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Vintage Game Retailers Say Nintendo 64 Was Their Hottest Holiday Seller
Posted: Posted January 2nd
Edited January 2nd by Q

Should Nintendo be looking at releasing an N64 Classic? Yes, if this year’s sales of the original 64-bit hardware are anything to go by.

Sellers of vintage gaming hardware said they noticed a boom in Nintendo 64 sales this holiday season, a shift away from the previous generations of consoles that Christmas shoppers had coveted years earlier. Storeowners, online sellers, and repairmen I interviewed said that in the months leading up to Christmas, Nintendo 64s were hot commodities, especially among 25- to 30-year-olds who’d grown up with the system.

“We easily sold over a hundred,” said Daniel Mastin, general manager of the independent store Video Games New York, as he stood in front of a glass showcase stacked high with Japanese Famicom cartridges and neatly arranged Game Boy Color boxes. Over the last few years, Mastin said he has noticed a slow movement away from the Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems that had dominated Christmas sales years ago at his New York City store.

“This was the best year for the 64 to date,” he said. While we were chatting, the phone rang. The caller, who had just received an N64 for Christmas, wanted to know whether Video Games New York still had controllers.

Originally released in 1996, the Nintendo 64 was a major milestone in gaming’s shift from 2D, sprite-based graphics into 3D polygons. While it was dramatically outsold by and had far fewer titles than the Sony PlayStation, marking the first dip in Nintendo’s dominance of the gaming industry, the Nintendo 64 still garnered a small library of true classics like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, and Goldeneye 007. Its four controller ports made it the go-to system for multiplayer gaming.

Today, the kids who grew up with Nintendo 64 are looking to recapture their childhoods, and it’s a coast-to-coast craze. Josh Hamblin, a game collector and seller from Portland, Oregon, said he also saw a significant uptick in N64 sales, and he thinks it’s just the time for it.

“That generation of gamer is getting older and has more disposable income,” he explained. “They want to relive their childhood and have an extra $50 laying around.”

As inventories depleted during the holiday season, Hamblin raised the average price of his refurbished N64 units, which came with a console, one controller, and the necessary cables, from around $70 to $80 or even $85 each. That’s only about $120 less than their 1996 release price of $199. As the holiday season closed in, Hamblin spent more and more money to get inventory. He bought 15 Nintendo 64s from a fellow seller for $40 each, and sold them all for twice the price in just three days.

The standard gray-colored launch model of the Nintendo 64 is the most common and least expensive model. If you want one of the candy-colored “Funtastic” versions that Nintendo released later—to say nothing of the edition with a plastic Pikachu embedded into the casing—be prepared to spend up to $150 or even more.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s better to be in a major metropolitan area if you’re looking to score vintage hardware, Video Games New York co-owner Mastin said. “Stores in Nowheresville, Georgia sell them for $100 because they can’t get their hands on them.”

“I wish I had 15 or 20 more,” said Joe, the owner of another New York independent games store called 8-Bit And Up. Joe, who spoke with Kotaku on the condition that we not use his last name, sold out of the plain gray N64 consoles before Christmas, which, he said, 30-year-olds bought to give the gift of nostalgia. At one point, Joe received a console that “looked like someone shot a hole right through to the RAM expansion.” He held onto it after testing to see whether it worked. Shortly after, a customer came in, desperate for an N64 for Christmas, and eagerly bought it, hole be damned.

Sources I interviewed say that the original PlayStation isn’t seeing the same renaissance. The reason is twofold, they say. First, the Nintendo 64 appears to be more durable and requires minimal work to refurbish, unlike the CD-ROM-based PlayStation and its easily scratched discs. Also, what millennial buyers are nostalgic for is the Nintendo 64’s local multiplayer experience: Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros., Mario Party. The early PlayStations didn’t as readily accommodate party gaming. Of course, to truly replicate that experience, you’ve also got to shell out for three more controllers at $15-20 a pop.

But once you do, it’s like going back home again. “The quality of Nintendo’s stuff was the best,” Hamblin said. “It was the best four-player system to ever hit the market.”


I still have my N64 and recently hooked it up to play some SM64. Still works like a champ after almost 2 decades.

