Launched by Nintendo during the fifth generation of home video game consoles, the N64 released in 1996. The console was named for its 64-bit central processing unit and used cartridge-based video games, something we really didn’t see come back to the mainstream until Nintendo’s Switch console hybrid release.
Available until 2003, the console was a major success and saw a number of iconic video game titles that became instant hits. We decided to look back at some of our favorite Nintendo 64 games to release into the market.
While we wait for the official announcement and game list to release for Nintendo’s N64 Classic, take a look at our list of the best N64 video game titles. There’s a large library of video games to choose from so as time goes by, we may continue to add to the list of great titles worth checking out.
What was your favorite Nintendo 64 video game to launch? Let us know by leaving a comment down below.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
An iconic video game title that can stand on its own for years to come, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the biggest releases Nintendo had with their Nintendo 64 console. Within this 3D adventure, players once again take on the role of Link as he saves the day by stopping Ganondorf from obtaining the Triforce, a relic that would grant wishes.
This is an epic adventure where players will travel throughout the lands, meeting new characters, completing quests, fighting off enemies, and of course solving puzzles. Likewise, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time saw new features to the franchise such as the introduction to the target-lock system.
It’s not surprising that this video game is still receiving new ports and remakes for the latest Nintendo platform. There are several gamers and critics who continue to see Ocarina of Time as not only one of the best The Legend of Zelda games available in the market, but one of the best video games to launch of all time.
Super Mario 64
I don’t think there’s a gamer out there who didn’t own Super Mario 64 if they owned the Nintendo 64. This Mario title launched in 1996 where it introduces Mario to three-dimensional graphics and since then we’ve seen countless Mario titles launch for the Nintendo platform as a 3D platformer.
Within the game, players take on the role of Mario as he sets off exploring Princess Peach’s castle, hopping into various worlds completing quests, gathering stars, unlocking new rooms in hopes of tracking down Bower and saving Peach.
In a lot of ways, Super Mario 64 really helped pave the way for 3D game design and since its release, the game continues to get ports available for the latest Nintendo platform.
The James Bond film franchise has been popular within the cinematic universe for decades and while 007 has invaded the video game medium since the early 1980s, the Nintendo 64 platform made 007 GoldenEye a household name.
Developed by Rare, GoldenEye 007 was developed to go along with the film GoldenEye. Players take on the role of James Bond as he fights against an evil mastermind from using a satellite weapon against innocent civilians across the globe.
While the overall campaign was a blast to play as an FPS, the real reason gamers popped in the GoldenEye 007 cartridge was to go head-to-head with a few friends. The multiplayer gameplay was phenomenal during the era of couch split-screen.
Up to four players were able to hop in and fight against one another using a variety of weapons, game modes, and characters. Though, if you enjoyed this title back in the late 1990s, it was a known rule that Oddjob was forbidden to be chosen during a mutliplayer deathmatch.
Another title developed by Rare is Perfect Dark, an FPS that is often compared to GoldenEye 007. Released a few short years later in 2000, Perfect Dark follows agent Joanna Dark as she is tasked with handling an extraterrestrial conspiracy.
In a lot of ways, Perfect Dark and GoldenEye 007 can be compared to their similarities. Players still had a singleplayer narrative campaign to go through along with a multiplayer component to enjoy with friends. However, with Perfect Dark, players were able to enjoy a co-operative mode.
Likewise, the game also featured a mode to allow widescreen support along with the ability to enjoy Dolby surround sound.
There are still developers releasing video games to this day in hopes to gain the charm that Rare received with Banjo-Kazooie. This is a platform video game title that launched in 1998 and the first to introduce players to the Banjo-Kazooie series.
This critical and commercial success offered gamers a colorful and age-appropriate world to explore as a male brown honey bear named Banjo with his trusty sidekick, a female red-crested Breegull named Kazooie.
Within the game, players find themselves having to stop Gruntilda, an evil witch who has abducted Banjo’s younger sister Tooty in order to steal her youth and beauty.
The game acts as a platforming action-adventure title as gamers will have to fight off enemies or collect a wide assortment of items scattered about in the game world.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Major’s Mask launched following the success of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Taking more of a dark narrative, players will still take on the role of Link but this time around the narrative follows Skull Kid who has stolen Majora’s Mask, a powerful artifact, and with it, Skull Kid is able to command the moon to crash into the land.
Link is tasked with stopping Skull Kid by constantly reversing time and completing tasks before the moon is able to crash down into the land, essentially destroying the world.
Though some would consider The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time being the better overall title, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is still one game not to pass up. Like most of these video games on this list, Nintendo has released the game for current platforms such as the Nintendo 3DS.
Wave Race 64
Wave Race 64 was developed by Nintendo EAD and launched shortly after the Nintendo 64 console debuted. The video game is a racing title that puts players on the back of a Jet Ski as the race across waves and maneuvering around buoys.
At the time, critics enjoyed not only the game mechanics but for its dynamic environments. As expected, the game did receive a multiplayer game mode to allow players to go head-to-head while together. However, over the years it seems that Nintendo was unable to capture some of the love and enjoyment of the series.
