Happy 20th birthday, Nintendo 64!
Few, if any, would argue that Nintendo kicked-started the home video gaming industry. And it's on a nostalgia roll now.
From cartridges you had to blow air into (to get rid of dust on the connectors) to Wiimote controllers you have to wave around, the company has come a long, long way. They’ve probably forgotten more about gaming than we’ll ever know - but we’ll never forget the games they gave us.
Growing up in the 80’s, the first thing you’d ask when you were invited round to a mate's house was almost always “do you have Nintendo?”. Nintendo was not only synonymous with home gaming, it was basically a another word for fun.
Never mind that we couldn’t actually beat any of their games, because a bunch of kids gathered around a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console made for many fun afternoons before our parents eventually chased us off. From the NES to the SNES to the Nintendo 64, Nintendo’s superiority and accessibility were unmatched, even in the face of cheap copycat consoles like the Microgenius.
So that was how a whole generation of gamers came into being; people who would eventually go to start YouTube channels all about sitting around and gaming, passionate folks that know every bit of trivia about Super Mario: most of them started with Nintendo’s classic console games. These were the games that ignited our imagination and kept us entertained at home while our parents were at work.
So let's put away our triple-A titles and their next-gen super consoles for a while, and look back at the classic Nintendo games we loved when we were growing up - and started it all.
Super Mario 64 (1985)
What can we say about Super Mario that hasn’t been said? The gaming franchise that defined platform gaming started with a 2D side-scrolling adventure through a strange land of bricks, mushrooms, stars and turtles, all set to an unforgettable theme song.
The original game is still being played today, and still offers the addictive challenge that hooked loyal fans over 31 years ago. For masochists, there’s even Cat Mario (Syobon Action), a nigh-impossible version of the beloved original. Try it at the risk of your own sanity.
Duck Hunt (1984)
Nintendo’s light gun (called Zapper in the US and Beam Gun in Japan) felt like the first proper piece of arcade technology that you could actually own. And the first thing that most kids shot at was a duck sprite, hit with a satisfying 8-bit pop before they careened to the ground.
Probably the first game to inspire gamer rage, since your trusty duck hound would snigger at you if you missed all the ducks. If you never tried to shoot your duck hound, you've never played Duck Hunt.
Donkey Kong (1983)
Although it's better known nowadays for introducing the character of Mario, called Jumpman back then, Donkey Kong was itself was a classic rescue the damsel platformer, in which you would ascend through a variety of floors and ladders while jumping (thus Jumpman) over barrels that Donkey Kong would lug at you.
An arcade classic that debuted in 1981, it was ported to the Nintendo in 1983 as one of the launch titles. No doubt inspired by the King Kong movies, Donkey Kong eventually became a franchise star in his own right - and successfully escaping his antagonist origins.