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...
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.
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.
This N64 port of the first entry in Blizzard's franchise was a surprisingly good version of an RTS title that, at the time, wasn't a natural or easy fit for consoles. Developer Mass Media Inc. did an admirable job with the port, and managed to pack in a split-screen multiplayer mode (if you had an Expansion Pak, that is). StarCraft 64 also included some extra missions in addition to the Brood War expansion, and gave Nintendo gamers a glimpse of a PC classic on their TV.
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.
AKI's first wrestling game on the N64, WCW vs. nWo: World Tour set the template for the series of wrestlers that followed and would eventually culminate with WWF No Mercy. The improvements and refinements that would follow naturally make World Tour the lesser game compared to its peers, but the foundation put down here is still solid and enjoyable.
45. ISS 64 (N64)
A brilliant rendition of the most popular team sport in the world, ISS 64 had depth, beauty, accessibility and gloriously entertaining commentary to boot. Not 'good' commentary, per se, but entertaining nonetheless. The FIFA games might be maintaining possession these days, but back in the '90s it was Konami who was really on the ball.
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.
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.
The New Tetris is somewhat like the Old Tetris, although the addition of a new square block-based mechanic, an EDM soundtrack, a four-player mode gives it a very particular (and addictive) flavour. It came from H20 Entertainment, the same team behind the similarly interesting Tetrisphere and is worth investigating if you can't get enough variations on the king of block-fallers.
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.