In the 1980s, technology has grown so rampant that we’ve developed fully rendered 3D graphics and programmers predicted that it will become a norm for visual arts. Already in the mid-90’s, the industry was ready to make many more games into 3D. 3D graphics is important for giving players a whole new perspective, depth in realism, and as a result we were able to create new video game genres such as 3D Platformers, Sandbox Games, First-Person Shooters, ect. and old, familiar genres to now be seen in a more dynamic view point thanks to a moving camera to give us such visuals. With so much anticipation for the future in gaming, Nintendo fans everywhere were extremely anticipated to have the same impact with all of their favorite franchises. On 1995, Killer Instinct hit the arcades and announced “Available on 1995, only on the Nintendo Ultra 64…” we were completely blown away with what’s in stored for (at the time it’s called) the Nintendo Ultra 64! Though we had to wait another year later, in 1996 we were given the Nintendo 64 and everyone wanted just one game “Super Mario 64.” Super Mario 64 was an instant killer app title that showed all of us that this is now how we play video games. But as the years go by, the impact of the Nintendo 64 was fading a bit as third party developers were dissatisfied with the choice of cartridge instead of disc-based video games. Cartridge had a lot of limitation in its storage and it’s unable to shove in tons of voice acting, movie-quality cutscenes, and even more detailed graphics that the Sega Saturn and Playstation were offering. This is last console where people actually discuss about “bits” because it doesn’t really tell you how much better the graphics are because a “64-bit” console like the Nintendo 64 is nearly equivalent to the Playstation’s technology. It’s really the reason why big name developers, like Square Soft, left Nintendo so they can expand their limitations to create masterpieces like Final Fantasy 7. Games like Killer Instinct Gold really shows the limitations of the cartridge and what could have been if it weren’t for the arcade version to show it’s superiority. They’ve tried to FINALLY get into the disc-based games by releasing a CD-add-on called the 64DD and that never was released out of Japan and it lasted only a half a year, loosing tons of money. If only Nintendo made this console a truly disc-based console, who knows how much more successful they would have been in the 5th generation of consoles. At the same time, cartridge had a lot more advantages than disc because of their durability, almost-non existent load times, and fast speed. With many third-party developers jump shift to different consoles, Nintendo was left on their own trying to keep Nintendo 64 owners happy, and that they did. Though the Nintendo 64 has a lot to be desired, it has delivered on some of the most qualitative games that delivered on revolutionary gameplay and adventures, four player port multiplayer (making it the ultimate party machine), and a brand new perspective on how they handled their 3D technology that no other console has done remotely similar. Though it has had a decent life span (1996-2001) with very little games, there were titles that took full advantage of the 3D technology by creating such a world that no one has ever been in before! Not to mention that more than half of the titles on the N64’s library is takes indeed a long time to complete so despite it’s short library of games, Nintendo and the rest of the developers who worked on the 64, has given us hours upon hours of entertainment. Not to mention even more hours with high replay value with many of the titles. Most of the games nowadays lack replay value because they have that same appeal where we approach a game and it comes and goes. But for many of the titles on the N64, it comes and stays with us forever! It’s now time to finally countdown the ten best games on Nintendo’s first 3D home console machine!
Number 10. – Super Smash Bros.
What is the Nintendo 64 made for? The answer – four player co-op, slick 3D graphics, analog stick for smooth controls, and party gameplay experience unlike any console before it. So what’s the one video game that captures all of the tends and purposes of the Nintendo 64? Super Smash Bros. of course. Nobody before ever had the idea that putting many of Nintendo’s famous mascots into a fighting game cross-over could be the most ingenious idea. But this was around the time where cross-over fighting games were present, but never used in non-fighting game characters. Somehow this brought everyone into the craze of beating their opponents with so many weapons and amazing powers, just so much that they can make their foes fly off the screen. It was exciting, fast, and intense every time I pick up this game and play with my friends. This was our Nintendo fantasies come to life and yet we’re still not satisfied due to the fact that every one has their favorite Nintendo character (or any other video game character) that didn’t make it in the sequels of Smash Bros and we demand even more. It was so cool to see every character to have their own moves and abilities that are used for their advantage and what matters is to see how skillful a player is in battle. Sure the sequels of Smash Bros. had more content, but you have to remember how mind blowing and exciting it was to play your these characters and in famous levels from each franchise. Because of its addictive multiplayer, it has left a huge legacy for us all and it still remains fun to this very day.
