The console that brought 3D gaming to the promised land, the Nintendo 64 boasts one of the strongest lineups of any console in history.
3D games were first appearing when the Nintendo 64 was being developed, and once released, the industry would never look back. Blow after blow has proven that 3D games are not just a gimmick, but the future of gaming. The idea that anyone can view 3D games as a gimmick is ridiculous these days, but when technology was still new, many people doubted its longevity.
Almost every major Nintendo franchise saw their first full 3D game on the N64 and they were all major hits, many are still considered some of the best games ever made. This was at the cost of more complex games like RPGs, but the influx of awesome platformers and adventurers was a worthwhile trade-off.
Super Mario 64
Let’s get it out of the way first, of course, Super Mario 64 is one of the best N64 games, it’s one of the best games ever made. Mario is the king of platforming, and his first 3D outing proved why, especially when Sonic was tripping over himself with trash like Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Jam. Even if you prefer newer games like Galaxy or Odyssey, you can’t deny the groundbreaking success of Mario 64.
Just as the original was one of the best SNES games, F-Zero X is the embodiment of an entire era of racing games. Its sense of speed is unmatched on N64, and the technology that can allow you to move at such speeds is a marvel. People will keep begging for a new F-Zero game for years to come, and they’re right with a story like this.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Talking about this game while still being PG is hard enough, but let’s just say if you’ve ever played or seen this game, then you know why it’s so beloved. It’s the gaming equivalent of classic parody movies, with a big platform load piled on top.
A game that finally got a sequel after a few decades of begging, Pokemon Snap is the kind of spin-off game that only the Pokemon series could have. While the games are brilliant at showcasing all the different Pokemon, this game was a chance to see their personalities shine like never before with bespoke animation and cute little scenes.
As always with lists like this, it’s a hard decision whether or not to include the original or the sequel in a series. In the end, while Banjo-Tooie might be a much bigger adventure, it was the original Banjo-Kazooie that captured our hearts. It may not be as robust a platformer as the Mario games, but the world is full of charming characters and memorable moments, so slightly worse platforming doesn’t matter.
People often cry for a Mario RPG sequel, but those people missed the point. There are many great RPG games in the Mario series, and Paper Mario is by far one of the best. Although the paper style was originally just a memory-saving decision, they created something unique for the JRPG scene and a spin-off series that continues to evolve to this day.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
When choosing which N64 Zelda game to include in this list, we were always going to annoy some people. Ocarina of Time is an undisputed all-time great, but Majora’s Mask came a little later and did things a little later. It’s the most complete 3D adventure with beautiful dungeons, cleverly designed in a way that only Legend of Zelda games can manage.
Super Smash Bros.
If you told any of us playing this game when we were young that this little Nintendo fighting game would one day include Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Steve from Minecraft, we’d say “What a Minecraft?”, but after that, our minds would be blown. The original is a great fighting game, but it laid the groundwork for a landmark series that encapsulates so much of gaming history.
Written by Ryan Woodrow on behalf of GL HF.
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