Towards the end of the 16-bit era, there was much buzz about the potential
of 32-bit systems.
The Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn were on everyone's tongues, but how
would Nintendo respond?
In its characteristic fashion, Nintendo took its good old time in releasing
details of its new system.
When they finally did, they had a surprise in store: the new Nintendo
machine would be 64-bit.
The Nintendo 64, as it was called, was to use the same technology as an
SGI Graphics workstation, allowing amazingly realistic 3D environments with
an unprecedented level of detail.
Of course, this was all marketing hype, as the system, released in late 1996,
was actually a bit disappointing from a performance standpoint.
Nintendo also stubbornly retained the old and expensive cartridge format,
despite the CD-ROM drives in the machines of its competitors.
This would prove to be a crucial miscalculation, as the CD-ROM format allowed
the PlayStation and Saturn to do things that the poor old N64 just
It also raised costs dramatically, cutting down on the system's third party
Nevertheless, the N64 sold respectably around the world, but it was definitely
in a distant second to Sony's PlayStation.
For the first time since the video game revival, Nintendo was not
in first place.