Buying an N64 for the first time

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KingK
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PostBuying an N64 for the first time
by KingK » Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:23 pm

Currently watching Goldeneye (the film) and the missus reveals that she played the game years ago with her ex. It got me thinking as I’ve never played on an N64 in my life and am tempted to pick up a 2nd hand one with the game from somewhere.

However, I’m confused by all the different “paks” i see listed - expansion pak, rumble pak, controller pak. Which, if any, do I need to play, and save, a game? Or are saves stored on the game cartridge?

Also, what sort of tv connection does it come with as standard and how will it connect to a modern TV? My main Samsung Tv does have a Connect One box which has a mix of connections including Scart, component, and HDMI of course. Heck, is it even worth looking to even connect a 25yr old console to a 4k screen or will the picture quality be simply awful?

And finally, is it really worth to spend around £100-150 to buy a 25yr old console and game ? Do they stand the test of time?

Sorry for all the questions. All advice welcomed! Thanks

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by kerr9000 » Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:35 pm

Some games save to cart some save to controller packs , you only need a rumble pack if you want to feel rumble, don't worry about the expansion to start with that's only helpful for a few games. Is it really like 100 to 150 now?

It's a good machine but I hate the pads

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for first time
by Cheeky Devlin » Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:37 pm

It depends really.

It's not a game that has aged very gracefully to be honest.
N64 itself is also not a system that looks particularly nice on modern TV's either.
This isn't to put you off, but to really get the most out of it you would need to look at spending more.

If you're going to pick up more games to play, then yes it's worth it, but if you're only going to be playing Goldeneye maybe not.

Bare essentials, all you need is the console, game and controllers. £100-£120- should more than see you through easily.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Nintendo-64- ... G&LH_BIN=1 - £88 (inc postage) for system, all the cables you need and 3 good games (ISS, F-Zero and 1080 are all great).

You can find Goldeneye on ebay easy enough as well.

EDIT: I would probably recommend Perfect Dark over Goldeneye as well. It's far superior in just about every way, and the only real difference is the bond licence. You will need the expansion pak to get the most from that though.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by jawa2 » Thu Dec 31, 2020 11:37 pm

I like the N64; it certainly has aged - the graphics were fuzzy at the time and very noticeably so today - but the large environments and colourful settings still impress me.

I haven't played GoldenEye for a few years now but in my eyes it remains decent; clunky, lo-res but atmospheric and fun.

I'd suggest that, in line with Cheeky Dev's suggestion, you have a think about just how deep you plan on getting into the N64 - or any older system, really - as costs can build up.

I quite like N64 controllers but they are of their time and finding original Nintendo ones in a good condition is becoming increasingly tough. It may be worth considering a newer third party version - such as the Retro-Bit Tribute 64, which is based on Hori's version of the pad.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by kerr9000 » Fri Jan 01, 2021 12:49 am

jawa2 wrote:I like the N64; it certainly has aged - the graphics were fuzzy at the time and very noticeably so today - but the large environments and colourful settings still impress me.

I haven't played GoldenEye for a few years now but in my eyes it remains decent; clunky, lo-res but atmospheric and fun.

I'd suggest that, in line with Cheeky Dev's suggestion, you have a think about just how deep you plan on getting into the N64 - or any older system, really - as costs can build up.

I quite like N64 controllers but they are of their time and finding original Nintendo ones in a good condition is becoming increasingly tough. It may be worth considering a newer third party version - such as the Retro-Bit Tribute 64, which is based on Hori's version of the pad.


Or wire a Gamecube analog into a N64 pad that helps

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by RichardUK » Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:37 am

I loved the N64 at the time but I don’t think the 3D graphics will have aged well and not sure how playable they would be now, I can play old 2D games but a lot of 3D ones when you play them now just look a mess

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by LewisD » Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:58 am

I was going to PM you, but you've disabled being able to receive PM's.

I've got an N64 in the loft I was going to be selling this month if you'd be interested. I'd do it cheaper than eBay prices for a fellow GRCadian :wub:

Can't remember the games, but definitely got Mario 64, Goldeneye, Mario Kart, think there's F-Zero and some others too.
There's three controllers iirc too.

I'll get it down from the loft if you're interested and give it a test :)

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by f » Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:23 am

I'll preface this by saying that I loved the N64 - the first console I owned where games were something I would identify as an actual interest of mine, rather than just something I'd engage with sometimes in the absence of anything else to do - and behind the GameCube it's the retro console for which I hold the fondest memories.

Now, all that being said...

KingK wrote:Is it really worth to spend around £100-150 to buy a 25yr old console and game ? Do they stand the test of time?

