Celebrate N64's birthday with a look back at Pilotwings 64

"Wow, I can't believe I missed Pilotwings 2 through 63!!"

Tomorrow will mark the 23rd anniversary of Nintendo 64's launch in the U.S.—or its official launch date, anyway. Some American retailers jumped the gun by a few days, to the point that I actually got a phone call from the Toys ’R Us where I'd reserved my system telling me to come pick up my console several days ahead of its debut.

Back around the time of N64's 21st anniversary (that's two years ago), I put together two parts of a three-parter on Super Mario 64. The third part, which was going to tie Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Odyssey, was derailed by an unexpected change in Nintendo of America's review code distribution policy. Which is precisely what I get for trying to be fancy with these videos. I've learned my lesson: Just stick to talking about an old game or two. 

Now that I've made peace with the fact that N64 Works Episode 1 Pt. 3 will never happen, I can finally move along to N64 Works Episode 2 and the second (and final) game of the N64 lineup: Pilotwings 64. If nothing else, this means I've somehow managed to cover both of the games to star Nintendo Power mascot Nester (or close enough) here in The Year of Our Lord 2019. A remarkable feat, I think.

And, in keeping with the current format of Video Works, this episode also looks at the third game of the N64 launch lineup. If you only remember there being two N64 games on day one, well, that's because Saikyo Habu Shogi only shipped in Japan. It doesn't quite merit a full episode on its own, but it does deserve a quick look if only for how it applies the N64's power in a different way than core gamers wanted back in the day. Where Nintendo fanatics drooled over polygonal visuals and analog controls, developer Seta saw the N64's impressive 93MHz processor—almost three times as fast as PlayStation's!—and variable resolution graphical capabilities and said, "Hell yes! Board games!"

Of course, if you've seen the shogi adaptations I've covered on Game Boy platforms, you kind of get why this was a good thing. Still, Saikyo Habu Shogi was not precisely a killer app, though I can report that while I was in Japan last week I didn't see a single sealed copy of the game piled up in a discount bin. I don't know if that means those surplus copies finally sold through or if Super Potato junked ’em, but either way: End of an era.

I don't know exactly when the next N64 Works episode will launch, but I do promise it will arrive in less than two years' time.