SB Recommends Nintendo 64 games

n64_nintendo64kidscreaming.jpg Nintendo's awkward, misunderstood entry in the 32-bit wars, and the last major home console to take games on cartridges. Largely ignored in Japan, the N64 found its niche here as the system of choice among Mario-obsessed kids and FPS multiplayer-loving frat boys without a decent computer. Since you're reading a gaming wiki, you've probably at least played Mario 64 and Ocarina somewhere in your lifetime, if only emulated or at a friend's house.

The N64 has numerous accessories that many games at least partially require:

  • Expansion Pak: doubles the RAM, improving graphics in compatible games. Works the same as the regular cart for all other games, so you never have to take it out. DK64, Majora's Mask, and Perfect Dark require it.
  • Controller Pak: Memory card. Not many later games used this, opting instead to save to the cartridge battery. Some require it.
  • Rumble Pak: So friggin powerful that it needs its own batteries. Allegedly, it was once popular as a tattoo gun in prisons.
  • Transfer Pak: You put GB carts into this, but the only ones you can play are Pokemon R/B/Y, within Pokemon Stadium. Primarily used for transferring data.
  • VRU: An elaborate system for clipping a microphone to the controller, so you can watch Pikachu fail to understand you.
  • 64DD: Gigantic add-on only released in Japan that would have allowed for online play, among numerous other things. Kind of Nintendo's 32X + Saturn NetLink. It met a similar fate.
  • WideBoy 64: The N64's equivalent to the Super Game Boy, except it also played Color games. Never released to the public, it was intended as a development tool and to allow magazines to take screenshots of GB games.
  • 1080° Snowboarding (also on: Wii VC)
    • The Blueberry Hill: Turn the music off after you've had a laugh at it and the game becomes something pretty special; there's something really unique about the atmosphere. The courses are really well done, and the title screen features a song about lima beans, probably.
  • Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh (also on: DC, XBLA)
    • Rudie: I'd heartily recommend the Dreamcast version over this one, it was released at least in America and it doesn't have moronic scoring mechanics.
    • The Blueberry Hill: I heartily recommend trying them both. The differences are significant, and can be read about at GameFAQs, or Wikipedia.
  • Banjo-Kazooie (also on: XBLA, XB1)
    • Rudie: People call it a collectathon, a Mario clone, and a disease on game design. That might all be true, but I absolutely have a blast everytime I play through this game, and I do so about every six months.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Very playable, generally non-patronizing kids' game with lavishly detailed and imaginative level design. I quite like the forest world with four slightly different, seasonally-themed versions. The collectathon bullshit is rather subdued compared to Rare's later titles, though fuck having to collect all a world's notes in one go.
  • Beetle Adventure Racing
  • Blast Corps
    • The Blueberry Hill: Hard to believe it's by Rare, these days. Focused, race-against-the-clock, building demolition. There's a really great variety of vehicles to use, most with very different controls, and methods.
  • Bomberman 64 / Baku Bomberman (JP)
    • The Blueberry Hill: I really enjoy the one player game; you can do some crazy stuff with stacking bombs that feels game breaking, but isn't. I really like the sound in this game too: it has that same crispy arcadeyness that Waverace has.
    • dessgeega: Bomberman 64, by the way, has totally great multiplayer. it brings the traditional Bomberman battle into the third dimension perfectly, largely ditching the grid that the 2D games are so tied to. ghosts are pretty much the best revenge feature Bomberman has ever had; a pyramid with a rising water line causes more scrambling than a row of blocks falling from the sky. and bouncing bombs off of opponents' heads is pretty much the best thing in the world.
    • dessgeega: It's great how the game minimizes the item-hunting that's become such a big part of Bomberman.
    • WarpZone: Like many others I bought Bomberman 64 for the multiplayer… and ended up being much more impressed with the single player. Although unassuming at first, it never felt as formulaic as previous games, and the extended bomb mechanics really added a unique dimension to higher level play. Some of the bosses tested my patience with the collision detection, but I kept being surprised by the stages. It's too bad you couldn't use those custom outfits in single player. They're so hopelessly hard to see in multi.
  • Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! / Baku Bomberman 2 (JP)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Quite different from its predecessor, Second Attack is exploration oriented, story driven and open-ended, to the point that it's almost an action RPG. Though not to the level of the unfortunate Act: Zero, the aesthetic is unusually dark and gritty for a Bomberman game, which actually works real well. You can level up your cutesy sidekick Pommy into a demonic murdering beast, and there's a planet entirely covered in piece-of-shit Detroit urban decay. I never got to try the multiplayer, but it has tons of items with insane effects. Sadly, the cartridge is rare and expensive now.