Number 9. – Donkey Kong 64
Ever since the Nintendo 64 was launched, I kept wondering if the Donkey Kong Country series will remain on the Super Nintendo. Load and behold, it was a dream come true to have Donkey Kong and his friends in full 3D. This was a huge moment in my life, as a Donkey Kong fan, because we finally got a chance to play as DK (we haven’t had him as a playable character since Donkey Kong Country 1) and finally play more than one of his buddies; 4 more of the Kongs to be exact! The gameplay was more like a very expanded version of Banjo-Kazooie, I mean a huge one! Not only they took the essence of scavenger gameplay in this game, but made it five times the size, making every Kong to have their own collectables for each and every level that they are in. This stirs the question on why this game is already bigger than it needs to be, making it very laborious to go through. But you have to remember that DK64 offered a lot more than a huge single player, but this game is loaded with multiplayer content and even a graphics Expansion Pack included that for future high-tech N64 to come. This won’t be the first time Rareware spoiled us with not only including the game (Killer Instinct and the soundtrack) but that’s what makes Rare so special for all of us hardcore Nintendo fans. It’s really sad to say that we will never again have another Donkey Kong game that’s in full 3D because I’ll be in for it when Nintendo decided to finally make one in some point in time.
Number 8. – Star Fox 64
We all were disappointed that Star Fox 2 for the Super Nintendo was never released, however Nintendo took all the amazing concepts of the game that almost made it, into a redefined classic that became one of the most replayed games that ever existed. Every Nintendo 64 fan will always say how many times they’ve played this on-rails flight shooter and for good reason, there’s always something new to shoot, or blow up, every ten seconds within each level. Unlike the SNES original your anthropomorphic wingmen buddies speak properly this time, rather than the garbled alien sounding language some might remember from before. The voice acting is of a surprisingly good quality, and the dialogue is very witty and memorably quoted (barrel-roll!). There is so much variety, action and fun on offer it is hard to see who this game could not appeal to. Even now, when I go back and boot up the graphically-dated-but-still-brilliant game, I find it hard to believe that its formula (with the exception of Rogue Squadron) hasn’t been duplicated, even by Nintendo. In today’s gaming landscape, you’re telling me there’s no room for an incredibly paced, dynamic rail shooter? Controlling your arwing down these “space tunnels” was tight and responsive, and figuring out the best way to manage your focused blasts and net the high score was completely addictive.
Number 7. – Mario Kart 64
This is perhaps my favorite racing game of all time. Never have I seen a video game since Tetris that was a game for all demographics. That’s all thanks to the memorable level design, basic and useful weaponry, and wonderful cast of characters. Any kart racing game that tried to have their take on the genre always revolve back to the very influence that this game holds. The beauty of Mario Kart 64 is that the people that are farther behind receive better items from the question marks allowing them to catch up to the people ahead of them. This allows everyone that is racing to have a chance at catching up to first place at all times. For the game coming out in 1997 it’s actually done pretty fair too. Sure you get the occasional person in 2nd or 3rd place getting a lightning but just like in life you have to be ready for some curve balls, or should I say red curve shells every now and then. The sad reality is that there could never be a better Mario Kart game than 64 because everything is so balanced. Best yet is the multiplayer that can go up to four players and you can either race each other or play the many mini games that is competitive and fun all at once. Remember those times when the blue shell stayed on ground, how you still keep moving when you’re hit by any object, and last place didn’t take everything that’s powerful? Unless if the modern and future Mario Kart games fixed all of the flaws that they have, Mario Kart 64 will still remain as not only the best Mario Kart game, but also the best Kart racing game in general.
