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What You Didn't Know About N64's Colored Console Variations

Modern consoles come in two colors: black and white. Every so often, however, a manufacturer releases a special, limited edition that is designed to stick out in a crowd. These could be red or gold, emblazoned with symbols, or covered in special patterns — as well as bundled with games that tie into the design motifs. While producing unusually colored consoles is no longer the norm, that wasn't always the case.

The Nintendo 64 was one of the most colorful consoles on the planet. Game publishers could pack their games in a rainbow of cartridge colors (a little under half of which went unused), and Nintendo offered a similarly eclectic library of colored consoles.

However, there is more to these consoles than just simple recolors. Some colors were restricted by location, and some underwent drastic rebrandings. You're about to learn everything you probably didn't know about the N64's colored console variations.

The Funtastic Series came in a series of funtastic names

If you didn't own the vanilla charcoal-colored Nintendo 64 that came with the vanilla gray controller, you probably had one of the "Funtastic" line of N64 consoles/controllers. These were a series of saccharinely-colored devices that looked as though they were made out of Jolly Ranchers. Since Funtastic consoles and controllers were built in the 90s, they were named with a sense of 90s attitude and sported labels such as Jungle Green, Ice Blue, and Smoke/Clear Black. At least, they carried those names in the U.S. If you lived somewhere else, you probably knew them by other names.

While Jungle Green, Ice Blue, and Smoke/Clear Black always had universal names that had easy recognizability, the other colored consoles weren't so lucky. Grape Purple, for example, was renamed Midnight Blue in Japan, while the Fire Orange console was relabeled as Sun Orange in Europe. And what happened to Watermelon Red? It was changed to Fire Red in Europe.

These alterations are bound to confuse many collectors since there is no rhyme or reason to the changes. Why was Ice Blue kept intact while Grape Purple changed to Midnight Blue despite looking nothing like the Midnight Blue paint on sale at Home Depot? Only Nintendo knows for sure.

You live in Japan? No Ice Blue for you!

Thanks to online stores such as Amazon and eBay, you can now purchase items from around the globe. Sure, you have to worry about scalpers and limited stocks, but if you want a special edition of a Nintendo Switch only available in Japan, and you are willing to pay through the nose for shipping and handling, you can buy it. That wasn't always the case, especially during the Nintendo 64 era.

While you could find the standard charcoal N64 console in virtually every country, many color variants were limited by location. The Funtastic line is a prime example of non-universal availability. The Jungle Green, Ice Blue, Fire Orange, and Watermelon Red, for example, weren't sold in Japan. To make up for this, Japan received two N64 consoles that were half translucent white, and half translucent blue or red. The red one was exclusive to Japan; however, the blue one could also be found in Europe. Unfortunately, these special N64s never made it to North America.

The special Pikachu N64 console that featured light-up Pikachu cheeks is another example. While the United States, South America, and Europe got blue Pikachu N64 consoles, Japan lucked out with light blue and orange variants. The UK, Scandinavia, and Australia, meanwhile, only had a special Pokemon Stadium-themed blue and yellow console with Pokemon graphics on the side.

Exclusive colors for store exclusivity

Today, many gamers complain about pre-order practices. Stores such as GameStop lock content behind pre-order purchases, and if you buy the game at another store such as Target, you won't see any of it. As disappointing as that practice is, it used to be much worse — some console colors were locked behind store exclusivity.

Long before Toys R Us found itself on the rocks, the store had enough clout to sell exclusive golden N64 consoles. These consoles were doubly exclusive since they were only available in North American and Japanese Toys R Us locations, and North American customers got the better deal since their golden consoles also came with two matching controllers. UK customers weren't completely left out of the loop, since they could a buy charcoal N64 with one gold controller.

Japan also got quite a few store-exclusive N64 colors that never made it past their shores, mostly because the stores were Japan-exclusive. The Japanese supermarket chain Daiei sold a translucent orange and charcoal version of the N64, while another chain of Japanese merchandise stores, the Japan United Stores Company (JUSCO), sold an exclusive translucent (grayish) N64 to celebrate its 30th anniversary. While the JUSCO N64 looks similar to the Funtastic Smoke console, if you look closely, you can see the colors are different.