Old written game reviews – NINTENDO ULTRA 64

James / April 10th, 2011

Here’s some more crap I wrote for the school newspaper, around 1994. I got overly excited when I heard about the upcoming Nintendo console, the “Nintendo Ultra 64!” As you can see, I got so worked up, I couldn’t even settle on one font. I think it may have been my first time using an advanced word processor.

The game I was looking forward to the most was Killer Instinct. After playing it in the arcade, my mind was blown. I couldn’t wait to have THAT at home.

I built myself up to some major disappointment. After countless delays, the “Nintendo 64” (no Ultra) finally came out with more kid-friendly launch titles like Super Mario 64, which were also cool, but where was Killer Instinct? It never came out. Instead, we only got the sequel, KI: Gold. I never even bought the SNES version of Killer Instinct, because I was holding out for the Ultra 64. Since I had nothing better to do, I wrote a complaint to Nintendo and actually got a response. It was a very nice letter. If it ever turns up, I’ll post it, but I’m pretty sure it’s lost. The fact that Nintendo bothered to write back to some kid whining about the “Ultra” 64 meant they had some cool people there!

-Stories from the young Nerd.


  • Mr. Arkadin

    April 10, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Mario and Pilotwings were good launch titles, but the games sure were slow in coming out for that console. It was a long time until Conker’s Bad Fur Day.

  • ddt_Eagleeye

    April 10, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I used to write about games for my school’s newspaper, too. At the time when I was an editor for SMASH (that was its name), among other articles, I wrote reviews for games like StarCraft or Civilization rating their graphics, gameplay and multiplayer modes with a score, inspired by popular gaming magazines.
    Sadly, I never got too much feedback on those game review articles, so I dropped reviewing for one issue. Then, all of a sudden many schoolmates in my grade and even from upper and lower grades came to me and asked “Hey, why is there no game review in this issue?”. It was then, when I actually realized, how many readers considered the reviews to be a fixed part of the magazine, when the internet was still young and maybe one out of 20 had the luxury of being “online”.
    I can imagine what you must have felt when you wrote these re- and previews, seeing your words printed in a magazine for hundreds of people to read. It was a part of my youth I gladly remember.


  • Dr. Dib

    April 10, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I think it is just Nintendo’s policy to respond to every letter they receiver. I remember in Middle School I wrote a letter to them asking some rather silly things and I got a response back later. I sort of wonder if they had some automated response like they do for e-mails now back then. I’m not really sure how it would work though…

  • tehmuffinzman

    April 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I’m sure hardly any companies give personalized responses like that anymore, but I remember getting one from sega a few years back after submitting some art to their sonic area of their website (which I doubt exists anymore). They even sent me a sonic pin, which was pretty awesome. I’de love to see that letter from Nintendo if you find it James, I really enjoy these young nerd stories.

  • mantrox

    April 10, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Terminater 2 you say? 😉

  • April 10, 2011 at 10:27 am

    lol it’s funny to see how good 64-bit was back in the day, and how “realistic”-looking it was. and today, you can have better graphics than 64-bit on something smaller than a nintendo ds (e.g. iphone)

  • BillyHW

    April 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

    It will have 64-bits of graphics and be better than Sega!!! LOL! Were we all like this back then? 😛

  • kevenz

    April 10, 2011 at 11:52 am

    my god I remember the terminator 2 part…… like games on the n64 were going to look as good as the special effect in T2 🙂 what a load of bullshit.

  • April 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I love how into the graphics you were.
    This is so pure. I wish the future generation of kids could witness this.
    Maybe if I fulfill my plan of only letting them play “old school” Nintendo consoles as a child, then maybe I will be able to relive some of that purity again.

  • TomM

    April 10, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    In my opinion the N64 kicks the shit out of a lot of the next gen consoles out today. Today there’s too many shooters and not enough platformers and other games.

  • Nerdy Nerd

    April 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Man… That sure had to be a cool commercial to blow a kids mind like that, not that N64 is bad but still…

  • drk421

    April 10, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I thought the N64 had a good start. . Within the first year, it had Turok, Wave Race, Mario Kart, Blast Corps, Starfox, Goldeneye, Tetrisphere, San Francisco Rush. After that it tapered off quickly until Zelda, Conker, and Perfect Dark.

