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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.

#15GoldenEye 007

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.

#14Perfect Dark

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.

#13Body Harvest

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?

#12Pilotwings 64

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.

#11Donkey 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.

#10Super 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.

#9The 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.

#8The 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.

#7Castlevania

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.

#6Castlevania: 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.

#5Mystical 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.

#4Star 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.

#3Banjo Kazooie

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.

#2Clay 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.

#1Pokemon Snap

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?

 

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  1. Those are pretty good choices, but I’d rather have these as ports for the Switch than having to buy a “classic” console for 15 or so titles.

  2. Mischief Makers was amazing… as was Wave Race… I would sub the Castlevania sequel for one and either Pilot Wings or Body Harvest for the other. Also make some room for Smash and Mario Kart! Don’t know what I would sub for those though, rest of the list is pretty solid.

    • Lostmuppet on August 3, 2019 at 3:38 am said

      As Castlevania Legacy of Darkness contains the first game anyway with a bunch of minor upgrades and the added story content, it would make more sense to drop the first Castlevania game on the N64 from the list.

  3. Jetforce Gemini
    Mario Party 1 and/or 2 (NOT 3!)
    SW: Rogue Squadron
    Conkers Bad Fur Day
    F-Zero

  4. No Jet Force Gemini!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  5. Jet force Gemini, Turok, and pod racer should be remade again. Clay fighter I completely agree with though

  6. Musou Tensei on August 1, 2019 at 4:40 pm said

    I actually own all games but Clay Fighter, which I rented back in the days though. Glad to see Goemon but since you had both Castelvanias I’d say Goemon’s Great Adventure also deserves it. If I had to remove a game for Goemon 2 it would be Clay Fighter, simply because I don’t really like fighting games anymore.

  7. Rashad Nagi on August 1, 2019 at 7:07 pm said

    Instead of snap, put pokemon stadium in! and Legacy of Darkness? Why not Smash or Kirby and the Crystal Shards? There is a lot of potential here and I would add Banjo Tooie as well.

    • Type text here…Pokemon Stadium is kind of worthless without the transferpack, unless they did a neat thing with 3DS pokemons to transfer over.

  8. Can’t really argue with that list…

    Except for the Castlevania titles.

    Other than that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of those remade, especially Pilot Wings. WTF is Nintendo NOT doing with their IPs?

  9. B.D. Wilks on August 2, 2019 at 9:35 am said

    Pretty solid list but you might want to get yourself some Mariokart 64 on there, as well as some No Mercy, Rogue Squadron, and I wouldn’t mind a little Shadows of the Empire myself.

  10. Loved to see the RUSH franchise get remastered, RUSH 1,2, and 2049 are great titles from Midway games

  11. James Garrison on August 2, 2019 at 5:31 pm said

    Shadows of the Empire, Mario Kart 64, F-Zero, Rush, both Turoks, Wave Race, Yoshi’s Island, and G-force, are all needed as well.

  12. Pokemon Stadium
    Turok
    NFL Blitz
    Super Smash Bros
    Mario Cart
    Mario Party
    Diddy Kong Racing
    Conkers Bad Fur Day

  13. Micah Veale on August 2, 2019 at 7:06 pm said

    1. Super Mario 64
    2. Zelda Ocarina of Time
    3. Goldeneye
    4. Super Smash Bros
    5. Perfect Dark
    6. Star fox 64
    7. Donkey Kong 64
    8. Mario Kart 64
    9. Jet Force Gemini
    10. Banjo 1
    11. Star Wars Pod Racers
    12. Conkers BFD
    13. Turok
    14. Pokemon Stadium
    15. Bomberman 64

    Call me old fashioned

  14. Was not expecting Clayfighter in there. I always considered that series to be somewhere above BallZ and somewhere below Primal Rage in the “also ran” category. Then, I never spent much time with it.

  15. Lostmuppet on August 3, 2019 at 3:31 am said

    Both Castlevania games? Castlevania Legacy of Darkness is a extended version of the first game so no point having both. Personally I think Mischief Makers is deserving of any N64 list of great games,

  16. This is my licensing-free list with some honorable mentions that would hopefully also make it on:

    15. Pokemon Puzzle League
    14. Bomberman 64
    13. Mario Golf
    12. Mario Tennis
    11. Mario Kart 64
    10. Mario Party 2
    09. Star Fox 64
    08. Super Mario 64
    07. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
    06. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
    05. Paper Mario
    04. GoldenEye 007
    03. Banjo-Kazooie
    02. Super Smash Bros.
    01. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    Some Honorable Mentions:
    HM 1080 Snowboarding
    HM Blast Corps
    HM Excitebike 64
    HM Yoshi’s Story

    Licensing Possibility:

    LP NFL Blitz
    LP Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
    LP NBA Jam 2000
    LP Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
    LP Vigilante 8
    LP Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
    LP Robotron 64
    LP NBA Hangtime
    LP Gauntlet Legends
    LP Mortal Kombat 4
    LP Rampage 2: Universal Tour
    LP Diddy Kong Racing

  17. Blast Corps… what a weird awesome puzzle racer, I need that again!

  18. Randy Kent on August 3, 2019 at 4:50 pm said

    I want them to make another Pokemon Snap so bad. It has so much potential now that the technology is there and there’s so much more Pokemon to choose from!

  19. Nobody going to mention Aiden Chronicles? bunch of filthy casuals

  20. Chemical-mix on August 6, 2019 at 9:22 pm said

    1. F-Zero X
    2. Goto 1

  21. Kyle Davison on August 7, 2019 at 12:00 am said

    I’d buy that for a dollar!

  22. ricardogarcia3d on August 7, 2019 at 3:40 am said

    I’d add the following:
    F-Zero X
    Diddy Kong Racing
    Mario Kart 64
    Conker’s Bad Fur day
    Mischief Makers

    • Thank you, sir. I thought I was the only one still bearing that torch for Mischief Makers. What a a magnificent game.

  23. Conkers Bad Fur Day should be somewhere on this list. One of my all time favorites.

  24. Wow Pilotwings 64… I loved that game

  25. No Wave Race? I am ashamed. Love the site though.

  26. Not sure about some of these, especially Body Harvest or clay fighters (no offense to anyone lol). Like other said, you forgot gems like Goemon 2, Jet Force Gemini, etc. Sadly, getting the IPs for Rare games could be difficult now but it was such an important third party for the N64! I may be wrong, I don’t know anything about law and stuff.

    On top of what others said, I would like to add the incredible Sin & Punishment. I think it was JP only but I could buy it on Wii VC and what can I say… It’s from Treasure. <3 Seriously guys, look it up.

    Btw, the HD Perfect Dark remake on Xbox is pretty nice and fidel to the original. It may be a better way to experience the game than on a laggy N64 classic. Because we all know it's gonna be like a cheaper raspberry Pi with so-so emulation, right? Also, nostalgia aside, hardcoded framerate limits were pretty low on some games. :d

    In fact, I'm more interested about the development of bug-free accurate non plugin-based N64 emulators or heck, maybe an FPGA HDMI N64 console clone?

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