When it comes to local multiplayer, the Nintendo 64 is undoubtedly one of the best systems around. With four controller ports built into the console, as well as a solid line-up of classic multiplayer games, it isn't surprising that the system is still being enjoyed by many people around the world – it is, after all, an affordable way to get your mates around the TV.
Although the N64 has a pretty small library of games – just under 400 in fact – many feature a multiplayer mode of sorts, the quality of which varies quite drastically. If you grew up with the N64 and had friends (or failing that, siblings), there’s a good chance that you spent most of your time enjoying Nintendo’s first- and second-party efforts such as Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros. and GoldenEye 007. And who can blame you for limiting your scope to these exclusives? N64 titles could fetch a high price back in the day, so you couldn’t really afford to take a risk when buying your games.
But were there other games on the system that were worth your time? Most definitely. In fact, many third-party companies such as Acclaim Entertainment stepped up to the plate to provide decent multiplayer experiences that were well worth your time and money.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of some great N64 multiplayer games that you might not have tried before. They’re underrated gems in our eyes, and if you've got a bit of spare cash and are looking for a different – and cost-effective – multiplayer experience to enjoy with your friends, then you should definitely check out these great titles.
Snowboard Kids never received the praise that its more popular counterparts Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing did, but it's still a great game. Released in 1998 and developed by Racdym, the game adopts the same kart-racing style, albeit with snowboards. The multiplayer mode allows for up to four people to race against each other at the same time, and the power-ups are surprisingly balanced. If there's one thing that hurts the overall experience, it's that there are only nine tracks (of which three must be unlocked). With that said, the tracks that do feature are all cleverly designed, and the ability to perform tricks mid-race makes this title stand out as a unique and fun offering.
Originally released as an arcade game, Gauntlet Legends is perfect if you're looking for a challenging yet simple cooperative game. In this hack 'n' slash adventure you must fight your way through hordes of enemies to save the realm; although it's by no mean the prettiest game, the amount of enemies on-screen at any one time is impressive and you really do need to work as a team if you want to make it to the end. If you do happen to pick up this title, be mindful that the four-player mode requires the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak – unfortunately, it's not written anywhere on the game's box or in the manual!
Tetris 64 may be a Japanese exclusive, but thankfully it's worth importing because all of the menus are in English (with the odd weird translation here and there). What makes it even more enticing is its four-player mode. If you're a fan of the original then you've nothing to worry about, as Tetris 64 remains true to the classic gameplay formula. The only key difference in multiplayer is the ability to screw over your opponents by adding messed-up lines to their board; you earn this power-up by clearing lines (and you get a double power-up if you get a Tetris). This adds an entirely new dynamic to the game and one that turns this usually quiet puzzle affair into something of a shouting match.
Turok: Rage Wars was Acclaim Entertainment's response to the popular multiplayer shooter, GoldenEye 007. While it certainly isn't as refined as Rare's Bond classic, the game does have its moments. In particular, you can play through the story mode cooperatively with another friend, which was quite an uncommon feature for first-person shooters at the time. For larger groups there's a variety of four-player versus modes, including Capture the Flag and Deathmatch. Interestingly, the game features a loadout system (although it's rather basic by today's standards), so there's none of that nonsense of frantically running around trying to slap other players whilst desperately looking for a gun.
BattleTanx: Global Assault
BattleTanx: Global Assault is a severely underrated game. As one of the few decent titles to come out of now-defunct developer, 3DO, the game places a heavy emphasis on obliterating the enemy and your surroundings. One of the coolest features of its multiplayer mode is that you are able to play many of the maps from the campaign mode, most of which are based on well-known, real-life locations. If there's one must-play multiplayer type, it's Tank Wars; in this mode each player has a team of AI tanks, thus ramping up the on-screen action considerably. Moreover, the campaign can be played simultaneously with up to two people.
Which fun, yet under-appreciated N64 multiplayer game would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments section below.