There were so many amazing Nintendo 64 games. There’s so many amazing, memorable games on any system, but when it’s your childhood, or just wherever you were at a great point in your life, one system has to stand out.
For me it was Nintendo 64. Middle of high school I was going through an awkward, find-yourself kind of time, like most kids my age. Luckily, my (few) but close friends were Nintendo 64 fanatics too, and I got to experience heaps of N64 games with them. In my home, and theirs. I’m also lucky my mum is a gamer too, she loved the classic N64 platformers like Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie. She’d also sit and watch me play the likes of Turok, Extreme G, and Mario Kart. Games she tried but wasn’t too keen on getting good at. But I digress. I ranked every N64 game I ever owned from least to most favourite. Here we go.
30. Pokemon Stadium
I won a copy of Pokemon Stadium in a competition a chip company was having… I think it might have been Doritos. Anyway I got it for free and shame on me. I never, ever played it. Therefore it’s last on my favourites list.
29. Cruisin’ USA
I had Cruisin’ USA when I first bought my 64. It was fairly simple racing game but had terrible pop up graphics that made it virtually unplayable. But we played it, because it was a driving game. But it was a terrible one.
28. Forsaken 64
A mech shooter that incorporated up and down movement as well as left and right. The lighting effects blew my mind. I remember reading the N64 version was as graphically immersive as the PC version. How times change, Nintendo.
When everything was going 3D, (like it was mandatory) Tetris had to as well. Think of the title. Tetrisphere. It’s Tetris. In sphere form. I remember it being hard and addictive.
26. FIFA Road To World Cup ’98
The first soccer game I ever owned (besides Sensible Soccer on the Amiga), and the first N64 game my high school Playstation and soccer loving friend had ever played. He loved it, so did I. That was thanks to the amazing (at the time) graphics and great use of the 64 controller. Like a lot of people who experienced a family member doing the same thing, my grampa once came in and said “What game are you watching?” When in fact we were playing a video game. I remember grampa standing there for half an hour watching us play. This cartridge is the only one I know I own, but can’t find.
25. South Park
Well Nintendo 64 had its fair share of great first person shooters. South Park was a surprise hit, and encapsulated the TV series, then in it’s infancy, better than most tie in games do today. A 64 exclusive, South Park was a whole lot of fun.
24. Penny Racers
I bought Penny Racers off the internet long after I had a Gamecube. Probably off eBay. I remember reading about the track editor. That’s all I needed to hear. Despite the relatively poor gameplay and the fact that Penny Racers were not a “thing” in Australia, I enjoyed the game. It was no Mario Kart, but still fun. I spent hours with that track editor and still never made anything decent!
23. Bomberman 64
I remember trying to convince my friends to give Bomberman 64 a go. I also remember trading my original copy of Mario 64 through N64 Gamer Magazine for Bomberman 64. My mum was pissed. She hadn’t finished Mario 64 yet and was in the middle of giving up smoking. I think playing the N64 helped her. I got Mario back toot sweet, but after convincing my friends and family to play Bomberman we eventually enjoyed it. The single player story mode sucked but.
22. Star Wars Episode 1 Racer
I don’t remember how I came across this game. I may have bought it, I may have stolen it. Just kidding, but I remember not seeing the movie, yet playing the game. It was pretty alright, really good graphics and decent controls. I remember the game being appreciated as good movie tie in for once.
21. Extreme G
Extreme G promised F-Zero X style action on futuristic motorbikes, with better graphics. It delivered on those fronts but the game’s weapons weren’t great, the tracks were too long, and man was it a lonely ride. You could go most of a race without ever seeing another vehicle. And loneliness leads to boredom and without other human players, that’s exactly what it was. The best thing about Extreme G (besides the soundtrack) was that if you had 3 players, one player got to have an entire half of the TV while the other two had to settle for a quarter. Arguments ensued.
20. Iggy’s Reckin Balls
Iggy’s Reckin Balls was a crazy platformer slash racer that I remember liking but being confused by. Unique and never emulated since, take a look at the gameplay.
