Nintendo 64

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nintendo 64
Official Nintendo 64 logo
Nintendo 64 with associated controller and game pack
Manufacturer Nintendo
Type stationary game console
generation 5th generation of consoles
JapanJapan June 23, 1996
United StatesUnited States September 29, 1996
EuropeEurope March 1, 1997
Main processor 64-bit MIPS R4300i RISC clocked at 93.75 MHz
Graphics processor 64-bit RCP clocked at 62.5 MHz
Storage media Plug-in modules with max. 512 Mbit (64 MB) ROM storage space
Controller Nintendo 64 controller
Online service Only with the 64DD add-on, which was only available in Japan
Units sold approximately 32.93 million
Most successful game Super Mario 64 (approx.11.9 million units sold)
predecessor Super Nintendo Entertainment System
successor Nintendo GameCube
info First 64-bit console

The Nintendo 64 ( own notation : NINTENDO 64 , officially abbreviated as N64 , sometimes mistakenly referred to as the or the Nintendo 64 Jap. : ニンテンドウ64 , Hepburn : Nintendo Rokujūyon ), named after its 64-bit - main processor , the third worldwide released stationary game console from Nintendo . It is the successor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the first game console with a 64-bit architecture. It was first published on June 23, 1996 in Japan , on September 29, 1996 in North America and on March 1, 1997 in Europe . As a console of the fifth generation they competed mainly with the PlayStation from Sony and Sega Saturn , but could regarding the sales figures suggest only the latter console.

In Germany the console came on the market at a price of 399 German marks , but was reduced to 299 German marks after eight weeks. At the start of sales in Germany only the two launch titles Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 were available, and further games followed a few weeks later.

Nintendo advertised the device as the fastest video game system on the market. The 64-bit architecture of the processor was particularly emphasized, the competing consoles PlayStation and Sega Saturn only work with 32 bits. The actual advantages in games with the 64-bit architecture, however, were to be classified as marginal, whereby the advantage in arithmetic calculations is noteworthy. The efficiency of the processor at that time should also be emphasized, as theoretically 4 bytes can be processed with one instruction. As with Nintendo's predecessor consoles , modules (so-called game packs ) were used as the storage medium for the games . By saving an expensive CD drive, the console could be manufactured and offered more cheaply, whereby the starting price issued by Nintendo of a maximum of 250  US dollars could be achieved. In addition, compared to the consoles from Sony and Sega, which used CD-ROMs , the modules offered shorter loading times, but very little storage space and were also more expensive to produce. This was reflected in the high sales prices for the games compared to the competition.

The controller of the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo 64 controller , introduced a modernized, digital version of the analog stick , which has since gone out of fashion, as a major innovation , which enables more precise control, especially for 3D games. Another innovation was the Rumble Pak which can be plugged into the controller and which triggers vibration effects ( force feedback ) in certain games during special events . The analog stick and the vibration effect were adopted for the controllers of the following consoles and established themselves as a fixed standard for competing products.

After being replaced in 2001 by the successor Nintendo GameCube , the console was still manufactured until 2003. Around 32.93 million units were sold worldwide - not even a third as many as the PlayStation. The best-selling game of the N64 is Super Mario 64 with around 11.9 million units sold worldwide.

Origin and career

The Nintendo 64 was initially developed from 1993 together with the workstation manufacturer Silicon Graphics under the project name "Project Reality" - which was later renamed "Ultra 64".

Opened Nintendo 64 module

The problem of black copying should be avoided by using plug-in modules . In addition, long loading times were no longer necessary and games could be saved directly on the module thanks to a (for some games battery-supported) memory. Compared to the CD-ROM , however, the production costs of the modules were significantly higher and due to the significantly lower storage capacity of only up to 64 MB (512 Mbit), hardly any pre-rendered video and complex audio sequences could be integrated into the games. For these and other reasons, such as the more complicated game programming, the Nintendo 64 was rather sparsely considered by game manufacturers from the start. The best-known developer here is Square , who published his role-playing games of the Final Fantasy series , which are particularly important for the Japanese market, not for the Nintendo 64, but for the PlayStation. Together with Rare, Nintendo itself was by far the most important supplier of high-quality N64 games.

