The Retrogaming Chart Show – December 1997

Christmas is a time to truly enjoy gaming, but what were people enjoying in the runup to Christmas 1997? Find out, right now.

Welcome to the last Retro Gaming Chart Show of the year, and we have a doozy of a chart this month. This time around, we’re looking at Issue 9 of N64 Magazine, the UK-based successor to Super Play. It’s December, 1997 and the N64 is celebrating its first Christmas in the UK.

However, over in North America, they’re celebrating the second Christmas of the system, and it’s at this point that some of the system’s best games start to arrive. So how does this affect the Top 5 N64 charts in the land of the free? It’s time to find out.

At number 5 is the 64-bit continuation of Fox McCloud’s adventures, in Starfox 64. Arguably the best game in the series, it was this release that refined the mechanics of its SNES predecessor, resulting in a highly playable arcade shooter. With the brand new all-range mode for free movement in certain levels, several new vehicles to pilot and an engaging medal mode to encourage multiple replays, it’s certainly the peak of the series and one of the Nintendo 64’s best games. Plus, it was the first game to feature the Rumble Pak – One of the first official force feedback devices for any console, introducing a feature that would become a standard feature set that we take for granted today.

The 32 and 64-bit generation was a haven for brilliant arcade racers like the Saturn’s SEGA Rally and PlayStation’s Ridge Racer. Sadly, the Nintendo 64 wasn’t really known for racers other than Mario Kart 64, but there were plenty of developers who tried – Like Genki, who came up with Multi Racing Champion.

It’s a decidedly average racer, that controls well but doesn’t quite have the track design or presentation of other popular racers. Still, with Nintendo 64 owners hungry for a proper racer, it makes that chart at an acceptable number 4.

At number three is another racer, Top Gear Rally. Probably one of the better racers for the Nintendo 64, I had this game and I loved it, thanks to its decent track design, plenty of unlockable vehicles, and the ability to create your own paint job for your vehicle.

The cars handle well, with a good sense of speed once you unlock the faster cars, and overall it’s an underrated arcade racer.

At number two is a game that needs absolutely no introduction whatsoever: GoldenEye 007. One of the first console FPSes to prove that the genre could do well away from the PC, Rare’s approach to stealth and mission-based gameplay was incredible.

Of course, multiplayer was the real draw, with up to four players being able to hunt each other down in various modes from standard deathmatches to more tense modes such as You Only Live Twice, where players only have two lives. It’s spiritual successor, Perfect Dark may be a better game overall, but we all have a fondness for GoldenEye 007 and its excellent use of the license. But what you’ll never guess what game outsold it this month…

This is the highest selling game of December 1997, and you probably don’t know or can’t remember what it is. Mace: The Dark Age is one of a string of Midway arcade fighters that found their way to the Nintendo 64, joining BioFreaks and WarGods in the history books under “mediocre fighters that no-one talks about anymore”.

Mace is hopelessly generic, but N64 owners were so starved of fighters at this point that we’d settle for any old rubbish. And so it came to be that Mace briefly outsold GoldenEye 007 in America.

That was a very interesting chart, I’m sure you’ll agree. Time and history have certainly been kinder to GoldenEye 007  than it has for Mace: The Dark Age, and this chart does highlight the software drought experienced by the N64 in general.

This was the last Retro Gaming Chart Show of 2016, and this very show will be back in 2017 with a new chart, straight from gaming history. But until then, I hope you stick around and check out all of my other videos.

Thank you very much for watching, and I’ll be back next week with another slice of gaming fun.