Number 6. – Super Mario 64
This is the best 2D video game franchise to jump shift into full 3D. It was so revolutionary that it set the standards of how we play and interacted in video games today. It took a long mile step in making Mario to be able to do acrobatics when he jumps, leaps, and do so many tricks, it was all fun to toy with as well platform. Also, being able to go anywhere on foot and have the physics and logic to go on any environment; underwater, up the hill, standing on snow, on slippery ice, it all felt very real. Not to mention that you have some of the finest levels and missions that any game could offer when trying to collect any Stars, which is of course the main objective of the game. I can easily say that every aspect of the game is very appealing because the animation quality is fast, everything is a wonderful sight to see, accomplishing a mission is always fun, and all objects are high detailed. Not only that, but exploring the castle and finding all of the secret, it’ just created such an everlasting impression on all of us that it became timeless. For all the reasons I’ve stated, it never lost an ounce of appeal since. Level design-wise, I find myself seeing other 3D platformers out there that are better, but gameplay-wise it can’t be compared. This is a landmark in the history of gaming; it changed how games are made, played, and enjoyed.
Number 5. – The Legend of Zelda:
Ocarina of Time
Our biggest expectations when it comes to the Nintendo 64 is to have all of our favorite Nintendo franchises to make an installment in full 3D. Though most of them didn’t make it (Earthbound, Metroid, and more), a Zelda game was finally in 3D. It took all the familiar creatures, elements, and characters that appeared in A Link To The Past and made it into an interactive 3D experience and a whole new perspective. Every detail and aspect of the game is just so rich that it makes it feel like a sense of an artistic value in it. You can see the day cycle from day to night, massive open-world, dungeons packed with treasures and enemies/bosses, and so many more. These were all the aspects that Nintendo were perfecting for many years and the end result was an indescribable experience. Not only that, but the controls felt incredible; you can swap up any item or weapon with three C-buttons, swift your sword into many ways of attacking, applying any action when you come close to an object that can be interacted, automatic jumping when you walk off the edge of a platform, look into first person, shoot in first person, and also the innovative Z-targetting. Z-targetting can also use Navi to help the player indicate danger, a point of interest, or give detail information about the target you’re facing making a whole new perspective in video games that games today borrows.
Most importantly, the usage of the Ocarina which can cast magic and all possibilities once they play a song. This became the backbone of the game’s brilliant musical score and the player can also play the tunes out and make the impossible into a reality from transportation, changing the time of day, call for your horse Epona, communicate with Sierra, cause a thunder storm, and open doors. The best part of all is the journey. It’s almost a coming-of-age fantasy adventure where you have so many dungeons to accomplish, items to collect, enemies to kill, and bosses to defeat. You develop from a young boy who couldn’t fit in the fairy town and then time-travel to adulthood which even adds so much more to the overall experience by the moves he can do, the items he can use, and the places he can go.
That part of the game really makes you think of life changing so fast because of the familiar aspects of Hyrule that you seen from your childhood is forever changed in the post-apocalyptic future that was all caused by the evil Gannondorf. These were all the great things that made Ocarina just a masterpiece, plain and simple. It made so many achievements in this interactive media that didn’t just feel like another great game, it felt like a huge world that was bigger than life. The thing that sucks is that Ocarina of Time is so great that all the other Zelda titles after it tries so desperately to be like Ocarina because that’s all the fans ever want. That’s why Ocarina of Time is the last biggest innovation of the Zelda series, and even if they did change the appeal of the franchise over the years it still revolves back to Ocarina of Time.