Pokemon Snap was an awesome fun game where you had to take pictures of Pokemon in the wild. Sounds lame-o but it wasn’t, it was cool. I wrote more about Pokemon Snap here.
18. Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Poor Mortal Kombat Trilogy. After Mortal Kombat 3 there was so much to live up to. MKT put every MK character so far and added the run mechanic, the combo system and hey presto. Best Mortal Kombat ever. Not really, seeing as the graphics looked worse than MK3 on Megadrive, and the N64 controller wasn’t exactly ideal for this kind of game. Still, it was Mortal Kombat on the 64 and I played the crap out of it.
17. Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire
Man you will never forget bringing down that AT-AT for the first time. I remember sitting in my shed with three of my mates and trying for a while to get it done. It helped the game’s popularity that there was a famous commercial in Australia about that very moment, but I couldn’t find it to share with you. Shadows was enjoyable but ultimately forgettable bar that first ice level.
16. Multi Racing Championship
It’s amazing to think a full priced retail racing game was released with only three tracks, but Multi Racing Championship did just that in 1997. I love my racing games so I bought and enjoyed it, there was just no hope of any replay value.
15. Ridge Racer 64
I remember being super jealous of my Playstation owning friends because they had Ridge Racer and I didn’t. After reading some good reviews about RR64 I picked the game up and I was blown away. The cars and environments looked real! How did they do it? I remember thinking. It looked ten times better than what Playstation had with it’s blocky pixelated cars and such. Ridge Racer 64 is still fun to go back to today.
14. Yoshi’s Story
Yoshi’s Story was another one of my mum’s favourites. The graphics were incredibly sharp and clear, you wanted to reach out and eat some of the backgrounds. Yoshi’s side scroller was great fun and of course sickeningly cute.
13. Top Gear Rally
Man, Top Gear Rally was the king of all driving games. Amazing graphics and physics, tracks with so many shortcuts and different paths it took ages to find them all. That sewer level is forever etched in my mind. I’ll never forget trying to find all the shortcuts and secrets. And I’ll never forget that decal editor. You were able to customise you car and write or draw whatever you wanted on it. Playing with the car you designed and watching it back in replays was unforgettable for me. It’s a shame the two sequels didn’t include this feature nor were they as good as this classic. If you haven’t played it you should hunt it down. My favourite “realistic” racing game of the generation.
12. Turok 2
I never finished the final boss in Turok 2 but I remember being amazed by the “hi rez” graphics. I bought the Expansion Pak especially for Turok 2 and it didn’t disappoint. The flame effects were incredible. Heaps of blood and gore, memorable weapons (who could forget the cerebral bore) and a decent multiplayer component ensured Turok 2 was a game I could rub in my Playstation owning friends’ faces.
11. Snowboard Kids
I love my weapons based racers, and Snowboard Kids was a really good Mario Kart klone. It had a smooth running and fun multiplayer mode with decent, balanced weapons- something a lot of Mario Kart klones don’t get right. I just remember it being fun and easy to pick up. It served me well during my period of Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64 fatigue.
10. Diddy Kong Racing
While I never thought Diddy Kong Racing was better (or close to being better) than Mario Kart 64, it was still the best Mario Kart klone there was back in the N64 days. And until Sonic Racing Transformed was released last year, it still was. Anyway you could fly, drive or use a hovercraft, and each track had multiple paths and options for the player. A well tuned weapon set and spot on driving controls made Diddy Kong Racing an instant classic and fan favourite. It’s a shame RARE isn’t still working with Nintendo because you could only imagine what they might achieve with a Wii U version of this game.
9. Jet Force Gemini
When it came to ambitious games on N64 there was only two companies that really pushed things. Nintendo themselves, and RARE. Their masterpiece Jet Force Gemini was as a massive third person space epic that featured 2 player co-op. If you’ve played Metriod Blast on the ground in Nintendo Land, you basically know what the controls were like in Jet Force Gemini. An immersive story, beautiful cut scenes and an epic soundtrack made JFG a classic. So much to do, so much to collect….
