Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Podcast/Article: The Top 10 Nintendo 64 Games

with 3 comments


Due to a video issue and the ever growing challenge of collecting all of the games necessary for a top 10, we’ve decided to go audio only on the debate and reveal.  It’s not all bad news though, we do have the printed version if you don’t want to listen to the nearly 2 hour debate over our top 10.  Also be sure to submit your own top 10 via this comments section, sending an e-mail, or join the Patreon at $3 or more to be entered into a contest for $10 in Nintendo eShop credit.  We want strong community involvement for next week’s response.  The contest ends next Thursday, May 14, at midnight Eastern time.  The text top 10 is below.

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wwf_nomercy10. WWF: No Mercy: Normally we are not big on wrestling games, but sometimes a title comes out that is so comprehensive that it transcends personal preference.  WWF: No Mercy is such a game.  With customization at its core, a huge improvement over previous title Wrestlemania 2000, your wrestler and their story are uniquely crafted.  Previous titles required a loss be replayed until history was correctly written whereas in No Mercy the story continues, accepting your loss, and the season goes in a new direction.  The same can be said for any created wrestlers, the heavy customization of female wrestlers, and integration with several storylines including the popular Triple-H versus Mankind rivalry that was on television at the time.  Wrap all of this up and throw in 36 males and 9 females to make your own and a robust multiplayer component, WWF: No Mercy proves that there was a time when wrestling games were fantastic.

jfg_box9.  Jet Force Gemini: It was only a matter of time before a Rare developed title made the list, and the first is the third person action shooter Jet Force Gemini.  Developed by the more action focused team at Rare, the apparent goal was to create a title that was as open and exploratory as Super Mario 64 and as shooter and collection heavy as Super Metroid.  Well this title does just that, even if it does have some awkward controls, camera focus, and strafing, Jet Force Gemini is a ton of fun.  In addition platforming elements differentiate it from many third person shooters of the time that often never even had a jump feature.  With non-split screen co-op and a deathmatch multiplayer included, Jet Force Gemini not only expanded the variety of the Rare catalog but made for a unique experience on the Nintendo 64.

fzerox_box8.  F-Zero X: While there are plenty of complaints one can wage on the N64, framerate and game speed is definitely not one of them.  No game proves this better than the razor sharp and lightening fast gameplay found in F-Zero X.  Building upon the roots of its SNES predecessor, F-Zero X integrated zero gravity, brilliant new graphics, zero gravity sequences, and probably some of the most challenging competitors you’ve ever taken on.  With 20 racers going head to head in all races, you’ll struggle to get into the top 5, let alone finish first.  Still, the process of learning the tracks and mastering the mechanics are the biggest draw to what will quickly become your go to solo racer.  It also has multiplayer if you happen to be in the presence of another F-Zero  fan.  At 60 frames per second and the best single player experience of any N64 racer, F-Zero X races easily into number eight.

cbfd_box7.  Conker’s Bad Fur Day:  At first it looks like your typical cutesy Rare developed platformer until you realize that the central theme of the game is sex, drugs, and violence.  What started as Twelve Tales: Conker 64 suddenly became the video game equivalent of Fritz the Cat and featured some of the most adult content in a game to date.  Couple that with the fact that it’s from the developers of games like Donkey Kong 64 and on a Nintendo console, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a game circumstance that simply should not exist.  This probably accounts for its cult status, high price tag, and fond memories for a game that shocked us again and again.  This anomaly of a “game gone bad” locks in as our number seven.

bh_box6.  Body Harvest:  Fred had no idea this game existed, and once you hear the premise you can imagine not only the shock, but desire to immediately play it.  Body Harvest is basically the core concept of Grand Theft Auto III – with missions and side missions along with hijacking cars – and combines it with a large scale alien invasion by bugs a la Starship Troopers.  What results is a fun and addictive game that keeps you hooked to the progression and missions despite being quite the barren planet due to console limitations of the time.  The fact that it was going to be canceled as a 64 DD project and eventually released is proof enough that Body Harvest is a combination of strong tech and great gameplay.  If you’ve never gotten a chance to blow away large bug monsters on in the barren atmosphere it has to offer, Body Harvest should be added to your playlist.

