With the release of the miniature SNES Classic and the success of the NES Classic, it’s logical to assume Nintendo would continue its pattern of making teeny tiny versions of preloaded throwback consoles by going ahead with the production of a Nintendo 64 Classic.
As much as Nintendo had financial success with the NES Classic, they made some design flaws with fairly simple things like the controller wire length, which did get an improvement on the SNES Classic, but overall could have been avoided or improved upon had they planned with a longer foresight in mind. Learning from the mistakes that preceded it, what could be contained within a Nintendo 64 Classic?
Before we dive into the wonderful library of games the N64 had, it should be considered what the mini device would do as standard and what it would come bundled with. An obvious starting point is two controllers. The SNES Classic console came with two controllers out of the box and the N64 Classic would surely carry on this trend. It’s part of Nintendo’s ethos that it prioritizes and puts significant importance on multiplayer and social gaming experiences, and many of their games (especially ones on the N64) were built with a strong multiplayer aspect in mind, so not including two controllers would just be sacrilegious. Not doing so would limit what their games could offer and I think it would be widely well-received if they produced multiple controller designs like the transparent color schemes the N64 used to have. They’d get bonus points if they continued their inclusion of an adaptor for any Wii remotes or pro controllers to allow friends of people who have a N64 Classic to use their own controllers to get involved. They’d also do well to design the console with four controller ports to maximize the multiplayer capacity while giving people the option to purchase more controllers, but allowing loyal Nintendo fans to use their other peripherals to play along.
Now I don’t want to suggest that the mini/classic consoles aren’t a good deal on their own, I mean you don’t sell over two million units of a dedicated console (with people demanding even more) by not giving fans something they want, but exclusivity and uniqueness are key selling points, especially in an industry with a ravenous fan base like the world of video games has. Other than outdated hardware (which can be worked around without much effort) there’s not really anything separating people who would buy a N64 Classic and the people that have just held on to their original Nintendo 64 all these years. If anything the hardcore fans are in a better position by not being bound to just the preloaded games. As they did by including unique features like game manuals, guides and an unreleased project in the form of Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic, Nintendo should look to offer a bundle of nostalgia that pays homage to one of the golden eras of video games.
Much like various games do with certain pre-order bonuses, they could include various concept artworks of the games, specially designed posters, a book showing every game’s box art, a book or DVD of a developer diary commenting on the origin of the Nintendo 64 and of each game on the system, an N64 logo key-ring, creating a line of N64 Classic amiibo like Super Mario 64 Mario or DK 64 Donkey Kong and including a random one with each machine (can you tell I’ve thought about this)—anything that’s an ode to the fans of Nintendo and of the console itself. Something like that would go a long way in convincing someone like myself who grew up playing those games to go out and buy an N64 Classic rather than finding an emulator online or dusting off my old machine.
With all of those ideas that Nintendo could include bundled with the N64 mini, they don’t actually need to do any of it. I’m sure they could just follow suit and carry on the natural continuation of their pattern by making a condensed console with a collection of past titles. I just think it would go a long way in enticing a wider audience and be a much more compelling offer that wouldn’t really require a great deal of effort on their part while paying great fan service to its truest customers around the world.
Now for the meat of the machine, what it will ultimately live and die by: the games themselves. Now this is by no means an accurate list, there may be more games on it, there may be slightly less, and I haven’t gone an included anything from the N64DD, as I don’t believe Nintendo would follow that route, they’d just keep it simple. One would assume the purpose of these mini consoles would be an inexpensive way for players, families, children etc. to be introduced to or at least have access to a device that displays all of Nintendo’s strongest and leading IPs, and with that in mind, I’ve made my list based on what games I think they’ll put the console rather than games I would like to see on the console. I’ve also stayed away from any Rare titles other than ones where Nintendo own the IP themselves as I’m unsure as to who owns what rights and all of that messy legal business. I’ve also kept the list to twenty games as that seems to be a fair amount Nintendo would offer.
I believe they would include:
Diddy Kong Racing
Donkey Kong 64
International Superstar Soccer 64
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Mario Kart 64
Star Fox 64 (Lylat Wars)
Super Mario 64
Super Smash Brothers
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Wave Race 64
The games are a fairly obvious choice with a strong Mario presence what with Party, Golf, Kart, Paper, Smash and SM64 all being included. The sports titles like 1080, Wave Race and ISS offer some diversity to the pack with a healthy amount of different racers like F-Zero X’s futuristic vibe and Diddy Kong Racing’s much more softer, kid friendly feel. It was a tough call between Ocarina and Majora’s Mask but putting my childhood preferences aside, there’s a reason Ocarina is deemed as one of, if not the best game of all time, and by that precedent alone you can’t not put it in. Obviously there’s a good chance that both games could be included, but taking a minimalist approach to the list and imagining a scenario where only one Zelda game can be used, I think Ocarina would be the natural choice. Pokémon’s resurgence in the last couple of years lends itself to featuring Pokémon Stadium in the mix as well. Lastly you have a couple of adult orientated gems like Turok and Castlevania to cover a wide demographic of players.
As much as these miniature consoles allow people to frolic in the fields of nostalgic glee (that I myself have frolicked in many a time) by playing some of the best games of their childhood/adolescence, from a business perspective they represent a much more lucrative opportunity for Nintendo to expose yet another generation of gamers to its masterpiece games and flagship intellectual properties. Nintendo could easily just rely on peoples’ rose-tinted views of their past triumphs, but the Japanese titan is a brand of lineage and proud history, so I believe would convince so many more gamers by paying respect and homage to their fan base by concentrating their efforts into areas that offer unique elements with things like the aforementioned possibilities such as artwork, developer diaries and special amiibo. They’ve done well with their two previous mini consoles, and now they’re really playing with power.