With the NES Classic Mini and SNES Classic Mini being so successful, many have speculated about the possibility of a Nintendo 64 version. And well, it seems a recent trademark registration has thrown even more fuel onto the fire here. That’s because the trademark is for the N64, and covers video game programs, the familiar controller, a TV games system and various other elements that hint Nintendo may be considering the idea in future.
Which in turn means the possibility of a Nintendo 64 Classic Mini is better than ever. After all, Nintendo don’t just trademark things at a whim, and with the success of the NES and SNES versions in recent years, a Nintendo 64 version does seem like the next likely step.
But could it work? Would the idea of a N64 Mini be a viable one for Nintendo?
Because there are still a few issues that remain unanswered, like the obvious one about the games. What games would be on such a system?
Cause while the two Zelda games, Super Mario 64 and Smash Bros are shoe ins, and a fair few other Nintendo made titles would be likely as well, many of the best games for the Nintendo 64 were not by Nintendo themselves.
No, they were by Rare. Such as GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Perfect Dark among many others.
So, would said games be included?
Well, we’d hope so. Cause let’s face it, Rare were the number 1 reason to buy an N64 back in the day, right behind Nintendo themselves. If you bought the system, you almost certainly bought the Banjo-Kazooie games, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark or various other such titles along with it, and not having them on an N64 Classic would really lose the feel of the system.
However, the rights issues with Rare games pale compared to a certain famous title. That’s because while Microsoft are open to working with Nintendo on various things and have let their IPs get released on Nintendo systems, the rights for GoldenEye are far messier.
Basically, Nintendo owns part of the game since they published it. Rare owns part of the game, because they developed it.
But a third party also owns part of the game, since the actual James Bond license isn’t owned by either Rare nor Nintendo. This means any GoldenEye rerelease has to get the approval of three different companies before it can go ahead.
And at this point in time… we have absolutely no idea who this mystery third company might be. Oh sure, it used to be Activision (hence the GoldenEye remake on Wii, and the cancelled port that was in development for Xbox Live Arcade). Yet they lost it a few years back, after their last few games were terrible and underperformed at market. Hence no one really knows what’s going on with the franchise when it comes to video games right now, and the relevant license seems to be floating around in limbo somewhere.
So, if Nintendo wants to put one of the most beloved games on the system on a retro N64 console, they’d have to track down the rights to Bond and figure out who the hell actually has the ability to make video games based on him anymore. Or hell, even go and buy the rights themselves from Danjac LLC or Eon Productions. Would they go through with that? We’re not sure to be honest, especially not for a short-term release like a mini console.
Outside of Bond and Rare, things don’t get much better either. Why? Because quite a few other classic titles from the era were also third-party products, and not the kind that would be easy to redistribute in 2018.
For example, on various top N64 games lists online, the following games often crop up:
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
- WWF No Mercy or WWF Wrestlemania 2000
- Various Star Wars games (Rogue Squadron usually)
- Resident Evil 2
- Various Turok titles (often Turok 2)
- Beetle Adventure Racing
Those aren’t exactly easy titles to secure the rights to, and some of them involve companies long since dead. Add in a few more obscure choices to round out the numbers, and well, things could get complicated here.
Then there’s Pokemon. Yeah, Pokemon Stadium 1 and 2 were really well received in their day too, but those relied on the old transfer pack to work properly, and hence ended up never being released on Virtual Console because of it. Would any of these games be included? Hard to say, but if they didn’t include the transfer pack they’d be virtually useless, since the in-game rentals are as good as useless in actual gameplay.
But game rights are the only thing that makes us question the idea of an N64 Classic Mini. No, simple product viability has to be called into question too.
Because let’s face it, as much as we really hate to say this…
The Nintendo 64 was not a fantastic seller in its heyday. It did better than the likes of the Sega Saturn yes, but it was thoroughly trounced by the original PlayStation in sales and its audience was nowhere near as wide as that of the NES or SNES.
So, you have to ask yourself… would Nintendo really make a mini console based on it?
Or would they release one based on the Game Boy instead, a console which sold over a hundred million units and became a massive phenomenon throughout its life? Honestly the choice seems pretty clear from a business perspective, and it’s not one that’s stacked in the N64’s favour.
But still, the trademark is there, and the possibility does seem more open now. So, what do you think? Could Nintendo really be working on a Nintendo 64 Classic Mini? Would you buy one if third party games or GoldenEye 007 wasn’t present?
Tell us what you think in the comments below or on the Gaming Latest forums today!