Making this task all the more difficult, the N64 didn't have the most auspicious of beginnings.
Nintendo shot itself in the stilts by giving its Super NES successor the codename "Project Rectum" ("Project Reality"), implying that we were going to witness graphics which would be almost indistinguishable from real life things, such as trees, flautists and Bangor.
We were led to believe that gamers would be so startled by the fidelity of the visuals, that they would flee their consoles in terror, screaming that Bowser was coming to defile them with a gnarly clam on the end of a broth-soaked branch.
It was a misconception that Nintendo was very happy to let run out of control. Their tie-up with Silicon Graphics fooled us all into thinking that the company had somehow found a way to cram supercomputer levels of power into a home gaming system costing a couple hundred quid.
Yes - that really is how stupid we all were back then! Without the Internet of Facts, the simple people of 1997 were fumbling around in the dark. We didn't know anything; we didn't even know what opinions to have.
However, we did know that Nintendo was telling us that its follow-up to the Super NES would be the world's first true 64-bit gaming system (unlike Atari's hilarious, allegedly 64-bit, Jaguar - a machine that Atari later tried to play down as "just a joke; it wasn't ever meant to be taken seriously!").
Admittedly, nobody really knew what "64-bits" meant, but it sounded good. The SNES had just 16 of the bits; the Nintendo 64 must be at least four times better!
Sadly, Nintendo's jamboree of misinformation got worse, when two future "Ultra 64" games - Midway's Cruisin' USA and Rare's Killer Instinct - were released in arcades.
The impressive graphics (now hideously dated, mind) promised much - but had in fact been developed for completely different hardware to that which would form the warm, clear, jelly-like innards of the Nintendo 64.
Suffice to say, the home versions of the two games sported noticeably scaled-back visuals, and weren't even the launch titles we were all told they were going to be (the developers needing more time working out how to live up to Nintendo's absurd promises).
When they did eventually arrive, it probably didn't help that Cruisin' USA was a tepid cottaging simulation (driving game), while Killer Instinct was a game in which the player had to guess how many bratwurst were under a tarp (a solid, but wholly unloveable, beat 'em up).
Alas, all of this suggested that Nintendo were the worst sort of liars: really big ones. After rarely putting a foot wrong during the Super NES era, suddenly Nintendo was acting all silly and that. It hadn't quite gone from being the head of the local council to the village idiot, but it certainly had one eye on that dry-stone wall...
The Nintendo 64 hardware never felt to me as solid as the Super NES. It had a touch of that Mega Drive hollowness to it.
Also, the design of the base console was - putting it politely - idiosyncratic. It had two round pads at the front, and a curious bulge which suggested something had laid its eggs inside, and that hatching was imminent.
It also didn't help that I never really got along with the joypad.
Yes, I know that the general consensus is that the joypad was sort of revolutionary (though funny that - to date - it's the only console ever to have used a stupid trident design), but the analogue stick always felt far too loose for me. Also, let's not pretend that the system's resolution, frame rate, and textures weren't frequently below par, giving most games a distinct, cataract-o-vision, effect.
Fortunately, the games were better. The launch line-up was almost as barren as the one we're getting for the Switch. The USA only got Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64, but in the UK they were joined by FIFA Soccer 64, Star Wars Shadows of the Empire, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, and - yes - Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey (which sold as well over here as you can imagine).
You don't need me to remind you that Super Mario 64 was generally considered a classic. I've written before about how I first saw it running in the offices at Sega Europe HQ, where PR man Mark Maslowicz made us promise not to write that work had ground to a halt while everyone crowded round to see it. Obviously we went straight back to Teletext and wrote all about it. The response to this was a wearily disappointed phone call from the genuinely very nice, but long-suffering, Mr Maslowicz.
I was almost lynched the last time I said this, but I don't think Super Mario 64 has aged well. Certainly, it lacks the timelessness of Super Mario World, or even the very first Super Mario Brothers on the NES. Now it seems to me like the first step into 3D gaming that it was. Nintendo would eventually perfect the notion of 3D Mario with its sublime Super Mario Galaxy games.
At the time, though? We were all blown away. And rightly so. It's packed to the pipes with ideas and gameplay, and arguably the only title to have ever really made full use of the N64's capabilities. Also, those rippling paintings still make me go a bit funny.
For me, as for many, the Nintendo 64 was all about that sweet multiplayer Goldeneye.
The first bona-fide first-person shooter on a console, its impact can still be felt today. It was a game played often on Friday nights with my mates - quite the achievement, given that most of my mates were never gamers.
Again, though, going back to Goldeneye it's clear to see that it has dated in a way that earlier, 2D, Nintendo games have not. The same can be levelled at Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, Starfox 64, or - genuinely one of my favourite games of the era - 1080 Snowboarding.
It's not that any of them are bad games - indeed, most of them have been reworked for Nintendo's handhelds, and benefitted from a bit of a visual overhaul.
It's simply that Nintendo took a brave leap into 3D, and it's hard to think of another transition of comparable magnitude. In the same way that early CD-ROM developers struggled to know how to best use the technology, so you can almost see Nintendo doing the working out before your very eyes. How good the games actually were - and that there are a number of genuine, bona-fide, classics on the N64 - is nothing short of a miracle.
Still, in the way that the Super NES consolidated and improved on the NES, so Nintendo's next system, the GameCube, would be a more confident and assured version of the Nintendo 64 - albeit without offering the same thrill of the new and never-before-seen.