My Top-10 Nintendo 64 games.
Alright, people! The long belated remake of this Top-10 is finally here. The Nintendo 64 is my favourite console of all time and the games on it hold a special place in my heart. I did a Top-10 Nintendo 64 games list a long time ago on YouTube and I’ve been planning on remaking it for a long time, but getting the video footage for it has proved depressingly difficult, so instead I’m going to do what I did with all the other Console Game Top-10s and just write it out on the blog here.
There is obviously a long list of honourable mentions to this list so let’s just get those out of the way before heading for the list itself: Mario Party 1-3, Mario Golf, GoldenEye 007, Super Smash Bros., Paper Mario, Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Puzzle League, F-Zero X, Bomberman Hero, Yoshi Story, Kirby 64 & Chameleon Twist.
Let’s get on with the list…
Lylat Wars was one of those weird games that I don’t think could really work these days. Essentially a schmup-experience but one with a storyline accompanying it, Lylat Wars presented a mostly linear but admittedly a very enjoyable gaming experience where you blasted enemies and tried to protect your wingmen from disaster.
Surprisingly, Lylat Wars features a degree of depth to it with alternating paths and even a second ending if you’re able to figure out how to get to it. Not only that you have some really hilarious voice-acting and awesome music. It’s a fun mixture of something old and something (at the time) new, Shoot-Em-Ups and 3D.
However, Lylat Wars is a very short game which can be completed in about an hour which is why it always left me just a smidge unsatisfied. For all its short length, it’s an amazingly fun game, but I was really left yearning for a more story-centred game from this series. Thankfully, I only had to wait until Nintendo’s next system came out to get it.
When people talk about great 3D platformers on the N64, almost everyone will immediately mention Banjo-Kazooie and almost no-one will even mention Donkey Kong 64. It’s admittedly a title that divides opinions, but I call them like I see them. I loved this game when it came out and I still do. DK64 definitely didn’t match every expectation I had for it, but in hindsight they were probably a little too high to begin with. Nothing changes the fact that the game has awesome levels, great level variety and is just a whole lot of fun to play.
Story and concept wise it perhaps didn’t offer huge advancements in the franchise. However, the game was just loaded with likeable characters and I think it gets sort of dismissed when discussing stand out titles for the system. The worlds were vast and had a lot in them. Of course, collecting items in the game could get a tad tiresome, but if you were methodical enough about them, you could get these obligatory parts of the game out of the way pretty quickly and still enjoy the interesting worlds that lay before you.
Admittedly DK64 is not the most polished title of the series and it had a hard time following Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, without a doubt the two strongest titles of the franchise up to that point, but I still highly recommend this goofy, banana collecting, orange flinging, mine-cart racing, pineapple bazooka shooting game.
This game was just recently up on my Top-5 Sports game list, so it probably wont surprise anyone that it’s also up on this list either. Funny part about this Nintendo 64 launch title is that I never actually played it on the original N64. I only got around to playing it on the Virtual Console and it immediately became one of my favourite games for the system. WaveRace 64 isn’t just an incredibly novel concept for a video-game, it’s just plain old fun.
You get a selection of four playable characters and race for points in a series of ever-changing and varied circuits. You’ll get to experience the placid stillness of a beautiful swamp and the fury of an angry ocean. You get to slip and slide in between gigantic boats and even race in an icy polar water (somehow without any debilitating hyperthermia). Although there are only four characters to choose from, you can change individual water-scooter settings to suit your gameplay style. The game displays incredible finish for such an early 3D title and water physics which still hold up amazingly well.
It’s a shame there haven’t been more games in the WaveRace series, because these titles could give other sports-game series a run for their money. If you haven’t tried out WaveRace 64 before, I highly urge you to seek it out and give it a whirl. In addition, try the game’s GameCube sequel.
Fighting games sadly never quite made their home on the N64 despite a few efforts. Luckily, Rareware did bring the sequel of their highly lauded Killer Instinct to the system. KI Gold is sadly under-rated in comparison to its far better known predecessor, which is a shame since it’s honestly the better game. KI Gold expanded the character roster with new cool characters: the Barbarian Tusk, the Jungle Babe Maya, the martial artist Kim Wu as well as the new villain Gargos.
More over the game still features the smooth-as-butter gameplay and excellent soundtracks we had come to expect from the series. The redesigns of the characters were nifty and while the game still operates on a 2D axis, it was cool seeing the KI characters fighting in true-3D environments for the first time. Even if the game got rid of my favourite character from the first game, Cinder, the better variety of levels and characters just make up for it in a big way.
KI Gold is not without its flaws and there’s a few annoying bugs (mainly the palette switching) which may detract slightly from it. However, I think this game is a must-play if you’re a KI-fan. Looking forward to playing KI3 sometime in the future.
Mario Kart is one of my all-time favourite spin-off series and this game is the reason why. Super Mario Kart on the SNES was a novel game but one that was still very unrefined and honestly a little unfair in certain aspects. Mario Kart 64 finally made the game feel like a racing game with the characters all using the standard items found on the track. The game had great music, great tracks and was still a fairly challenging driving experience, despite its cute exterior.
Also, I think the selection of tracks in this game is easily the most memorable. There’s the desert level with the train that you have to watch out for. There’s Toad’s Highway where you have to watch out for on-coming cars. There’s the insane Yoshi’s valley where you don’t even know who is the leader until everyone crosses the finish-line and so many more.
Graphically, this game hasn’t perhaps aged that well but it just puts me in a good mood every time I play it.
