data to a cart made it far from a failure.
This is a great site, but a terrible description. Also btw what the heck is up with the first paragraph about the name change? They changed the name, so what, and you could later get ports of those games for the N64. Get someone less biased to rewrite this description. (and keep up the otherwise fantastic work)
Tuesday 4th July 2017
there were games on the n64 that used fmv low quality though and not very many did i think maybe three of them did
Wednesday 18th March 2015
The N64 was a strange combination of good and bad hardware. In raw performance terms it was superior to the PlayStation. They Both used MIPS based processors but the PlayStation used a MIPS I design whereas the N64 used a more modern MIPS III based cpu which ran at 93Mhz, much higher than the PlayStation''s 33Mhz.
The N64 also had a gpu developed by SGI which was very impressive at the time. SGI was the leader in 3D hardware and software in the 1990''s and their workstations cost tens of thousands of dollars. It was unheard of to have SGI technology in something as low end as a home console. The RCP (Reality Co-Processor) had two major design flaws though. It lacked DMA capability and it had a tiny texture cache which was almost useless for the 3D games the N64 was intended for. It''s why most N64 titles have minimal to know texturing and instead use Gouraud Shading like Mario 64.
The N64 also had very fast RDRAM which is much quicker than conventional SDRAM but is very expensive. The architecture also did not include unified memory and paired with the RCP''s lack of DMA meant in practice there was high memory latency in-spite of the high bandwidth and it thrashed the ram. RDRAM would briefly see PC use in the first generation Pentium 4''s but was soon replaced with DDR SDRAM because it was much cheaper and was an industry standard and not tied to one company (RAMBUS have become patent trolls).
The N64''s cartridges were a blessing and a curse at the same time. Everyone remember''s the Sony adverts where they compared one CD-ROM to a large pile of N64 carts showing the difference, and this was true, if a bit exaggerated, and the N64 suffered especially in the sound department because of it. Which PlayStation games had CD-quality audio and even some used FMVs the N64 lacked both. The cartrdige did save it in other aspects though. The ROM''s were much faster than a CD-ROM and were used to effectively stream game content on and off the machine to make up for the memory latency and puny texture cache. That coupled with custom microcode developed later by several determined development studios helped saved the N64''s hamstrung hardware and even gave some impressive results at the end of it''s life.
The N64 was in theory a more powerful machine but was limited by a wtf architecture and very difficult programming. The PlayStation on the other hand while using inferior hardware had a much better thought out design and was able of actually doing the things it was theoretically supposed to. Sony also has the advantage of being a massive zaibatsu so it was able to pull resources and experts from many different fields and departments to make a well thought out and polished package that also doubled as a high quality CD Player.
Saturday 12th July 2014
1996 (Japan & USA), 1997 (Europe)
END OF PRODUCTION
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
8-way d-pad, analog stick, 9 buttons + Start
64 bit MIPS R4300i
64 bit RCP (Reality Co-Processor) @ 62.5 MHz
4 MB RDRAM, upgradable to 8 MB with the Expansion Pak
256x224 to 640x480
16.7 million, 32,768 on screen
SIZE / WEIGHT
Cartridge, EXT port, 4 controller ports
BUILT IN MEDIA
Cartridge (64 MB max)
AC power adapter
Controller Pak, Rumble Pak, 4 MB Expansion Pak, 64DD