With the NES Classic and SNES Classic Editions both being huge hits, many Nintendo fans have kind of taken for granted that there will eventually be an N64 Classic Edition, based on the Nintendo 64 game console from the 90s. But are we really right to expect this? More specifically, are we right to expect that it’ll come out this year?
The NES Classic was originally announced in July of 2016 before releasing in November that year, with the SNES Classic being announced in June of 2017 before coming out in September. This pattern (if you can even call it a pattern, since there have only been two occurrences of Nintendo mini consoles so far) seems to imply that an N64 Classic will be announced in the summer of 2018 before being released in the fall. Fans became even more convinced of this when it was a revealed that Nintendo filed for a trademark for something bearing a striking resemblance to an N64 controller shortly after the SNES Classic was announced. Fans were quick to notice that similar trademarks for NES and SNES controllers were trademarked before the announcements of the NES and SNES Classic Editions, so this new trademark just added fuel to the N64 Classic fire.
However, there are some reasons to think that we actually might not get an N64 Classic Edition this year. First, let’s look at the announcement dates of these mini consoles thus far. The NES Classic was first announced in mid-July of 2016 while the SNES Classic was announced on June 26 of 2017. We also have to keep in mind, however, that when the NES Classic was first announced and released, Nintendo had no idea how popular it would become, thus the low supply and unmet demand. By the time the SNES Classic came around, Nintendo had a better idea about how popular these types of items are, which is why the SNES Classic was both announced and released earlier than the NES Classic in its respective year. And since the SNES Classic was announced in June of last year, many were expecting that the N64 Classic would be announced in June this year. But now June 2018 has come and gone and we’ve gotten no word about an N64 Classic Edition. Instead, in May we got news that the NES Classic would be coming back in stock, which brings me to my next point.
We may be past the predicted announcement date of the N64 Classic, but a more convincing argument as to why we might not be getting the micro console this year is simply due to lack of resources. Nintendo is incredibly busy right now; games aside, they’re working on manufacturing Switch consoles, New 2DS XL consoles (as well as units for a bunch of other iterations of the 3DS), SNES Classic micro consoles and now they’re throwing the NES Classic back into the mix as well. That’s a lot of different kinds of hardware to be producing at once. It doesn’t seem incredibly likely that they’d want to add in an N64 Classic Edition to all this, since they know demand would be high and they’re already using a ton of resources on all their other hardware. It seems that if we’re to expect a Nintendo micro console-related announcement around the middle of the year every year, then 2018’s contribution is the re-release of the NES Classic, rather than the announcement of an N64 Classic. And since Nintendo stated that both the NES and SNES Classic Editions will be restocked throughout the rest of the year, we can probably assume that the N64 Classic won’t be coming this year.
But what if the N64 Classic isn’t coming at all? Despite the lack of any kind of official announcement, fans have taken last year’s trademark filings as gospel that there will eventually be an N64 Classic Edition. However, those trademark filings could have just been Nintendo protecting their intellectual properties; it is not unusual for businesses to file for trademarks that they never intend to actually use, just to make sure no one else infringes on their IPs. Add to this the facts that the N64 controller is huge and awkward, so making a mini console version of it would be weird, copyright issues would likely prevent popular games, such as Banjo-Kazooie and GoldenEye 007, from appearing on the micro console and larger game file sizes would likely cause an increase in price and decrease in number of games, meaning consumers might be paying up to $100 for a console that can only play as little as ten games, and you can see why development of an N64 Classic is likely to be difficult. All this doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t happen, and we all obviously hope that it will, but if you’re expecting the N64 Classic Edition to come out this year and contain 30 of your favorite games from your childhood at a relatively low price, you might want to lower your expectations.