125 Fun Fact About Nintendo Part 4: 76-100 - The N64 and Early GameCube Eras

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76.  Development of the Nintendo 64 began in 1993 when Nintendo entered into an agreement with Silicon Graphics (SGI) to develop the 64-bit processor.  The project was code-named "Project Reality."

77.  SGI was originally approached by Sega for a chip-developing deal.  Sega refused the deal citing deficiencies in SGI's hardware, though SGI would claim that Sega refused the deal because they wanted sole rights to SGI's chip instead of allowing the company to license their processors out to other companies, a caveat which Nintendo readily accepted.

78.  The decision to ship games on cartridge-based ROMs for N64 games as opposed to optical discs (CDs) was controversial.  CDs were much cheaper to manufacture and offered higher fidelity sound.  Nintendo (in particular Shigeru Miyamoto) argued that the loading times for CD-ROM based games were far too long for the games they wanted to make.

79.  Super Mario 64 began its life as a Super Nintendo game which took advantage of the Super FX chip to render polygons.  It was going to be called Super Mario FX.  

80.  Surprisingly, Super Mario FX was moved to the N64 not because of the Super Nintendo's technical limitations but because Miyamoto didn't feel the controllers were optimized for a 3D platformer.  In fact the utterly perplexing design of the N64 controller was conceived specifically for Super Mario 64. 

N64 Controller

Archaeologists 3,000 years from now are going to be so baffled by this item.  Especially since the remains they found it buried next to only had two hands.

81.  The multiplayer mode for Goldeneye was added as an afterthoght, programmed almost entirely by one man, Steve Ellis.

82.  Rare originally intended for players to reload their weapons in Goldeneye by removing and reinserting the Rumble Pak into the N64 controller.

83.  Development for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time began around the same time as development for Mario 64.  It was first shown off at Spaceworld in 1995.  It looked a little..

...different than the final version gamers would get.

84.  Ocarina of Time actually runs on the same engine as Mario 64.  It was so heavily modified, however that Miyamoto considered them to be different engines.

85.  Anybody who is old enough to have had a subscription to Ninttendo Power and/or lucky enough to have internet access on their home computer will remember the tortuous wait for Ocarina of Time as it was delayed so many times, all the while Nintendo was releasing images from the beta version.  Here is a gallery of beat screenshots, which demonstrate how much the game evolved over the course of its lengthy development.

86.  The last image came from an early version of the game in which the developers remodeled the first dungeon of the original Legend of Zelda in order to test the game engine.  The photo was one of the main sources for the rumor that the Triforce was somehow obtainable in the final game. It is not, believe me I wasted many hours trying every method at the young, gullible age of 10.

87.  The advice to do a barrel role has been the single most valuable piece of wisdom I ever received.

88.   Masahiro Sakurai who was working as a programmer wanted to make a four-player fighting game, so he came up with Dragon King: The Fighting Game.  Instead of using health bars, players would try to knock their opponents off a stage.  The more damage a fighter took, the further he or she would fly.  He showed the game to his friend and co-worker, Satoru Iwata who decided to help him develop the game.  Here's what the first prototype looked like:

The idea was a novel one, and fun as well, but the game looked awful.  Also, the name was a little crappy too.  When the base figures were replaced with Nintendo Characters, and the game was given a new name Sakurai's creation became a smash  hit.

89.  Jynx is one of the most controversial Pokemon ever.  When Jynx' Pokemon Card was brought over to the US it was censored because Jynx' original design could be viewed as just a tad...

...racist.

90.  Also, the trainer card "Misty's Tears" was given new artwork when it made it's way to the states.  Because you know...

...bare boobies make us a little uncomfortable here in the States.

91.  Nintendo released a memory expansion known as the Expansion Pak which was bundled with Donkey Kong 64.  The game was not developed with the Expansion Pak in mind however. During development the programmers found a game-breaking bug that they could not track down.  Running the game with the Expansion Pak solved the problem.  Since the game could only be played with the accessory, Nintendo bundled it with DK64.

92.  Many people believe that the reason The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask required the Expansion Pak is because of it's improved graphics and higher polygon count.  This is partially correct, but what many people don't realize is that the extra memory was also required to handle all the complex NPC interactions found in the game. 

93.  Majora's Mask was developed in only one year.

94.  Development of the Nintendo Lunchbo-- I mean GameCube began in 1998 with the company ArtX (which would later be absorbed into ATI) being tasked with developing the graphics chip which they named "Flipper".  The project was announced in Nintendo's 1999 press conference under the code-name "Project Dolphin"

95.  At Spaceworld 2000 Nintendo showed a demo which featured 128 individual Marios on a single screen.  It was called Mario 128 (since you 64 * 2 = 128...it works on multiple levels).  Miyamoto announced that the demo was an actual game under development.  Of course when it was released in Japan in October of 2001 it looked completely different, and was actually developed into a whole new IP: Pikmin.

96.  Speaking of GameCube games that were actually complete reskins of previous games...Remember StarFox Adventures?  It's not a bad game, to be honest-- until very recently Rare was not capable of making bad games-- but it just seemed like the StarFox characters didn't belong in the game.  That's because they didn't.

StarFox Adventures was originally a completely original title being developed for the Nintendo 64 under the name Dinosaur Planet.  Shigeru Miyamoto later requested (read: politely demanded) that the game be retooled into a StarFox title and moved to the GameCube.  I know I'm walking on thin egg-shells when I say this but, this decision was one of Miyamoto's few mistakes.  

97.  Hiroshi Yamauchi, the president of Nintendo at the time, wanted the GameCube to be exclusively about games as opposed to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox which focused on multimedia applications.  Yamauchi also believed that players bought systems to play the games, not to play with the systems themselves, so he wanted the GameCube to be the cheapest console on the market so players could more easily get to the games. 

98.  Constantly looking for ways for Nintendo to diversify their revenue sources, Yamauchi purchased the Seattle Mariners in the early 90s.  Nintendo still owns the club.

99.  Yamauchi-San retired from his position as President of Nintendo on May 31 2002, handing the reigns over to Satoru Iwata who has been president ever since.  The former president refused his retirement pension (estimated to be about $12 million) stating that he felt the company he had served for so many years could put it to better use.

100.   Yamauchi-San the man who was responsible for turning Nintendo into the juggernaut it is today, passed away on September 19th 2013 at the age of 85.  May he rest in peace.


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