Anyone else still have thier N64?

There are 11 Replies

Oh yes, still works too, though some of the game carts have seen better days and all of my controller joysticks are in worse shape than my body was in college. They make GameCube joysticks for N64 controllers; I'm considering replacing all the joysticks on my controllers accordingly.

Posted January 2nd by Black Yoshi

My N64 still works when I last put it in. Though I have to put it in a few times to get it to work properly. 2 of my controllers have definitely aged, the joysticks aren't very stiff anymore. I haven't had too much of a reason to go back to N64 since all the games I owned as a kid have been completely beaten (back when I had lots of time to play them). There's almost no games I really missed out on imo except Pilotwings which I never really heard about as a kid.

Posted January 2nd by Fox Forever

"They make GameCube joysticks for N64 controllers; I'm considering replacing all the joysticks on my controllers accordingly."

I have been contemplating buying one but I have only ever had just 1 official N64 controller. My others were madcatz so I ordered an atomic purple controller the other day that said the stick was only a little loose, but if it's too bad I will probably try that stick swap option.

"There's almost no games I really missed out on imo except Pilotwings which I never really heard about as a kid."

I played it as a kid, but honestly it was a launch game that was designed as more of a tech demo than anything else so you didn't really miss anything.

Edited January 2nd by Q

I still have my N64 AND a purple funtastic controller! Along with a barely-played Banjo Kazooie, a more played Diddy Kong Racing, and some significantly more played Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye 007, Super Mario 64, and Paper Mario.

Good times :)

Unfortunately, my rumble paks all crapped out on me. Paper Mario made really good use of that thing.

Posted January 2nd by mariomguy

I would check out a n64 mini. But I get the feeling that the switch will support the emulation of all the games presented in nintendos "mini" line.

Aside from nostalgia I personally see no reason to hold onto some of these older consoles. Ive popped in some GC games and by god do they look horrible on newer tvs. I can only imagine what its like to play n64 games without the HDMI physical mod.

More power (heh) to you if you keep these systems and still would like to play them/ collect for them in the future.

I think Q has already vouched for it before but does any one own a snes mini? is it worth the pick up if youve never played any of the games on it? do the games look good on modern tvs?

Edited January 2nd by S.O.H.

That is how those games always looked. You couldn't tell it was so bad because ALL TV was broadcast using similar standards. Technically the N64 ran at 1/4 resolution, but the 3D and graphics were so rare and eye-popping at the time you spent most of the time with your jaw dropped that the thing happening on your TV was even possible. Up until then, the best graphics you had to go off of was Yoshi's Island or very early PS1 games which looked even worse. That opening cinematic in Super Mario 64 was a collective moment shared by gamers around the world: it signaled the beginning of a new era that would never end. Nobody cared about pixels. If it was in 3D and it played like that, it was magic.

Posted January 2nd by mariomguy

Cool. HDMI mods have made them look 10x better as seen with the video I posted the other day.

Thank you for the first cringe reaction of 2018 lol

Posted January 2nd by S.o.h.

Ain't nothin' quite as marketable as nostalgia...

My N-64 is pretty dead at this point. I always think about getting another one, but then I think about how I haven't even wanted to play an N-64 game in years. Guess I'm at the point in my life where I need something a li'l more than just nostalgia to spend what limited disposable income I have.

Posted January 3rd by Jet Presto

"I think Q has already vouched for it before but does any one own a snes mini? is it worth the pick up if youve never played any of the games on it? do the games look good on modern tvs? "

Yes I have vouched for it and it is definitely worth a pickup, but don't get one from online scalpers. The games included in it look crystal clear and colorful on modern TV's and games such as Secret of Mana and Donkey Kong country still look great.

Posted January 3rd by Q

Perhaps I'm a little hesitant to jump on the HDMI bandwagon because UI elements will still be shown on their old 320x240 resolution, making games like Paper Mario look like crap.

Posted January 3rd by mariomguy

Well Paper Mario is not on the SNES Classic, however if there is a N64 Classic with Paper Mario included then yes that will be a possibility. The SNES Classic has a CRT filter that applies artificial scan lines that helps to soften menu text so perhaps that will help with other games.

Posted January 4th by Q
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