Things That Really Matter #3: Top Ten Nintendo 64 Games (with an emphasis on variety)

I bet you were wondering about the Top Ten Super N64 games of all time, weren’t you?  Good, because I can help you!  I originally posted this entry as being written by a Jewish Mystic combing the Bible for secret Top Ten video game lists.  I must confess that was a hoax and I am exorcizing the mythical Mystic from these posts.  In truth, this is a list of MY top ten FAVORITE N64 games, with an emphasis on variety.  It must be said that there are many N64 games I’ve never played or have had limited time with and I’ll address some of these at the end of the list.  As I am a true nerd, this list will probably change as I play more and more gamez.

#10  GOLDENEYE 007 (Rare/Nintendo): If it weren’t for the ’emphasis on variety’ angle this would certainly be higher up on the list.  As it is, this game’s ‘spiritual sequel’ appears higher up instead and if I were more experienced with the pool of N64 games another game might have been here instead.  Enough of the fussy rules and onto the good: First person shooters are actually a really retarded genre.  This is one of the very few games in the genre that’s actually neato.  The enemy troops have a lot of personality and the levels are quite huge for a 1997 release.  The missions are varied and the murdering sprees are quite rewarding.
goldeneye 64 screenshot

#9 MARIO KART 64 (Nintendo): The most overrated game on this list.  Sure, it’s great, but not awesome.  The main problem is that the controls are really lame and unresponsive compared to every other Mario Kart game.  The track designs are strong but it doesn’t really matter if navigating them isn’t as good as possible.  The overall action is still fun so give it a try (after you’ve finished with Diddy Kong Racing).
mario kart 64 screenshot

#8 RESIDENT EVIL 2 (Capcom): This is actually a great game except for one problem – it’s basically a straightforward port of a PlayStation game.  As such, it doesn’t make full use of the N64’s capabilities but it’s still a classic.  The explorable areas are much larger than in the original Resident Evil and the action is more tense.  There are way too few games of this sort on the N64 so even with lower technical specs this is a welcome entry on this list.
resident evil 2 64 screenshot

#7 STARFOX 64 (Nintendo): This game is practically an update of the original SNES StarFox but improved in every way (not just graphically).  The gameplay is fun and engaging and there are multiple routes through the adventure, with different difficulty levels for each.  There are multiple vehicles to use and free-range, non-rails levels to blast your way through.  This is a very romantic game.  You should take your TV to the beach and play it with your boyfriend.
starfox 64 screenshot

#6 WAVE RACE 64 (Nintendo): Normally, I’m not all that into ‘realistic’ racers that don’t have goofy or fantasy elements but this is an exception.  As one of the few North American launch titles, WR64 really showed gamers what the N64 was capable of with incredible and hypnotic water effects accompanied by great atmosphere and music.  The jet skis of WR64 bob and bounce on the water in a convincing manner and this aspect plays a big part in the handling and racing of each machine.  Even more fun and impressive are the trick courses, in which you race against the clock, racking up big scores with the many tricks available to you.  You can even unlock a dolphin to ride on.  I think his name might be Ecco?
waverace 64 screenshot

#5 BANJO-KAZOOIE (Rare/Nintendo): aka “Super Mario 64 2: Banjo’s Island”.  Or not, but this game definitely feels like a close cousin to SM64 and uses its game engine.  Given that, Rare introduced many unique action mechanics not present in SM64 that work well, for the most part.  Banjo and Kazooie enjoy a beneficial symbiotic relationship that results in short flights, big jumps, murderous egg-laying and big poops.  Like Donkey Kong Country and Diddy Kong Racing, this is basically Rare’s take on a proven Nintendo game but unfortunately this particular outing doesn’t really break out of the mold like DKC and DKR managed to.
banjo-kazooie screenshot

#4 DIDDY KONG RACING (Rare/Nintendo): This is a misunderstood N64 game, often considered a Mario Kart clone.  This is hardly the case.  This game is also criticized for its generic and pre-school-oriented cast of characters and this is unfortunately accurate.  What sets this game apart from Mario Kart, aside from the boring cast of racers?  WELL, DKR is as much of an adventure game as it is a racing game.  It actually lies somewhere in between Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64.  There is a hub world to explore plus other worlds to gain entry to.  There are hidden items to locate, a battle mode that is an integrated part of the game (rather than an add-on), and special boss races against giant opponents.  In addition to all this there are THREE different vehicles to pilot: cars, hovercrafts and planes.  On top of all that, the controls in this game are much tighter than in Mario Kart 64.  So take that.
diddy kong racing screenshot

