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The Nintendo 64 turns 20 today

"Get N, or get Out!"

The N64 launched 20 years ago today in Japan.

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Nintendo's console came out there on 23rd June 1996. It didn't launch in Europe until 1st March 1997 - almost a year later.

N64 is probably best remembered for the wonderful Nintendo-made games it housed, including the groundbreaking Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Rare, which made a raft of superb N64 games for Nintendo, established the first-person shooter genre on console with GoldenEye 007. Diddy Kong Racing was better than Mario Kart 64, too (there I said it).

The N64 marked Nintendo's transition from the Super Nintendo and the 16-bit era to the 3D-fuelled 64-bit era, and went up against the already-established PSone and the Sega Saturn.

Unlike Sony and Sega, Nintendo stuck with cartridges for N64, which meant its games often cost an arm and a leg. Hands up if you, like me, spent 70 on GoldenEye at HMV.

Nintendo beefed up the power of the N64 with the release of the Expansion Pak, which you slotted in to the top of the console. This doubled the amount of RAM in the N64 to 8MB, and came bundled with Rare's Donkey Kong 64. Now, why can't Microsoft and Sony do this with the Xbox One and PS4, eh, rather than sell us new consoles?

Starfox 64 introduced rumble. It came with an add-on you slotted into the N64 controller, which was one of the first to use an analogue stick.

I got my N64 in 1997 from Dixons in Tooting Broadway. It came with Super Mario 64 and that Star Wars game with the incredible Hoth level but terrible everything else. I'll never forget turning the thing on and messing with Mario's face. Now that was true next-gen.

The N64 went on to sell just shy of 33m units. Nintendo followed up with the 2001 launch of the GameCube. Between the release of the two consoles we saw the launch of the PS2, the Dreamcast and the original Xbox.

So, charge your glasses: happy birthday N64! What were your favourite games?

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