It’s been 20 years since Nintendo released its last cartridge based console, marking the end of one type of media for another but not before making its mark in history with some of the best games you could play. In fact, so many could be found on this console, it made it rather difficult to only pick 8. But, after a lot of sifting through the pile, here’s our pick for the best Nintendo 64 games ever to be released.
Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64 was one of the games that ran on a Nintendo 64 that required the 4MB expansion pack and with good reason. The game was huge for the time. It wasn’t a 3D open-world such as Super Mario 64 but it certainly kept the 2d adventure fun. As one expects with a Nintendo title, there’s plenty of content, puzzles and unlockables that can be found scattered throughout the world. Some are actually a requirement to proceed to the next level. It’s definitely a game for completionists.
Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 was one of those games that introduced console players to a whole new genre they never thought they’d care about before. Sure, PC gamer’s had flight sims for some time at this point, but it’s a new concept for most of the gaming folks during this time period. Star Fox 64 did an amazing job at making flying fun. As with nearly all of the Nintendo games, the learning curve is what made this game even better. There wasn’t a complicated level of control you needed to manage in order to fly around. You just flew and shot down others.
Considered a spiritual successor to GoldenEye, Perfect Dark took the best parts of the Bond title and made them even better. The guns had better functionality instead of just a difference in shooting speeds, a story line that would stand out more than GoldenEye‘s did, the introduction of bots to fight against in a multiplayer style fight and, of course, one of the first games to carry the “M” rating, a rarity among Nintendo’s titles.
Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart 64 was a truly fun (and sometimes frustrating) racing game. I remember playing this with my cousin and how often I wanted to smash the controller every time that damned blue turtle shell would snatch victory from my grasp at the last second and that arrogant little.. *deep breath* you get the idea. With stats unique to each character and special abilities, it made a race around a track a bit more fun and addictive than a typical racing game. It’s not how fast you get to the finish line, it’s how dirty you play the game that let’s you win the most.
Super Smash Bros.
If there was ever a game that would put your relationship to the test with your significant other, it was Super Smash Bros. Basically, Nintendo’s answer to Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. It may not have had the blood or lifelike style of fighting that the two behemoth fighting franchise provided, but it had a lot of well known characters from various Nintendo games that came together in one game for the sole purpose of duking it out. Fights in this game could be just as intense, if not more, than their counterparts but a lot more fun. It was a true button masher that let you pummel the crap out of your opponent with little understanding of what moves you were actually using. Of course it helped, but it didn’t cause you to immediately lose against a more experienced rival if you were new to the game.
Super Mario 64
Let’s face it, any Mario title is going to do well on a Nintendo machine. He’s the face of the company! Super Mario 64 escorted many of us into the 3D realm for the first time. For the most part, console games were limited to a 2D environment, but Super Mario 64 not only showed us how much fun (and frustrating) it is to tackle the new landscape but where game design is heading towards in the future. It was also one of the first games that allowed for open world exploration, something completely new for a majority of folks.
GoldenEye was one of the first first-person shooters that console players were met with, and one of the best of that era. Taking on the role of James Bond, you played through the story line from the movie Goldeneye. But it’s not the single player aspect of the game that really gave this game the staying power it needed to be looked at as one of the greats, it was the multiplayer. Goldeneye had split screen play for up to 4 people, taking the joy of kicking your friends or siblings ass to a whole new level.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Of course, no list of great games is ever complete without a Zelda title. It’s been around for 30 years on various platforms and providing a fun game to play for generations. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to find a Zelda title that would be considered “bad”, and for good reason. Every title has a great story line that is incredibly easy to get lost in. The learning curve is low, allowing virtually anyone to jump right in and play. Let’s not forget that in a day and age of DLC and expansion packs, Zelda titles simply have everything they wanted at the get go. They didn’t hold off on production of content to save it for more money, Nintendo simply gave you what you craved, and then some.