Home > Video Games > This week in gaming history (15 Years Later): Sony PlayStation vs. Nintendo 64.

This week in gaming history (15 Years Later): Sony PlayStation vs. Nintendo 64.

September 9, 2010

Sony PlayStation

Sony PlayStation

On September 9th, 1995 Sony released the Sony PlayStation (their very first entry into the video game industry), in the United States after first coming out in Japan on December 3rd, 1994.

Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64

On September 29th, 1996 Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 (successor to the Super Nintendo), in United States after originally debuting in Japan on June 23rd, 1996.

These two juggernauts lit the indusrty on fire in the mid 90’s and really set the stage for the future of gaming: When 3D was in and 2D was out. The PlayStation was Sony’s first forray into gaming, but at one point in time, it was actually planned to be a joint effort production with Nintendo. When Sega released the Sega CD, Nintendo went to Sony to make a similar add-on to the Super NES. Sony wanted to actually make a brand new console with Nintendo and since neither company could find a middle ground, they parted ways.

This gave birth to the PlayStation which would eventually become the best selling video game console of its day, selling over 100 million units (far outselling the Nintendo Entertainment System which sold 62 million units).

One year later, Nintendo 64 came out and ended up with a lifetime total of 33 million units sold…definitely less than the NES and SNES before it (the latter of which sold 50 million units). Nintendo wasn’t happy with its competition who was a rookie in the industry, beating it by nearly 3:1, but at least Nintendo toppled its former main rival, Sega, as their Sega Saturn (successor to Sega Genesis) only managed to sell 10 million units world wide during this 32-Bit vs. 64-Bit war.

It would be wrong though if you thought that Sony absolutely destroyed Nintendo during this era, because both systems had highly competitive marketing campaigns and exclusive titles that made the rivalry between camp Nintendo and camp Sony, one for the ages.

On the Nintendo side, you had some intense support by Big N themsleves with games like Super Mario 64 (11 million units sold), which single handedly invented fully 3D, 360 degree, polygonal gameplay, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which still ranks in at #1 on GameRankings.com and MetaCritic.com as the overall best game of all time, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, and more. Nintendo also had Rare’s exclusive help with Goldeneye 007, the blockbuster first person shooter that was significant enough to gaming that it’s seeing a remake some 13 years later, Banjo Kazooie, and Perfect Dark to name a few.

The problem that Nintendo 64 had was in its 3rd party support, as cartridges were far more expensive to develop for than the disc format that Sony went with in their PlayStation. It’s not like Nintendo 64 didn’t have any 3rd party greats, because it had the best WWF games and some exclusive big Star Wars titles like the Rogue Squadron series, but PlayStation had more.

This battle really was touted as “Quality vs. Quantity” with Nintendo 64 being the quality gaming system and PlayStation being the quantity gaming system, but PlayStation not only had a plethora of games, but some great titles exclusive to it as well. Gran Turismo (10.8 million units sold) was the first racing game to give Mario Kart a run for its money and has spawned several successful sequels, Final Fantasty VII which brought the RPG to the mainstream world, Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the place to go for Capcom’s Street Fighter series.

If the Sega Genesis vs. Super Nintendo days was the generation that really started the idea of being a fanboy, it was this 5th generation of gaming that took being a fanboy into overdrive. You either swore by your PlayStation and said it was superior because of the variety in its games, the fact that it was also a music player, and appreciated it as the best source for RPG’s and fighting games…or you pledged allegiance to Nintendo 64 and valued it for having the best graphics, the system to introduce anaolog sticks to gaming, rumble technology, and showed that your colors bled blue, yellow, red, and green…proving to the world that Nintendo was the best developer in the industry and didn’t need the outside help.

It was a passionate era and it’s hard to believe that it also started a decade and a half ago, this month. For the gamers out there too young to remember it, or perhaps, that have not even been born yet, please do yourself a favor and check out these remarkable systems’ games by visiting Nintendo’s Virtual Console on Wii and Sony’s PSN on PlayStation 3.

