Editor’s note: while JJ is vacationing this week in sunny Florida, we’ve pulled an edition of James’ Games from our archives. This column was originally published in the Ko-ta-ku Fan Club Newsletter on September 13, 1997.
As you know, this month marks one year since the launch of the Nintendo 64. So far, it’s been a pretty decent console for those of us lucky enough to have one. And the games, once they finally started coming, have been very good!
Yet I’m troubled by the state of things and where Nintendo is headed.
The cries of Nintendo’s demise have been getting louder throughout the industry, from the pages of EGM and Game Informer to the nascent World Wide Web, particularly on VideoGames.com — basically everywhere except, of course, in our beloved Nintendo Power magazine. But the message has been clear: Nintendo really screwed up with this one.
For starters, they were late to the party! By this time last year, as we were eagerly making room on our entertainment centers for the N64, the Sony PlayStation had already been out for a YEAR, and the Sega Saturn for a good four months longer than THAT! Oh sure, we all said, how can these things hope to succeed? Sega drove everyone off with that horrid 32X, and the Sega CD was no picnic, either. And Sony! Yes, the TV and Walkman people, with their “Play Station”. What a name! As soon as I heard what it was to be called, I remember shaking my head and laughing at my brother, who wanted one. “PLAY Station?” I said. “It sounds like something Fisher Price would make!"
And the games come on Compact Discs. CDs! I have a 4X CD-ROM on my Packard Bell computer at home, and I’ve tried running a few games off of it, like Myst, but it is S-L-O-W. You sit there and WAIT for the thing to load, and the whole time it’s making this noise like it’s about to catch on fire or something. The N64 will have cartridges, and they’ll be much, much faster than those crummy CDs — that’s what Nintendo promised us. Besides, CDs scratch and break. Did you ever hear of a Super NES cartridge that quit working because someone scratched it?
And didn’t someone try this 32-bit, CD-based game system already? What was it called… oh, that’s right, 3DO. What a joke! Between that and the Atari Jaguar, I figured, hey, Sega at least has some good games in the pipeline, but the N64 is gonna crush these guys.
Boy, was I wrong.
First of all, the games. WHERE ARE THE GAMES??!? We wait all this time for the Nintendo 64, while our anti-Nintendo friends are having the time of their lives with their Battle Arena Toshinden and Clockwork Knight and Tekken and Panzer Dragoon and Resident Evil (have you seen this game? HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GAME???), and FINALLY, we get the N64, and what do we have?
Granted, I think we can all agree Super Mario 64 is easily the greatest game in the history of video games. It is AMAZING. It blew my fragile little mind when I played it for the first time. I didn’t sleep for three weeks. That alone makes the dearth of games almost worthwhile. And don’t get me wrong, Pilotwings 64 is good. I like it! But it’s no Ridge Racer or Daytona USA or Virtua Fighter or even Rayman. (We need to get a Rayman on the N64! Seriously!) And granted, we got some other good games before the end of the year; Ultimate Mortal Kombat is good, although it’s not really suited for the controller; really, the only stinker was Cruis’n USA. So much for “arcade realism”, right? I guess this is not a good console for racing fans.
And this year was OUTSTANDING for us, wasn’t it? Especially when the factory started cranking stuff out… we got Mario Kart 64, Doom 64, Star Fox 64, game of the YEAR in GoldenEye 007 (you haven’t LIVED until you try the four-player mode!!!) and Diddy Kong Racing.
So why does it feel like we’re being left out?
Final Fantasy VII.
I saw this at the Electronics Boutique near my grandparents’ house a couple days ago. JAW. ON. FLOOR. This, friends, is why Sony made the right call with the CD format. This is why Squaresoft dumped Nintendo after bringing the first three Final Fantasy games (four, if you count that horrid Mystic Quest) to the NES and Super NES. (Why they jumped from III to VII, I have no idea. Maybe the other four were only in Japan.)
We are missing out. And it’s not just Final Fantasy. Tekken? This makes Street Fighter II look like a children’s cartoon. UNBELIEVABLE. And the list goes on and on, especially with the PlayStation. I mean, we have what, 40 games for N64 in a year? I did a brief survey on the PlayStation titles available in a couple catalogs and at Wal-Mart… it’s like, 200. TWO HUNDRED!!! And they’re cheaper than N64 cartridges! Maaaaan…
What’s funny about this is I have an old copy of Nintendo Power with an article that talks about Nintendo and Sony working together to make a CD-ROM add-on for the Super NES, sort of like the Sega CD. Then… I never heard any more about it. I guess maybe Sony decided to just do it themselves? Yeah, the N64 may be “twice as powerful”, but what does that matter when they’ve got all the games?
I want Final Fantasy VII, dammit.
There’s still a long way to go, and we have some good games to look forward to! And hey, remember, that new Legend of Zelda game is supposed to come out next year. I bet all those Sony and Sega fanboys will be totally jealous once they see that. It’s gonna be epic! And before that, we have that new Yoshi game coming out, Yoshi’s Story! I bet it’s going to be twice as good as Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario 64 COMBINED.
And if nothing else, we only have to wait a few more years before Nintendo has a new console that will totally blow the Saturn and PlayStation OUT OF THE WATER.
Keep the faith, Nintendo fans!
JJ is a student at the University of Nevada. You can find him in the IRC chat room #nintendo, on the USENET board alt.digital.video-games, or reach him by electronic mail at CowboysFanatic@compuserve.com.