Game Trivia

If you count the faces and vertices, allowing for overlapping, there are a total of 64 faces and 64 vertices in the Nintendo 64 logo.

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During development of the hardware, the Nintendo 64 was known under two different code names. Before its unveiling, the system was known as "Project Reality". When the system was initially revealed to the public, it was known as the "Ultra 64". The name would be changed to "Nintendo 64" before the official release.

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In Japan, Nintendo 64 production was officially discontinued in early 2002. This means its predecessor, the Super Famicom (SNES), outlived it in the same capacity by over a year.

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The Nintendo 64 sold an estimated 32.93 million units worldwide during its lifetime with 20.63 million of these sold in North America, 6.75 million were sold in Europe and Australia, and the remaining 5.54 million of these units were sold in Japan.

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The Nintendo 64 operates on a 64-bit NEC VR4300 CPU clocked at 93.75 MHz, 4 MB of Rambus RDRAM (8 MB with an Expansion Pak in the system), an SGI RCP graphics chip at 62.5 MHz, and utilizes 16-bit, 48 or 44.1 kHz Stereo for sound. Game cartridges hold a maximum of 64 MB.

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The Nintendo 64's best-selling title is Super Mario 64 with 11.62 million units sold worldwide.

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Competition from long-time rival Sega and newcomer Sony urged Nintendo to develop a successor for the SNES in order to hold market dominance against its competitors. At the time, Nintendo was facing much backlash from third-party developers who were unhappy with Nintendo's strict licensing policies. Further complicating this matter was the Japanese recession, otherwise known as The Lost Decade in which Japan suffered economic decline from 1991 to 2000.

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The Nintendo 64 has an add-on peripheral called the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive or the Nintendo DD as it is often called. With this peripheral, Nintendo 64 games could be manufactured for this disk drive and held more information than a Nintendo 64 cartridge. However the peripheral was not successful and was never released outside Japan.

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Silicon Graphics was interested in expanding its business by adapting its technology to be used for a larger volume of consumer products, starting with video games. Based upon its MIPS R4000 family of supercomputing and workstation CPUs, this company developed a CPU that consumed only 0.5 watts of power instead of 1.5 to 2 watts, with an estimated target price of $40 dollars instead of $80200 dollars. The company created a design proposal for a video game system and were seeking an already well-established partner in that market. Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, initially offered the proposal to Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, for development of the Sega Saturn, but Sega of Japan rejected this offer. Nintendo was next to receive the offer.

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Negotiation for the new chip designed by Silicon Graphics was controversial between Sega and Nintendo. Tom Kalinske said that he and Joe Miller of Sega of America were very impressed with the company's prototype, inviting Sega of Japan's hardware team to travel from Japan to meet with SGI. The engineers from Sega Enterprises claimed that their evaluation of the early prototype had uncovered several unresolved hardware issues and deficiencies. Those issues were resolved, but Sega had already decided against SGI's design. Nintendo denies this conclusion, arguing that the real reason for SGI's ultimate choice of partner is that Nintendo was a more appealing business partner than Sega.

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While Sega demanded exclusive rights to Silicon Graphics' new chip, Nintendo was willing to license the chip on a non-exclusive basis, which better sealed the deal for SGI. Michael Slater, publisher of Microprocessor Report said, "The mere fact of a business relationship there is significant because of Nintendo's phenomenal ability to drive volume. If it works at all, it could bring MIPS to levels of volume SGI never dreamed of".

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Jim Clark first met with Nintendo CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi in early 1993, which began development of what would be called Project Reality. On August 23, 1993, the two companies announced a global joint development and licensing agreement surrounding the Nintendo 64, which was still named Project Reality at the time, projecting that the yet unnamed eventual product would be "developed specifically for Nintendo, will be unveiled in arcades in 1994, and will be available for home use by late 1995 ... below $250". This announcement coincided with Nintendo's August 1993 Shoshinkai trade show.

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The initial Project Reality system was developed and sold by SGI in the form of its Onyx supercomputer valued between $100,000 to $250,000 US dollars, loaded with the RealityEngine2 graphics boards valued at $50,000 US dollars and four 150 MHz R4400 CPUs, and with early Project Reality application and emulation APIs based upon Performer and OpenGL. This graphics platform served as the source design which SGI had reduced down to become the Reality Immersion Technology for Project Reality.

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The original Nintendo 64 controller was a Super NES controller modified to have a primitive analog joystick and Z trigger. Development of the controller was highly secretive, to the point where many in-house employees didn't know all the details. A LucasArts developer said his team would "furtively hide the prototype controller in a cardboard box while we used it. In answer to the inevitable questions about what we were doing, we replied jokingly that it was a new type of controllera bowl of liquid that absorbed your thoughts through your fingertips. Of course, you had to think in Japanese..."

