Nintendo 64 is a console that holds a very special space in my heart. I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. Some of my favorite and earliest childhood memories are when I was playing Diddy Kong Racing with my mom and dad on the Nintendo 64 console. It was the first console I had, and it was my portal to the amazing world of gaming. Now that I think about it, that is probably where I get my natural competitiveness from. So, I guess I could say that my old Nintendo 64 made me the man I am today – a person who tries his best to succeed in anything he tries.
But over the years I did not stick with Nintendo as much as I could have. Soon after my Nintendo 64 broke my parents got me a PlayStation 2, and I have stuck with PlayStation ever since. But now at 24, I started missing the good ol’ games that set me on this path. And after some research, I figured out there are tons of emulators online for the games that influenced my life so much. There was only one thing left to do: load them up and replay them!
But of course, I liked some games more than others, so here is my list of the best games for Nintendo 64 in my opinion. I only ranked the games I had the opportunity to play, so if your favorite game isn’t on the list I apologize, I probably did not play it.
10. Wave Race 64
Wave Race 64 is a racing game, which was developed by Nintendo. In the game you get to ride a Jet Ski, competing against the AI drivers on various courses with different weather conditions. There was also a multiplayer mode where you could race a friend. Wave Race was super fun, but it was incredibly infuriating to me, as it took me the longest time to actually get good at it. At the time of release, it was considered the best racing game for consoles ever made, but there was one other racing game that beat it on this list.
9. Doom 64
Not going to lie, if a Doom game exists, I have played through it. There is just something that hits the spot when you get to fight against the forces of Hell while blasting metal music as loud as possible. It was released by Midway Studios for Nintendo 64 as the fourth game in the series overall and it was the first Doom game I ever played. The game engine was customized for this game, so all the weapons and enemy designs were unique to this game. But even though the graphics were considered ‘fancy’ at the time, it was just another Doom game. After going back and playing the original ones I must agree that it does feel like just another port previous games, even though this is my favorite Doom game of all time.
8. Bomberman 64
I feel like out of all the games on this list, this one got run over by father time the most, but it was still an amazing game. It was released by Hudson Soft for the Nintendo 64, and it was the first game in the Bomberman series that was 3D. The game has a single-player and multi-player mode, but I never really did play the multi-player mode. In the game, you get to run around as a Bomberman and throw around bombs (shocking right?) to try and get through the platform-style levels. A fairly simple game, that managed to capture my heart as a child in a moment.
7. Rayman 2: The Great Escape
This brilliant 3D platformer game was also the first Rayman game I ever got my hands on. You play as the main hero Rayman (who I thought was a rabbit for the longest time, my bad) and you try to save your friend and the world from an army of robotic pirates. The game was technically very well made, as you could control the camera most of the time, although you did lose control in certain parts of the map. The story of the game was pretty good too, and you uncover it step-by-step by collecting and reading lums. Rayman starts the game with limited abilities and gains more of them as the game progresses. In my opinion, it was one of the best-made games of its time. It paved the road upon which modern RPG games run these days.
6. Super Mario 64
It really wouldn’t be a proper list without a Mario game on it right? Super Mario 64 was developed by Nintendo specifically for the Nintendo 64, and it was the first 3D game in the Super Mario series. It managed to combine the traditional Super Mario gameplay, classic characters, and visual style in an open 3D world. The story is typical of the Mario games. Bowser invades the castle of Princess Peach and hides the Power Stars in many different paintings, that each represent its own world. You take on the role of Mario to collect the start, save the Princess, and defeat Bowser.
It was considered one of the best video games of all time and I couldn’t agree more. And yet, it just missed out on my personal top 5 Nintendo 64 games.
5. Golden Eye
A James Bond game based on the movie of the same name is probably the best first-person shooter of its time. Nobody expected it to be as popular as it was, yet it became the third most-sold game for Nintendo 64. In the game, you take control of the super spy James Bond, where your mission is to fight through various levels by completing objectives, to prevent an evil syndicate from using a satellite weapon. The game also had a multiplayer mode where up to 4 players can compete in a deathmatch-style game mode with the split-screen option. Beautiful graphics, realistic animations, special effects, and engaging gameplay really offer something that every gamer can appreciate.
4. Diddy Kong Racing
Diddy Kong Racing was better than Mario Kart. Yeah, I said it. But in all seriousness, I have so many memories attached to this game that it will forever be my favorite racing game. It had both single-player and multiplayer game modes, and I played a ton of both. In the story, you can take control of any of the featured characters, and you try to defeat the intergalactic villain Wizpig. The game features 5 different worlds with four unique racetracks in every world. You must utilize your car, boat, and plane to complete every world before you get to the final boss Wizpig. All the memorable characters, amazing graphics, and challenging yet fun gameplay all combine into a game that everyone should play at least once.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask is widely considered one of the best video games ever made, especially for the era that it came out in. So, I might piss someone off by having it in the number 3 slot, but I just feel stronger about the two games that are ahead of it. It was released as a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time and is the second game in the Zelda series that uses 3D graphics. It has a darker setting than other games in the Zelda series and it really works in the game’s favour and makes it unique.
The story takes place just two months after the events of Ocarina of Time. Once again, we step into the shoes of Link, who ends up in Termina, a world parallel to Hyrule. Link soon learns that the world is in danger, as the moon will fall into the world. And as the true hero that he is, he embarks on a quest to save Termina before it is too late.
This is the game I played the most back in the day and it’s not even close. The player takes control of the bear Banjo, and he attempts to save his sister Tooty from the evil witch named Gruntilda. You have to explore nine different worlds while climbing the witches’ tower, and your job is to get to the top and free your sister. While you are exploring new worlds you will gather new items and learn new abilities, which will help you solve puzzles, get over obstacles and defeat boss enemies.
The game was first conceived as an RPG, but it was later developed as a platformer. I absolutely loved this game, I thought every level was special and unique, the enemies in each level were different, and the gameplay was super smooth. Don’t even get me started on the soundtrack which was amazing from start to finish. It was the first game in the Banjo-Kazooie series and by far the best of all other games, this is why it is so high on my list.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
My favorite Nintendo 64 game of all time is definitely Ocarina of Time. I still remember the first time I loaded it up. The graphics were amazing for the time, and I was even scared of the enemies as I was very young. You just could not catch me wandering Hyrule at nighttime, I was so scared of those zombies coming out of the ground. The game puts you in the boots of Link in the fantasy world of Hyrule, where you must stop the evil king Ganondorf by navigating dungeons, solving puzzles, and traveling through time.
It was the first game in the Zelda series with 3D graphics and the developers really did an amazing job. The visuals, sound design, gameplay, and writing are all amazing and combine into one of the best games ever made. A lot of people debate if Ocarina of Time is better than Majora’s Mask, but for me, it’s no competition. It is the game that got me excited about the open-world adventure genre that led me to play games like The Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2, some of my favorite games of all time.
Where Can I Play Nintendo 64 Games?
Obviously, the best way for you to experience every single Nintendo 64 game would be for you to buy the console and cartridges on Amazon. But if you are looking to play them for free, you can find a ton of emulators online, which you can play right on your PC! I am currently using the emulator you can find right here!
Every gamer remembers the first moments that pulled them into the gaming world. As I already mentioned, for me it was Diddy Kong Racing on Nintendo 64. I often wondered what my life would look like if I had never tried video games, but I always come to the same conclusion: I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world. All the memories and the wonderful people I have met while gaming have shaped me into the man I am today, and I am grateful to be where I am today.
Do you still remember how you got started with gaming? Have you started on a console or a PC? What was the first game you have ever played? Let’s talk in the comments below!