  • Chameleon Twist
    • T.: Doom 64 is my favorite official Doom game I think.
    • ionustron: Stages got a bit too long for me, kinda the same problem I had with Final Doom. But I love the designs and the sound from the PSX version so I still play it occasionally.
    • Tulpa: Yeah the PSX music and the oversized ugly sprites and the spectacular level design put it on par with the the better doom wads, for me.
    • Dracko: Doom 64 is great and all, but has far tighter spaces than previous games. For the most part it works, but it takes some getting used to.
    • showka: It reminds me of the original Castlevanias, in that it has a palpable sense of progression. I think the first eight levels where my favorite. They really felt like you were on some distant planet, miles away from Earth and all alone. I thought the backgrounds — the night sky, those mountain tops — where just beautiful.
  • Earthbound 64
    • gatotsu2501: I believe.
  • Excitebike 64
    • The Blueberry Hill: Has some wonderful extra modes: a steep hill descent; hill climb; and a soccer game that will test all the player's bike handling skills. Even those they didn't know they had yet.
  • F-Zero X (also on: Wii VC)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Supremely fine-tuned futuristic racer that remains as fun as ever on the merits of its smooth handling and rock solid track design, despite the lack of graphical polish. Death Race, where you drive in an endless loop with the mission to kill all the other cars, is a great little addition. Unlike its Gamecube sequel there's almost no extra content (unless you count the N64DD Expansion Kit), which really hurts its value as a single-player game, so some multiplayer bros are a must.
    • The Blueberry Hill: The game's random track generator is some pretty great extra content, actually. I've never enjoyed the F-Zero games much in multiplayer.
    • Brooks: This is the only N64 game I thought really fit what the platform could do
      Swarm of little gemlike objects firing along corkscrews and pink
    • notbov: The Virtua Fighter clone that forgot it was supposed to rip off Virtua Fighter
    • The Blueberry Hill: This game, and its sequel Fighter Destiny 2 (no 's'!) are really interesting fighters. Fights are won by scoring points. A ring-out is one point, throws are worth two, and so on; and all this affects your strategy. Losing a round is always just a super move away.
  • GoldenEye 007 (should you be reading this in the late nineties…)
    • vision: The first milestone FPS to hit a home console, GoldenEye (and its multiplayer omnipresence) has long since lowered sail—its successors no longer judged against its once-gold standard.
    • Six: Punching mutants and wrasslin' them to the ground is strange pleasure. One of them kicked me in the shin really hard and pretty much insta-killed me, which is frustrating but also kind of hilarious.
    • The Blueberry Hill: Sort of tedious, and ridiculous, but the game has a really interesting battle system. Basically, it's like a turn-based fighter. The fights are realtime, with the characters jostling for position until their meter fills, allowing either to stop the game and select commands from a menu. There are a lot of attacks to learn, particular to each limb, and they can be strung together for combos.
  • Jet Force Gemini
    • Rudie: In the 21st century, I can't recommend this game based on the archaic control scheme. We've moved on, I'm sorry.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Actually, I find the controls to be far more intuitive and finely tuned than most any club-footed dual analog setup. The real problem with the game is that it's the only Rare collectathon where YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO COLLECT EVERYTHING. There's a fake ending halfway through after you clear the main paths of all the stages, you may as well pretend you've beaten the game there, though some of the backtrack areas are worth playing.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (also on: Gamecube, Wii/Wii U VC; remade for 3DS) - forum thread
    • Ni Go Zero Ichi: It's still fun and all - the level designs are rich little puzzle playgrounds that encourage you to imaginatively inhabit the game's 3D spaces - but what really makes it hold up (and ironically it never actually gets credit for this) is the way it conveys one of the medium's strongest coming-of-age narratives, every bit as nuanced and poignant as Earthbound or Dragon Quest V yet largely nonverbal. The environments also have this great tactile, dreamlike, desolate ambiance, resulting from a combination of excellent art and sound design and primitive 3D maps, that few other pre-Ueda games capture. The score is far and away Koji Kondo's finest work. It's really a good game; too bad it will always live in the shadow of those contentious BEST OF ALL TIME superlatives.
