The Nintendo 64 is one of the greatest video game consoles of all time. Originally released in 1996 (or 1997 depending on where you live), the 64-bit system quickly grabbed the attention of gamers around the globe. From iconic franchises like Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda to the advent of 3D gaming, the Nintendo 64 had a lot going for it. Regardless, a huge part of the N64’s success rested in its robust library of colorful and entertaining games, with a smattering of smash hits in almost every genre. Simply put, if you were a gamer living in the late-90s, the Nintendo 64 had something for you to play. As we approach the 25th anniversary of this epic retro console, let’s pay homage to our favorite N64 classics. Here’s our list of the top 10 Nintendo 64 games of all time!
The Top 10 Nintendo 64 Games
10. Jet Force Gemini
There are a lot of reasons that Jet Force Gemini earns its spot on this list, from its immensely colorful visuals and to the surprisingly violent third-person shooting action. Developed and released by the iconic creators at Rare in 1999, this epic sci-fi adventure was one of the first Nintendo 64 games that really blew our minds. Playing as a trio of cosmic heroes including Juno, Vela, and their dog Lupus, it’s your job to explore the galaxy and repel the reign of the evil insect Mizar. Featuring an awesome arsenal of powerful weapons, some inventive and high-tech gadgets, and multiple playable characters, Jet Force Gemini was abundant with cool ideas and rewarding action. Plus, blowing up insect-like enemies in displays of colorful alien gore never gets old.
9. Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Often considered one of the most adult and inappropriate games available on the Nintendo 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day quickly made its mark in gaming history when it was released in 2001. As another vivid and imaginative adventure from Rare, Conker’s Bad Fur Day bucked the trend of family-friendly gaming with incessant amounts of cursing, sexuality, and offensive humor. For a game about an alcoholic squirrel who goes on a journey through a fairytale-esque land, it’s a surprisingly explicit and uproarious experience. That’s half the fun though, as guiding Conker on his increasingly raunchy escapade is consistently funny, surprising, and lots of fun to play. By subverting player expectations and providing a one-of-a-kind 3D platforming adventure, Conker’s Bad Fur Day goes down in time as one of the most beloved and controversial N64 games of all time.
8. Perfect Dark
Although the Nintendo 64 had its fair share of first-person shooters, there was a handful that rose above the rest. This is especially true of Perfect Dark, which hit store shelves in 2000. With yet another entry on our list of the top 10 Nintendo 64 games, Rare continues to prove just how much of a powerhouse-developer it was back in the day. In contrast to other FPS games at the time, Perfect Dark sends players on an intriguing sci-fi mission packed with espionage and high-tech weaponry, playing as the deadly and precise special agent Joanna Dark. In addition to its highly replayable story missions, Perfect Dark contained everything needed for an intense multiplayer session with your friends. The game includes an excellent suite of multiplayer options, including split-screen local competitive modes, various combat challenges to tackle, and even a two-player cooperative option for campaign levels. Simply put, Perfect Dark was a treat for N64 fans who loved both hectic FPS action and sleek, futuristic spy stories.
7. Mario Party
While the Nintendo 64 had plenty of fantastic single-player games, the console really shined with its multiplayer gaming. With its fusion of classic board game mechanics and addictive mini-games, Mario Party offered an incredibly easy-to-learn concept with satisfying and competitive gameplay. Featuring a variety of classic Nintendo characters like Donkey Kong, Luigi, Yoshi, and more, Mario Party pits you and your friends against each other in an all-out race to collect the most stars possible. In order to do so, you’ll have to smash through the competition in a variety of brief but exciting mini-games, earning coins and outlasting the opposition. With eight themed boards to try and fifty different mini-games to master, Mario Party had a huge amount of replayability. As long as you and your friends didn’t get too heated, Mario Party was able to produce a bounty of memorable moments amidst the intense competition.
