The third and final fiesta thrown by Mario on the console, the formula was well-established by then and Hudson Soft saw to reason to change it in any way or kick it up a gear. Beyond a new influx of minigames, Mario Party 3 is a quintessential entry in the series: a riot with multiple friends, and a soul-crushing grind for a lonely single player... but why would anyone play Mario Party on their own?
You'd be forgiven for thinking of Tony Hawk as a predominantly PlayStation franchise, especially in the early days, but Birdman evidently turned up on practically every console of the day and got a bunch of N64 ports which stand up very well alongside their disc-based counterparts. Edge of Reality's version may have come a year after the PlayStation game, but it holds its own in most every department (besides audio, thanks to the restrictions of the cartridge format). We're very partial to the Game Boy Advance version, too, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 served skate-loving Nintendo gamers the full-fat experience on home console back in the day.
Much like every sport in video game form, the history of wrestling games is littered with plenty of lows, a mass of middling efforts and a handful of highs; WWF No Mercy is very much in the latter category. In fact, with depth and heft that's often missing from wrestling games two decades on, it's a legitimate contender for the greatest wrestling game ever made. For a system with a paucity of one-on-one combat titles, AKI's game is a extravagantly large feather in the console's cap.
Following the James Cameron school of thought for sequels, Banjo-Tooie takes a 'more is more' approach, with larger worlds, a host of minigames, an expanded moveset (including new first-person sections), Mumbo Jumbo as a playable character, bosses, and a multiplayer mode, plus the ability to separate the dynamic duo at certain times. Although it arguably flirts with the sort of excesses that made Donkey Kong 64 feel grindy at times, it's a big, chewy sequel, and one that holds up very well all these years later — perhaps thanks to a couple of decade's worth of training in the huge and interconnected open worlds of other games. Banjo-Tooie is filled to the brim with the series' trademark brand of cheeky fairytale wonder and fans will find a whole lot to love.
There ain't no party like a Mario Party, although to be fair, that guy has thrown a ton of them over the past couple of decades.
Yes, there are shedloads of Mario Parties to enjoy — some more than others — but of the three Hudson-developed mini-game bonanzas that released on N64, Mario Party 2 seems to be your favourite, dear readers. Obviously, you'll need three friends to get the most out of this, but the first sequel built on the foundation of the original and steered the series on a steady course which now extends well into double figures (sixteen games across Nintendo's main home and handheld consoles by our count).
Diddy Kong Racing did for Mario Kart 64 pretty much what Banjo-Kazooie would soon do for Super Mario 64; namely, take the template put down by Nintendo and expand on it with colour and creativity to produce far more than a mere homage. DKR expanded the single-player into an adventure and the addition of planes and hovercraft required much larger, more complex circuits to race around. The game also provided the console debuts of Banjo and Conker. What more do you want, jam on it?
The Nintendo 64 version of the PlayStation classic is a technically incredible port in its own right — the GameCube version may offer a sharper image, but it's arguably less interesting. Resident Evil 2 is, in a sense, where the modern series as we know it began. It upped the ante from the terrifying-yet-cheesy B-movie shlock of the first game and established the quality look-and-feel that the series embraces to this day
Factor 5's first foray into the cockpit of a Rebel fighter, Rogue Squadron gave N64 owners some real fodder to use in playground arguments about which consoles had the best games. With the Expansion Pak plugged in, this was a real looker for the time, and the console's spindly analogue stick suited its arcade-y flight mechanics perfectly. With plenty of audio dialogue and all the customary Star Wars sound effects, this was a cracking game.
Its GameCube sequel prettified the visuals (and still looks gorgeous all these years later), but the base mechanics in the N64 original still feel fantastic, so if you're looking for a galactic dose of quality flyboy action, Rogue (Squadron) One is standing by.
Another iconic entry in the N64 catalogue from Rare, Conker's Bad Fur Day stood out proudly from the pack of cutesy platformers as a fouled-mouthed, blood-filled, scatological comedy. We're still a little blindsided that a Nintendo second party put out a game full of swears, to be honest — even the Xbox remake bleeped most of them out. Conker was a technological triumph for the ageing 64-bit system when it launched in 2001, and while the movie parodies are very much of their time and the humour won't hit the spot with everyone, the drunken squirrel still knows how to have a good time.
Bearing in mind how carefully Nintendo began managing its characters and their image after the misfire of the Super Mario Bros. movie in the early '90s, it's remarkable that the original Super Smash Bros. and its inter-franchise scrapping got off the drawing board at HAL Laboratories. Fortunately, Masahiro Sakurai's crossover brawler was permitted to exist and it would grow over the years to become one of the world's biggest fighting games.
The number of combatants and complexity of the N64 original may pale in comparison with the increasingly incredible Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster plucked from the annals of video gaming history, but we still look back fondly on the very first time we had the opportunity to open a can of whoop-ass on Pikachu.