As xunker so eloquently put it, a lot of people love to hate the N64. And while I do have an N64, the Sony PlayStation sitting on the shelf underneath it gets a considerably higher amount of use. Despite that, I still am a bit bitter that literally all the 3rd party developers decided to turn and run to the PlayStation. Why? Because the PSX fucking sucks. Have you seen how some of the games on that hunk o' junk look?

Let's compare. The PlayStation has a whopping 33 MHz RISC procssor for the main CPU. It has circa 1994 graphics hardware, with a whole 1MB of video RAM, and 2MB of system RAM. On the other hand, the N64 has a 95MHz MIPS R4300 main CPU. The graphics coprocessor runs at 63 MHz, has 4MB of video RAM (expandable to 8) , and renders several times more polygons per second than the PSX. So needless to say, the real time graphics of the N64 blow away those of the PSX.

So, why did the PSX win? First of all, it was two years before the N64. Sony skimped on the hardware to get it out the door fast, and it worked. It was neck and neck with the Sega Saturn for almost a year. Sony, for a first time console company, was surprisingly adept at it. They wooed some of the biggest Japanese developers; Square, Konami, Namco, Enix, and others. Nintendo, after almost a year of delays and after having lost some of their most lucrative 3rd party developers, finally released the Nintendo 64 in the summer of 1996. The N64 lagged behind the other two 32-bit consoles, but it managed to hold its ground due to a well-timed Christmas release in the USA. However, it wasn't long before someone came out with "The Big One". Final Fantasy VII was released in Japan in September of 1997. The PSX took a commanding lead over everyone, from which it would never look back. From that point on, until today and probably until 2002, the PSX has been and will be the most popular console in the world. Damn.

The story behind the story is that Square had actually intended to release FF7 for the N64. However, they were apparently pissed off at Nintendo for the censorship, the Seiken Densetsu 3 fiasco, and whatever else. The announcement that the N64 would use a cartridge system that supported only 64 megabytes of storage was the last straw. FF7 came out for the PSX two years later, in all its FMV filled glory.

So why does this bother me? Several reasons. First of all, Nintendo pioneered the industry. They brought consoles to the consumer market and they sweated it out through the 80s until the NES caught on. Sony is just some huge megacorp that came in and decided to snitch the market away. (it's more complicated than that, see the full deal in the Playstation node). Secondly, it just so happened that the vendor who played all their cards right, Sony, happened to be peddaling the shoddiest of the 32-bit consoles. Even games that have been highly tuned to take advantage of the PSX's limited resources, such as Chrono Cross, can almost make it look good, but in the end they suffer due to the underpowered PSX hardware. By comparsion, my jaw literally dropped when I first played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, and so on.

In addition, the N64 does not allow for FMVs. Not that it couldn't be done, there just simply isn't enough space. All the non-Pokemon titles for the N64 derived their appeal from fun, challenging gameplay, as well as interaction, music, yadda. Ironically, the less-capable but storage-aplenty PSX saw the trend of 4 disc marathons ala Final Fantasy IX with FMVs every 15 minutes, yet a perdictable, uninnovative gameplay engine. I know Square can produce good games. I know any developer can. I think the N64 challenged developers to make the game really good, instead of encouraging them to cop out with purty graphics. That's why I wish everyone had stayed with the N64. I can't help but wonder what the gaming industry would have been like, had that actually happened.