Believe it or not, the Nintendo 64 is officially 20 years old. While the console was a relative failure for the company, at least when compared to its two previous hardware releases and the enormous success of the rival Sony PlayStation, anyone who actually owned the N64 would tell you otherwise. With its incredible lineup of games and numerous innovations, the Nintendo 64 is one of the most fondly remembered pieces of consumer electronics in existence and is a nostalgic reminder of a simpler time in gaming for many. To celebrate its two decades of existence, we’re counting down the 20 biggest reasons we’ll always have a fondness for the Nintendo 64.
20. The Dawn of Mario Sports Titles
Mario has been featured in almost every genre imaginable by now, so it’s a bit strange to think of a time when Nintendo’s portly plumber hadn’t really branched out into other games beyond his own and Mario Kart. The N64 was the generation when the Mario franchise really started to get spin-off happy, giving us not only the Mario Party and Paper Mario series, but also a couple of really good sports titles in Mario Golf and Mario Tennis.
At the time, it felt weird to see Mario lacing up his tennis shoes or driving a ball onto the green, but once you actually got your hands on either game, all that doubt melted away and was replaced by the realization that Mario could make tennis, golf, or any sport under the sun FUN. Yes, golf and tennis are both fun sports in their own right, but Mario helped introduce both to players who may have had little to no interest in them to begin with (we have Mario Tennis to thank for learning the rules of the game). Both franchises have seen multiple installments since then on different consoles, but the N64 is where Mario’s sports obsession well and truly began.