The N64 logo is one of the best pieces of graphic design and it continues to inspire. In one logo Nintendo sold the idea of how its 90’s games console was transitioning from 2D to 3D gaming. But, many developers failed to take notice of what Nintendo had done. Can you spot the mistake in the N64 logo above?
Before I reveal the answer, let’s take a moment to reflect on just how superb the N64 logo design is and why it remains so loved. The design features a large three-dimensional letter N for Nintendo, four of them are placed together so they form a cube. The ’64’ in Nintendo wordmark signals to gamers this new console is a 64-bit machine. If you’re interested in logo design, read our feature on how to design a logo and reflect on more iconic designs in our ’10 of the best logos ever’ feature.
Back in the 90s the kind of design docs we create now just didn’t get made, and 3D was still a very new and uncommon thing. So when Nintendo rolled out its bold new 3D logo many game developers had to imagine how it would look when rotating. You see, the N64 logo also makes use of Nintendo’s famous green, red, yellow and blue color scheme, and this is where many developers came unstuck.
Below is the real, authentic N64 logo side by side with the one at the top of this page. Can you spot the common mistake?
Above, the correct N64 logo is on the right and the wrong one is on the left. Here’s why: Every game released for N64 would have a uniquely animated N64 logo that introduced the game. Many of these logos had the wrong color scheme because the designers had to imagine what the color of the hidden ‘N’ would be. This stretched beyond third-party games such as Earthworm Jim 3D and included first-party Nintendo titles like Banjo-Kazooie.
The N64 logo remains one of the finest logos you’ll see, as even with many mistaken takes on the design at the time the personality of this logo is strong enough to withstand these errors. No matter then slight color changes the logo is clearly identifiable.
Oh, and there’s a nice secret lurking in the N64 logo design too; it’s made from 64 faces and 64 vertices when rendered as a solid 3D model. If in doubt, you’ll need to imagine the faces and vertices you can’t actually see.
If looking at the N64 logo again has inspired your nostalgia, then read my buying guides to the best retro consoles and the best retro controllers, both featuring classic Nintendo games machines and gamepads from the N64 era and before.