Here Are Our Must Have Games and Features For the N64 Classic
We keep the ball rolling with the best games from the N64
The Nintendo 64 hit us in 1996 and worked its way into our hearts with landmark games and plenty of reasons to keep four controllers on deck. Those extra ports revolutionized local multiplayer gaming and made best friends become strangers. After all, there’s nothing like unloading yopper on a screen-peeking buster in Goldeneye 007.
Party games became just one of the N64’s strong suits. Nintendo supported it with a war chest of games we’d love to have in one place. So Still Crew’s Marcus Benjamin and Sam Cadet came through with another list covering the top 10 must-have games for a hypothetical N64 Classic. Like last time, they’d welcome more than 10 but had to stress the essentials. They also dropped a few features to make revisiting these products a little easier on the eyes.
- WWF No Mercy
No Mercy saw the AKI engine at its absolute best. Simple controls belied its massive list of moves and the roster provided a who’s who list of the WWE’s Attitude era. No Mercy’s create a wrestler and customization options also provided hours of fun outside the ring plus the game’s still being modded by its passionate fan base.
Also, shout out to anyone who stole their opponent’s special towards a pinfall. Knocking out Triple H with a Pedigree still feels like poetic justice after all these years.
2. Star Fox 64
It’s easy to miss out on the meat and potatoes of Star Fox 64 if you stick to the easy route. Finding secrets within the levels, exploring all of its branching paths and striving for medals provided hours of replay-ability. The game’s controls got meme’d into oblivion by Peppy’s insistence to “DO A BARRELL ROLL!” That aside, they’re still as smooth as you remember and the four-player battle mode added some mindless fun to the whole package.
3. F-Zero X
Over the top racing games saw their best days when corner store delicacies and Rap City made our after school cipher complete. They’re more or less long gone but it doesn’t have to be that way here. F-Zero X’s winding tracks and vessel-popping sense of speed give us a nice change of pace from the Gran Turismos and Forzas ruling the roost. Now that’s not a knock against those games but sometimes we want to be thrown for a loop or seven. F-Zero X gives us those thrills along with four player split-screen races at 60fps: a miracle given the N64’s hardware limits.
4. Wave Race 64
Launch window games oftentimes show their asses once the shiny graphics and new console smell wears off. Wave Race 64 bunked the trend as its physics still make it feel fun to play over 20 years later. Jet skis bounce and sway with the waves as a cheesy, although memorable, soundtrack push you to shave milliseconds off your lap times. Also, the game lets you pull off double flips while riding a damn dolphin. That’s the kind of old school shit that makes you scream “Ayo that’s amazing!” just like The Chef.
5. Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 altered the landscape. Besides bringing Mario, Peach, and Boswer into 3D, it showed what this new generation of gaming could do and everyone, regardless of what system they developed for, was playing catch up. Chasing down 120 stars, trying to get your hands on that damn rabbit hopping around the castle, discovering secrets, and using that joystick to spin Boswer in circles are just a few of the memories attached to one of the greatest games of all-time.
Now, it’s been said a few times Nintendo didn’t build this game with elementary school kids in mind because it’s “too hard.” Well, shoutout to any kid of the ’90s who took it as a personal challenge to not only beat the game, but leave no stoned unturned and show that little gray cartridge who’s boss. Super Mario 64 made Nintendo’s system a must that Christmas and every single achievement is worth the headache it caused to earn it.
6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The twist. Few stories, much less video games, are able to pull it off and create the necessary effect. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time not only handles its twist beautifully, but it’s a damn gut punch when it happens. By that point in the game, you’re sucked into Link’s story as the Hero of Hyrule and his quest to unite the triforce and defeat Ganon. And then the game flips you on your head, shifting everything you thought you knew and in effect, resets itself. Ocarina of Time has its reputation not just because of its gameplay, mechanics, beautiful music, or gorgeous graphics, but because of its story.