In 2001, software development for the Nintendo 64 ended after around 400 titles worldwide (including over 250 in Germany), around 225 million games and almost 33 million consoles sold. One of the last commercial successes was the game Paper Mario , which was also released in 2001.

Extensions and peripherals


Controller of the N64

The controller of the Nintendo 64, a gamepad that fits into one of the four ports on the console, has an unusual shape with three handles: the left handle offers the control pad and the L-shoulder button , which has been used since the NES era , the right handle the Most of the total of ten buttons (noticeable: the four smaller C buttons) and the middle handle the trigger- like Z-trigger button and an analog stick , which was new at the time and which most games made use of, as it had a sensitive control in 3D - Playing made possible. Due to the selective springback of this analog stick, the risk of wear and tear if handled improperly was quite high. Especially when playing the Mario Party series, the stick had to be turned intensely in circles several times during the various mini-games, which inevitably led to a loss of spring-back force and deposition of abrasive material. For this reason, the analog stick suspension on the successor console, the Nintendo GameCube, was changed to minimize possible wear and tear.

On the underside of the controller, a so-called controller pak can be used to save the scores or a rumble pak to create shaking / vibration effects. The Controller Pak is not absolutely necessary for the Nintendo 64 due to the internal memory system. However, some manufacturers waived this so that some games require this pack. Inside there is a 32 kilobyte SRAM chip of the Toshiba TC55257DFL-85L type and the necessary battery. The memory is divided into 128 pages, of which 123 are available for saving game states, for which one to every 123 pages are required depending on the game. Regardless of how busy the site is, there is a limit to a maximum of 16 saved games per Controller Pak.

Rumble Pak

N64 controller with a Rumble Pak plugged in

The Rumble Pak was sold in 1997 together with the game Lylat Wars in a bundle and later also individually. This feature was copied from other manufacturers and is now standard in every console controller (apart from the missing rumble function of the PS3 controller "Sixaxis" and the Wavebird controller for the Nintendo GameCube). Nintendo never offered a Pak that combined the functions of Rumble and Controller Pak, so that the player was sometimes forced to choose between the Rumble effect and the possibility of saving - if a game did not support saving on the module. To get around this problem, later games gave the option to swap the paks for a moment. Other manufacturers offered modules that could be switched between memory and vibration, but this was not an optimal solution, as these modules did not work correctly with some games.

Expansion Pak

Front and rear views of an Expansion Pak

A special extension is the Expansion Pak, which can be inserted into a small slot on the top of the console, increasing the working memory from 4 MB to 8 MB. In some games, this means that a higher texture size (so-called high resolution) can optionally be selected, in which the number of pixels is increased from 320 × 240 to 640 × 480. The larger texture size, however, requires more computing power, so you get a lower refresh rate . For three titles ( Donkey Kong 64 , The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and large parts of Perfect Dark ) the Expansion Pak is even mandatory, which is why Donkey Kong 64 was included. In order to be able to use the Expansion Pak, the Jumper Pak, a kind of pseudo-module without additional memory, must first be removed. In later bundles of the Nintendo 64, the Expansion Pak was already inserted and glued to a sticker that read "Do not remove this label."

Transfer Pak

Transfer Pak

Nintendo also offered the Transfer Pak for transferring Game Boy data to an N64 game. It itself has a slot into which a Game Boy game module is plugged. In this way, data can be exchanged between GB and N64 modules. Only a few N64 games such as Pokémon Stadium and its successor Pokémon Stadium 2 used this feature. At Mario Golf and Mario Tennis , the Transfer Pak enabled the exchange of character data between Game Boy and Nintendo 64 versions of the respective game. With Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64, cheats can also be unlocked by connecting to the Game Boy version of the game.

Controller Pak

Controller Pak

The Controller Pak was an accessory that, like the Rumble Pak and Transfer Pak, could be plugged into the recess on the back of the Nintendo 64 controller. It was a battery-backed memory module that could be purchased separately. This enabled data to be saved for selected games that were identified by a special symbol on the packaging. (e.g. at Diddy Kong Racing to secure highscore times).

