6 of the Best Games: Nintendo 64

Games in my opinion that define gaming on the Nintendo 64

As I have mentioned before, I will be focusing almost all of my retro system and console writing here on Medium within the 8-bit and 16-bit generations —however, the Nintendo 64 is a 64-bit console I wanted to write brief something about.

During 1997, my Nintendo 64 console was actually stolen — my housemates too — as well as my Sega Megadrive II. Once the insurance came through I only had enough money to buy the N64 again and 5 games.

The Nintendo 64 was the last cartridge based console I purchased from a store new — way back now in 1996 (and again in 1997 after a break-in). I initially purchased the Nintendo 64 console with two controllers and three games: Super Mario 64, Pilot Wings and Wave Race. Those original launch games I purchased are still excellent games to me more than — can you believe it — 20 years later.

At that time, I was not interested in cut scenes which you ultimately skip — it was co-op game-play on the same TV screen that made this console a real winner for me. Goldeneye, Mario Cart 64 , Gauntlet Legends, Super Smash Bros, International Superstar Soccer ’98, Mario Tennis — even All-Star Baseball 2000 and NBA Live 2000— these games all encouraged couch co-op play.

Cut scenes and loading from cartridges and not disc was a major talking point back in the day, especially when the N64 was compared to the other disc based consoles that were around at the time.

I do wish the N64 had more RAM and I do which the cartridges had more ROM available so the visuals today didn’t look so dated. Even though this is a 64-bit console, many 16-bit systems do look more pleasing to the eye than the N64 does today. Maybe it’s the output method used but I think compression and texture modification to make things fit on the available cartridge ROM and down-sampling (the audio too) were the main causes.

Another thing many people remember and talk about is the Nintendo 64 controller. This controller first experimented with the Z trigger button being under the controller, and it had a very different positioning for the control pad and control stick. It took a while to get used to a first, but then it was fine to use and for some games like Mario 64, the controller design made sense. It is in my opinion a well designed controller, but not as good as the Gamecube or Xbox 360/One controllers.

So now here are six of my favorite games that I have played/owned on the Nintendo 64 and to me are still fantastic to play:


1. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 contains 15 massive 3D worlds that are cleverly laid-out so that there’s never a dull moment. Each world requires Mario to find seven stars, and also find a hidden secret star, in order to move onto the next area. This game recaptures the classic game play style of the original 2D series that was on previous Nintendo consoles. This is just one game that has excellent replay value and is fun for everyone from children to adults.


2. Goldeneye 007

Goldeneye was the best game in 1997, and to this day is arguably the best FPS to ever come out as it is the game that revolutionized the First Person genre. There is a lot more to do in this game than just blow away your enemy. Goldeneye 007 is built around 18 levels that must be played through in linear fashion in the easy mode, which will open up the possibility of playing the game in harder levels once completed. You will need to master all the different weapons available, as in some levels there are only a one or a few weapons available. You will also need to perform covert operations in typical Bond style all based on actual events from the Goldeneye movie. Just awesome.


3. Wave Race 64

Wave Race 64 features nine challenging water courses featuring buoys, ramps, mines, hairpin turns and more. You can compete in single races or in championship mode, which has three difficulty levels. The higher the difficulty level, the tougher the courses become and the more ruthless your opponents get. The challenge of the game is to race with the realistic water/wind physics inside the game (the first game to do something like this) and to also maintain max power the entire race — miss just one buoy or critical track section and you lose it and need to build it up again. Great water racing game.


4. Banjo Kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie is a platform game that features a goofy bear Banjo in tight yellow shorts who a carries a witty, red-crested bird friend Tooie in his backpack. Together, the bear-bird duo must use teamwork to complete various challenges and to rescue Banjo’s sister Tootie from the ugly evil witch Gruntilda, who wants to steal her beauty. Bottles, a mole with Coke-bottle glasses, is around to assist where needed by teaching any new moves and on missions, you need to collect musical notes, Jiggys, Jinjos, Honeycomb and Mumbo tokens. Great family entertainment and a welcome change from the plumber :)


5. Pilot Wings 64

Pilot Wings 64 is a great flight sim where you choose a character and tackle flying assignments with various craft to gain your pilot wings. You are required to successfully complete challenges with a Hang Glider, Rocket Belt and Gyrocopter. If you make great scores during your challenges, you can open up bonus games. These include Sky Diving (Parachute), Birdman outfit (complete with wings and feathers), Jumble Hopper (huge bouncing device) and the human cannonball where you try to hit a distant bull’s eye on a target. In my opinion, a game sadly over-looked and under rated, and in doing so, you are missing out on heaps of fun.

6. All-Star Baseball 2000

All-Star Baseball 2000 is a great baseball game that features 30 major league teams and stadiums in full detail. You can play the game in a variety of modes including exhibition, season and playoffs. The control mechanism of this game is where it really shines. You have excellent control over pitching, batting and fielding. The game also reacts slightly differently when game weather and surface conditions change and the CPU actually makes errors at random. A really solid baseball game.


Other Great Nintendo 64 Games

As usual, some of the games in my list above is going to disagree with your favorites — or many of the favorites we see over and over again. We were fortunate that the Nintendo 64 had many good titles available, so here are some more that I recommend you play on this system:

  1. 1080 Snowboarding
  2. Banjo Tooie
  3. Blast Corps
  4. Conker’s Bad Fur Day (Adults Only)
  5. Excitebike 64
  6. F-Zero X
  7. Gauntlet Legends
  8. International Superstar Soccer ‘98
  9. Jet Force Gemini
  10. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  11. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  12. Mario Golf
  13. Mario Kart 64
  14. Mario Party
  15. Mario Smash Bros
  16. Mario Tennis
  17. NBA Live 2000
  18. Perfect Dark
  19. Rayman 2: The Great Escape
  20. Ridge Racer 64

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