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Nintendo first announced the name of the console "Ultra 64" on June 23, 1994, before it was renamed the Nintendo 64.

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The first third-party developers selected by Nintendo was nicknamed the "Dream Team." These developers included Silicon Graphics, Alias Research, Software Creations, Rambus, MultiGen, Rare, Ltd. and Rare Coin-It Toys & Games, WMS Industries, Acclaim Entertainment, Williams Entertainment, Paradigm Simulation, Spectrum Holobyte, DMA Design Ltd, Angel Studios, Ocean, Time Warner Interactive, and Mindscape.

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By purchasing and developing upon Project Reality's graphics platform, Nintendo and the third-party developers who were dubbed "Dream Team" could begin prototyping their games according to SGI's estimated console performance profile, prior to the finalization of the Nintendo 64's specifications. When the Ultra 64 hardware was finalized, that same supercomputer platform was later supplanted by a much cheaper and fully accurate console simulation board to be hosted within a low-end SGI Indy workstation in July 1995. SGI's early performance estimates based upon its supercomputing platform were later reported to have been fairly close to the final Ultra 64 product, allowing LucasArts developers to port their Star Wars game prototype to console reference hardware in just three days.

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The Nintendo 64's design was revealed to the public for the first time in the late 2nd quarter of 1994. Pictures of the console displayed the Nintendo Ultra 64 logo and a cartridge inserted into the system but with no controller. This picture was used for advertising the system in Nintendo Power magazines. The shape of the console was retained by the product when it eventually launched. Having initially indicated the possibility of utilizing CD-ROMs for games if performance problems were solved, Nintendo later announced a much faster but space-limited cartridge-based system, which prompted much debate by the public and gaming press. The system was marketed as the world's first 64-bit gaming system, often stating the console was more powerful than the first moon landing computers.

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At one point Nintendo was going to release the console with the name "Ultra Famicom" in Japan and "Nintendo Ultra 64" in other markets. Rumors circulated that Konami's ownership of the Ultra Games trademark would lead to a lawsuit. Nintendo said that trademark issues were not a factor, and the sole reason for any name change was to establish a single worldwide brand and logo for the console.

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The final worldwide name of the console "Nintendo 64" was proposed by Mother series developer Shigesato Itoi. The prefix for the model numbering scheme for the Nintendo 64 platform is "NUS", which references the console's original name of "Nintendo Ultra Sixty-four".

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The completed Nintendo 64 console was fully unveiled to the public in playable form on November 24, 1995, at Nintendo's 7th Annual Shoshinkai trade show. Photos of the event were distributed online by Game Zero magazine two days later. Official coverage by Nintendo followed later through their Nintendo Power website and print magazine.

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The console's release was delayed several times. It was originally slated to be released on Christmas of 1995, but in May 1995, Nintendo delayed the release to April 1996. Nintendo claimed it needed more time for Nintendo 64 software to mature, and for third-party developers to produce games. However, former SGI engineer Adrian Sfarti attributed the delay to hardware problems; claiming that the hardware under-performed in testing and was being redesigned. In 1996, the Nintendo 64's software development kit was completely redesigned as the Windows-based Partner-N64 system, by Kyoto Microcomputer, Co. Ltd. of Japan. The release date was later delayed again, to June 23, 1996. Nintendo said the reason for this delay, and the cancellation of plans to release the console worldwide on the same day was that the company's marketing studies indicated that they would not be able to produce enough units to meet demand by April 1996, potentially angering retailers in the same way Sega had done with its surprise early launch of the Saturn in North America and Europe.

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Because the Nintendo 64's release was delayed numerous times, Nintendo ran ads for the system with the slogans "Wait for it..." and "Is it worth the wait? Only if you want the best!"

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The console was first released in Japan on June 23, 1996 and sold out all 300,000 shipments on the first day. Nintendo also managed to avoid repeating a social disturbance they caused with the launch of the Super Famicom in 1990 by using a wider retail network which included convenience stores. The other 200,000 units of the first production run shipped on June 26 and June 30, with almost all of them reserved ahead of time. In the months between the Japanese and North American launches, the Nintendo 64 saw brisk sales on the American grey market, with import stores charging as much as $699 plus shipping for the system.

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The Nintendo 64 launched in North America on September 26, 1996, although it was originally advertised to be released on the 29th. The console launched with just two games, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64. Cruis'n USA was originally planned as part of the line-up, but was pulled less than a month before launch because it did not meet Nintendo's quality standards.

