The Nintendo 64 system holds a special place in the hearts of gamers all over the world for providing them with hours of entertainment and unforgettable video gaming moments. Whether it was getting together with your buddies for an all out battle in Super Smash Bros, getting blisters in the centre of your palm from spinning the joystick in a Mario Party mini-game, or finally beating the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time, you would be hard pressed to find a gamer that doesn’t have at least one great memory with the Nintendo 64. The N64, however, has had a lasting impact on the video game industry far greater than just fond memories. Some of the innovative features pioneered by the N64 can still be found in the technology of today. Here are 5 Important Innovations that the Nintendo 64 Pioneered.
1) The Rumble Pak.
To the non-gamer the Rumble Pak may seem like just a silly add on to the N64 controller, but this little device created something that we now take for granted with today’s ultra-modern controllers. The Rumble Pak, which was sold separately from the N64 controller, allowed the controller to vibrate as things happened within the game. This gave gamers a more immersive gaming experience. Now, when you shot your gun in Golden Eye, the controller would rumble along with the shots. You could feel the waves rolling under your jet ski in Wave Race 64.
Although the pak required 2 AAA batteries to use (other companies created a similar add on for their controllers that used the power running to the controller from the system, but they didn’t pack the same punch as the battery-operated Rumble Pak), added weight to an already clunky controller, and took up the controller’s memory card slot, trying finding a controller today that doesn’t have a rumble feature built right in as a standard feature.
The Rumble Pak was ahead of its time and created a brand new way to enjoy video games.
2) The Analog Stick.
We are “sticking” with the N64 controller for the second innovated feature, which is the joystick. Before Nintendo introduced their three-pronged controller to the world, all controllers were outfitted with only a D-Pad, allowing the user to move up, down, left, or right. The joystick allowed players to have much more maneuverability around the digital world. The N64’s analog stick was so innovative, that PlayStation immediately released a new Dual Analog Controller for the original PlayStation. Now, the analog stick is commonplace on all controllers.
3) 3D Gaming.
Nintendo may not have been the first company to create 3D games, but in the mid- to late-90s, they mastered the 3D gaming world and came out with hit after hit, utilizing the system’s 64-bit processing unit to the fullest. The first N64 game many gamers got to play was Super Mario 64, which took our favorite plumber out of the side scrolling arena and into the wonderful world of three dimensions. This was the start of something special in the video game world, as games could now be played like never before.
4) Voice Recognition.
A very unique add on to the N64 was a microphone that allowed gamers to speak to their game and instruct the character on the television. One of the most popular titles to make use of this technology was Nintendo’s Hey You, Pikachu! This spin off of the massively popular Pokémon franchise equipped players with a microphone so they could tell the game’s star, an adorable little Pikachu, to follow their commands. Although the game, and the N64 as a system, didn’t go too much further with the microphone and voice recognition software, it was the basis for some of the accessories and technologies that we use today. Xbox’s Kinect uses voice recognition to turn the system on and off, record clips, access features within certain games, and a whole host of other uses. Nintendo once again changed the game with the innovation of the microphone attachment.
5) Memory Expansion Pak.
Even though the Nintendo 64 came with 4 megabytes (MB) of RAM already installed, the addition of a Memory Expansion Pak allowed gamers to double their RAM to 8 MB. This allowed game developers to craft even more in-depth worlds and exclusive content for particular games. Some games, like Donkey Kong 64 Perfect Dark, couldn’t run without the use of the Expansion Pak. In fact, there was a bug in Donkey Kong 64 that would crash the game if the Expansion Pak wasn’t installed, which is why Rare packaged the Expansion Pak with a copy of the game.
The Nintendo 64 was a defining console and was well ahead of its time and its importance cannot be overlooked. Without the N64, many of the video games, consoles, and accessories we take for granted today would never have gotten their start. So the next time you feel your controller vibrate in your hands, or ask your Kinect to save a replay of your latest fight, raise a glass to the Nintendo 64, a true innovator in the video game world. Thank you for reading our 5 Important Innovations that the Nintendo 64 Pioneered.
Written By ~Anthony Giudice.