Jun 30 2018
Nintendo needs to make the N64 Classic
On June 29 2018, the NES Classic has been re-released. This time the mini-console has been released in numbers that allow the consumer to actually just go to the store and purchase one instead of fighting scalpers who want to charge double or more for the unit. The SNES Classic is still in production as well. While it seems to be harder to find than the NES Classic at the moment, the system is still restocked in stores, and can be purchased via resellers for either at or slightly above MSRP.

With the runaway success of the first two, Nintendo is likely to eventually release an N64 Classic, which would likely be the last in the mini console series (although I do see the possibility of them releasing a handheld lineup of Game Boy Classic, Game Boy Color Classic, Game Boy Advance Classic, and maybe DS Classic). However, if Nintendo wants to do this, the time is now, and a lot of the reason behind that is due to Microsoft.

Microsoft owns Rareware, who is the company behind many classic Nintendo titles, and especially are known for their abundance of quality N64 releases. Rare was the top third party publisher on the N64, and its hard to imagine an N64 Classic Edition without Rare games on the console. Now that Microsoft owns them, Nintendo has to work directly with a competitor to get rights to those games. However, the gaming landscape right now paints the two companies as allies.

Going into modern gaming, cross-play is becoming a major feature, since most AAA titles are released across multiple platforms. Recently, we have seen the release of Fortnight on the PS4, X-Box One, and Switch. Nintendo and Microsoft have allowed cross-play between players on their two consoles, allowing them to play against each other. Meanwhile, Sony has locked players to only playing against people that own a PS4. Nintendo and Microsoft have even released a joint video touting their cross play teamwork. Soon to support cross play is the mega hit Minecraft.

Since the two companies are working in tandem, Nintendo should take this opportunity to try to make a deal for publishing rights for some of RareWares N64 hits for usage in the N64 classic. Titles such as Donkey Kong 64, Banjo Kazooie, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct Gold, Diddy Kong Racing, and Blast Corps will not be on the N64 Classic unless Nintendo can strike a deal, and it's hard to imagine an N64 Classic without at least a couple of those titles on the console. While it is possible for Nintendo to release the system without Rare titles, the lineup would likely be a lot weaker. As an example, lets assume the console will have 20 games on it. Here is a potential list of best-of games, leaving off Rare titles.
Honestly, that's a fairly strong list of games that features a very strong Nintendo with some of the better third party games as well, with 11 first party Nintendo games and 9 third party releases. That being said, it would be easy to improve that list by removing Kirby 64, Vigilante 8 and Battletanx and replacing them with Killer Instinct Gold, Perfect Dark, and Banjo Kazooie. Just those three games instantly move the console up a tier in terms of solid games (although Kirby 64, Vigilante 8, and Battletanx are among some of the best N64 titles as well).

In my opinion, there is no better time to get the N64 Classic on shelves, because right now Nintendo has the best chance they have had in years to form a strong lineup of titles for an N64 classic. They would also get the added bonus of being able to have all 3 Classic Consoles on store shelves at the same time to give newer games a great introduction to Nintendos cartridge era of video games, and to see how the game industry developed over time firsthand, using authentic controllers but made for use on modern televisions.

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