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.
NFL Blitz 2000 offered four-player football (American-style, obviously) and added an extra dose of chaos and carnage to the already… er, ‘spirited’ game. The result was one of the best arcade takes on the sport and a game which elicits grins and faraway nostalgic looks when mentioned in casual conversation.
Unless you’re in Britain, where it’s not impossible they’ll confuse it for a hockey game. It’s the letters, see?
An underrated entry in the Rareware library, Jet Force Gemini coupled cute design with chunky, gungy third-person blasting in a world-hopping quest to defeat insectoid overlord Mizar. Juno, Vela and trusty good boy Lupus’ adventure is not without flaws, but JFG is a surprising deep and satisfying one that’s worth investigating if you’re a Rare fan looking for gems that passed you by around the turn of the millennium.
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.
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.
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.
Known as Jikkyō J-League 1999 Perfect Striker 2 in Japan, this was (predictably) the most polished of the three ISS outings on N64, although it’s also the least played thanks to its relatively late release (it launched nearly two years after ISS 98 and in the latter part of the console cycle). As a swansong to the series which sang on 64-bit hardware, ISS 2000 is a fitting send-off.
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.
Article Tags: Best Games · Features · Games · Guides · Life · N64 · Nintendo · Retro · Top 50