The Nintendo 64, often referred to as N64 is Nintendo's third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit central processing unit, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1997 in France and December 1997 in Brazil. It is Nintendo's last home console to use ROM cartridges to store games (Nintendo switched to a MiniDVD-based format for the successor GameCube); handhelds in the Game Boy line, however, continued to use Game Paks. As part of the fifth generation of gaming, it primarily competed with the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn. The N64 was discontinued in 2002 in Japan, North America and PAL regions by the launch of Nintendo's GameCube.
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!". The console 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. The N64 sold 32.93 million units worldwide, and in 2009 it was named the 9th greatest video game console by IGN, out of a field of 25.
Of the consoles in the fifth generation, the Nintendo 64 was the latest to be released, and it was also the most technologically advanced. One of its technical drawbacks was a 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. More significantly, the N64 still relied upon ROM cartridges, which were constrained by small capacity (particularly in an era when games became more complex and their contents took up more memory) and high production expenses, compared to the Compact Disc format used by its chief competitors. As a result of the N64's storage media limitations, many third-party publishers that previously supported Nintendo's past consoles would reduce or stop publishing games; the N64's most successful titles came from first-party or second-party studios.