6. Mario Kart 64
In the late-90s, kart-racing games were all the rage, and a lot of that is owed to Mario Kart 64. Since it was released in the same year as the N64 console, many gamers found themselves picking up Mario Kart 64 to compliment their new system. What an excellent choice that was, as Mario Kart 64 offered endless hours of highly replayable racing action, complete with a great roster of characters, memorable tracks, and wonderful music. Thanks to the jump to 3D, the racing action was more detailed than ever before, offering more complex courses and racing strategies. There were sixteen fantastic tracks to race on, a bevy of fun power-ups to use, and a handful of great multiplayer modes. It’s no wonder that, to this day, Mario Kart 64 is one of the most respected and well-remembered racing games ever created.
While a bird and a bear might not sound like an ideal pair, this amazing adventure game from Rare made us believe otherwise. Arriving hot on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, Banjo-Kazooie perfected the “collect-a-thon” style gameplay that was rampant at the time. Playing as the bear Banjo and his backpack-confined bird pal Kazooie, players embark on a colorful journey through nine fantasy worlds in an effort to rescue Banjo’s sister from the evil witch Gruntilda. Each world contains a handful of collectible jigsaw pieces, which players must collect by solving puzzles, completing tough platforming challenges, and using a variety of unlockable moves. From the imaginative level design to the personable characters and rewarding puzzles, Banjo-Kazooie was utterly packed with everything that makes for a fantastic 3D adventure.
4. Goldeneye 007
When it comes down to popular first-person shooters on the Nintendo 64, Goldeneye 007 is the granddaddy of them all. In fact, many might consider the Nintendo 64 game superior to the James Bond film that it’s based on. Released in 1997, two years after the release of the Goldeneye film, this Nintendo 64 title quickly became a must-own title for any N64 owner. Although the 20-level-long campaign mode was respectable in its own right, it was the four-player, split-screen multiplayer where Goldeneye 007 really shined. Whether it was the ridiculous cheat codes, intense matches of slappers-only, or your one friend who wouldn’t stop picking Odd-Job, Goldeneye 007 is responsible for some of our fondest multiplayer moments of all time.
3. Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo characters are some of the most beloved mascots in the entire gaming industry, but they often get the reputation of being “too cute” or “too family-friendly”. Super Smash Bros was one of the first games to subvert those expectations, offering a frenzied battle of fisticuffs fit for the ages. In one of the most epic cross-overs of all time, Super Smash Bros lets you and your friends duke it out as such iconic characters as Link, Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and many more. Through a variety of enticing game modes, Super Smash Bros offered a unique fighting game experience that mixed recognizable stages with inventive platforming level design, resulting in a hard-hitting battle experience. With unlockable characters to discover, enjoyable mini-games, and the non-stop enjoyment of competitive multiplayer, Super Smash Bros was a game that every respectable N64 owner had in their collection.
2. Super Mario 64
When you look back on the history of video games, the Super Mario series has been there almost every step of the way, innovating and perfecting the ultimate platforming experience. As a launch title for the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 caught gamers’ attention in a big way, changing the landscape of 3D gaming as we knew it. For the first time, Mario was able to run, hop, and wall-kick his way through vivid worlds, collecting power stars and fighting to save Princess Peach. Littered with secrets to find and an ever-present feeling of mystery and adventure, Super Mario 64 lit the gaming fire in our hearts with exceptional bravado. From the peak of Cool, Cool, Mountain to the depths of Hazy Maze Caves, Super Mario 64 continuously delighted us with superb levels, wickedly clever challenges, and that signature Nintendo charm.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Just like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time took 3D gaming to the next level, offering a timeless adventure with an insurmountable level of personality, heart, and passion. Through the eyes of the young fairy-less child named Link, players explored the vast fantasy world of Hyrule, defeating evil enemies and gaining massive powers along the way. In an epic quest that spans time itself, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time told one of the most influential stories in all of gaming history, with masterpiece-level gameplay to back it up. Almost everything about Ocarina of Time is essentially flawless, from smart puzzle designs to the fast-paced combat. The music is enchanting, the characters are full of energy, and every inch of the map begs to be explored. Considered by many to be the best video game of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has earned its storied reputation as the king of the Nintendo 64. While some might contest its spot as the #1 game on this list, there’s no denying just how utterly fantastic this cherished masterpiece is.