    • Felix: Yup. Historically significant, straightfaced monomyth that sequels have largely been unable to achieve, but the level design and the world aren't all that good in 2012.
    • Rudie: A large part of the game I think is being 12 years old and letting your mind fill in the holes that are just unfillable as an adult.
    • Reed: It isn't as good as people say.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (also on: GameCube, Wii VC; remade for 3DS)
    • Maztorre: Majora's Mask is indeed the best marriage of Nintendo writing to Nintendo mechanics I've seen outside of, say, Paper Mario 2. Each mask in MM tends to have a quirky, offbeat or “dark” premise behind it, which is where Nintendo's best writing often resides. The fact that almost every mask quest is self-contained and generally of a short length means that there is a bare minimum of tutorialising (every mask tends to function with a press of the B button or just passively “works”) and a greater focus on entertaining writing and scenario design.
    • shnozlak: I don't so much like Majora's Mask. I just don't much like the world layout, the mask transformations, the time limitation or the repetition of events. Emulation (bearable frame rate) and save states make it “ok”. The dungeons I've seen played look pretty all right but not worth the rest of it. The game just feels like a schlep to me.
    • gatotsu2501: Don't get me wrong, I really respect what this game is trying to do. It's the only post-Ocarina Zelda game to borrow its core formula without becoming trapped in its shadow, which is ironic considering it uses the exact same engine and most of the same graphical assets. That said, while some players may enjoy the stress introduced by the constant time limit and restrictive save system (a first and last for Zelda), these things combined with the large amounts of forced repetition imposed by the having to reset the clock every 45 minutes just killed it for me. I'm sorry, but in a game about exploration and puzzle solving, the last thing I want is to be rushed. It's the only Zelda game (apart from the NES titles and, at the time of this writing, Skyward Sword) that I've never beaten. Be aware that the GameCube port (included in the Zelda Collector's Edition along with the original game, Zelda II, and OoT) crashes on occasion, which can wipe out all of your progress since your last time reset.
    • Felix: I, too, have never beaten it (unlike the original LoZ, shame on you gatotsu), because it feels like a schlep to me too. This + Mario Sunshine (and to a lesser extent, Wind Waker) were basically Nintendo getting rebuffed for trying something different (which is good) and then somehow screwing it up just a little bit (which is tragic), and their resultant lack of creativity can be traced right back here.
    • Reed: The best 3D Zelda. Fantastic, dark, everything just that little bit off-kilter. A brave game. Its only mark of cowardice is the inclusion of traditional Zelda-formula dungeons. Future Zelda titles have puzzles inside puzzles; the time mechanic in MM provides a puzzle outside the puzzle.
  • Mario Golf (also on: Wii VC)
    • Ni Go Zero Ichi: An excellent pass-the-controller party game for tge more… cerebral partier.
  • Mario Kart 64 (also on: Wii VC)
    • Ni Go Zero Ichi: I can't keep track of all the fucking Mario Karts (and, judging by their resignation to the generic “Mario Kart 7”, “Mario Kart 8”, etc. naming conventions as of late, neither can Nintendo), so I don't know if 64 is outclassed by one or another of the sequels; but I think there's something to be said for its relative simplicity. The Blue Shell isn't in this game!
  • Mario Party 3
    • gatotsu2501: I know it's a taboo for any “serious” game connoisseur to enjoy Mario Party, but to this day I confess it's an occasional guilty pleasure of mine when I have friends over. 3 is the one game in the series you should play if you only play one game - the minigames are pretty fun, there's an enjoyable two-player map mode that (to my knowledge) doesn't show up in any of the other games, and the game overall is more developed than the first two while having not yet descended to the sequels' depths of soulless drudgery.
  • Mario Tennis (also on: Wii/Wii U VC)
    • The Blueberry Hill: Basically it's Virtua Tennis with a Mario coating. The newer members of the series add some extra shots that sort of ruin everything.
    • Leau: The mechanics in the first Mario Tennis are so much tighter than in the Gamecube version. And it has a fantastic Soundtrack. I'm sure nobody else did it, but the fact that you could create a character in the Gameboy Color version, level him up into some uber-player and then bring him over using the transfer pack was awesome.
    • gatotsu2501: I did that, too! Why can't every sports game have that feature? Anyway, I can't quite put my finger on why this game is so much better than its sequels; it just FEELS right. The level of, for lack of a better term, “Nintendoness” is just enough, rather than too much.
