Memories of 1997 & the N64


I'd like to take you back to November 1997. Labour were in the process of convincing us that "things could only get better"and Aqua had enjoyed a massive pop hit with barbie girl, and I know it was a hit because it played on a constant loop in Dixons electronics as I queued to buy my Nintendo 64!

Article by Andy Carrick - follow on Twitter: andycarrick1

On instagram:  andycarrick

N64 commercials:

But before I tell that story I need to take you back a bit further. You see, I was a Sega kid, my brother and I received a master system for Xmas when I was 13 and we played it up until I started earning my own money at 16, where my 1st purchase on my 1st payday was a Sega megadrive. I loved that machine, it had everything, footy games (Fifa, sensible soccer, iss deluxe) fantasy games (golden axe, ghouls and ghosts, wonderboy) alongside countless other classics that remain in my favourite games lists to this day.

Eager for more tech I upgraded to a mega cd and then to a Sega Saturn and that's where the relationship grew sour. Don't get me wrong, the Saturn was a cool machine but not megadrive cool, 3rd party games seemed better on PlayStation (which most of my friends owned) and footy games, my main genre, were lacking compared to the ageing megadrive, international victory goal anyone?

Anyone? Thought not! Around about the Autumn of 1997, with the Saturn slowly dying out, and me remaining unconvinced by the Sony powerhouse I started to look for a new gaming fix. I used to devour gaming magazines in those pre-internet days and would regularly buy mags from a variety of systems and most multi format publications looking for my next obsession.

The launch of the Nintendo 64 had largely passed me by with its clunky old cartridges and bizarre controller, and besides, I was a sega kid! But a Xmas preview copy of Gamesmaster magazine, and a review of iss 64 in particular started to turn my head. I started researching my new project and, coupled with a controversial price drop, I was convinced it was the machine for me.

So here I am in Dixons electronics in the metrocentre in the cold north east of England on a dark Friday evening in November, Aqua blasting over the store speakers, queuing to buy the best value bundle I could find, machine for £150, then 2 games (mario64 and mario kart64) with a 2nd pad and 2 memory packs for £100, the full package for £250, bargain! I opted to swap Mario kart for iss 64 and off I went into the night, pleased as punch.

I stayed out for food and cinema that night so It was late when I got home, I put my new toy down and went to bed when I got in. My Saturday shift was 11:00-21:00 in those days so I got up and went straight to work the next morning. My usual Saturday night routine was home at 9, bath then watch match of the day but on this particular Saturday night I couldn't wait. After rushing home and a quick bath I was unwrapping my new toy by 21:45 and was playing iss64 by 21:50. I was blown away, no loading times, fantastic graphics, new fandangled analogue controller, random in game commentary, the game I'd been waiting for since the megadrive.

N64 Memories

I played for the next couple of hours, friendlies at 1st, then a tournament, stopping to alter formations and strategies and edit my team as I went. The next thing I became aware of was how cold I was, lighting and heating had gone off and I was sat at 2am unaware of how dark and cold it had become, 4hours had gone by in the blink of an eye! I turned the fire on and went to make a cup of tea, promising myself that I'd have a quick brew while I tested the other game then off to bed. I never did get that cup of tea.

If iss64 was the game is been waiting for 3 years then mario64 was the game is been waiting my whole life for, and I wasn't prepared for it. Now, many people have waxed lyrical about mario64 and its impact over the years, about how they messed with Mario's face at first, or how they ran around the castle gardens for the 1st half hour of play but I never, not at first at least, I ran straight to the castle and completed the first mission, only after I won 2 or 3 stars did I begin to explore the castle, it's grounds and it's secrets.

Mario bros and its sequels, and Mario world had largely passed me by in the past, sure I'd heard of them, read reviews, I'd even played Mario world on the snes but they weren't of much interest to me, so the first time I was invited into the mushroom kingdom was a revelation. So much colour, so many secrets, such amazing gameplay, it's no exaggeration to say my mind was blown and my eyes opened, why had I waited so long to play Nintendo! I turned it off at 5am, unable to keep my eyes open any longer but by then I knew I'd bought my favourite machine of all time. I continued to spend all my free time for the next few weeks exploring that castle and being a goal scoring superstar hero until Xmas where I received shadows of the empire (yay!) from my parents along with top gear rally (boo!) based on a magazine review claiming it was as good as sega rally (it wasn't) and a rumble pack.

N64 Memories 1

I devoured every game I could get my hands over the next year, turok, lylat wars, goldeneye. I fell in love with Mario kart 64, I upgraded to the majestic iss98, (still the greatest footy game ever made and the cart that's sitting in my n64 right now) and I finally completed Mario 64 although it would take me a few more years and the birth of YouTube before I won 120 stars and met yoshi. I could talk about n64 for ever, I haven't even touched on ocarina of time yet, but that cold night in November 97 will always be one of my greatest ever gaming memories and the reason that my n64 takes pride of place in my games room.

Anyway back to iss98 and a top of the table clash with Uzbekistan!

Article by Andy Carrick - follow on Twitter: andycarrick1

On instagram:  andycarrick

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