Nintendo 64, the console that gave birth to some of the most influential games of the 3D gaming era (which by the way, persists today on PS5, Xbox Series X and Switch), was the product of a rejection.
The snub was made by Sega to Silicon Graphics, which in the mid-1990s was one of the most prominent manufacturers of high-performance computer components. Jim Clark, founder and director of Silicon Graphics, thought of expanding the horizons of his company by offering one of the leading video game companies of the time (Sega) a CPU capable of generating polygonal graphics with moderate power consumption but above all without significantly increasing manufacturing costs. The rapprochement between Clark and Tom Kalinske – then CEO of Sega of America – occurred in early 1993, and although the house of the hedgehog Sonic recognized that Silicon Graphics had a good product, they chose to say thank you, but no.
Rejected, Clark went to Nintendo, which was always option B. The meeting was held in early 1993 with Hiroshi Yamauchi, who was CEO of Nintendo and did not hesitate to sign an agreement for Silicon Graphics to manufacture the CPU for the next console. from Nintendo. Part of Nintendo’s confidence in Silicon Graphics was that one of the studios most closely linked to Nintendo, Rare, was working on a cutting-edge graphics video game generated with Silicon Graphics technology. That game was Donkey Kong Country.
Nintendo and Silicon Graphics announced the Nintendo 64 on August 23, 1993, at the video game event known as Space World. Then the name of the development was Project Reality and in a statement Silicon Graphics detailed that it would have a price below $ 250 dollars, key to the success or failure of a video game console. For his part, Howard Lincoln, president of Nintendo of America, stressed that the collaboration allowed Nintendo to “skip a generation of consoles” (Nintendo did not have a system with a 32-bit processor), showing a step ahead of the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation.
Endless aspects can be said about the launch of the Nintendo 64, since titles such as Super Mario 64 they greatly influenced the design of three-dimensional videogames until how Nintendo chose to continue using cartridges when its competitors had migrated to CD-ROM in order to create games with, supposedly, fewer technical limitations. But the anecdote of its origin will always be striking by its very nature: the influential Nintendo was once a second-table dish.
1. Nintendo 64 hit stores on June 23, 1996, almost three years after its announcement in 1993.
2. To calm the cravings of gamers, and above all, prevent them from buying a Saturn or a PlayStation, Nintendo launched an advertising campaign in the 1995 Christmas season in which it assured that the wait would be worth it.
3. Nintendo 64 was to be called Nintendo Ultra 64 in reference to the Ultra toy line that Nintendo made in the 1960s. However, a possible patent infringement with Konami (which published its games in America under the Ultra Games label) caused Nintendo to call its console simply the Nintendo 64.
4. The name Nintendo 64 was coined by the designer of the series Earthbound, Shigesato Itoi. The term is due to the fact that in the nineties (and we could well say that today), many people refer to consoles simply as a “Nintendo”. The 64 is related to the capacity of the Silicon Graphics CPU.
5. Nintendo chose to continue using cartridges with the N64; their argument was that it made it possible to avoid long loading times, as well as piracy. However, some analysts considered that the measure was intended to allow Nintendo to maintain control over the production of cartridges and thereby obtain revenue from the manufacture of the same. Needless to say, the decision marginalized the company from having titles like those of the series on its console Final fantasy.
6. Despite the memory limitations of the Nintendo 64 cartridges, some studios such as Angel Studios and Factor 5 managed to compress dozens of pieces of audio in games like Resident Evil 2, Pokémon Stadium Y Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
7. Towards the middle of the N64’s life cycle, Nintendo tested a disc game format through a peripheral called the Disk Drive. It only debuted in Japan with titles that were more like “expansions” of existing games, such as Super Mario 64 or a track editor to F-Zero X.
8. Nintendo has a long history of censorship of its games, so it was not surprising that the company removed the porn actress Shyla Foxx, who in the video game Cruis’n USA Give a trophy to the player at the conclusion of the race. In the original arcade version, the actress posed in a bikini, but on N64 she wore a shirt with not one iota of cleavage.
9. Speaking of censorship, in the classic The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the final boss of the game, Ganondorf, spits red blood when falling in combat to Link, but only in the golden version of the game (a limited edition highly valued by collectors). The second print run of the game, already in the typical cartridges with gray plastic, Ganondorf spits green blood.
10. And since we mentioned the classics, the influential Super Mario 64 It is the best-selling video game on the N64, with about 12 million copies. Can you guess the second? Yes it is Mario Kart 64, with 9,870,000 copies.