Number 4. – WWF No Mercy
It took THQ and Aki Corp. to finally make a masterful wrestling game like this just for the Nintendo 64. From WCW vs. NWO: World Tour, WCW/NWO: Revenge, WWF Wrestlemania 2000, to finally one of, if not, the best wrestling game ever created. Sure some of the models are a bit blocky, the character designs a very off, the entrances are horrid, and some of the finishers (like The Rock’s Rock Bottom) are a bit unfinished, but what this game has that no other wrestling game features is the best roster to select and the most satisfying gameplay. We’re talking about some of the best wrestler selection, four player multiplayer, and so many match types that will keep you hooked. There are a number of different matches to play around with in an exhibition setting such as Guest Referee, Ladder Match, Iron Man, Royal Rumble, Survival and King of the Ring. Plus, there are a few game modes to play with: Multi-Play, Single Play, and Commissioner. With the Multi-Play, you play with the computer or your friends in whichever types of matches you choose.
In the Commissioner mode, you can Create-A-Wrestler, Edit a Superstar, change wrestling stables around, along with being able to improve your superstar by purchasing anything from ring attire to more powerful moves. One of the biggest updates however was in the Story Mode. In WM2000, if you lost a match during the story, you would only have the chance to retry the match. In No Mercy however, the story simply branched out into an alternate scenario, depending on whether you won or lost. To me, that was one of the coolest aspects of the game and made me want to replay the story over and over again to see what other scenarios I could come across. The Single Play mode is much like a career, where you take a wrestler from the beginning of his/her career, and try to win the Championship Belt. It’s a game that fully represents the Attitude Era of the WWF. Wrestlemania 2000 used nearly all of the N64’s potential, leaving No Mercy little room to exceed its predecessor. It’s really more of an upgrade than anything else…but a damn good one.
Number 3. – Banjo-Tooie
The sequel to one of the best platformers on the N64, Banjo-Tooie did not disappoint. With all the action-adventure sequels (such as Metroid and Zelda to name a few) they take away all of your powers and abilities from the original and start from scratch by re-collecting the basic power-ups from the previous title. But not Banjo-Tooie, Rareware did the most ingenious idea of keeping all of the powers from the original and give you even more powers and abilities in your adventure in the sequel! GENIUS! If that’s not enough, each of the worlds that you enter are perhaps twice as big than the original (but not as big as Donkey Kong 64). Banjo-Tooie came near the end of Rare’s glory days and is one of its last true gems. Between the funny dialogue, cheery art direction, and sheer amount of collectibles, it’s no wonder this title gives gamers a warm nostalgic feeling. Rare even slipped in a few jokes hinting that the characters were aware that they were in a video game.
Banjo-Tooie is a wonderful game: the levels are fantastically crafted, the humour is ever-present and a lot of care has gone into creating an adventure of epic proportions. It stands above many of the good platformers out there, but it does fall short simply because it overreaches: the worlds are slightly too big, there are a few more moves than necessary, and playing as Mumbo Jumbo is a feature that adds no value to the series – the experience feels a bit superfluous. Still, don’t let this detract from the fact that Banjo Tooie is one of the gems in Nintendo’s platforming history: with rich level design, brilliant gameplay and a charming story, this one is well worth getting hold of.
Number 2. – Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
I maybe the only person in the world that actually “knows” that Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is the best console first-person shooter of all time; even better than the likes of GoldenEye 007. By every stretch of the imagination, this game went so many miles ahead of Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter from the gunplay, weapon variety, physics, sound, music, and especially story. You heard me right, this FPS had an engaging story where there are aspects of the plot becomes so epic when fighting these dinosaurs & so many monsters and even watch some of the scariest cutsenes ever. What made me love Turok 2: Seeds of Evil so much is because it has some of the most satisfying gunplay I’ve ever played in any game. Whenever you shoot any enemy, they give different reactions and great physics, even if you shot them in the same spot. I give a lot of credit for Akklaim for actually giving so many dying animations whenever you kill someone and it’s something that game developers today should take note.