8. F-Zero X
My friends ridiculed F-Zero X for how ugly it was. And yeah, it was kind of ugly but it ran at a blistering 60 frames a second and there could be 30 cars on the screen at any one time with no slow down. F-Zero X is one of the most challenging and satisfying racers I’ve ever played, I have it on Virtual Console and still play it from time to time. My brother and sister still go back and play the 64 version too. The Joker Cup. Curse it till the day I die.
Banjo-Kazooie is an absolute classic platformer. RARE took what Nintendo had built with Mario 64 and refined and improved ideas to make them work better. The graphics were eye popping at the time and the humour and wit in the characters and story are unforgettable. This was one of my mum’s favourites too. There was so much to see, do and collect it was second only to Donkey Kong 64 in terms of scope and scale in an N64 platformer.
6. Perfect Dark
Perfect Dark was my most awaited game ever. I remember calling in sick for two days when it was released. My friend and I sat around for two days and played Syphon Filter and Perfect Dark. As a spiritual sequel to the insanely popular Goldeneye, RARE’s second fps masterpiece had an improved multiplayer and amazing graphics, but didn’t quite achieve the legendary status Goldeneye did. It was still a blast and the multiplayer had so many options it seemed overwhelming. I will however never forget that ridiculous flying laptop.
5. Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart is definitely the 64 game I’ve played the most, and every year or so I go through a phase of getting the 64 out and playing it for a few days. Yoshi Valley will always be one of my favourite tracks and I can’t wait for its HD remake someday. Nearly all of my friends and family could play Mario Kart 64, even my dad gave it a go once. My fondest memory though will always be my sister and I playing split screen with my grampa watching us and commentating and telling us to “watch out” or offering condolences when we messed up. Mario Kart 64 stands the test of time, and if you can pick it up on Virtual Console I recommend you do. The video above is a classic Australian tv ad for MK64.
Goldeneye really set the bar for first person shooters. Finally, 64 owners had something to truly hold over Playstation owner’s heads. A hardcore fps with incredible four player death match action. It was near perfect. Most memorable for me was getting to use that sniper rifle for the first time on the dam- I was with a few friends and we were playing through the campaign. The more I saw of the campaign the more I knew the game was destined to be a classic. And it was. Multiplayer is still a blast to play today, especially on bigger televisions. How we managed four player split screen on my tiny little tv in my room I’ll never know. But we did.
3. Ocarina Of Time
I’m sure everyone who played Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 was floored the first time the walked out into Hyrule Field. A truly massive open space that you could just run forever and not hit a loading screen. I remember questioning how it was possible to have such a massive open space in a video game. Then the sun began to set. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was turning into night before my very eyes! Then into morning. Amazing. There was so many great elements to Ocarina Of Time that make it so memorable. The characters, the locations, the epic story. The amazing Z targeting system. I remember the first time I killed a chicken.
2. Worms: Armageddon
I had been a fan of WORMS since the Amiga days. When I heard it was coming to N64 I just about peed my pants. I had just moved out of home and I remember sitting nearly every day for a year after work with my flatmate and his girlfriend and playing Worms together. They would always eventually start working together and gang up on me and beat me. Bastards. Armageddon just used the 64 controller so perfectly. All the weapons were there, and the game looked and sounded fantastic. Most importantly, all the charm of the Worms series had been successfully brought to my beloved 64 and I simply played the heck out of this game. I also introduce it to and play it with anyone who will listen to me. Love it.
1. Super Mario 64
My mum’s favourite game and mine. Every new level was a memorable one, I remember as I was playing and getting pretty far into it thinking: I hope it never ends. It eventually did, but I still go back and play it today. It’s still incredible and still makes me smile. I’ll never forget the first time I looked up at the skylight and the castle and the screen went completely white… what was about to happen!? The video above is of some fun easter eggs in the game, check it out.
. . .
What Nintendo 64 games are most dear to your heart? Does anyone else out there love Worms: Armageddon as much as I do? Leave a comment! You can follow me on twitter: @rustyshell and Miiverse: zinger_AU
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