We asked Nintendo Life readers to rate their favourite N64 games, and it’s now time to reveal the results!
The Nintendo 64 is a console which tends to divide gamers. Launching back in 1996 (or 1997 in PAL regions) as the gaming industry’s bread-and-butter switched from sprites to polygons, the console represents — from a certain perspective — the first time Nintendo really dropped the ball. Tired of the platform holder’s licencing terms, many developers jumped ship to Sony’s PlayStation, attracted by fairer deals and cheaper disc-based media. In the meantime, Nintendo doubled down on an esoteric piece of hardware with confusing, kiddy-coloured controllers that were arguably out of step with gaming’s maturing audience.
On the other hand, for many gamers the N64 evokes some of our very warmest, strongest gaming memories. It was while brandishing this console’s three-pronged pad that many of us took our first steps into a three-dimensional Mushroom Kingdom or Hyrule, and the unrivalled excitement of 4-player split-screen Mario Kart or GoldenEye sticks in our mind like few other multiplayer experiences.
We’ve previously assembled rankings for the top 50 3DS games, Game Boy games, Nintendo DS games and GameCube games, and thanks again to the User Ratings submitted by readers, we can now reveal the top 50 N64 games ever. There’s no doubt that we’ve got a fine selection of 64-bit lovelies below, but remember, this list is not set in stone. The ranking will continue to evolve automatically according to user scores submitted to the Nintendo Life game database, so don’t worry if you missed out on ‘voting’ — you can still do so by simply scrolling down and rating them now!
So, plug in your Rumble / Controller / Transfer / Expansion Paks and get ready for the best N64 games of all time…
Publisher: Electronic Arts / Developer: Paradigm Entertainment
Most people who played Beetle Adventure Racing! back in the day probably went in with low expectations, but coming from Paradigm Entertainment — a studio that worked with Nintendo on Pilotwings 64 and also made the excellent F-1 World Grand Prix games on the system — it’s a fun, beautifully constructed little racer that’s well worth revisiting.
It took a while to arrive on the system, but courtesy of Infogrames Worms Armageddon delivered a hefty payload of classic turn-based destruction when it finally landed on N64 in 2000. It’s an excellent multiplayer game on pretty much every platform, and the N64 was a great way to enjoy the series’ exploding sheep, Holy hand grenades and general invertebrate carnage.
There are some who blame the collapse of the collectathon 3D platforming craze on Donkey Kong 64, and while it’s hard to argue that Rare perhaps went a little too far with the huge number of inconsequential collectable doohickeys, it’s a game which turns everything up to eleven and there’s something admirable about its unapologetic ‘more is more’ approach. With five playable Kongs (you know them well), huge worlds and an abundance of mini-games (including emulated versions of the original arcade Donkey Kong and Rare’s Jetpac), DK64 was one hell of a value proposition back in 1999 and we think it probably deserves re-evaluation after 20 years of bashing. C’mon Cranky, take it to the fridge.
AKI’s first wrestling game on the N64, WCW vs. nWo: World Tour set the template for the series of wrestlers that followed and would eventually culminate with WWF No Mercy. The improvements and refinements that would follow naturally make World Tour the lesser game compared to its peers, but the foundation put down here is still solid and enjoyable.
Midway’s console port of Atari Games’ San Francisco Rush 2049 was the third game in the Rush series and gave N64 owners a dose of quality futuristic racing without exchanging four wheels for pods or hover engines. With huge boost-friendly jumps, intricately constructed circuits with secret routes and some brilliantly fun physics, N64 racing doesn’t get more arcade-y than this.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: H2O Entertainment
The New Tetris is somewhat like the Old Tetris, although the addition of a new square block-based mechanic, an EDM soundtrack, a four-player mode gives it a very particular (and addictive) flavour. It came from H20 Entertainment, the same team behind the similarly interesting Tetrisphere and is worth investigating if you can’t get enough variations on the king of block-fallers.
An Atlus-published Mario Kart-alike which subs out karts for ‘boards, Racdym’s underappreciated Snowboard Kids is the secret best multiplayer racer on the system. It added goofier characters, extra tension and comedy to the familiar formula — the end of a run usually produces hilarious pile-ups as you scramble for the ski lift and the next ‘lap’. With subtle stick controls and great music, it’s a real gem and it gets extra respect points for not swapping out ‘Kids’ for ‘Kidz‘. Classy.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
A quintessential PlayStation franchise, seeing Ridge Racer on N64 gave us a similar sensation as playing WipeOut on Nintendo’s console — it was very welcome, but it still felt weird. While Ridge Racer 64 features tracks from previous games in Namco’s racer series, it was actually developed by Nintendo Software Entertainment and later ported to DS as — wait for it — Ridge Racer DS. You’re better off sticking with the 64-bit original, though.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Pilotwings 64 was a brilliant launch title for the system which showcased its features and provided players with a lovely flight sim adventure — something worthy of playing alongside the mighty Super Mario 64. It proved to be a diverting companion piece for early adopters which built on the Super NES original with gameplay equal parts tense and relaxing. Cracking game.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
The original Pokémon Stadium was fine, but Pokémon Stadium 2 expanded the concept of a 3D companion cartridge to play alongside the mainline Game Boy games. It included Pokémon from both the Johto and Kanto regions and offered some juicy extras if you owned the Game Boy entries (we pity whoever had a Pokémon Stadium game without owning Blue, Red, Yellow, Gold or Silver!). Only in the soundtrack department did it arguably not live up to its predecessor, but otherwise this felt like the ‘proper’ execution of the concept.