    • Felix: I actually like the Gamecube version just fine, but yeah, this is a great game – better than Virtua Tennis for most people.
  • Mega Man 64 (also on: PC, PS1)
    • gatotsu2501: Are there any significant differences between this version and Mega Man Legends that are worth mentioning? Aside from this one routinely going for lower prices, that is.
  • Mischief Makers / Go Go!! Trouble Makers (JP)
    • dessgeega: I really like that the stages all feel like they're built from the same pieces, whereas a lot of Treasure games feel like a string of boss battles.
  • Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon / Ganbare Goemon: Neo Momoyama Bakufu no Odori (JP)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: What at first seems to be a middling Zelda 64 clone soon reveals itself as a rich action-adventure paced like a TV anime, full of quirky Engrish humor, secrets to hunt for and little world-building details. All this is offset by some very melancholic stretches of downtime, where you're left to trek through beautifully abstract swaths of Edo countryside. Many of the bosses are fought from the cockpit of grinning mecha Impact; there's a huge amount of depth to these fights, and something about how their monolithic scale is communicated is strangely terrifying. Has my favorite soundtrack of any N64 game, complete with three vocal themes that amazingly made it into the US version untouched.
  • Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon 2 (PAL) / Goemon's Great Adventure (US) / Ganbare Goemon: Derodero Douchu Obake Tenkomori (JP)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Ditches the 3D freeroaming of the previous N64 Goemon for a more traditional 2D setup, but the controls and physics aren't adjusted accordingly, which leads to some extremely frustrating bouts of platforming. Additionally, most of the cast becomes useless outside of their context-specific situations, since only Goemon can double jump. The ever-presence of insta-death pits doesn't help. Regardless, this is more than a worthy sequel to the first game, although it's similar to it in most respects besides being 2.5D. And unlike the original, it's hard as nails and often unfair, so expect a lot of stage restarts and teeth-grinding.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion (JP)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Reenact the Angel fights and target practice scene with amazing graphics. Every stage plays like a hyper-extended QTE, with most controls being context-sensitive. The only Eva action game outside of Smash Bros. clone Battle Orchestra.
    • gatotsu2501: I'm sure it's fun, but making an Eva video game still feels to me like making, I dunno, a “2001” video game. That is to say, colossally missing the point. Oh well, at least it's better than dating sims.
  • Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber (also on: Wii VC)
    • Felix: A lot less charming and only slightly more playable than the Matsuno namesake, but it's still Ogre Battle.
    • Ni Go Zero Ichi: They say Matsuno wasn't involved with this game or the GBA's Knight of Lodis (he'd moved on to Square at the time) but I don't know. I've seen rumors that he did uncredited scenario work on these games and even though I can't find a source it seems believable; if they weren't written at least in part by Matsuno, then Quest found the world's most proficient Matsuno imitator because (at least narratively) they feel totally of a piece with the two Ogre games that have his name on them.
  • Paper Mario (also on: Wii/Wii U VC)
    • gatotsu2501: Takes everything that was good about Super Mario RPG and makes it better. The combat is more cleverly designed, the visual aesthetic is more unique and fully realized, the world is more cohesive (dare I say it, perhaps even more cohesive than just about ANY other JRPG), and the script is more charming and funny. Don't be spooked by the absence of Square's name on the label; this isn't just a worthy successor to SMRPG, it's a better game.
    • spectralsound: gatotsu pretty much summed up everything great about this game. I also want to mention that it's pretty easy, but that shouldn't be taken as a bad thing - it's not so much that you'll breeze through it, so much as it just doesn't waste your time.
    • capgamer: This game did so many things right it's ridiculous. I think people hold Super Mario RPG more nostalgically in their hearts but Paper Mario is where it's at for me. It's surprisingly low on bullshit: it's a relatively short but meaty little RPG that takes you to a variety of environments with an enjoyable combat system.
      I'll just start listing off the things I love about it:
      1. You can customize your character a lot and you don't have to start a new game to change his stats.
      2. Turn based combat is fast and enjoyable, with numbers that aren't gigantimously hugeganimous and an active style that rewards good timing (though does not require it).
      3. The environments are cohesive. There are transitions between one type to another. You take a train ride to the desert and can see the landscape slowly becoming more desert-like. You don't just walk into the forest, you walk through a couple of screens which get progressively darker. They actually thought about this stuff, unlike the vast majority of RPGs out there.