  • April 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    It’s biased! Made me remember that time when the competition between Nintendo and Sega was something important in my child’s life…

  • Paxseko

    April 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Wow– you weren’t kidding when you said you didn’t know what ’64-bit,’ ’32 bit,’ etc. meant back in the day. I remember looking it up as a kid in an encyclopedia– bits and bites– and getting a good feel for it. Or at least I could say ‘bus architecture’ if someone asked. XD

  • Pergator

    April 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Hi James! Nice Biography of your old Game Reviews!

    Just a question. Is this your Facebook account? http://www.facebook.com/AVGN1?ref=ts&sk=wall

    I’m not asking to be friend in FB, but this account looks odd. Is it truly yours?

  • mantrox

    April 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    @Pergator rather obvious fake if you ask me…

  • April 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I was way over hyped on the “Ultra 64”, but when I actual played an import of Mario 64, I thought it delivered. When Ocarina of Time, Star Fox, and Shadows of the Empire came out I started to really enjoy the system.

  • April 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Thats pretty cool James. I actually wrote Nintendo 3 or 4 times, and sent in drawings in hopes they’d print them in Nintendo Power a few times, and every time i got a letter back that was actually personalized and not that auto-reply bullshit you’d get nowadays. I remember asking why in early promotional shots of Ocarina of Time you could see link getting the triforce, but in the full game it was nowhere to be found, and they wrote back explaining that during development a of changes are made and yada yada.

  • Kamehameha

    April 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    This reminds me of when I used to play Cruisin’ USA at the Mar Vista Bowling Alley, and it would have a pregame screen stating that it will be coming out for the “Ultra” 64. I was pretty disappointed when I found that it would be simply “Nintendo 64” instead of the ultra-cool “Ultra 64”.

    But oh well. It was a great system anyways. I will never forget Shadows of the Empire.

  • April 11, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Good stuff James. I always enjoy reading this sort of stuff that you post. You can really tell how much you preferred Nintendo back in those days haha.

  • Mr.Z

    April 11, 2011 at 1:46 am

    I was disappointed too when only the non-ultra N64 came out with more kid-friendly titles. I loved killer instinct and i loved the N64 gold version too, but i was hoping for the original arcade version. Although it was probably better this way due to the past butchering of arcade titles when ported to home consoles.

  • superca.in

    April 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Killer Instinct was nothing special, thats why they managed to adapt it into SNES because SNES was capable enough to run it. N64 was a big flop, it was exploited not even nearly as much as the SNES.

  • moorem92

    April 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Lol, in what universe was N64 a flop? It was very successful.

  • YuL

    April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Yo thanks to your post here, Mike Matei posted on said facebook page that it was actually a fake and if you want to find all James and cinemassacre related links to check out : http://cinemassacre.com/links/
    If it’s not on there, then it’s a fake. Thanks Mike !

  • April 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Yeah, that’s right. One of my letters to Nintendo asked why they changed the name to “Nintendo 64.” They responded by saying another company had a similar name, but they didn’t say who it was. The only “Ultra” I can think of is the company that made games on NES like TMNT, whom I think was a division of Konami. Anybody have more details?

  • Caedhros

    April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Yes, it was Ultra games. Konami made the Ultra brand so they could get around Nintendo’s limit of how many NES games 1 company could release per year.

  • El Dandy

    April 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Yeah, but Ultra was dissolved by Konami right around the time Nintendo loosened the game limit restrictions on its licensees. My guess is they were concerned about Sun Microsystems and their Ultra servers. Sun released the first one in ’95 and while I doubt there would have been any real confusion, they probably wanted to avoid issues.

    I was always a big fan of the Project Reality codename over both U64 and N64 myself. But that’s just me.

  • superca.in

    April 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    N64 was a flop because it was not as revolutionary as SNES and wasnt made the most of it by the programmers either, it died before other systems and it was the beginning of the fall for Nintendo who started to lose market to Sony and Microsoft.

  • Phryj

    April 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Wow! Sounds like you were almost as crazy of a Nintendo fan as I was. Well, we’re both still Nintendo fans, just not as crazy.

    I think they dropped the Ultra name because the console didn’t use the same hardware as the Ultra 64 arcade boards.

    Just my opinion, but I think the biggest obstacle for the N64 was the lack of a CD-ROM drive. Also, it didn’t help that Nintendo was very secretive with the N64’s specs and capabilities and was very selective about who they sent dev kits to. It still has some of the most amazing games of all time, but the PS1 was able to steal most of it’s thunder, and Nintendo has been playing catch up with gamers’ hearts and minds ever since.

