But no home console was so deliberately engineered to deliver well-crafted, compulsively replayable multiplayer experiences like the Nintendo 64—a quality that eventually came to distinguish it from the rest of its competition. When you look back on the Sony Playstation, the games that stand out—Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil 2—were entirely single-player, designed to deliver an experience that was groundbreakingly immersive but essentially solitary.
The Nintendo 64, of course, had its own single-player masterpieces. (I’d submit Banjo-Kazooie, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, and two of the all-time great Zelda games, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask). But the majority of the N64’s truly memorable titles were best when you played them alongside a few friends. In short, the N64 was the first great social console—and 20 years later, it still hasn’t quite been surpassed.
I grew up in a staunch Nintendo household (I’ve still never owned a PlayStation or Xbox) and can attest to the multiplayer thrills of the N64. I’ve got some great memories of me and my teenage friends competing on Goldeneye or Mario Kart. Particularly when we should have been revising for exams. I must dig it out again—I’ve been wanting to revisit the Zelda games.