When you could only choose one game

Reader submission by Alain Elliott

I will one day write about my long, money-saving wait and eventual purchase of the Nintendo 64 as a fourteen-year-old. But for now, I will talk about the first few weeks of owning one. I did manage to get a Nintendo 64 on its release date (in the U.K.) of March 1st, 1997. Somehow, all with my own hard-earned, well mostly, money. It was £249.99 for the console and one controller and an extra £59.99 for any games. I only had the money for the one game and I was going with Super Mario 64. A game I was lucky enough to have played a couple of times already, albeit, very briefly.

Despite having school for the next week and parents that didn’t quite allow me to sit playing on the Nintendo 64 all day every day. I did get 70 stars and ‘complete’ the game at about 7am on Saturday 8th March. But then what? I could go for the full 120 stars, and I did, that didn’t take me too much longer. The next step? Every coin on every level. I’ll be honest I’m not sure I ever actually did this but I did spend a long time trying and I guess that’s my point.

I simply couldn’t afford a new game for a long time after that. My £8 a week paper-round money wasn’t getting a new game fast so I had to get the most out of Super Mario 64. Thankfully, it’s a fantastic game, and perhaps because of how much I played it and loved it, it is my favourite game ever. Video game players can now get fantastic games for less than a pound. For free even! It’s hard to understand if you weren’t there, how it was in the late nineties and before.

I think I may have rented a game or two over the next few months because I remember playing Turok the Dinosaur Hunter and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire but annoyingly I didn’t have any friends I could either borrow or swap games with. The next game I bought was Mario Kart 64 which was released on June 13th but I didn’t get it on that day. The reason I remember this was the reason I started writing this article but I somehow went a little off-topic.

In May 1997, a little over two months after its release, the Nintendo 64 was reduced to a price of £150. A full £100 less than I had paid for it. To be honest, I don’t remember being annoyed at the time, I was 14 and just happy that I owned the console but my mum was annoyed. So annoyed that she wrote to Nintendo to complain – you couldn’t just go on the Internet or social media and complain then. It must have taken a little while to get a reply because, for whatever reason, I believed that because my mum complained, Nintendo would send us Mario Kart 64 as some sort of apology. That would just about make up for that £100. Well, I didn’t get Mario Kart 64 but they did send a brand new Nintendo 64 controller. I had no multi-player games at all so it was kind of useless for a while but I was still happy. And when I did eventually get Mario Kart 64, my brother could play as well.

I’m not sure if there’s a moral to the story. I don’t think always complaining is a moral. Maybe being thankful for what you have is a little bit better.