  • Mr.Z

    April 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    They had to drop ultra in the N64’s name. Unfortunately, Konami trademarked the word “Ultra” (I don’t know how though), so to avoid lawsuits they dropped the word ultra from the N64’s name.

  • April 13, 2011 at 4:46 am

    DAT review needs more FONTZ 😉

  • Marchegiano

    April 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Wow! Meltdown! how old is that scan! Anyway KI is STILL an awesome title, just watching the cinematics of the game was mind-blowing! I think all of the Nintendo fans (including me) were expecting to have that quality in their houses, but the SNES version it’s pretty cool and well-maded if you ask me.
    In conclusion, how many games were released for the U64 system? just KI and KI2?

  • Mr.Z

    April 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    The U64 was never released. Instead they released the universal title of the Nintendo 64 that most of us know and love. The Nintendo “Ultra” 64 never saw the light of day, thanks to Konami.

  • Mr.Z

    April 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Though they’re pretty much the same console, just a different name.

  • sagajim

    April 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    The only way to play that Killer Instinct you’re referring to is with M.A.M.E, then you get the arcade version at home. Also I used to work for Nintendo and there are some cool people!

  • kevenz

    April 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Mr.Z: you’re wrong…. there is an Ultra 64 machine but it’s only used in the arcades and the’re only two games released for it, KI1 and 2.

  • April 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    nintendo i think should have taken lessons from their apprentice. Wait what? nintendo tended to change their controller styling every console and that ended up (at least for the n64) being a bad idea. I have every canadian released nintendo console, along with several sega, sony, atari, mattel, and microsoft consoles and i think that nintedo’s rework system just wasn’t great. don’t get me wrong i like most nintendo controller variants but i have a bone to pick with the n64. first, take a look at the ps1, ps2, and ps3 controllers. aside from various updates they are all the same basic controller. now the n64 controller is ok and i can see where they were going with the design, the same can be said for the 5200 controller. which sucked for reasons of they never actually made one. All the ones they made were only partially functional concepts.

  • Lanlost

    April 14, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Ah.. Maybe I should share my NU64 story. I’m glad, for once, to see some minor disappointment. I assumed I was the only one in history since everyone tells me I’m crazy.

    I’m not saying it’s the worst system ever.. I’m just saying.. I only ever BOUGHT Mario Kart 64.

    And no, that doesn’t mean there weren’t other great games that I played a shit ton of. I played and finished most if not all of the huge titles.

    And also, I don’t have a problem with ‘kiddie’ games. Didn’t then, don’t now.

    I DID love my NES and FUCKING loved my SNES. I was born in 85 and freaked out, quite similar to James, about the Ultra 64, even printing a gigantic “NINTENDO ULTRA 64 COMING ___________” (can’t remember what date it was) banner in school computer class.

    I sold my SNES and all my games and then saved up from then on. The ONE time I ever saved up as a kid. The owner of a great video game store that no longer exists went out and made sure I got one on release day.

    Then, on top of that, I remember a few months beforehand walking into a Toys R’ Us, unrelated, and seeing a N64 display and assumed it was a video of the Japanese Mario 64. I then noticed someone was playing it and SERIOUSLY almost fainted. I remember going numb.

    I had my mother drop me off at the Toy’s R’ Us for 4 days straight and played it, kicking kids off at times, for 2-3 hours a day until they kicked me out of the store.

    So yeah, I got the system and just.. never really liked it all that much. The PSX was the ONE Sony system that for some reason really captured me.

    I love my (modded) Wii and I liked my GameCube a lot more than my N64. I don’t know what it was. It was just this constant sort of depressing feeling whenever I played it. It just didn’t have the magic it should have. It was at the ackward teenage years of consoles. It wasn’t the fact that the PSX games were more mature… it was honestly that in most cases they were more unique. We had an explosion of stuff like Jumping Flash and Twisted Metal. I REALLY loved the early PSX games.

    Anyway. That’s my two cents. And oh yeah Kevenz, KI1, 2 AND Crusin’ USA were all Ultra 64 games. There might be more. There definitely weren’t only two though.


  • GoldenFrog

    April 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Wow, Nintendo actually replied from a random complaint !?
    Theres no way they would do the same for some random kid’s negativity about anything towards the company nowadays.

  • April 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Man, Killer Instinct was awesome! While Mortal Kombat had basically like a dozen variations apiece of the “Male Ninja”/ “Female Ninja” character design, ‘KI’ had a whole roster of unique characters, and was a lot of fun to play. That game should be remade for newer consoles.