For many gamers, Ocarina of Time was there first introduction to the world of Zelda and it’s the ultimate gateway drug. Every system can lay claim to having great games. Every system can say they have the best games of their generation.The Nintendo 64 has possibly the greatest video game of all time on its roster and it came two years into its life cycle.
That’s fucking incredible.
7. Goldeneye 007
We could talk about the multiplayer and the hours spent during sleepovers to determine who the best is. Or, we could go into the numerous reasons why its bad form to pick Oddjob. Since one of us is a James Bond fanatic, we can’t let a single mention of Goldeneye 007 go by without bigging up Rare for recreating the feeling of being James Bond. This wasn’t the only first-person shooter on the market at the time nor was it the first of its kind, but it felt like the first time a company took a video game adaptation of a movie seriously. Rare wanted to do some shit we hadn’t seen before while showing how cool it is to be Bond, James Bond. The bungee jump from the dam, the laser watch on the train, the stealth through the snow, oh and you get to drive a tank. Just like James Bond.
Also, the multiplayer because seriously, who didn’t enjoy that?
8. Mario Kart 64
Yoshi is the best. You can have Mario, Luigi, or even….Boswer if he’s your cup of tea. But Yoshi will win every race and do it with style leaving a green blur. Mario Kart 64 improved on the original — which isn’t that good — and brought out the worst in every single person who picked up the sticks. Fights broke out, friendships ended, and a lot of feelings were hurt. And all over these fictional characters riding go karts on fictional tracks like Rainbow Road.
No Nintendo 64 collection is complete without this game and, if you feel otherwise, we’ve got a couple of red shells to send your way.
9. Mario Party
The Nintendo 64 had one benefit over its competition: 4 controller ports. The system was built for multiplayers and social gaming, thus making something like Mario Party a no-brainer. Much like Mario Kart 64, the game isn’t for the faint of heart or emotional cats. This “kids” game tests your mettle at every turn and while the game seemed obvious, it success couldn’t have been. A board game featuring Mario characters? Even as a kid, that sounded like a stupid premise. It was tough to put it down once you got your hands on it.
Mario Party is addictive and sometimes it feels like you’re playing against the game rather than the people around you. Well, it feels that way if you’re really good at it.
10. Super Smash Brothers
Six face buttons, a D-pad should’ve been enough to carry the best fighters of the N64’s heyday on the system. Too bad we barely got any of note thanks to it not being built for 2D gaming. If Nintendo didn’t throw us a bone with Smash Brothers then we’d really be screwed. It turned to launch one of the most successful franchises for the Big N to date and the first iteration’s still good for some stupid fun with three friends. Honestly, we just want to beat Yoshi’s stupid face in over and over again.
A Word on Features
Please leave the old N64 controller in the ‘90s
Looking back, the N64’s controller stands as a design in need of a DeLorean. Its three-pronged layout either cut out the d-pad or the analog stick so developers had to design around it rather than utilize all of its features at once. Plus that cheap stick would start wavering in no time: begging you to mow lawns until you could afford a new one. Show me anyone who says it could withstand Mario Party 1’s mini games and I’ll show you a liar.
A sturdy revision in the tune of Nintendo’s pro pads with all the face buttons would right all the wrongs they committed with the controller. Nostalgia’s a hell of a drug but, in this case, it’s outdated.
Support higher resolutions, widescreen, stable framerates and longer draw distances
Going back to N64’s best games is ultimately fun. However, reliving the blurriness, slowdown and fog from that era puts our childhood memories in a swirly. Most of us left 4:3 TV screens behind as well so widescreen support or at least banners to fill out the space would help. No one’s trying to see black bars while we’re running these classics back.
These features shouldn’t be limited to janky emulators when we’re revisiting games from the past. Put them in our living room and do them right. That way we can enjoy Goldeneye’s deathmatch mode without it resembling a slideshow dipped in cocoa butter.
Did we miss any gems? Sound off in the comments section. Also, make it a point to check out our rundown of the most essential games and features a PlayStation Classic.