Release Date: 9/29/96
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The Nintendo 64, often abbreviated to N64, was Nintendo's third major home video game console. Project Reality was the code-name of the console being worked on by Nintendo and Silicon Graphics (SGI) in April of 1993 to create a next-generation 3D console.
The console leaped from 16 bit sprite-based graphics into a polygon world thanks to its powerful 64-bit CPU and GPU, thus giving the console its name. The Nintendo 64 was Nintendo's last home console to use cartridges, though Nintendo's handhelds would continue to support the format.
The decision to choose cartridges over CD's did make quite a few software developers turn away from the system all together. Not only were cartridges more expensive and had less capacity than CDs, but it also meant that Nintendo would be the only supplier, enforcing their grip on licenses. Nintendo's defense was to say that cartridges were still the media of choice for home consoles because they did not suffer from slow loading times and were somewhat more practical than CD's.
The Nintendo 64 was first released on June 23, 1996 in Japan. Among the consoles of the time, it was the only true 64-bit system and the first with built-in four player gaming. Masterpieces such as Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros. and GoldenEye 007 helped sell over 32 million N64 systems worldwide, though it wasn't enough to surpass the PlayStation. Nevertheless, the Nintendo 64 did make its mark on history with its innovative controller and true 3D capabilities.