15 N64 Games That Deserve the ‘Classic’ Treatment
Nintendo’s last two attempts at ‘classic’ consoles with the NES Classic and SNES Classic were home runs. There’s no doubt that Nintendo absolutely knows that there is a market for nostalgia, which makes an N64 classic not a question of if, but when.
Here are 15 games I feel deserve the ‘classic’ treatment whenever the Nintendo 64 Classic finally does come along.
GoldenEye 007 was arguably the most essential FPS game on the Nintendo 64 during its heyday. Featuring missions directly based on and centered around the film, GoldenEye offered intense gunplay, a catchy soundtrack, and some of the best graphics for its time. It also had an insane amount of guns to play with over the course of the game, and some of the best split screen competitive experiences still reminisced by many even today.
Perfect Dark took everything great about GoldenEye 007’s formula and integrated it into an entirely new setting which blended sci-fi and cyberpunk. Playing as Agent Joanna Dark, players find themselves in the midst of a corporate espionage operation that eventually boils into a government-wide conspiracy. I’m not saying it was aliens but… it was aliens.
Speaking of aliens, they’re coming by the hordes in the drastically underappreciated Body Harvest. Traveling through different periods in time to stop an all out alien invasion, Body Harvest was an early open world game set among a variety of settings. Graphically, it was a bit behind even back then, but the amount of chaos that could happen on screen with a bit of graphical sacrifice was intense. Lone wolfing it against building-sized bugs, who could say no to that?
Pilotwings 64 is the type of game you play when you want to unwind, but you still want some goals motivating you. Using an assortment of different forms of air travel (hang gliders, jet packs, and gyrocopters) players take on different sorts of air courses. Is it exciting? At times it can be. But mostly it’s just a laid back experience, and any lineup needs some of those to break up the action.
#11—Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64 was the only game in the Donkey Kong franchise the really leapt out at me. In a similar vein as Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong leapt from 2D to 3D and took on the evils of King K. Rool from a new perspective. At its heart, it’s still the platforming, banana-collecting that fans know and love, but seeing it in 3D for the first time was something special.
#10—Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 lands a place on this list with ease, sporting some of the largest variety in environments and memorable soundtracks in the series. On top of it being Mario’s first 3D platforming outing, it was the first game in the series to put emphasis on replaying old levels for different goals in an effort to earn more stars for progression. Levels you beat didn’t feel old right away, because you seemed to always be doing something new.
#9—The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
One of the most beloved entries to The Legend of Zelda franchise, Ocarina of Time holds a special place for many. As the first Zelda on Nintendo 64, and a sort of re-imagining of old ideas mixed with plenty of new ideas, Ocarina of Time was a love note to old fans and an entry point to plenty of new fans.
#8—The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
It’s hard to mention Ocarina of Time without its sequel, Majora’s Mask. Switching things up from Link’s previous adventures in Hyrule, this time we are lead to the land of Termina which is only 3 days away from annihilation by a collapsing moon. Using the power of time to move back and forth, Link must utilize several different magic masks, trying to stop certain doom from coming. It’s a fun deviation from the normal Zelda experiences, and one of the most memorable outings in the franchise.
Castlevania, the first entry of the long-running Castlevania franchise on the Nintendo 64, is yet another game that took the leap to a fully realized 3D environment. At first this is a bit jarring, especially since Dracula’s domain has always been known for its twists and turns. The jump to 3D makes puzzles more varied, and enemy encounters a bit less predictable.
#6—Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
A prequel to the other N64 Castlevania, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness feels incredibly necessary just for the amount of extra story content there is. In addition to that, it’s more of that Castlevania goodness that makes the series so addictive.
#5—Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon
One of my favorite platforming adventures of all time, Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon is a game that seems to have fallen off the radar so many years later. Following the ninja Goemon and his friends, players go on an adventure all across Japan trying to take down a sinister yet silly group of villains that are causing general chaos and mischief across the country. In addition to the platforming, there’s also several mech boss battles that feel like a robotic Punch Out, and they’re some of the best points in the game.
#4—Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 is still the best Star Fox game in the entire franchise. With three branching paths with the possibility of switching up between them, a bigger emphasis on short-term narrative in individual missions, and the introduction of land and sea battle–what’s not to love? But perhaps the best part of the game is the ongoing rivalry between Star Fox and Star Wolf that culminates in a handful of battles between two elite squadrons in the midst of all out war between the Lylat System and Andross’ forces pouring forth from the planet Venom.
Banjo Kazooie is another platformer that made the Nintendo 64 so well loved, and it wasn’t afraid to be as silly and over the top as possible. With odd grunts and squeaks standing in for voice overs, different transformations with varied uses, and collectibles spanning nine expansive levels, there’s something addicting about Banjo Kazooie that could milk several all-night gaming sessions out of kids in the 90s.
#2—Clay Fighters 63 ⅓
During the 1990s, it sure seems like there were a lot more fighting games than there are now. One of the ones that stood out the most was the Clay Fighters series, but none more so than Clay Fighters 63 ⅓. The gameplay is a straightforward fight affair, but what makes it so memorable was the use of stop-motion claymation to animate the fighters.
Pokemon Snap is an on-rail shooter; except instead of shooting guns, you’re shooting pictures. Through different regions across a pokemon-filled island, you increase your score by getting pictures of various Pokemon in different moments. Always in pursuit of the picture perfect moment, Pokemon Snap was a drastically different experience from other Pokemon titles. It also brought them more to life than ever before in a game, allowing you to experience them in their natural habitats and not just dueling them in random encounter battles.
Those are 15 games I think are more than deserving of a spot on a Nintendo 64 Classic when it finally comes around.
What games would you like to see make an appearance?