Microphone Pak

Voice Recognition Unit (VRU)

Furthermore, the Microphone Pak for voice recognition and control in the Pokémon game Hey You, Pikachu! Was only released in Japan and the USA . . To do this, the voice recognition hardware (“Voice Recognition Unit” VRU [NUS-020] for short) is connected to the fourth controller port on the Nintendo 64, while the actual microphone [NUS-021] is plugged into the controller pak slot on the underside of the controller but no electrical connection is made there (the Japanese microphone is a headset ). The VRUs are regional and a VRU for the USA region cannot be used for Japanese games and vice versa.


The licensed product Hyundai Comboy 64 in the Seoul Museum of History.

Originally, the Nintendo 64 was only available in black, later different colored housing variants (blue, green, purple, orange and red), mostly semi-transparent, followed. However, the design corresponded to the basic device. These variants were only available in special offers together with an advertised game. In addition to the basic console, the color of the hand controller was also often modified. There was also a version with the game GoldenEye 007 .

In 2000, a new version of the case followed in the blue and yellow Pokémon design with a Pikachu figure on the top right and a Poké ball as an on / off switch. Pikachu's right foot serves as a reset button. There was also a correspondingly colored controller with the lettering Pokémon . This is not to be confused with the Pokémon edition from 2001, which was just a normal basic device with a Pokémon sticker on the left.

There was also a gold console in Japan and the USA. In Europe you had to be content with a golden controller.

In South Korea , the console was sold as Hyundai Comboy 64 by Hyundai Electronics , with the original lettering and logo being retained. In 2003 the entire hardware was housed in a controller and released as an iQue player exclusively in China.


As with the two predecessors NES and SNES , it is also possible with the Nintendo 64 to copy the games from the plug-in modules to a computer using special readers and play them using an emulator . However, the hardware of the N64 is more difficult to emulate, so that so far no emulator has delivered a completely error-free result. This is particularly noticeable in audio emulation, where there are cracks and dropouts in the sound quite often. Graphics errors such as B. missing or disappearing textures or polygons are often observed.

In the N64 emulation scene, it has become established to use plug-ins for the individual components to be emulated. This makes it possible to exchange the entire video, audio and controller emulation in order to quickly find a solution in the event of problems.

Available emulators:

Homebrew and backups

Nintendo 64 and security copier

In 1996, the first devices appeared that made it possible to make backup copies of the modules. These, like homebrew software , could then be run on the console. The price for these devices, which were technically similar to a PC, was between 500 DM and 800 DM. CD-Rs , 100 MB Zip disks or flash memory were used as data carriers . Later modifications by hobby developers made it possible to use hard disks or CompactFlash memories. The connection types to the N64 were different. Some used the expansion port on the underside of the N64, others the module bay. Compared to the PlayStation, the homebrew scene on the Nintendo 64 was relatively small.

Technical specifications

Processor NEC VR4300
Coprocessor NEC RCP
  • Processor : SGI (NEC) 64-bit MIPS R4300i RISC (93.75 MHz), 24 kB L1 cache, 125 MIPS, 250 MB / s bus
  • Coprocessor : SGI 64-bit RCP (62.5 MHz), 100 MFLOPS, 150k polygons / second, 32-bit color, 500 MB / s bus
    • "Reality Co-Processor" for graphics and audio calculation / reproduction
    • Consists of two integrated processors: RDP (Reality Drawing Processor) and RSP (Reality Signal Processor, a vector processor )
  • Memory : 500 MHz Rambus DRAM (4 MB or 36 Mbit, with Expansion Pak 8 MB or 64 Mbit), Unified Memory Architecture
  • Graphics : 256 × 224 to 646 × 486 (NTSC) or 768 × 576 (PAL) pixel resolution
    • Signal: Composite and S-Video , with certain devices by modification also RGB
    • Color depth: 32-bit
    • Skills (selection):
  • Sound : ADPCM , 16-bit stereo (44.1 kHz), Dolby Surround
  • Dimensions (W × D × H) : 260  mm × 190 mm × 73 mm
  • Weight : 1100 g
  • 4 connections for game controllers


Some of the most popular games of all time were released for the Nintendo 64, such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, rated 99 out of 100 by Metacritic , or the launch title Super Mario 64 . One of the last games and the only one in 2002, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was released for the console in 2002, but only in North America.

Because of the high manufacturing costs of the modules, N64 games were considerably more expensive than the competition's CD-ROM titles. Conker's Bad Fur Day cost around DM 180 when it appeared in 2001.


