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Are We In For The N64 All Over Again?

Luke - Writer
June 30, 2001

Introduction
The Nintendo 64 was a great system, and although it held its own over the competition, there were a few faults in the system's hardware that let it down. Add to this the severe shortage of RPGs & fighting games, and you can see why it ultimately lost the console war to the PSX. Nintendo went with cartridges over CDs, sacrificing storage and price for loading speed & durability. Larger cartridges were being created, but they still couldn't hold enough to store the features Sony's Playstation's CDs could store with ease, such as FMV & large amount's of speech. RPG fans were also devastated with the n64's pathetic line up; after 5 years of production the n64 had 5 RPGs. Sure, most of them were great games, but they didn't satisfy RPG gamers needs. Quality fighting games were also at a lack, the main reason being Namco and Capcom not supporting the n64 until late in production, and even then they didn't grace the system with their popular and quality fighting games. What I'm trying to say is not that the n64 was a bad system, but that whether the Gamecube will be able to surpass the n64's efforts and address its faults in light of the competition. Obviously the NGC is a much more powerful & technologically advanced system, but it still lacks in some areas in which it shouldn't. So, Are We In For The N64 All Over Again?

Are in for it all over again?
Firstly, the graphics of the N64 seemed to have a generally blurry look, due to the effect "Anti-aliasing". This was an optional effect built into the Nintendo 64's hardware for programmers to utilise, but most programmers saw Anti-aliasing as a necessity and overused it to an extent that created the blurry look that can hurt your eyes. The PSX however had no such effect built in, which was both a good thing and a bad thing. It meant programmers couldn't over use the effect like they did with most n64 games, but it also created the grainy and jagged edges seen so often on the PSX. The NGC suffers none of these problems, it supports an enhanced kind of Anti-aliasing, and also has a number of built in effects such as bump mapping. Using all the advanced features of the NGC, Anti-aliasing wont be as important, and the NGC graphics will be clear, smooth and beautiful. At least we know we wont be in for the blurry graphics of the n64, and that's definitely a good thing.

Another let down with the Nintendo 64's graphics were the textures. The textures on the N64 were often washed out & blurred, even on 3rd generation software such as Zelda: MM & Perfect Dark. This could not be helped, as the cartridge storage format used by Nintendo had a very small amount of space, this also led to even more shortcomings such as short games & speech not being utilised often in games. The NGC breaks away from these bonds, and uses a proprietary format created by Nintendo. They take the shape of mini-DvDs; small discs half the size of CDs. These Mini DvDs can hold 1.5 Gigabytes, a huge amount of space that will allow FMVs and speech to be utilised by programmers with ease. Textures will be crisp, due to the advanced yet simple method of streaming the NGC uses, and it's large amount of video ram. The competition of the NGC however, has opted to use plain DvD format that can hold upwards of 8 Gigabytes, 5 times that of the NGC. Therefore developers will make their games larger, more advanced and take up more of the new space, and then when they turn to the Gamecube they will not be able to do all the things they want on the NGC's tiny discs. However, this cannot be predicted, and none of the Ps2's newer offerings have reached anywhere near 8 gig, and they could all fit on the NGC's proprietary mini-DvDs. So maybe such large amounts of space may not be needed, not many types of games need such space, and generally any sports title wont even go over the 1 gigabyte mark. However RPGs and quest related games need a lot of space, but unlike the Nintendo 64, the NGC now has the opportunity to go multi-disc, erasing problems for space with RPGs.

The N64 had a very lacklustre 3rd party line up, and therefore the n64 housed half the number of titles the PSX had. At a particular loss were RPGs and fighting games. The king of RPGs, Square, had turned to the PSX in a huff, claiming they wouldn't develop for cartridges any longer. In fact, Nintendo lost many 3rd parties due to its cartridge storage format and difficult hardware. The n64 was a notoriously difficult piece of hardware to develop for, it was filled with strange corners and dark alleys while the PSX was like an open field, easy to develop for yet still powerful in its own way, calling developers too it. And so the n64 lost 3 vital 3rd parties, Square, Capcom and Namco. Capcom and Namco signed on later in the n64's life, but they delivered mediocre titles and none of their famous franchises or quality games. Square have created so many good RPGs its not even funny, for the PSX, Game Boy, Super Nintendo & PS2. Square could have done so much for the n64, but they choose to let it rot, and they created some brilliant hits on the PSX instead. The n64 was left with Ogre Battle 64, the two wonderful Zelda titles, Paper Mario & Quest 64. Square have offered interest in the NGC and even asked to supply the NGC with its gracious presence, but the president of Nintendo; Mr Yamauchi has rejected Squares offer, claiming the NGC will do just fine without him. This was quite a surprising response by Mr Yamauchi, and Frank has spurted his views about this here. The NGC will still hold up, even without Square, as the tides have now been turned, and the NGC offers supreme ease of development & untapped potential. The Ps2 however has the incredibly difficult emotion engine for programmers to wrangle with, not to mention its unorthodox methods for streaming textures off the disc. This means the NGC may see more developers flock too it, not that it needs any more, the NGC is already loaded with dozens of 3rd party developers that will surely be creating RPGs. In fact there have already been 5 RPGs announced for the NGC, that's the same number that the n64 had at its demise! So as far as RPGs are concerned, the NGC will provide. Fighting games are also on the up, with two major players joining the growing 3rd party list, Capcom & Namco. Ever heard of Streetfighter? Tekken? Well these are just some of the fighting games Capcom and Namco are responsible for, so you can be sure to see some great fighting games on the NGC.

Conclusion
The NGC is set to be a major player in the nextgen console wars, and it diminishes all the faults of its predecessor, putting it at the top of the heap of nextgen consoles. Now all we have to do is wait for it, and enjoy some serious gaming bliss in the form games the N64 would never have been able to support such as Phantasy Star Online V2, Zelda, Raven Blade & Eternal Darkness. Be happy, be very very happy.