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The original launch price was to be $250 US dollars, but was ultimately launched at $199.99 US dollars to make it competitive with Sony's and Sega's prices, as both the Saturn and PlayStation had been lowered to $199.99 earlier that summer. Nintendo priced the console as an impulse purchase, and this price was further reduced in the United States in August 1998.

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The Nintendo 64's North American launch was backed with a marketing campaign valued at $54 million US dollars, un-adjusted for inflation.

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To boost sales during the slow post-Christmas season, Nintendo and General Mills made a promotional campaign that appeared in early 1999. The advertisement began on January 25 the following year and encouraged children to buy Fruit by the Foot snacks which contained helpful tips for Nintendo 64 games. Ninety different tips were made, with three variations of thirty tips each.

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The Nintendo 64 was originally being designed to output RGB video, both in EuroSCART and JP21 format. Late in development, RGB output was removed from the console, supporting only up to S-Video output. NS1 models of the Nintendo 64 therefore still contain the necessary components for RGB and can be more easily modded to support this video output. Later models such as the NS2 and NS3 do not have the necessary components for RGB, making this mod much more difficult on later revisions of the console.

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When the Nintendo 64 was released in the United States, reportedly celebrities Matthew Perry, Steven Spielberg's office, and some Chicago Bulls players called Nintendo to ask for special treatment to get their hands on the console.

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After a strong launch year which allowed the Nintendo 64 to momentarily gain the lead in the market, the decision to use the cartridge format is said to have contributed to the slow pace of newly-released games and higher prices of games compared to the competition, and thus Nintendo was unable to maintain its lead worldwide. The console would continue to outsell the Sega Saturn in America and Europe throughout its lifetime, but fell significantly behind the PlayStation, being outsold 7 to 1.

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The Nintendo 64's least successful region was in its homeland of Japan, failing to outsell the PlayStation and even the Sega Saturn, which marked the first and only time Sega won in sales and market share against Nintendo. Benimaru It, a developer for the never-released Mother 64 speculated in 1997 that the Nintendo 64's lower popularity in Japan was due to the lack of role-playing video games.

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The Nintendo 64 is recognized as the first home console to feature trilinear filtering, which allows textures to look very smooth when compared to the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, both of which utilized nearest-neighbor interpolation.

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Nintendo's decision to utilize MASK ROM cartridges remains controversial today. Hiroshi Yamauchi argued in favor of the cartridge format as cartridges are far more resistant to physical damage than CDs, and load-times which are frequent on CD based games were virtually non-existent with the Nintendo 64. Cartridges were also less prone to piracy. However, some insiders argue that the cartridge format was chosen in order for Nintendo to charge higher licensing fees. Cartridges also took longer to manufacture and were an estimated $25 US dollars each while CDs were a mere 10 cents a piece. This forced game developers to anticipate the success of a game in order to meet demand appropriately and not be stuck with expensive unused cartridges.

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Because the Nintendo 64 utilized MASK ROM cartridges for media, the games were much more expensive at launch than the competition, with titles occasionally being retailed at or close to $100 US dollars, while PlayStation and Saturn games retailed for an average $55 US dollars, occasionally peaking at $70. Best-seller Nintendo 64 games would be sold for $40 US dollars while Greatest Hits PlayStation games would be sold for $20 US dollars.

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Because games during the Nintendo 64's lifetime were becoming more complex in overall content, games began to exceed the limits of cartridge storage capacity. Nintendo 64 cartridges have a maximum of 64 MB of data, with only a handful of N64 games utilizing this much data, whereas CDs held 650 MB. Games ported from other platforms was often heavily compressed or redesigned with the storage limits of a cartridge in mind. Because of the cartridge's limited space, full motion video was rarely used in cutscenes. When it was, it was heavily compressed to fit on the cartridge and usually much shorter than the original. Some third party companies also complained that they were at an unfair disadvantage when publishing games for the system, since Nintendo owned the manufacturing plant where cartridges are made and therefore could sell their first party games at a lower price, while third parties were stuck with higher fees.

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Square and Enix were originally remaining loyal to Nintendo, with their games Final Fantasy VII and Dragon Warrior VII being originally planned for the Nintendo 64. When Nintendo announced that they were utilizing the cartridge format however, Square tried to renegotiate, explaining that they needed to use CDs for future games, while Nintendo stuck with cartridges. Nintendo insisted that Square remained faithful, but Square turned them away and moved game development to the PlayStation as this would require over 30 Nintendo 64 disks to hold all of the game data for Final Fantasy VII and that cutting out the majority of the game's content was not reasonable. Bitter about this, Hiroshi Yamauchi publicly announced that Nintendo does not need Square's business. He later made this statement: "People who play RPGs are depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games." Enix subsequently moved game development to the PlayStation as well.

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