Nintendo 64 (1997 – 2003)

The Nintendo 64 (or N64) was Nintendo’s third home game console for the international market, after the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was named after the 64-bit processor it used, and was a fifth-generation console. Released in 1996 in Japan, it reached Europe in 1997.

It was the last Nintendo home game console to use ROM cartridges (the Game Boy however continued to use them). Cartridge size varied from 4 MB to 64 MB, and many included the ability to save game data internally (there was also an optional Controller Pak accessory for saving game data for those cartridges that didn’t). Nintendo cited the very fast load times for cartridges in comparison to rival CD-ROM based games, however they were expensive and time-consuming to manufacture, and were limited in capacity compared to the 650 MB of a CD-ROM.

The Nintendo 64 was in-demand upon its release and the console sold 3.6 million units in its first full year in the United States. The Nintendo 64 received generally positive reviews from critics. Reviewers generally praised the console’s advanced 3D graphics and gameplay, while criticizing the lack of games. A total of 387 games were released for the console, compared with 1,100 for the rival PlayStation.

Nintendo released a peripheral called Nintendo 64DD in 1999, allowing the use of Nintendo’s proprietary magneto-optical discs. It was a commercial failure, and only nine games were released for it.

The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2003, and replaced by the Nintendo GameCube, which used a proprietary version of the miniDVD format.

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