  • Mr.Z

    April 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Well, i’ve never been to an arcade that had one but i’ll take your word for it.

  • April 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Yeah the N64 was the beginning of the end of Nintendo as a serious competitor in the videogames market, at least for adults. It has some great games like OOT and Mario 64, but the PSOne had so much more to offer despite it’s inferior graphics. I still play my SNES all the time but my N64 just collects dust.

  • Cheznar

    April 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I wrote to Nintendo too when i was a little brat! lmao a rather embarassing letter with a game idea lol (I was a little guy) My idea was some stuff where your a police officer or somethin like that bustin a bunch of dudes…someone at Nintendo took the time to send me a note as well they were all like have you ever heard of a game called N.A.R.C.? at the time I had not but now after that I knew lol anyway they must be good about getting back to people….and i no longer day dream about being a police officer (don’t know as i ever did just sounded fun i guess…)

  • mecha

    April 19, 2011 at 2:29 am

    the most common explanation for the dropping of “Ultra” from the name that I recall was Ultra Games… but who knows. I think Nintendo may have just done it to streamline it. and it’s not like they didn’t wind up doing it again and again anyway (Dolphin -> GameCube; Revolution -> Wii).

    also contrary to popular belief, the hardware found in the arcade versions of Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 didn’t share much of anything with the Nintendo 64. they weren’t really “Ultra 64” at all. KI1 only referenced this, KI2 did not, but they ran on identical boards. I’m guessing KI1 was engineered as a plug for the U64 and when the system got delayed they just said fuck it.

    additionally, I too am still pissed that KI1 never made it to Nintendo 64, but what the hell, I own the arcade machine… KI2 as well.

  • frostare

    April 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Now that Nintendo recovered from its decline in the Xbox and PS2 era I’m hoping they still take the path of inovation instead of the power and capabilities one. Even more that they’re planning to release an HD console.

  • DualWolfBlade

    April 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Ah yes,
    The Nintendo Ultra 64.

    It would seem Nintendo has always had a way of making its consoles seem that much cooler Before Launching.

    Anyone play that Nintendo Revolution?
    You probably have, in US of America, its called Nintendo Wii.

  • AlirazaVideoGamesonYouTube

    April 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    when the “ultra” 64 did come out, heh heh, i loved super mario 64, playing it at toys r us at a demo kiosk but the killer of that system was final fantasy 7 on the playstation and nintendo’s god-awful 3rd party unfriendly practices.

  • lexing123

    April 28, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I wanna leave an asshole comment, jk but really I think the name change is simple, in most cases I have seen in my life “ultra” is better than super and the game console before the to be (nintendo ULTRA 64) there was the SUPER nes. The name was just a open signifier of an improved system to the one before it. You can debate stupid shit about the name all day but I think that is it, also for all you numbnuts talking about the GREAT FALL of nintendo cus of the 64, your all full of shit. You might like lying to yourself by believing that but the truth is nintendo is making fuck tons of money off of whoever is buying the wii, all of the games for it, the new DS’s that come out every month(DS phat, ds bright shit, ds brighter shit, ds phat brighter shit, and now the 3DS) and all of the games that come out of those. Yes I agree the games from nintendo are not nearly as epic as they used to be but if you actually took the time to play the games after the GREAT FALL of nintendo, you would know that there has been plenty of games on the n64, gameboy, advance, gamecube that put everybody’s favorite copy paste games like call of duty black ops… to shame. Recently I have become disgusted with the new generation of games and they all just play like remakes of a remake of a shitty fps, and thats why I stopped playing anything passed the (xbox,gamecube, ps2) era. P.S your all fuckin robots, keep buying those 70 dollar pieces of shit.

  • ducttape

    July 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Everyone is giving the N64 too much shit. It’s an amazing console that’s really innovative. People say that it was when Nintendo started appealing only to kids. The N64 did have some titles more geared for adults (Golden eye, Perfect Dark, Rouge Squadron, Doom 64, Flying Dragon etc.)
    Nintendo was always “kid friendly”, even in NES and SNES games. The people who say that N64 was the decline of Nintendo and when Nintendo started targeting itself only for kids are just people who were growing up at that time and wanted Nintendo to grow some balls and release grown up games. It’s the games that you play as a kid that are the best. The reason why some of you guys say N64 sucks is cause you were disappointed (like I was with Game Cube). Your favorite game(s) will always be the ones you grew up with and you played any chance you got when you were 10. Those are the games that kick the most ass because they make you feel like a kid again.

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