Rumors about the N64 Classic Mini are rampant once again, with suggestions that Nintendo will reveal the new retro console during its Smash Bros Nintendo Direct on November 1, 2018. Nintendo is clearly onto something with its mini retro consoles (which Sony has clearly taken notice of, seeing as it's relasing the PlayStation Classic in December 2018). The NES Classic Mini, released in 2016, was in such high demand that it was almost impossible to buy. Then Nintendo discontinued it to focus on the SNES Classic Mini, which released at the end of September, 2017, and seems to have been a big hit. Most people would predict that the N64 Classic Mini is going to happen at some point, perhaps in 2018, but nothing has been announced at this point and time is running out for a 2018 release date. With the right games and hardware features, the N64 Mini could be the best and most successful hand-sized retro console of the lot.
While Nintendo is yet to say anything at all about the N64 Mini, putting it firmly in the "seems likely but currently wishful thinking" category, that doesn't mean we can't speculate about what the N64 mini will offer. We've looked at the features the N64 mini would need, along with the N64 price and potential N64 games so you can get an idea of why Nintendo really should be putting this into production - if it isn't already.
Is a Release Date in 2018 Realistic for the N64 Classic Mini?
If Nintendo reveals the N64 Classic during its November 1 Nintendo Direct, there's a chance we'll see the retro console release in 2018, but the platform holder has certainly left things rather late. It's very possible the new retro console could release around the same period as the PlayStation Classic, which arrives on December 3, 2018. Nintendo might worry slightly about overloading stores with new products, though, with its own Pokemon Let's Go due on November 16 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arriving on December 7. Throwing the N64 Classic into the mix would certainly give all but the most hardcore Nintendo fans some tricky buying decisions to make.
N64 Classic Mini’s Multiplayer Focus Could Drive Cost up
The N64 placed multiplayer gaming at the centre of many of its most popular games. Including four controller ports (doing away with the need for a multitap-style add-on) opened up the possibility of four-player gaming to a wide audience, and any potential N64 Classic Mini would absolutely have to include four controller ports.
N64 controllers are more complex than their SNES and NES siblings, so packing two with the mini console, on top of the extra support on the machine itself, would likely make for a steeper price point. $89.99 or even $99.99 wouldn’t be out of the question. Expensive for sure, but the N64 Classic Mini would be a huge disappointment if it didn’t offer the full-fat multiplayer experience.
Sony's PlayStation Classic comes with two controllers (lacking analogs), and 20 games, with a price tag of $99.99. Given that the N64 is of the same era and its controllers might be trickier to manufacture, $99 seems like a reasonable price point.
We might be entering dreamland now, but if the controllers included rumble that would be the icing on the cake. To keep the price of the N64 Classic Mini reasonable, though, Nintendo may well choose to release sans rumble.
Is an N64 Classic Mini Likely?
While nothing is official, signs now point towards the N64 Classic Mini being a real product. A trademark application by Nintendo for an image of the N64 controller (seen below), has followed similar applications for the NES and SNES controllers. This art is what is used on the packaging for the NES Classic Mini and the SNES Classic Mini. The N64 controller image is likely to be used on the box art for the N64 Classic Mini. Nintendo also applied for the N64 Trademark, sparking more discussion over the N64 mini.
If the popularity of these retro collection consoles wasn't clear enough, the fact that Sony is entering the market says all you need to know. SEGA is releasing its Genesis classic console in 2019, so there is certainly a market ready for an N64 Classic Mini.
In the middle of October a Reddit thread appeared that seemed to show off the actual N64 Classic Mini. On close inspection the pictures showed numerous flaws that suggest this is a decent fake. One area that drew a lot of criticism is the font, and specifically how the font used doesn't exactly match that used on the original N64. Questions over the controller ports and power buttons not match the sleek design of the original machine also threw the legitimacy of the mini console into doubt. While the N64 Classic may well be happening, it seems as though these pictures aren't legit.
What Games Could the N64 Classic Mini Include and Will Rare be a big Stumbling Block?
The N64 didn’t achieve sales on par with the PlayStation but for many people it was home to some of the greatest games of that generation. There’s one pretty major problem to overcome, however, and that’s the issue of Microsoft now owning Rare and numerous IP that found success on Nintendo’s 64-bit console.
Rare’s N64 Games - What Does Microsoft Own?
- Killer Instinct Gold - Microsoft owned IP
- Blast Corps - Microsoft owned IP
- GoldenEye 007
- Diddy Kong Racing
- Banjo-Kazooie - Microsoft owned IP
- Jet Force Gemini - Microsoft owned IP
- Donkey Kong 64
- Perfect Dark - Microsoft owned IP
- Mickey's Speedway USA
- Banjo-Tooie - Microsoft owned IP
- Conker's Bad Fur Day - Microsoft owned IP
Of the game’s Rare developed for the N64, only the Donkey Kong related titles, Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong 64, would be easy to release on the N64 Classic Mini. GoldenEye 007 and Mickey’s Speedway USA would potentially have licensing issues, while the rest are Microsoft-owned IP. The question is whether Microsoft would be willing to allow the games on a retro console from Nintendo when it has its own retro collection offering in the shape of Rare Replay on Xbox One.
Potential N64 Classic Mini Games List
We’re going to say that it’s unlikely any Star Wars games will be included due to licensing, so that rules out Rogue Squadron and Episode 1 Racer. Sad, but the rest of the line-up could and should be excellent - we’re hoping Microsoft and Nintendo can come to some sort of arrangement (they are after all working together on Minecraft for Nintendo Switch, which has even poked fun at Sony's lack of cross-platform support).
Another issue will likely be age ratings. Games carrying anything higher than a Teen rating in the US (or PEGI 12 in the UK) will cause problems as Nintendo isn’t going to want to limit sales to adults. That will mean the likes of Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Doom 64 and Body Harvest sadly can’t be included.
With the SNES Classic Mini including 21 games we’ve picked the same number for the N64 Classic Mini.
- 1080º Snowboarding
- Diddy Kong Racing
- Donkey Kong 64
- F-Zero X
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
- Mario Kart 64
- Paper Mario
- Super Mario 64
- Super Smash Bros.
- Wave Race 64
- Yoshi's Story
- Star Fox 64
- Mario Party 3
- Blast Corps
- Bomberman 64
- Pilotwings 64
- Sin and Punishment
- Mischief Makers
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Potential N64 Classic Mini Games List (without Microsoft-owned IP)
Without Banjo-Kazooie and Blast Corps, there would be room for two more eclectic choices on the games list. Pokémon Snap would most likely delight the legion of Pokémon fans, despite the game itself not being that great, so we’ll add that to the list. Mario Golf or Mario Tennis are also strong contenders, as they feature a roster of Nintendo characters and add some diversity to the games lineup.
If Nintendo does release an N64 Classic Mini in 2018, what games would you like to see included? Let us know in the comments. Do you even want Nintendo to release an N64 Classic Mini retro console? Would you rather the firm moved to the Game Boy instead? You can also get nostalgic by watching the video below, rounding up the best N64 games of all time.