Nintendo has a history of either inventing or revolutionizing incredible game technology. Many game technologies we take for granted today may not have been necessarily invented by Nintendo, but their adaptation of certain technologies really contributed to the video game industry, as they were a leading innovator and trendsetter for many things.
How Nintendo 64 Influenced Modern Gaming Consoles
So in this article, we’re going to go over several features and accessories of the Nintendo 64 console that really influenced future console generations, and while Nintendo may not have invented all of these technologies, their inclusion on the N64 really shaped how other console competitors would adapt the technologies to their own consoles.
Nintendo gave us the first popular split-screen gaming on the Super Nintendo with Super Mario Kart in 1992, but the concept was taken to new levels on the N64, particularly in the first-person shooter Goldeneye 007, and Mario Kart 64, both games supporting up to 4-players in split-screen mode (woe betide everyone if you had a small TV screen, but we were too amazed to care).
Split-screen gaming is now a staple of consoles, thanks to how well Nintendo utilized it. This is a great example of how Nintendo recognized the potential for an existing concept and made it a staple that influenced future gaming.
Another great example, while Nintendo did not invent Tetris, they sold over 35 million copies of the game bundling it with the Nintendo Gameboy in 1988, and we have its incredible popularity to thank for modern falling-puzzle-piece games like Candy Crush or 10×10.
The original Sony Playstation console released 2 years before the N64, was capable of split-screen gaming, which was used in later PSX titles like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or 4-player split-screen in Twisted Metal 4 using a PlayStation Multitap. But the superior hardware specs of the N64 allowed for much smoother split-screen performance.
Also, the N64 had 4 controller ports and didn’t require purchasing an extra accessory like the PlayStation Multitap for connecting two more controllers.
Analog sticks and controller rumble
All console controllers have analog sticks today, and analog sticks were a thing before the N64 but only obscurely, such as the Sega Man Drive XE-1 AP, a behemoth of a third-party controller with very limited game support.
Nintendo made the analog stick a core feature of the N64 gamepad and the N64’s lineup of games, which cemented the analog stick’s place in console gaming. Now you can enjoy all console games, tons of mobile games, and even io games which you can play here with analog-stick compatibility.
It’s taken for granted now but, being able to walk or run in a direction depending on how far you pushed the analog stick was mind-blowing at the time.
There are people out there who will point out that Nintendo didn’t invent the controller-with-analog-stick, but the N64 was really the console to actually popularize analog sticks and have games on launch-ready to use it.
Sony literally 1-upped Nintendo by including two analog sticks on the PSX Dual Analog controller, the predecessor to the DualShock design that Sony continues to use today. And it actually worked better, two analog sticks is definitely better than one.
However, N64 also popularized the RumblePak, a vibrating-motor accessory for the N64 controller, before Sony released their DualShock controllers.
This is another area where Sony 1-upped Nintendo, as the RumblePak was a single-motor, the sold-separately accessory that required batteries, and Sony’s DualShock controller had two built-in motors powered by the PlayStation itself.
People on the internet will argue about who had prototypes and blueprints for these technologies first, but at the end of the day, we were playing Mario 64 with an analog stick and RumblePak before anything else was popular.
Voice recognition gaming
First released in Japan in 1998, Nintendo’s Voice Recognition Unit was compatible with only two games. A Japanese title Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen, and Hey You, Pikachu! which was released in North America in 2000.
The idea was that players could issue commands to the game via the VRU microphone adapter, such as commanding Pikachu to dance or cast his thunderbolt powers.
Sega also released a microphone attachment later in 2000 for their Dreamcast console, with a handful more compatible titles than Nintendo’s two, but the Dreamcast was already on its way to commercial failure.
Later consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox made excellent use of voice-commands, such as in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 and being able to order your AI-squad to open doors and clear hallways.
And now you can do things with modern consoles like use voice-activated commands to turn them on and off. But we can totally credit Nintendo 64 and Hey You, Pikachu! with getting the ball rolling on voice-activated games and microphones as a gamepad accessory.
If you wanted to get really technical, the Nintendo Famicom (NES) in 1983 was the first console to have a built-in microphone on a controller, used in the original Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda.