If you’re like me, you love the “mini” console phenomenon that’s going on right now. Nintendo started off the craze by releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic (NES Classic). This system launched in November of 2016 to immediate acclaim and sales. It sold out instantaneously. Following this, Nintendo had to reissue the console. It went out of print in December of 2018.
Nintendo set off a bomb to the gaming industry. Companies that formerly made consoles were in the market for these mini-HD consoles. After all, retro gaming on an HD screen sucks unless it’s been optimized or modded. Nintendo followed up on this with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System Mini (SNES Classic). That mini console released in September of 2017. Nintendo learned their lesson from the NES Classic though. They printed many more copies of the SNES Classic.
Flash forward to today, and we have the Playstation Classic, the Turbo Grafx 16 Mini, and the Sega Genesis Classic on the market. These consoles all sold relatively well and besides the Playstation Classic, were well received. So what’s next in this craze?
Why You Won’t Be Getting An Nintendo 64 Version
One of my favorite Youtube channels, Modern Vintage Gamer goes pretty deep into the technical reasons why it won’t be cost effective for this unit to exist. In addition to these technical aspects, some of the other reasons why the system won’t exist are because of current Nintendo hardware and licensing issues.
Licensing Is Huge For The N64 Classic
Think about some of the best games on the N64? Sure, Mario Kart 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario 64 come up. But what about the games made by Rare? They were one of the biggest “second-party” studios for Nintendo on that console. Games like Goldeneye (double for this one, trying to get the rights to James Bond again), Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and more wouldn’t be able to see the light of day on the classic console. If you take a look at the best-selling games for the N64, Rare is all over the list.
What about the wrestling games that made the N64, the place, for WCW or WWF games? How would the licensing work for all of those? I’m not into legal like that, so I have no clue. That goes the same for some of the sports titles on the system. I know people don’t want sports games on their classic console, but some of the baseball games for the N64 were fantastic!
So sure, you could get a bunch of Nintendo first party games on the thing, and it would still excite people. That doesn’t mean that it would be an accurate representation of the console. Take a look at the choice of games for the SNES Classic. It has Konami games, Capcom games, SquareSoft games, you name it.
An N64 classic would suffer from these licensing issues by Microsoft owning Rare.
Technical Issues And The Nintendo Switch
In addition to the licensing issues, the hardware needed to produce high-quality reproduction of the Nintendo 64, might be too costly. If you watch Modern Vintage Gamer’s video above, he mentions how much it might cost for Nintendo to sell a hypothetical unit. It’s around $150. That is dangerously close to the current price for the Nintendo Switch Lite.
The Nintendo Wii, 3DS, and Wii U all had some sort of virtual console where Nintendo sold retro games. The Wii had the best one and there were only about 20 different N64 games made for the app. This is something that Nintendo would be incredibly foolish to not bring to the portable Switch. It would be a license to print money for them. Now I know they have the Switch Online, NES and SNES libraries. Those are nice, but how awesome would it be to play Earthbound or Super Mario 64 on the go?
I upgraded from a normal Nintendo 3DS to a “New” Nintendo 3DS, mainly because you can play SNES games on the system. The Switch is one of the best places to play retro games anyway.
Other Issues With The Mini N64
The final bit for why there probably won’t be an N64 Classic, is a smaller reason. The NES and SNES controllers are already small and compact. They were easy to remake for the modern audience. Nintendo 64 controllers are huge and cumbersome. So you would have a tiny console, but a massive set of controllers? You can’t make the N64 controller any smaller without it being laughable to hold. In the realm of badly designed controllers, it takes the cake in my opinion. So to keep the “mini” aesthetic going, the controllers would be an issue.
Think More For N64 Remasters Or Remakes Instead
The Nintendo 64 was my first home console. It’s what got me into gaming in the first place. I would love more than anything for an N64 Mini. If it was $150, I wouldn’t even think about not buying it. That doesn’t mean that Nintendo is just going to come out and make one though. I also collect retro games. Nintendo 64 prices, especially in quarantine, have exploded. The console combines low print runs with huge demand. So you see games like Mario Kart 64 that sold incredibly well, still going for $40-60. The prices are insane, so getting 25-30 of the best games on the system for $150 would be a great deal. If Nintendo starts going into making the different colors for the console or controllers, just take my wallet now.
In the end, it would just make more sense financially for Nintendo to do what they did with the Virtual Console. If they charge $8 for Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Switch, that’ll probably sell more than any number of N64 classics would. That’s just the truth. So maybe for all of us N64 fans, it’s just better to hope for some Switch ports of our favorite 64 bit games. It’s one of the most popular consoles from my youth, and it could definitely have used all this support when it was in it’s life. But sadly, we’re just left with the memories and expensive games.
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Source: Modern Vintage Gamer