Another familiar entry from the previous Top-10. As mentioned before, ISS64 holds a lot of nostalgia for me which is probably why I rate it so highly. I’m not really a soccer-fan of any serious description, still I played this game over and over again.
My favourite thing to do was to create my own team of original characters and beat the World Cup. My reward was seeing my characters over the fairly awesome ending credits sequence and that just made it feel worth-while. The game also has loads of customisation options and you can also play scenario modes where you have to usually turn a game around for a team before the time runs out. The animations look still surprisingly good and the crazy announcers are just a joy to the ear.
So yeah, I just got hours of enjoyment out of this game back in the day and the main reason I think is that the controls are so simple and the intensity while playing is just really high. I just love this game.
I don’t think Super Mario 64 has ever been beat in the realm of 3D platformers in its simple fun gameplay and free-form structure. Super Mario 64 was such a refined game for its time, you can still find things that were done right in it that game developers still can’t seem to get straight in more recent 3D platformers. My main point in this regard is the collecting of power stars which is fun, completely devoid of dogmatic linearity and non-obstructive to the player’s progress. You pretty much have a free choice of collecting the stars in any order and you don’t even have to collect all of them to beat the game.
Then there’s the controls which are superb. Mario is super acrobatic with a vast variety of jumps to allow you to progress. The camera-controls are also super useful and far better than even in the game’s immediate sequels. Perhaps the only thing about the game which I think could have been done better is Mario’s rather paltry selection of super-powers, but the game is just so much fun with its awesome music, varied worlds and challenge that it doesn’t bug me that much.
This game never fails to put a smile on my face and it’s held up extremely well for such an early 3D platforming title.
Another title which I only played long after the N64’s discontinuation. I had always been curious about Mega Man’s first flirt with 3D which sadly didn’t turn into a long-standing franchise but instead became somewhat neglected and forgotten. However, Mega Man 64 is easily one of the best Mega Man games I’ve ever played and really game-changer for the franchise. It’s a colourful and fun action-adventure title (akin to Zelda) with awesome cutscenes and comedy and action-packed gameplay.
As Mega Man Voulnutt, you discover the secrets underneath the island you’re adventuring on, encounter the Bonne family of air-ship pirates and take down one adversary more fierce than the last. The excellent voice-acting makes the whole shindig feel like an anime and Mega Man keeps gathering better weapons as you go on. Some of the caves and underground bases may start to feel like a lot of the same, but there’s a cool variety of enemies and the game never becomes dull.
Mega Man 64’s only problems are that you can tell that it’s a port of a PlayStation game. This is evident both in the very low texture quality and the sound-compression on the voice-acting. However, I give Capcom massive props for actually keeping the voice-acting in the game when it would have been easier just to ditch it. This is truly a forgotten gem of a game and I highly recommend it.
Well, this was a toughy. Of course, Ocarina of Time absolutely needed to be on this list as it is one of my all time favourite games and still holds a special place in my heart as my favourite Zelda game. However, Majora’s Mask while might have disappointed me to a degree when it originally came out, has really grown on me over the years and along side Ocarina and Wind Waker, in my view, constitutes the single strongest run of Zelda-titles in the series. So, I decided just to have both of them on the list.
I don’t think I need to say that much about Ocarina of Time since people already know of its excellence. Suffice to say, it’s an epic (in the true meaning of the word) fantasy-adventure with varied dungeons, challenges and puzzles for the player to face. An awesome storyline and absolutely brilliant music which the player also gets to contribute to with the ocarina gameplay mechanic. It’s the one Zelda game where I felt I had a whole-heatedly excellent experience, I loved the characters and the game’s world and I found exploring the world to be an utter joy. It still holds up extremely well as a game.
Majora’s Mask recycled a lot of the resources of Ocarina and in that it may innitially come off as a rather paltry spin-off rather than a full-fledged instalment of the series. However, Majora’s Mask had a dark and a far more personal storyline than Ocarina and its a game that requires constant replaying to truly enjoy.
In the game, you’re trapped playing a three-day cycle over and over again and this puts serious pressure on you to succeed. However, you get far greater gameplay variety with the masks that transform you into different creatures and by helping the citizens of the world of Termina, you ultimately work your way towards a far more rewarding credits-sequence. Majora’s Mask is definitely not for everyone as it requires a specific style of gameplay, but it’s definitely a polished and interesting title.
Both of these titles are absolute must-plays for the system which is why they both found their way on to the list.
Shock and awe!! But really, if there is one criminally under-rated game from the Nintendo 64, nothing comes even close to Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It is a cult-fringe classic and one of the most controversial and hilarious games to have ever come out.
Here’s the gist of it. You’re a squirrel named Conker. After a night of heavy drinking, you wake up with a terrible hang-over. You seek the cure from Scarecrow named Birdy (because he scares Birdies) and start your long voyage home. On your way you must face tickly bees, big-breasted sunflowers, murderous cyborg hay-stacks, Scouser dung-beetles, The Great Mighty Poo, mischievous cavemen, zombies and the vicious Panther King.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is loaded with immature comedy, movie references but it has a charm that is quite unmatched by any game. Conker never comes off as mean for the sake of being mean and you really sympathise with him as he’s unwillingly whisked away on crazy adventures, when all he wants to do is to go home with his girlfriend Berri. The game is certainly not flawless, there are some truly difficult and annoying parts to it and it’s also extremely linear for what is essentially a Rareware platformer.
However, Conker is one of the most uniquely crazy gaming experiences and I’ve never been as impressed with a game of such obscurity. Even if you’re not a fan of Rareware or Nintendo, you need to give this game a try.