Top 20 Nintendo 64 Games (Part One)

by GlobaX Gaming Staff

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20. Wave Race 64 (Nintendo, 1996, 24 points)

Originally pitched as “F-Zero on the water”, Wave Race 64 succeeds in making this vision a reality. One of the N64’s many fun, fast-paced racing games, and one that I find myself dusting off the cartridge and throwing it on for a spot of fun more often than I used to. (Terri Rose)

19. Banjo-Tooie (Rare, 2000, 25 points)

The sequel to Rare’s iconic 3D platformer Banjo Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie really brings it at the same level with charming level design, great music, and some seriously tricky sections. If you’re a 3D platformer hater or agnostic, this isn’t the game for you, but it’s a real treat if you can handle some of the genre’s quirks. (JCM)

18. Blast Corps (Rare, 1997, 27 points)

Rare’s anarchic action game occupies a space of primary nostalgia for me, it being a staple of childhood sleepovers growing up. But playing it now, it’s wild how incredibly influential this game was. One could even say that the game’s big use of the analog stick in its controls was what led to Rare’s total dominance of console FPS games with the generation with Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. Regardless, it’s a great game worthy of a look. (Ben Beck)

17. Star Fox 64 (Nintendo, 1996, 30 points)

I’ve always been interested in games that are so successful they can move or encourage the use of an add-on/peripheral. The 4 million units of Star Fox 64 was great for Nintendo on its own, but as Star Fox 64 came bundled with a Rumble Pak (the first game to use it), it was instrumental in that peripheral becoming indispensable to N64 owners as well. I love this game, a fluid and daring adventure that, in my opinion, the series has yet to top. (Dave McDougal)

16. Mario Golf (Nintendo, 1999, 33 points)

Maybe you can make an argument that, with the loss of third publishers like Konami and Square to the PlayStation this generation, Nintendo became stunted and relied too heavily on their existing IPs and marketing toward families. And while there’s some truth to that, what this overlooks is that the vast majority of Mario games, even party games and sports spinoffs, are really terrific games. Mario Golf is a superb game, one that calls to mind some of the great 90s golf games from Japan like SNK’s Neo Turf Masters. Though it’s a Mario spin-off sports game, it’s a pretty good sports game in its own right. (Nicholas Tristan)

15. WWF No Mercy (Aki/THQ, 2000, 33 points)

After my Genesis seemed a little battleworn, and before I got a PS1 for cheap in 2001, the Nintendo 64 was my console of choice. I got one for Christmas, 1997, and this was also around the same time I was getting very heavily into wrestling. So, naturally, by the time a truly spectacular wrestling game rolled around in 2000 it was like manna from heaven. Still the best western wrestling sim around. (JCM)

14. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (LucasArts, 1998, 36 points)

On a console that had some other excellent Star Wars games, most notably the FPS Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron still stands out. In contrast to earlier classics like TIE Fighter and X-Wing, Rogue Squadron eschews realistic dogfighting simulation for aggressive, fast-paced arcade-style action. The graphics were *on point* for 1998, and honestly they still hold up pretty well today. (David McDougal)

13. Banjo-Kazooie (Rare, 1998, 38 points)

Rare, over the lifespan of the N6t4, put in an incredible amount of work on developing the console outside of Nintendo’s first-party dominance. If our earlier Top 20 of the PS1 revealed exactly how dominant Square was in the 1990s, hopefully this list does a similar thing for your perception of Rare. Banjo-Kazookie is a cute, clever 3D platformer with a strong replayability component and memorable characters and settings. Plus, doesn’t it just fill you will feelings of nostalgia? (Terri Rose)

12. Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo, 1999, 40 points)

This one rolled in a little lower than I expected, considering its influential sequels. But it’s also important to not merely view it as the creator of a franchise! The original Super Smash Bros. is a masterful game in its own right, an absolutely addictive party game with memorable characters and settings in which ultimate mayhem and chaos can be unleashed. Melee may be the king of the totem in most gamers’ eyes, and while I agree the first sequel is superior, the original has some special and unique charms that carry it to being one of the N64’s top games. (Nicholas Tristan)

11. GoldenEye 007 (Rare, 1997, 41 points)

So it can be a little hard to separate nostalgia from modern-day objective rankings — like many children of the 90s this game was a favourite at sleepovers and mindless after-school play sessions. But, as difficult as it can be to achieve an objective ranking, it’s still clearly a good game, and it was a mega-hit for a reason. Rare’s mastery of FPS controls, at a time when even not all PC games really knew what the heck to do, showed just how well the FPS genre could function on consoles. And as such, it showed a new path forward for the entire industry. (Ben Beck)