Back to basics

Console gamers under the age of 25 mightn’t understand this, but I decided recently to buy a new console; in the form of a ten-year old Nintendo 64. Why the nostalgic purchase? It’s about fun, not graphics.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  July 4, 2007

It was YouTube what done it. After five years of avoiding console gaming by working hard, trying to stay fit and cultivating a valuable crop of non-geek friends, I stumbled across a video of an American trying to complete the most insanely difficult Super Mario Bros mod ever on YouTube - and after two hours of crying with laughter at his commentary, I was on Amazon.co.uk spending the equivalent of US $100 for an N64.

Now I‘m not a frenzied, four-hour-a-day (or even a week) gamer, as you may have guessed, but I've got enough memory matter left to recall which games - and which consoles - I've actually played and enjoyed the most in my life (and which I immediately lost interest in and then sold again). And you know what? Despite evenings of PlayStation and Xbox hammering at friends' homes, these consoles never really made me run to the store waving my wallet.

Maybe I'm not a true gamer? You see, having to learn button combos makes my brain capsize, I don't care if the graphics these boxes of wonder pump out are equivalent to rocketing into a virtual high-definition world behind a magnifying glass, and I also don't give a hoot whether a game's artillery fire is the same as that you'd hear down on the farm in Texas. What I do care about is multi-player fun that I can persuade the missus not to yawn at, and that will encourage bunches of mates to come in the door, not out of it.

Now I nearly bought a Wii of course, and I might still take the plunge when more multi-player games become available, but for now, for a fraction of the price of Nintendo's latest ‘grey' import Wii here in this region, my soon-to-be-delivered N64 gives me four-player action. And yes, the kind of games they don't make any more; namely the most playable FPS to date - Goldeneye - and Mario Kart 64, which when all said and done is probably even more addictive than a certain fruity smartphone I could mention.

I've not played every console game released in recent years, of course, but of those I have tried out, nothing has compared to these two beauties. And I haven't even played N64's version of Zelda, which the UK's Edge Online recently voted the best ever video game.

The N64, like the Wii, isn't geek-specific. And that matters. That's why it still appeals, certainly to me. So while I'll expand my console stable by adding the Wii when its version of Mario Kart arrives, until then I'll be living in the past...

(What? You wholeheartedly disagree with this retro fool's ramblings? Tell him, on windows@itp.com)

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