The 21 best N64 games of all time
There's more to Nintendo's first 3D console than Mario 64, you know...
The Nintendo 64 arrived in the US in 1996 and blew minds. It was many a young gamer's first experience of full 3D environments in games, which seemed possibly lush next to the flat 16-bit spites we were used to from the 16-bit SNES era.
An often-overlooked gem, the Nintendo 64 produced some of the finest games of its entire generation. While the PlayStation got all the plaudits, the N64 pumped out classic after classic... with the odd stinker. No, Superman 64 does not feature in this list.
The following 21 titles are the best N64 games we ever wiggled a joystick at. Click in, enjoy a nostalgia-blast - and let us know if we missed any of your personal favourites.
Best n64 games
1. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
This still hits the top of many 'best of all time' lists - not just for the N64, but for games in general. Imaginative, epic, special - Ocarina of Time deserves the love still lavished on it to this day, even if it has been technically bettered over time.
2. Goldeneye 007
Back when you'd laugh at the thought of someone like Daniel Craig being Bond, we were treated to one of the finest film tie-ins ever made.
Brutal honesty: Goldeneye hasn't aged well. We tried playing it recently, giving up after half an hour because darn-it the old graphics just gave us a headache. But those memories - those epic four-player battles (no Oddjob) - will live on in memory forever, thanks in part to setting a mutliplayer standard many games still aspire to.
3. Mario 64
Hands-down one of the greatest games ever made, the moment Mario 64 popped up on the N64, everything in our gaming world changed forever. Even now it's great to play - quick and responsive, easy to pick up but difficult to master... it's almost like Nintendo worked really hard and knew what it wanted to accomplish with the game. Mad.
4. Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart 64 "Duht - duht - duuuuuht!" - three sounds that heralded what could be the start of a friend-ship ending race. That was the level of competitive zeal inspired by Mario Kart 64 - the greatest arcade racer title ever made. Sure, the format was already there from the original SNES title - but the N64's version gave everything a killer edge. It also benefited from the insane-yet-brilliant three-legged joystick controller. The day Nintendo releases this as a standalone smartphone app is the day we stop turning up to work.
If there's one genre the N64 nailed, it was 3D platformers - and Banjo-Kazooie is just one of a few on this very list that prove the point. Equal parts cute, fun and well made, Banjo might not have been as big a name as Mario, but he held his own.
6. Perfect Dark
Some of us (like possibly the author of these words) didn't have an Expansion Pak when they got Perfect Dark, and as such had to do with the seriously stripped event you got as a result.
Put a pack in, though, and you're rewarded with a first-person shooter of arguably better quality than Goldeneye 007. Fun levels, ever-creative weaponry and a story that, while camp and silly, you still wanted to play through.
7. The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Just when you thought all Zelda games were twee little fairy-riddled adventures, along came Majora's Mask to change your world. Well actually it ended the world, repeatedly, in this time-bending three-day adventure. Seriously great, and seriously disturbing at times.
8. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
We're all a bit excited about Star Wars: Battlefront right now - it brings back a certain kind of excitement you do only get with Star Wars games... like that which permeates Rogue Squadron.
You got to fly an X-Wing! The sound effects were all there! Blowing up TIE Fighters was fun! Man, it was great.
9. Diddy Kong Racing
This was a bit of an anomaly, in that it really had no right to be as good as it was. And still is. Adding a bit more to the already-standard Mario Kart formula, Diddy Kong Racing shook up the formula in a joyous, colourful way.
10. Wave Race 64
Our younger readers might scoff, but the water in Wave Race 64 blew many a mind back in 1996 - it looked so real. Fortunately, it was also backed up with a great racing game, which set the template for jet ski racers in years to come. No really, there was a fashion for that at one point.
11. WWF No Mercy
Fun fact: this is still the best wrestling game ever released, even though it's a decade-and-a-half old. Initially a tough nut to crack, No Mercy revealed itself as one of the deepest, most thoughtful and strategic games starring large men in pants ever made. And it holds up to this day.
12. Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64 is often overlooked by those digging through the annals of gaming history, somewhat unfairly: it was a great platformer full of wild imagination and inspiration. Also, using the N64 Expansion Pak which bumped the RAM from four to eight (stop sniggering, millennials), it looked better than its contemporaries. Graphics matter, people!
13. Lylat Wars
The game that was otherwise known as Star Fox 64, once whatever copyright issues Nintendo had to work out in Europe were dealt with. Honestly though, Lylat Wars? That was a baaaad name. Good game, though - great, in fact. A brilliant sequel to a brilliant SNES title, Lylat Wars was the right mix of arcade fun and hardcore challenge.
14. Paper Mario
Almost a reaction to Mario 64, which took the mustachioed plumber to the third dimension for the first time, Paper Mario made him thinner than he'd ever been. Not only was the visual style a break from the norm, the actual game - of the role-playing variety - mixed things for the better as well.
15. Conker's Bad Fur Day
Nintendo games are for kids, right? Babies, even. Well, that was the common refrain back in the late nineties, until Conker came along and told everyone to "fuck off". A foul-mouthed drunkard encountering giant talking poos and generally getting into mischief, Conker wasn't just 'adult' - it was one of the finest games of its generation.
16. Turok 2: Seeds Of Evil
Hands up all those who, as a child, didn't want to be a Native American dinosaur hunter capable of acts of intense, gory violence? If you put your hand up, you're a liar. Turok 2 was one of a very small number of first-person shooters on consoles that wasn't just competent, but was actively great. And gory. So very gory.
17. Blast Corps
Who doesn't love ramming into things with a bulldozer? Nobody, that's who - and it's precisely what Blast Corps tasked you with. Screaming around in your turbocharged dozer and clearing a route for a wayward nuclear missile, Blast Corps was very silly. But very good, too.
18. Mario Tennis
Who knew plumbers were this good at all sports in the world? Not us, but we found it out when Mario returned to the court on N64. Obviously not the most simulation-oriented game of thwack-ball out there, Mario Tennis ditched accuracy in favour of arcade excellence. Say it quietly, but it came very close to matching Mario Kart for multiplayer fun.
19. Mario Golf
What better way to settle old scores over kidnapping princesses and killing dozens of mushroom-shaped minions than a few rounds of golf? Yes, it's another odd sporting tie-in for the fat plumber, but Mario Golf was - and still is - better than any serious golf game we've ever played.
20. F-Zero X
Nintendo has been in the business of making stupidly fast futuristic racing games for decades now, and we wouldn't have it any other way. F-Zero X was its core effort on N64, and it was a resounding success. A resounding, fast success. There are high scores we set on this game that we still include on our CVs.
21. International Superstar Soccer 98
The PlayStation and N64 versions of ISS were very different beasts - the arguments still rage as to which was superior. We'll leave said debates at the door and just say this: ISS 98 on N64 was an incredible football game for its time, and we loved it dearly.
- These are the best NES games ever made...