It all depends on how much you want to play Goldeneye.

In terms of playability and actual gameplay I would say the range of games available for the N64 still hold up very well today - but the reality is, for the vast majority of games worth playing, better versions now exist on other formats. If you play the N64 originals there's a chance the hardware will let you down.

For a start, there's an undeniably "fuzzy" element to the visuals when viewed with a modern lens. Someone more technically adept than I might be able to advise on how you can correct this, but for me it was off-putting.

Then, there's the controller. Amazing at the time and still useable now - but while it's comfortable to hold, I'd say many of the first party pads (don't bother with any third party ones) have had their analogue stick fairly worn out by this point. That's not to say it won't be useable, but I'd wager that there'll be a noticeable lack of resistance when you move the stick - it won't move itself back into a central place when you let go, it'll just hang there. Or, worse case scenario, there will be too much resistance and the stick will stick.

KingK wrote:However, I’m confused by all the different “paks” i see listed - expansion pak, rumble pak, controller pak. Which, if any, do I need to play, and save, a game? Or are saves stored on the game cartridge?


All first party games and Rare games save on cart. Some later, more technically advanced games required the expansion pak to work. There's a handful of great third party games for the console (including my personal favourite, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, and some other great games like Snowboard Kids) which require a controller pak to save progress. Unfortunately, even the first party controller paks (again - don't bother with third party versions) have almost all now got worn out batteries. If you're handy with your retro tech you might be able to swap out the battery, but if not, you'll only really be able to play (in a meaningful, make-progress-each-session kind of way) those games that allow for save on cart.

And if we look at that list, we can see that there are more playable (for reasons of improved visual clarity, mainly) versions available elsewhere:

Super Mario 64
Mario Kart 64
Mario Tennis
Paper Mario
Pokemon Snap
F Zero X
Mario Party (/2)
Sin & Punishment
Yoshi's Story
Smash Bros

All better played on the Wii (/U) Virtual Console

Ocarina of Time
Majora's Mask

As above; or, find the GameCube collector's disk and play that instead

Banjo Kazooie / Tooie
Conkers BFD
Jet Force Gemini
Blast Corps
Perfect Dark

Available on the Rare Replay collection on Xbox One

Which leaves us with:

Goldeneye
Diddy Kong Racing (in hindsight, this handles absolutely shockingly)
Pokemon Stadium (fun minigames but I'd be surprised if the main campaign was worth anyone's time now without transferring your own Pokemon in from OG Red / Blue using the relevant Pak)
Rocket: Robot on Wheels

So my verdict would be - if you really want to play Goldeneye, and / or you're able to get hold of a copy of the wonderful RROW, then yes, it's worth getting an N64. And the virtual console options might not be viable - but then SM64 is now on Switch, the Zeldas were remade for 3DS... so it depends a little on what other games you might want to play for the console, and whether you might be better off sampling them elsewhere.

LewisD wrote:I've got an N64 in the loft I was going to be selling this month if you'd be interested. I'd do it cheaper than eBay prices for a fellow GRCadian :wub:


Ah crap, sorry Lewis :slol:

KingK if you want to get an N64 this is a good bundle right here.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Trelliz » Fri Jan 01, 2021 8:17 am

Unless you're a retro purist and it wouldn't "feel right" doing so, if you just want to play Goldeneye then i'd just emulate it at this point.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Drumstick » Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:47 am

I agree with Dan. There's plenty of N64 games worth playing, but unless it really bothers you to do so I'd recommend the alternate routes.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by jawa2 » Fri Jan 01, 2021 10:08 am

The decision to go with original hardware or emulation is very personal and there are - in my view! - pros and cons to each path.

Original hardware

+ Much better "feel"; you're playing the game as it was at the time of release
+ It is great to have the original kit and use the original media
+ Exact technical performance!...
- ...which may not have stood the test of time!
- Original hardware and games can be expensive and subject to tech failure
- Need space to store everything

Emulation

+ A great way of accessing older games on your PC / Pi
+ No physical storage issues - just download stuff
+ Get all the games instantly for free!...
- ...and then spend about thirty seconds on each as you skim through hundreds of them
- Spend more time adjusting the controls and tech setup then playing

My personal preference would always be for original kit; time, money and space permitting, of course. As systems become older and emulation better, though, that path becomes increasingly attractive.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Corazon de Leon » Fri Jan 01, 2021 10:14 am

LewisD wrote:I was going to PM you, but you've disabled being able to receive PM's.

I've got an N64 in the loft I was going to be selling this month if you'd be interested. I'd do it cheaper than eBay prices for a fellow GRCadian :wub:

Can't remember the games, but definitely got Mario 64, Goldeneye, Mario Kart, think there's F-Zero and some others too.
There's three controllers iirc too.