#3 PERFECT DARK (Rare/Nintendo): The “spiritual sequel” to GoldenEye 007 improved upon every aspect, resulting in a world that feels much more fleshed out.  The enemies constantly bitch and moan and enjoy hopping around to avoid your fire.  This time around there are futuristic weapons and aliens, which comes across as much more interesting than the Cold War-themed spy approach of GoldenEye.  So do it to it.  You’ll love it when some guy you just pumped full of lead slides to the ground saying, “Why . . . me?” 
perfect dark screenshot

#2 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME (Nintendo): Everyone that matters gushes about this game.  In truth, Ocarina probably does not live up to the ridiculous hype.  In some ways, it’s a throwback to the pointless vagueness of the original Legend of Zelda.  However, the atmosphere and size of the world are quite powerful.  The new characters and races introduced in the game are very appealing and make an impression.  The boss fights are maybe the highlight of the game, high in tension and creativity.
the legend of zelda ocarina of time screenshot

#1 SUPER MARIO 64 (Nintendo): It’s kind of sad that a launch title proved to be the best release for the system but it does nothing to diminish the awesomeness of this game.  SM64 was groundbreaking and revolutionary in so many ways, introducing things like hub worlds from which the player could access many other worlds at their leisure.  The controls in SM64 are as tight as possible and it’s fun just to make Mario run around goofing off.  There are a bazillion levels/missions in the game and many worlds to explore.  I believe that pure fun is a big factor in determining best games and that’s why this game gets the my nod for the top of the N64 list.

HONORABLE MENTION: Not that much, really.  There aren’t a whole lot of N64 games that I’ve played extensively and I haven’t really dug into any obscure gems.  Most of the games on this list were big, multi-million sellers.  The only thing that comes to mind for Honorable Mention is Donkey Kong 64

“WHY ME’M FAVE GAME DON’T DO HERE?”  Well, like I just said, there are some notable N64 games I have yet to delve into or haven’t played in a long, long time but need to check out.  That list includes: F-Zero X, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, 1080° Snowboarding, Kirby 64, Beetle Adventure Racing, Ready 2 Rumble, NFL Blitz, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey, Rayman 2, Mega Man 64, Mickey’s Speedway USA, Jet Force Gemini, and Shadowman.


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7 responses to “Things That Really Matter #3: Top Ten Nintendo 64 Games (with an emphasis on variety)

  1. Hmm…I’ve been hankering to get back into gaming. Perhaps I will play all 30 games on the list and then post a reply.

    But probably not.

  2. Goldeneye was by far my favorite n64 game ever !

    cool post !

  3. You are actually a retarted reviewer. You are biased towards genres and have only played a handful of n64 titles. Kirby 64 would have definitely made the list.

  4. Turok would be on the list if you’d played it, I think this was the first real first person shooter experience for the system, and a damn good one.

    Pilot Wings64 was also a great game.

  5. Ok, so shoot me for resurrecting this thread, but it shows up when I google for screen shots. Also, I may be biased since I wrote the freakin’ thing, but Resident Evil 2 is “basically a straightforward port of the playstation version”??? OMG. I am having seizures from the flashbacks of that years work.

    You do know the PSOne version came on 2CDs? 2 Full CDs. Like 1300Mb? The N64 version fits on a 64Mb cartridge. Straightforward?????

    Do you know that the N64 version actually uses 640×480 mode, instead of the PSOne’s 320×240? Or that it has Dolby Surround sound vs PSOne stereo (thanks Factor5)? Or that it responds to controller input in 33ms, instead of 66ms? (Ok, nobody but us knows that one). Yes, the movies look a bit shit, because compressing over 1GB of movies to 28Mb will do that. Sorry. That one was my fault not Todd’s.

    But thanks for putting us in your top 10. :-)

  6. wow. i love this last comment. rarely do we get behind the scenes stories about what goes into making these games. i’d love to hear more.

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