Here’s to Sony PlayStation turning 15 and Nintendo 64 turning 14 this month. A big thank you goes out to each system, because competition really brings out the best in everyone, and if one system didn’t come out, who knows what would have happened. Furthermore, if Sony and Nintendo did join forces as originally planned, and released a Nintendo PlayStation or Super Nintendo Station, we might never have seen the likes of Microsoft join the battle, because the industry would be monopolized by this one mega power.

In the end, I don’t think I would go back in time and warn Nintendo about what would happen, because for them, maybe they needed to take a step back for two generations and not be #1 (both with Nintendo 64 and later with Nintendo GameCube), because it made them stronger by coming out with Wii…a system that completely changed the industry. Likewise, if Sony was just an addition to Nintendo, there’d probably be a good chance of many of the features we see in consoles today, not being present, like Bluray drives and being able to be multi-media devices.

To Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation, let your memories last forever!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Me September 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm

This whole article is based on opinion…here’s a quote:

“…it had the best WWF games…”

Wow, just wow…

Paul Gale September 9, 2010 at 11:00 pm

*Me, what I wrote does include facts, but also opinions. For instance, some people out there could care less for violent gaming and thus could not even include the Resident Evil franchise on the PlayStation as part of the reason why the system was so good. I would include the RE series because I thought it was great. Likewise, when it comes to WWF’s games on both consoles, for many people, it wouldn’t even be relevant which system had the better group of wrestling titles, because they just might not like pro wrestling. However, since WWF games traditionally are million sellers, there certainly was a big audience in both PS and N64 owners that played wrestling games and for the most part, when you question people nowadays which system had the better wrestling games, they say Nintendo 64. But, it’s just my opinion.

Mr A September 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Brilliant. A well written article, truly captivating the buzz and excitement of 15 years ago.

Thank you for this amazing trip down memory lane, or a time when it really meant something when you stood by your system.

Mr A

Paul Gale September 9, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Mr A, thank you very much for the nice comment and I’m very happy that you liked my article. I appreciate your attitute and you if you want to read something similar that I wrote, check this out:
http://paulgalenetwork.com/home/?p=654
That’s my take on Sega Genesis vs. Super Nintendo, 20 Years Later.

Gordon September 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

@Me I’m a Sony fanboy, but I’d much rather play Wrestlemania 2000 and No Mercy on the N64 than WWF Attitude on PS. WWF Attitude was horrible compared to No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000 on N64.

Smackdown is a different ballgame however. When that came out for PS it CRUSHED all previous wrestling games. I can see your point though.

Paul Gale September 9, 2010 at 11:09 pm

*Gordon, Smackdown was an awesome game…no doubt about it. It really brought forth a new level of flash to wrestling games. I remember being so impressed by the titantron videos alone and thinking, “wow…this blows the pants off of WWF No Mercy.” At the end of the day though, it was the gameplay of the N64 game that kept me playing it longer. Anyways, a great rivalry between the two console nonetheless!

Jacob Crim September 10, 2010 at 5:47 am

Dang the N64 only pushed 33 Million units? Thank God I still have mine! I remember spending full summers playing it and I will still blow the dust out of those cartridges from time to time 🙂

Paul Gale September 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Yeah, it’s a bit surprising to learn that N64 only sold a third the amount of PS, despite the best selling game of that generation being Super Mario 64. That game had a very high attatch ratio of 3:1 (for every three N64 owners, one owned that game). The best that PlayStation did was 9:1, and that was with Gran Turismo. I’m glad to hear that yours still works. Mine does too and that’s because Nintendo has always been pretty darn good when it comes to building durable hardware.

nugundam0079 September 10, 2010 at 8:15 am

Thank you for writing such an excellent article! I grew up being a Nintendo kid so I was pro 64 while most of my friends had Playstations!!

found memories and a Happy Birthday to both!!

Paul Gale September 10, 2010 at 4:45 pm

You’re welcome and thank you very much for the awesome comment. Indeed a Happy Birthday to both!

Chesten September 10, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Happy Birthday to both!! They both had excellent games and both are great consoles.

Osiris November 21, 2010 at 6:13 am

I still remember playing Goldeneye & Star Wars shadows of the empire, woow what games were those

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