Nintento 64 Arrives in North American Retail

During the developmental stages the N64 was referred to by its code name, Project Reality.

The name Project Reality came from the speculation within Nintendo that this console could produce CGI on par with then-current super computers. Once unveiled to the public the name changed to Nintendo Ultra 64, referring to its 64-bit processor, and Nintendo dropped "Ultra" from the name on February 1, 1996, just five months before its Japanese debut.

The Nintendo 64 (ニンテンドウ64, Nintendō Roku Jū Yon, NINTENDO64), often abbreviated as N64, is Nintendo's third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit CPU, it was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan, September 29, 1996 in North America, March 1, 1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1, 1997 in France and December 10, 1997 in Brazil. It is Nintendo's last home console to use Game Paks to store games (Nintendo switched to a MiniDVD-based format for the Nintendo GameCube, then to standard DVD-sized discs for the Wii); handhelds in the Game Boy line, however, continued to use the Game Pak.

The N64 was released with two launch games, Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64, and a third in Japan, Saikyō Habu Shōgi. The N64's suggested retail price was US$199 at its launch and it was later marketed with the slogan "Get N, or get Out!".[4] The N64 sold 32.93 million units worldwide. The Nintendo 64 was released in at least eight variants with different colors and sizes. An assortment of limited edition controllers were sold or used as contest prizes during the N64's lifespan.

Of the consoles in the fifth generation, the Nintendo 64 was the latest contender and the most technologically-advanced; however N64's architecture had limitations which harmed the console's market competitiveness. The most significant limitation was cartridge-based media instead of the Compact Disc format used by competitors. Not only was cartridge-media far more expensive to manufacture, it offered limited capacity, forcing game designers to struggle with fitting game content into a constrained space. Other technical drawbacks included limited texture cache, which could only hold textures of small dimensions and reduced color depth, which had to be stretched to cover larger in-game surfaces.