sf64_box5.  Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars:  Let’s face it, Star Fox was a technical feat when it premiered on the SNES, but the reduced resolution and crawling framerate made it not quite the experience it should be.  All of this is remedied in the bright and beautiful Star Fox 64 that doesn’t hitch in the least when it delves into these 3D worlds.  Sure, the campaign is only an hour or two long depending on your route, but in that time you will explore new planets, see familiar areas and bosses, and even meet the evil version of your team.  While you may not play it for much of a single sitting, this game was a blast to repeat again and again, not to mention the introduction of rumble, which has since become a gaming staple.  For what it brought to the table and what continues to be the definitive Star Fox experience to date, Star Fox 64 flies gallantly as our number five.

mk64_box4.  Mario Kart 64: Time hasn’t been kind to Mario Kart 64, which is too bad because it is a fantastic competitive racer.  Perhaps it’s that most people who return to the game today simply play the single player as a revisit and are confronted with the terrible rubber banding and odd cheats the computer does to basically slaughter you on any race, any difficulty.  Well that’s because the strength of this game is as a multiplayer title.  Whether it’s racing along the tracks – even Toad’s Turnpike – with up to four of your friends, a frantic versus race, or the battle mode (which is the best version to date), Mario Kart 64 is the ultimate party game.  Grab four friends and jump in, you won’t be sorry.

sm64_box3.  Super Mario 64: Super Mario 64 was the killer app that sold everyone the Nintendo 64.  Before this title, the concept of a 3D platformer was plagued with clunky controls, a horrible camera, or just plain mechanics that didn’t work right.  None of this was the case with Super Mario 64 and navigating the robust 15 worlds, bonus levels, and seven challenges each level provided was an addicting blast.  If you were only given one game to enjoy with your Nintendo 64, then it had to be Super Mario 64, which had me occupied for that first year desperately trying to capture all 120 stars.  It was the first game you wanted, it was the game everyone wanted to see, and it has been argued by many to be the best game on the console.

pd_box2.  Perfect Dark: What Rare started with Goldeneye, it improved upon in every way with Perfect Dark, which started life as a sequel to the Bond favorite.  Despite losing the Bond license, Perfect Dark provided an improvement with graphics, lighting, controls, mission objectives, difficulty settings, and diversity in environments.  Joanna Dark was a sleek futuristic spy/mercenary that could get the job done and do it with finesse.  Thanks to the RAM cart, environments came to life with bright dynamic lighting and high polygon count (for the time) renders, and that’s just the beginning of this package.  Upon completing the 15-20 hour campaign you could run through it again with a friend in co-op or take on a group of up to four Goleneye style with local deathmatch.  While Goldeneye was a blast to play against others, Perfect Dark had wide open areas, hidden tunnels, more weapons, and clever tactics you never saw in the previous game.  While we’re sure everyone was hoping to see Goldeneye on this list, it’s hard to argue against a game from the same DNA that just did it better.  For a console that was known to establish many of the staples of modern first person shooters, Perfect Dark should not be overlooked and takes the silver medal in our top list.

OoT_box1.  Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:  Sorry to be predictable, but there is a reason this game is so beloved.  Ocarina of Time took the Legend of Zelda formula, and much like Super Mario 64, updated the game and genre to a 3D setting.  Along the way it transformed Link into a character that had personality, goals, interactions, and a hero.  Not only was the protagonist given the robust overhaul, but the world of Hyrule itself became a living, breathing world with day/night cycles, weather effects, and a consistent schedule.  Zelda, the princess, was also given a personality and former pig-like wizard Gannon became a human antagonist with Gannondorf that was the very definition of intimidating.  Oh yeah, and did we mention you could ride a horse and grow up throughout the game?  With all of these new features – and these must include the creation of Z-targeting and the ocarina song mechanics – Ocarina of Time is a true classic to Zelda and gaming fans alike.  If you have never gotten the opportunity to experience this dazzling adventure, ignore the gripes about the Water Temple and grab this on your N64 today, you won’t be disappointed.  For being the 3D evolution of the action RPG and stealing our time and hearts for decades to come, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is our number one Nintendo 64 title.