Back in 2001 a sequel was launched known as Wave Race: Blue Storm, though it did hold some beautiful graphics and effects, the overall gameplay held some rather negative criticisms.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Another Rare classic to launch on the Nintendo 64 is Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Surprisingly, this was a mature title, something we didn’t see too many of for the Nintendo 64. The game featured a drunkard squirrel named Conker who is trying to make his way home to his girlfriend Berri after a night of drinking.
However, Conker finds himself having to go through a series of absurd tasks and quests during the way such as fighting off a feces monster. All the while, the king of the land has demanded that a red squirrel is to be used as a replacement leg for his table leaving even more trouble Conker to face against.
The game has become iconic for his mature rating on the Nintendo 64 and it even recently received an HD remake of the Rare Replay compilation disc for the Xbox One. Interestingly enough, there were some slight censorships for the Rare Replay disc, years after the game initially launched on the Nintendo 64.
Star Fox 64
Star Fox or otherwise known as Lylat Wars, is another iconic franchise from Nintendo that started out on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. When the game finally saw an installment on the Nintendo 64, gamers were able to enjoy a 3D reboot of the original Star Fox.
Star Fox 64 has players taking on the role of Fox McCloud who must defend the Lylat system from evildoers such as the game’s main antagonist Andross.
Players will be going through the game within various combat armed vehicles such as the Arwing in order to defeat the various opposing forces and bosses.
As an interesting side note to the history of Star Fox 64 is that this is the very first video game to launch on the console to support the Rumble Pak, an accessory to attach on the Nintendo 64 controller. With this Rumble Pak attached, gamers were able to feel force feedback through the controller, something we’re all used to now with standard within controllers.
Paper Mario launched in 2001 for markets outside of Japan. Developed by Intelligent Systems, this is an RPG title focused on Mario and his goal of rescuing Princess Peach from Bowers. This is not the first RPG focused Mario game to launch into the market, but it’s the first to spark the Paper Mario series.
As the name suggests, Paper Mario is designed to resemble a paper filled the world. Characters and textures look as if they were crafted from a variety of colorful construction paper.
Within the game, Mario can freely explore worlds in a 2D visual while battles will take more of the classic turn-based RPG approach.
For the most part, gamers and critics alike enjoyed Paper Mario and with its success, we’ve seen several titles launch over the years within the Paper Mario series. The latest release, Paper Mario: Color Splash, had launched just a couple years ago on the Nintendo Wii U.
Mark Kart 64
There are a few kart racers that launched on the Nintendo 64, but none ended friendships quite as fast as Mario Kart 64. This was one of the pinnacle racing titles to own on the Nintendo 64 as Mario and his friend’s race against one another in colorful and exciting tracks.
Within the game, players can opt to go against AI opponents or a mixture of friends and AI opponents. Each character offers a slight stats difference such as Toad who may be a bit quick to hit top speeds or Bowser being big enough to ram into the smaller characters causing them to wreck.
Racetracks are filled with bonuses in the form of weapons to use against your opponents or a means to help boost you ahead of the competition. Likewise, it can be anyone’s game during a match as players behind will often get the better bonuses that could completely wreck the first place’s chances of winning the race.
If you’re not interested in racing, there is a battle mode that players can duke it out simply by using the various weapon bonuses scattered about the maps.
Donkey Kong 64
Launched in 1996 by Rare, Donkey Kong 64 is a platformer that stars Nintendo’s favorite gorilla, Donkey Kong. Much of the game resembles the same from past installments of the Donkey Kong franchise where players will go around collecting items, solving puzzles and completing minigames.
Within the narrative story, Donkey Kong 64 follows Donkey Kong as he sets off on a journey to rescue his kidnapped friends from the evil K. Rool. However, outside of the singleplayer narrative, Rare added some multiplayer aspects to the game.
By going through the multiplayer options, gamers were able to compete in a few short game matches against one another such as the deathmatch.
With that said, Donkey Kong 64 is mostly remembered for being one of the prime examples of a great collect-a-thon adventure title.
Super Smash Bros
I still remember the commercials and hype building up to the release of Super Smash Bros. by development team HAL Laboratory. This was the fighting game to own on the Nintendo 64 as we got to see our favorite Nintendo characters at the time duke it out.
The game featured a crossover between several Nintendo IPs such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Metroid, Yoshi, Kirby, and Pokemon. Now looking at today’s latest installments to the Super Smash Bros. lineup, the franchise may seem a bit scarce, but developers did make sure to represent a number of some of the biggest fan favorite characters along with a few hidden characters to unlock as you progress through the game.
However, much of the gameplay remains the same with the later installments. Players will still be fighting against other opponents with the character’s standard move set and the special unique attack, which is attached to the character’s franchise. Outside of the attacks, there will be a variety of weapons to pick up after spawning within the game.
Nintendo developed a number of different Mario themed video games which feature a variety of characters from various Mario titles over the years. We could add several of them to this list and a future update you may see a few added below. However, one of the more popular Mario games on the console was Mario Party.
This is a party type video game where players go through a virtual board game while collecting coins in order to buy a star located at a randomized spot on the board. Much of the game focused on moving characters around the board, random events, strategically using items against other players, and of course, the minigames.
After each round, the game would introduce a minigame to compete within in order to earn coins, the in-game currency.