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How N64 Works


Games
Cartridges are unique to Nintendo 64. They offer fast load but small capacity. They are more durable than CDs.
Cartridges are unique to Nintendo 64. They offer fast load but small capacity. They are more durable than CDs.

The N64 is the only current system that uses cartridges. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach:

Advantages

  • Fast load times - Sections of a game are transferred almost instantly from the cartridge's ROM to the system's RAM.
  • Additional performance features - Since the cartridge contains a circuit board that is plugged into the main system, it can contain special hardware-based enhancements that augment the processing power or special effects of the system.
  • Durability - Cartridges are not as easily damaged as CDs, which can be ruined by a simple scratch.

Disadvantages

  • Small capacity - Cartridges, ranging from about 8 MB to 96 MB, hold significantly less data than CDs (650 MB).
  • Expense - Because of all the hardware, the cost per unit to manufacture cartridges is quite a bit more than to make CDs.
  • Audio - Even though the N64 has near-CD quality sound, it is not utilized to the same degree as in CD-based games because of the enormous amount of storage required.

Although the N64 had only a few games available when it first came out, the number of titles has grown to a considerable library. Used games can be found for less than $15. Many of the new games can cost between $50 and $75.