Bitmap's N64: A Visual Compendium Launches Today, And We've Had A Look 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Bitmap Books has been running its excellent 'Visual Compendium' series for a while now, covering some of the most iconic gaming platforms of the past few decades. Now, it's the turn of the Nintendo 64, the machine that took Nintendo well and truly into the 3D age.

We were fortunate enough to be sent a copy of N64: A Visual Compendium ahead of its launch today, and have been leafing through its pages and getting back into the blissful '90s frame of mind via titles such as Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, F-Zero X and many, many more.

This 436-page tome covers some of the most famous N64 titles of all time, complete with a short description (often from one of the key creatives behind each game) and a screenshot to illustrate the visuals.

Alongside this, you also have bespoke features which focus on particular elements of the console's history; the pair that caught our attention were focused on the Expansion Pak and 64DD, two accessories which promised much but arguably delivered very little. Nonetheless, reading about their development is fascinating, and the book combines insightful prose with simply gorgeous bespoke photography, as Bitmap has done with other offerings in this range previously.

You've also got interviews with some key figures from the N64's history, including Kev Bayliss (ex-Rare), Julian Eggebrecht (founder of Factor 5) and Jim Wornell (former Nintendo of America staffer). These provide plenty of anecdotes and historical nuggets relating to what it was like to be so closely involved with the 64-bit console on a professional level.

Given that the N64 is such a polarising console in the world of gaming, it's fair to say that not everyone is going to warm to a book which is entirely focused on it; indeed, you could argue that the N64's visuals have aged so poorly that, when blown up to a full page, they look almost ugly when compared to the sumptuous 2D visuals seen in Bitmap's prior books, focused on the likes of the Mega Drive and SNES.

Bitmap's N64: A Visual Compendium Launches Today, And We've Had A Look 6
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

However, there's no denying the incredible impact the N64 had on the world of gaming – not just via its acclaimed games but also via its groundbreaking controller, which would lay down the foundations for future generations thanks to the fact that it had analogue input out-of-the-box rather than via some optional pad. This book does a wonderful job of covering the N64's successes and failures, ultimately summing up what makes it such a notable platform, even today.

You can pick up N64: A Visual Compendium from Bitmap Books right now. It costs £29.99.

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