5. NINTENDO 64
‘It’s-a me, Mario!’ With those words Nintendo had a winner on its hands. Boasting cutting-edge graphical prowess, gamers weren’t just reintroduced to Mario but given a whole new perspective on the traditional platformer. Nintendo evolved, expanded and redefined gameplay tropes, continuing to re-imagine icons such as Link, Mario and Donkey Kong in bold new directions – and then eventually pit them all against each other in one colossal mascot brawl, Super Smash Bros.
Everything in the design was sculpted for precision, from the analogue stick to the Rumble Pak, Nintendo had an eye on the future of videogames. First-party titles were backed up by strong support from Nintendo’s third-party Dream Team, Rare being one of the most prominent supporters of Nintendo’s new system, handling one of their oldest icons (Donkey Kong), while making the first must-have console shooter in GoldenEye 007.
In its later years, N64 struggled to compete with the overwhelming wave of software appearing on Sony’s disc-based PlayStation, with the N64’s cartridge limitations including low-storage, high production expense and miniscule texture cache (providing the console’s infamously blurry textures) proved too much for the console to compete. Not forgetting that Nintendo’s final cartridge-based home console became a launch pad for some of the most technically innovative titles of all time, it rightfully earns its place as part of gaming’s hall of fame.
Super Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, GoldenEye 007