I'll get it down from the loft if you're interested and give it a test :)


Can you give me a shout if you’ve got the game boxes for any of your games Lewis?

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by LewisD » Fri Jan 01, 2021 10:43 am

It's all loose carts I'm afraid Ben :(

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by JezoSnow » Fri Jan 01, 2021 12:10 pm

In case no one mentioned yet, Scart will work for connecting it to a modern TV. But CRT is where it's at

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Green Gecko » Fri Jan 01, 2021 1:48 pm

I'm in the camp that N64 games even on a modern display, although it's definitely been suggested and I highly suspect my older Samsung panel is just really good at upscaling for some reason (it does have an RGB scart input via a tiny adapter dongle thing), and even though I still use the standard composite, it doesn't look that bad if you respect it for what it is. The games are playable and, on some titles that even feature a widescreen mode (some Rare games for example), you can forget about this after perhaps 20 minutes of play. Otherwise, I'd suggest getting an old portable 14" CRT or whatever which just totally eliminates the "fuzziness" problem, as this console was and still is designed for that kind of display in the way it dithers colours of a low depth and also depends on this to some degree for anti-aliasing which isn't really a thing today with everything pin sharp 1080p if not very well handled resolutions lower than that.

576i (PAL) is still some 4-6times lower resolution than 1080p (although not quite as bad as NTSC 480p, it's not even that far off 720p) and I'm confident that maths is wrong. But you have to remember these consoles used an interlaced signal so it doesn't quite work the same way, yes you get a fuzzier, softer image but it smooths out on a CRT and can look pretty good.

If you add an RGB scart cable to the N64 it should make a huge difference, it does with my PS1 but again you are looking at an image designed to display on an interlaced panel (1080p is progressive) which smoothed the "fuzz" out almost completely.

I'm not sure I'd pay over £100 for an N64 bundle today, it's kind of going the way of the Saturn in this respect, but I still have my original console, I've never actually played Goldeneye for long despite having a copy :slol:, and I value it for what it is.

I do agree finding a controller in good condition is asking a lot today so I'd get one of the reworked ones.

Another thing worth bearing in mind is, the Nintendo effect, while some of these games run at around 15fps (Rogue Squadron for example), a lot of them are 30FPS games that play really nicely still, it's really very surprising considering some "modern" games still can't even manage this, which is kind of hillarious. The games are still very much playable with the right set up and there is a lot of joy to get out of them, but a big part of that is nostalgia and it's wise to consider alternative platforms if they are just going to be objectively better to experience today. Nothing beats the simplicity of just slamming a cart into a console, plugging in the controller and switching it on though. And NO LOAD TIMES. Oh my god we are literally talking today about solid state memory (after spending forever downloading games and patches or installing from a disk) when this was THE STANDARD of the day on N64 and the previous gen. You turn the strawberry floating thing on and play the game, that's it, and it will always work that way, forever. This is priceless.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Corazon de Leon » Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:16 pm

LewisD wrote:It's all loose carts I'm afraid Ben :(


Ah well. TBH, I haven't been paid properly since November so can't really afford any splurging anyway. :lol:

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by jawa2 » Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:20 pm

Green Gecko wrote:...Nothing beats the simplicity of just slamming a cart into a console, plugging in the controller and switching it on though. And NO LOAD TIMES. Oh my god we are literally talking today about solid state memory (after spending forever downloading games and patches or installing from a disk) when this was THE STANDARD of the day on N64 and the previous gen. You turn the strawberry floating thing on and play the game, that's it, and it will always work that way, forever. This is priceless.

Ab-so-lutely, Gecko... preach, dude! It's pretty funny how tech analysis on newer systems is gasping over load times of "only" ten seconds when years ago we just powered on and played instantly. Cartridges :wub: .

Yeah, I know that years ago they loaded about 8k and today they're loading 8gb... but carts still win because no downloads or installs are involved and they're just *way* cooler.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Jenuall » Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:39 pm

It will always work that way forever until bit rot sets in ;)

But I'm 100% behind the joy that used to come from just sticking a cartridge in and the game just instantly being there to play. Better times :cry:

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by Cheeky Devlin » Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:52 pm

Unfortunately older systems are losing their plug and play aspect. It's rare I find cartridge games (Especially on older systems) work first time now.

If anyone has older carts or systems I would very much recommend giving the contacts on them a good clean. Don't rely on the old "blow in it" as it just shortens the life span in the long run.

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PostRe: Buying an N64 for the first time
by BOR » Fri Jan 01, 2021 5:47 pm

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