Ah, the Ninentdo-64. A relic of my childhood, of a life once lived. Well, actually, it would be a relic, if I didn’t still own it and play my games from time to time. The N64 was at its best in multiplayer “party” games, where 2-4 people could gather around and play for hours. However, it was 2 single player games that came out on the N64 that forever revolutionized gaming. N64 was the third generation of home entertainment gaming systems produced by Nintendo, its predecessor being the Super Nintendo. N64’s main competition came from the original Playstation. While many will argue that Playstation was superior in every aspect, I disagree. While Playstation had a much larger base of game titles to choose from; it was the N64 that had the “can’t miss”, unbelievable games of their generation. Much was said about how the CD games of the Playstation outperformed the outdated cartridge system of the N64, however, I never experienced any issues with that. I was a proud owner of the N64, and still am today! So, without further ado, and with apologies to games like Star Fox 64 and 1080 Snowboarding, I present the top 5 games ever made for the Nintendo 64!
5. Super Mario 64 – The next generation, game of the future, of its own time, Super Mario 64 was the first game released for the N64. There was no turning back after this game was made, and it set such a high standard for style of play, hours of enjoyment and much more that it is still used today as a standard bearer. This was the first platformer game to be set in a 3D environment, as opposed to the screen scrolling, 2D games of the past. It was an absolutely astonishing leap over games of the previous generation, and in doing such, may forever disappoint us when new game systems come out. No new game system can ever improve so drastically, with it’s first title, than the N64 did with Super Mario as opposed to the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis systems that preceded it. The first time playing this game was almost shocking, as you sit there thinking to yourself, “I’m moving in any direction I want to!” The graphics were pretty and detailed, and the many levels, side quests and puzzles left you forever entertained.
4. Perfect Dark – This game was developed and based on a game that just falls a bit higher on this very list. Perfect Dark, was all about an astonishing array of multiplayer choices, difficulties, settings and variations. For the first time, you could actually play multiplayer by yourself. You could arrange a game with up to 8 computer Sims, and fight them until your thumbs went sore. And, unlike some other games, the highest level of difficulty, wasn’t just hard, but was in essence, unbeatable. When playing multiplayer, you could create your own character, and use him every time you played. This let you keep track of your stats, reach new levels and unlock more items. All of the assorted weaponry was a precursor for games like Ratchet and Clank, and Halo, with all of their futuristic guns. What was better than holing into a corner, throwing down a Laptop Gun to protect your blind side, and fighting everybody off on the other.Oh yea, the single player missions were creative, difficult, lengthy and enjoyable – on every difficulty setting – and left you screaming for more!
3. Mario Kart 64 – Were the graphics groundbreaking? No. Was the style of play, or idea for the game, something that was never seen before? No. In fact, Mario Kart 64 was a pretty exact replica of the game on Super Nintendo, only with more 3D levels and graphics. So why is Mario Kart 64 up this high as one of my favorites? Well, because no matter how many times you played, it was still always fun. You could run through one of the race circuits by yourself, or with a friend. You could go to war with up to 3 buddies on one of the four battle levels. (Didn’t everybody have a favorite? I would torment people by choosing Skyscraper, and watching as they fell to their demise!) For a game as simple as it was, there was tons of strategy to be used. For example, placing a “Trick Box” directly on top of a real box; or learning the fastest route to take through Yoshi Valley. This game just never got old, and would always provide hours and hours of fun, for any level of gamer, and any agegroup.
2. GoldenEye 007 – Perfect Dark was prettier, smarter, had more options, more weaponry and let you play multiplayer by yourself. So why is GoldenEye ranked higher? Because it came first! It paved the path, and Perfect Dark was made using GoldenEye’s engine. GoldenEye absolutely changed the way to think about first person shooter games, and multiplayer shooter games. Oh, the battles that could be had on the multiplayer games. They became known merely by weapon choice and location: “Proximity Mines, Stack” or “Explosives, Caverns”. Set it up with a few simple setting changes, and boom you were ready to go. The style of play, as well as the intricacies of the missions, was something that was never seen before, and certainly not on any console. After beating the single player game once, you could go back and attempt it on a higher difficulty, or try to beat your record for time. Many games that followed tried to emulate the success and style of this game, and nothing was ever able to achieve it. The ability to zoom in with a Sniper Rifle, and watch your enemy, the way you had to avoid detection so the alarm wouldn’t get set off, and an endless list of other ways this game made its mark, will leave this game on a permanent high spot for best games, best shooters and best multiplayer games, of all time-on any console.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – If you didn’t see this coming, well to be honest, I feel sorry for you. This is not just the best video game ever made for the N64, this might be the best video game ever made, period! Oh, how I waited for this game to come out. Months and months of waiting, a preorder placement, the special gold cartridge, I had to have it! It came out right around my birthday, and I made sure I got it the very day it came out. I couldn’t wait until the weekend, and certainly couldn’t wait 2 full weeks to my birthday, no way. The seemingly unending scope of options, places to explore, goals to accomplish, it was truly mind-boggling. Being a fan of the original Zelda games on the Nintendo system, this game was able to keep all of the great qualities of its simpler predecessors, and add everything else one could imagine. You were able to grow from a child aged Link, to a full grown adult-and then travel back and forth in time between the two. There were the side games, such as fishing in a lake and the bomber game in the market. Everything you had to collect, such as all of the Gold Skulltulas, and as usual, the heart pieces. Learning to ride a horse to get you around Hyrule quicker, and learning various forms of magic to assist you on your journey. The temples were vast in size, lavishly designed, extremely intricate and very difficult to figure out. The puzzles were challenging and took time, but yet were rewarding and fun as well. When walking around Hyrule, it actually changed from day to night- monsters would appear, it would become pitch black and the music would change! Speaking of music, this has perhaps the best musical score for a video game ever. The music was able to perfectly capture the emotions of a scene, town or character. Beating this game only meant one thing, starting it over again! This game will forever hold a special place in my heart and in my mind. The graphics were beautiful, and the game experienced no glitches. The absolute, almost insane ambitiousness of this game- the vast levels, the space between the towns, the unending array of side quests, characters and ways to busy yourself left you always wanting more. You could pour hundreds of hours into playing this video game, and still want to play it again. If you own it, I suggest dusting it off and starting to play right now! If you never owned it, well, go to a video game store, and buy it, right away. You will not be disappointed. But be warned, this game, could very well ruin your social life; but then again, it would be worth it! Phenomena, in every way imaginable… a 10/10, an A+!
So, there you have it, the top 5 N64 games of all time. I hope it conjured up some fine memories, or inspired a quick purchase if you never enjoyed these amazing games. These games are all timeless and fun for people of any age. Long live these games and long live the Nintendo 64.