      4. Simply moving around is enjoyable. Being able to jump, ground pound, get the first hit on enemies like Earthbound. The game is as enjoyable outside of battle as in it.
  • Perfect Dark (also on: XBLA, XB1) - forum thread
    • vision: Though often visually smeared and stuck to a familiar secret agent plot line, Perfect Dark forayed much deeper into varied weaponry, gadgets, AI foes and comrades than its predecessor, all while granting GoldenEye fanatics their spiritual sequel.
    • Rudie: It's now on Xbox360 and I kind of want a 360 for it.
    • Lainer: Still has the best collection of memorable weapons in an FPS. Unfortunately it only has three good levels, and they're the first four levels in the game.
    • Hekatoncheir: This game is pretty great and the remake is cool looking and ridiculously faithful (blank faces in HD whose mouths don't move when they talk). There are a lot of things I really like about it that I think are missing from many shooters.
  • Pilotwings 64 (also on: Wii VC)
    • The Blueberry Hill: Perfect combination of relaxation and frustration. Like threading a needle.
    • Sketch: I still load up PW64 and invent my own missions… Can we land the gyrocopter on Nessie's head? Let's find out! I'm going to be bold and say that while I played SM64 more intensely at launch, over time I've come to appreciate PW64 more — in spite of its aged visuals the physics and versatility of the gyrocopter still make it a joy to play.
  • Pokémon Puzzle League (also on: Wii VC)
    • vision: your only shot at Panel De Pon on the 64
    • gatotsu2501: Complete with potentially addictive two-player versus mode. Pretty damned fun if you can manage not to be driven insane by the shrill, constant voice samples and chintzy muzak (both taken from the US dub of the anime series).
  • Pokémon Snap (also on: Wii VC)
    • Focus: Pokemon Snap was fun for, maybe, about ten playthroughs. Really! It was FUN those first ten times. Afterwards, the challenge of getting the PERFECT shot died off.
  • Sin & Punishment: Successor to the Earth (also on: Wii VC)
    • gatotsu2501: Feels like it was anachronistically designed around Wii controls. Fortunately, its sequel has them.
  • Space Station Silicon Valley (also on: PS1)
  • Star Fox 64 / Lylat Wars (also on: Wii VC; remade on 3DS) forum thread
    • dessgeega: Though it was clearly intended as the hollywood blockbuster to the original's short subject, and they cancelled a real sequel in preference of Zelda-style reiteration, it still has really strong direction and impressive storytelling, which none of its sequels have been able to match.
    • Felix: Remarkably punchy for a Nintendo game. Arguably aged better than anything on the N64 other than Mario and Paper Mario.
    • Ni Go Zero Ichi: I wish someone could have told me ahead of time that this game doesn't have a save function. That's a little TOO arcadey for me.
  • Super Mario 64 (also on: Wii/Wii U VC; remade for DS)
    • 1CC: Just like the 2D Mario games had the best physics among 2D platformers, Mario 64 had the best physics among 3D platformers. It's just a joy to move around, in and of itself. I find it hard to think of many other 3D games that came close, aside maybe from driving games and flight simulators.
    • Ni Go Zero Ichi: For the game that (along with Ocarina) allegedly wrote the book on 3D level design, this has aged pretty fucking well.
  • Super Smash Bros. (also on: Wii VC)
  • Tonic Trouble (also on: PC)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: By the same devs as Rayman 2, and kind of a spinoff of it. Has a repulsive sub-Nickelodeon aesthetic and terrible controls, but the levels are chaotic and surreal in a way I've never experienced otherwise (honestly, the egyptian stage is the stuff of fever dreams). And it's got the only Paul Newman cameo in a game. There's supposed to be a food theme to everything, but this isn't completely followed through, so we're fighting killer tomatoes in gothic castles.
  • Wave Race 64 (also on: Wii VC)
    • vision: processor-pushingly accurate wave physics amidst a serene and (in most ways) solid jet ski racing game
  • Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey
    • vision: oft-overlooked multiplayer gem; deftly balanced, arcade-paced hockey
  • WWF: No Mercy
    • geist: everyone at one point in their life has been told “no really no mercy is an excellent video game” and they kind of filed it away as ok, sure, why not but seriously guys this game is so good I could play it all day every day. the create a wrestler mode alone is better than anything in the world

See also

 
 sb/recommended/nintendo64.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/14 18:02 by gatotsu2501
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