What about you?  Disagree with the list?  Let us know with your own, which will be calculated and announced in an upcoming podcast.  Oh yeah, and every entry has a chance at a $10 Nintendo eShop card so submit your list today!

Written by Fred Rojas

May 8, 2015 at 11:12 am

Posted in N64, podcast, Top 10

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. Well Fred & Jam I think the villagers this time won’t be calling for you heads on pikes, just me!
    What Blast Corps doesn’t make the top ten, shame, SHAME on you both!!

    Nice top ten you both came up with, though I fear your lack in 1080 Snowboarding disturbing, how can you not like curving up the mountainside on your trusted board, and compared to the other snowboarding games around, it was hands down the best out there, and don’t given get me started on the GoldenEye v Perfect Dark debate.

    Yes I give you that Perfect Dark irons out the creases that GoldenEye had, and yes Perfect Dark had two player co-op, but the fact still remains, GoldenEye had way better muti-player, there I said it. For all that Perfect Dark had over GoldenEye, the fact still to this day is that given the choice of which game I would sit down with a cold beer and four of my mates, GoldenEye would and always will be the cart that gets put into my N64.

    So without further-a-do here’s my N64 top ten.

    01. Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
    02. GoldenEye
    03. Super Mario 64
    04. Mario Kart 64
    05. Blast Corps
    06. Conker’s Bad Fur Day
    07. Sin & Punishment
    08. Bangai-0
    09. Paper Mario
    10. 1080 Snowboarding

    As always keep up the good work.


    May 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm

  2. Nice list guys, very entertaining as always… Here is my top ten heavily influenced by nostalgia :

    01. Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
    02. Super Mario 64
    03. Majora’s Mask
    04. Mario Kart 64
    05. Star Fox 64
    06. Goldeneye 007
    07. Super Smash Bros.
    08. Wave Race 64
    09. Star Wars : Shadows of the Empire
    10. Turok : Dinosaur Hunter

    Jesse D

    May 9, 2015 at 6:32 am

  3. Great show guys! I had fun trying to come up with my own list after listening to you hash out your Top 10.

    Looking back, the N64 had a ton of solid racing games. Waverace, 1080, Diddy Kong Racing, and Excitebike 64 were all very cool, but I don’t think anything ever topped the insane speed of F-Zero and the multiplayer shenanigans in Mario Kart.

    The FPS games on the system haven’t really aged all that well in my opinion, but nostalgia is strong and I had to put a few of them on my list. Jam mentioned Quake 2 on the show and although I’ve heard many people praise of the game, I really didn’t enjoy my recent playthrough. The enemies are some of the worst bullet sponges I’ve ever encountered and aiming with the N64 controller in a true 3D space seemed very clunky to me in this game. I’d definitely recommend Doom 64 over Quake 2. It’s an entirely original game exclusive to N64 that nails the feel of the first two while adding a cool ambient soundtrack and interesting updates to the character models.

    I can’t wait for you to try Sin & Punishment. It’s incredibly fun in a similar way to Star Fox. It’s fairly short, but when the gameplay is this good, you want to keep going back to it. The sequel on Wii is even better. The Wiimote pointer controls are a perfect fit for this series.

    I’ve got to agree with Fred and say that, despite being a massive Zelda fan, I really can’t get into Majora’s Mask. I’ve given it multiple attempts but it always feels like a bit of a chore to get through. I don’t enjoy the dungeons very much either. Oh well, I’ll probably still end up getting the remake on 3DS eventually and see if I like it any better on that system!

    I’m looking forward to your next Top 10 episode! Here’s my N64 list:

    10. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
    9: Goldeneye
    8: F-Zero X
    7. Banjo-Kazooie
    6. Perfect Dark
    5. Star Fox
    4. Mario Kart 64
    3. Sin & Punishment
    2. The Legend of Zelda: OoT
    1. Mario 64


    May 14, 2015 at 11:48 am

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