Never has there ever been a game that offered this many variety of weapons that each are useful (cerebral bore is the best weapons in video games ever), plus different ammo types for each, all of which cause great effect with the most brutal 64-bit visuals whenever you blow off their heads off and other body parts. The level designs are so massive, I’ve never seen level designs that are so big before or since (completely nonlinear) which makes them fantastic battlegrounds in your adventure. This is not a short game at all, you have a massive amount of hours to play with this game, plus much more when you play it with your friends in the multiplayer. It’s phenomenal to see all of these wonderful things put in a single game and all of these great features makes it an immersive and satisfying shooter ever. I never been as satisfied as I was when I played this classic that still withstands against all the other FPS since.
Number 1. – The Legend of Zelda:
Who would have guessed mixing Bill Murray films with Zelda would have birthed such an incredible game? Since they were re-using the engine built for Ocarina of Time, Nintendo was free to spend their time developing a weird and particularly unique (among Zelda games, at least) story, where Link – somehow stuck in a parallel dimension – has to battle a sentient mask before an evil-faced moon crushes a city that has somehow not been evacuated yet. The intricate, complex schedules that the townsfolk follow, the effects of the various masks you can collect, and the three-day time limit made for a very different Zelda game, pretty much unlike any that had come before or since. It still had all the big staples: dungeons, annoying fairies, playing music with instruments, cool weapons (HELLO, FAIRY SWORD), and an awful, awful water temple; but it also had a lot of new, game-changing additions that would stick with the series for the rest of its lifespan.
Majora’s Mask is my favorite Zelda title. It deviated a lot from the Zelda formula, and did an extremely good job. Majora’s Mask is a better game than Ocarina Of Time. I think it’s more fun to play, the world map is more populated, the 3 day timeline is very innovative, the dark and twisted tone of the game creates an amazing atmosphere, the dungeons are very clever, the ability to change physical form works very well, and the story was simple yet intriguing. Furthermore, the controls are tweaked to be even better than Ocarina of Time. To be honest, I didn’t give Majora’s Mask much of a chance when it came out. I thought it was weird that you weren’t in Hyrule, I wanted to be adult Link instead of young Link, and the 3 day thing threw me off. It took me many years till I learned to get pass through the slow beginning and have an adventure of a life time. Majora’s Mask was a Zelda game made on a tight schedule, meant to be a direct sequel to Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which allowed the team to re-use the vast majority of the assets from it to create a new adventure quickly.
While the game only has four main dungeons, Majora’s Mask has a ton of content in other areas. It is tightly designed and features one of the darker, apocalyptic storylines in the series. Uncovering more details about the various lives of the characters around them also has the effect of making the player feel much more connected to them and the world in which they live. Let’s not forget about the the masks in the game that each of them have a purpose for a quest, some of them for a special ability, and three of them has a transformation for link to turn into a Zorra (my favorite), Goron, or Deku that each of them have their own ability. It’s simply amazing to see what each of these masks as used for and as a result it makes it wonderful to experiment what each of the masks can do and what advantages you can have with many of the quests. And what this game dominate Ocarina of Time is the song list that you play on your instruments (depending what transformation you’re in) that can actually manipulate time and save you from the 3 day period that the game forces you to go through such as slowing or speeding up time, summon statues, restart the clock to Day 1, open doors, and so many more!
Overseen by a giant grinning moon awaiting the end of the world, Majora’s Mask‘s mechanics and atmosphere are still unlike anything else in the series and the biggest surprise on the Nintendo 64. Unlike Zelda II, this is actually the first Zelda sequel on a singular Nintendo system that actually executed all of their new ideas successfully. There are a lot of skeptics out there that doesn’t think Majora’s Mask is worth their time, but I urge you go give this title a second chance because once you get pass through the first hour of the game (it’s really part of the story), you’ll really love the intensive (and scary) journey that lies ahead of you and still to this day, there is no game quite like it. Quite frankly, the franchise will never go back to this idea ever again because Zelda fans everywhere only wants another Ocarina of Time which shows how stale the franchise has become over the years. Because of it’s impressive gameplay, level of creativity, and so many different quests to go through, all of it left me in complete amazement and it’s the reason why this deserves to be called the best Nintendo 64 game of all time!
The Top Listed Nintendo 64 Games
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7) 6) 5)
4) 3) 2)
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