The Nintendo 64, often abbreviated as N64, is Nintendo's third home video
game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit CPU, it
was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, March
1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1997 in France and December 1997 in
Brazil. It is Nintendo's last home console to use Game Paks to store games
(Nintendo switched to a MiniDVD-based format for the Nintendo GameCube, then
to standard DVD-sized discs for the Wii); handhelds in the Game Boy line, however,
continued to use Game Paks. It was discontinued in 2001 in Japan, North America
and PAL regions by the launch of the GameCube.
The N64 was released with two launch games, Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64,
and a third in Japan, Saikyo Habu Shogi. The N64's suggested retail price was
US$199 at its launch and it was later marketed with the slogan "Get N, or get Out!".
The N64 sold 32.93 million units worldwide. The console was released in at least
eight variants with different colors and sizes. An assortment of limited edition
controllers were sold or used as contest prizes during the N64's lifespan.
Of the consoles in the fifth generation, the Nintendo 64 was the last contender
and the most technologically advanced. However the console's storage medium had
limitations which harmed the market competitiveness. A significant limitation was
the small capacity and high production expense of cartridge-based media instead of
the Compact Disc format used by competitors. The limited capacity forced game
designers to struggle with fitting game content into a constrained space, though
the faster access time of the cartridge medium offered other advantages over
Compact Disc media. Another technical drawback was a limited texture cache, which
could only hold textures of small dimensions and reduced color depth, which had
to be stretched to cover larger in-game surfaces. For more information for the
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