Manufacturer Nintendo
Type Game console expansion (add-on)
generation 5th generation of consoles
JapanJapan December 1, 1999
Storage media Magneto-optical disks (64 MB )
Online service RANDnetDD (Japan only)
Units sold approx. 15,000
64DD under the Nintendo 64 game console

The 64DD (64 Dynamic Drive, also known as 64 Disk Drive ) is a game console from Nintendo as an additional device for the Nintendo 64 (also known as Nintendo 64DD or N64DD in connection with the Nintendo 64 ). It was announced at the 8th Shoshinkai in 1996 and was due to appear in March 1997. The 64DD was not released until the winter of 1999 in Japan with a long delay. Since only a few units were produced, it is generally classified as a failure. Only nine games appeared, but you could chat and play online using the RandnetDD service . The 64DD was not published outside of Japan. In March 2001 the RandnetDD was finally shut down. In the end, Nintendo described the device as an experiment and much of what was tested on the 64DD can be found on the Nintendo GameCube.


The 64DD is connected to the EXT slot on the underside of the Nintendo 64 and then forms a kind of base on which the main console stands and supplies the 64DD with power. It only works with the included Expansion Pak . If there is a game module in the N64, the 64DD is ignored. Otherwise, the additional drive is accessed, which does not use game modules, but Zip -like discs that offer 64 MB of storage capacity, of which up to 38 MB are rewritable.


The scope of delivery included the Randnet disk, which, together with the modem module also supplied, enabled access to the RandnetDD, which offered various multiplayer , mail and chat functions . Accessories were a mouse, a keyboard and a special capture module that could be used to connect external devices.

Published games

  • Mario Artist: Communication Kit
  • Mario Artist: Paint Studio (including mouse)
  • Mario Artist: Polygon Studio
  • Mario Artist: Talent Studio (incl.capture module)
  • F-Zero X Expansion Kit
  • Japan Pro Golf Tour 64
  • Kyojin no Doshin 1 ( Doshin the Giant )
  • Kyojin no Doshin 2 (Doshin Expansion Disk)
  • SimCity 64


  • Winnie Forster: Game consoles and home computers 1972-2005 . Gameplan, Utting 2005, ISBN 3-00-015290-3 , pp. 164-167 and 210f.
  • Steven L. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games . Prima Publishing, Roseville 2001, ISBN 0-7615-3643-4 , chapters 27-28 (English)

Web links

Commons : Nintendo 64  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Hardware and Software Sales Units. Nintendo, accessed August 14, 2015 .
  2. Nintendo 64 games: N64 top 10 bestsellers. GIGA , January 8, 2015, accessed January 3, 2017 .
  3. a b Nintendo 64. In: Nintendo , accessed June 4, 2019 .
  4. What was the advantage of a 64-bit processor in the N64? (English). Retrieved January 8, 2019 .
  5. What was the purpose of using a 64-bit CPU in a Nintendo 64 if it had less than 4 GB RAM? (English). Retrieved January 8, 2019 .
  6. Nintendo decides to use modules for the N64. In: Retrieved May 21, 2019 .
  7. Why the N64 controller is the most important of all time (section: Analog control, meet Mario) (English). Retrieved January 8, 2019 .
  8. Hardware and Software Sales Units. Nintendo, accessed August 14, 2015 .
  9. Nintendo 64 games: N64 top 10 bestsellers. GIGA , January 8, 2015, accessed January 3, 2017 .
  10.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  11.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  13. a b c Expansion Pak. Retrieved on August 17, 2019 (German).
  14. | Nintendo - Customer Service | Nintendo 64 - Installing the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak. Retrieved August 17, 2019 .
  15. a b Controller Pak. Accessed January 11, 2020 (German).
  17. The cable for S-Video signal transmission was never officially released by Nintendo. According to a request from Nintendo Germany, the console version Clear Blue does not support S-Video signal output.
  19. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Accessed April 22, 2019 .
  20. Conker's Bad Fur Day: Why the N64 Game Is So Expensive Today. In: Retrieved May 21, 2019 .
  22. ^ IGN Staff: Everything About the 64DD. In: IGN Entertainment . Ziff Davis , February 9, 2001, accessed August 6, 2015 .
  23. Nintendo 64DD facts. April 30, 2012, accessed April 30, 2012 .