N64 Month | Cubed3's Top Nintendo 64 Games: Part 1

By Jorge Ba-oh 03.03.2012 24

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3
Top game lists are always a tricky affair, and in the case of the Nintendo 64 there were a fair few gems that got our nostalgia buds tickling. Therefore, the Cubed3 team scavenged through its collections with retro lust, some simply having a gander at the Cubed3 Collection page, and argued for hours to produce a Top 20 selection of Nintendo 64 greats that readers just have to play. There are others that narrowly missed the cut, but for now Cubed3 presents the first of four parts - Cubed3’s Top 20 Nintendo 64 Games.

20) Perfect Dark

There wouldn't be a top Nintendo 64 games list without a little dollop of Perfect Dark. As the spiritual-successor to the always-talked-about GoldenEye 007, it was initially tricky for the delectable protagonist Joanna Dark to make her mark in the shadows of James Bond's finest adventure. Set in the distant future, this breed of first-person shooter infused aliens and dodgy corporations with a solid foundation crafted by the team behind GoldenEye. Thankfully UK developer Rare opted to create something new, instead of producing a Bond sequel like Tomorrow Never Dies.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Set in what is now the not too distant future -- the year 2023 -- players go head-to-head against the vicious extra-terrestrial Skedar race in a bid to save a group of grey alien folk known as Maians, and their alliances with rival research company dataDyne. Venture into the deep snowy peaks of Scandinavia, invade an air base and roam city streets, completing a variety of objectives with a slew of alien weapons and gadgets. Whilst it sounds like a tasty recipe shaken up with a female protagonist, just how did Perfect Dark make its mark? Many fans aim towards the comprehensive multiplayer mode that was a staple feature -- as sublime as its pseudo-predecessor, with refined Artificial Intelligence, unique weapons and versatile environments. Countless hours dedicated to outwitting both human and computer foes, there hasn't been an experience that comes close to Perfect Dark's smooth blend.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

If you haven't sampled the delights of one of Rare's finest works, released over a decade ago, it's certainly worth a...shot. Original copies for the Nintendo 64 are fairly bountiful, and there's also an enhanced edition for the Xbox Live Arcade. A truly memorable shooter that encompasses many of the features and gameplay conventions still found in games released many moons later.
Jorge Ba-oh

19) Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon

Before The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released on Nintendo 64 in 1998, and as far as 3D adventure games in open environments went, the biggest title was Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, or as it is known on its home turf of Japan, Ganbare Goemon: Neo Momoyama-Bakufu no Odori (translating literally as Fight on Goemon: The Dance of the New Peach Mountain Shogunate).

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Like other games in the long-running franchise, it tells the adventures of Goemon, Ebisumaru and friends as they travel around Japan, exploring imaginary representations of real life locations in medieval Nippon, complete with anachronisms like UFOs and TV shows. What truly makes the games standout is the quirky style and humour. Take the pre-recorded audience laughter -- taken straight out of your favourite generic sitcom -- that is thrown out at every other bad pun the characters make. This occasionally fails to sound funny to Westerners due either to the weak localisation or lack of knowledge of Japanese pop culture, but this is also part of what made Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon all the more surreal when it was originally released.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Similar titles in the genre were too rare back then, especially on Nintendo 64, so it was a breath of fresh air and a pleasant surprise to see such a highly praised franchise in Japan finally getting a second chance in Europe and North America. It had been several years after the release of the first Super Nintendo episode, Legend of the Mystical Ninja, albeit in a fashion that ditched most elements that celebrated Japanese culture -- like renaming Goemon “Kid Ying” for a Western audience. Considering how incredibly good this N64 iteration was, especially the soundtrack, players were lucky to play an almost unaltered version this time -- shame on you Konami for removing the voice dub from the intro and ending, though.
Rudy Lavaux

18) Wave Race

I remember when I first saw that promo VHD after issues and issues had been mounting about the new N64 releases. Before the great hype machine of YouTube, this video had me watching in great anticipation of the games ahead such as Super Mario 64, Pilotwings, and, of course, Wave Race itself!

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

It is scary to see how amazing the graphics and gameplay engines were in those days, especially with the advanced wave calculations. I have always loved travelling on water rather than under it, and have always marvelled at the idea of cutting over the waves in a jet ski, and Wave Race 64 was the safest, most cost effective way of doing this; no insurance needed.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

In the days of the N64, I was in awe over the Orangina-esque tinge of the waves in Sunset Bay, the thrills of following a dolphin on full throttle, barrel-rolling and back-flipping over strategically placed ramps (the best way to warm up before a major race, bar eating oatmeal) and most of all being able to qualify for, and win, a championship. Video gaming is all about escapism, and this simple pleasure of a game is one of the best escapades into a world I couldn't otherwise encounter.
Susan Gray

17) Resident Evil 2

A common assumption during the Nintendo 64 life was that the cartridge media belonged in the past, and that some neat things that could be accomplished on CD, like full-motion video, highly detailed 2D pre-rendered backgrounds, and fully voiced cinematic sequences, could never be achieved under the strict limitations of the cartridge format. Then came Capcom with its announcement of plans to bring what was originally a two-CD game onto the humble, cartridge-based Nintendo 64. That game was Resident Evil 2 and the development was handed over to Western developer Angel Studios. After studying for a long time what could be achieved on Nintendo 64 -- for example, how files could be uncompressed on the fly that were highly compressed to fit within a 64MB cartridge, Angel Studios finally pulled off the seemingly impossible challenge of fitting absolutely all the content of two CDs onto a single cartridge.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Sure, the FMVs looked darker and had more artifacting than their PlayStation counterparts, and the audio sounded more compressed, but it was Resident Evil, the iconic survival horror franchise, running on a Nintendo system, with improved polygon models, running at a higher resolution if the Expansion Pak was used, and with shorter load times (“uncompressing” times, rather than “loading” times). A technical tour de force. This is without even mentioning how good the game was to begin with, considering it's still a highly loved episode among the "classics." Add to this the fact that it is the only proper survival horror game on the system, and you have the reason why this is one of the best N64 games ever crafted.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Resident Evil Zero was announced to be in development as a follow-up to Resident Evil 2, however it was much too late in the Nintendo 64's life for it to make its release date, leading to a shift to the GameCube instead. The rest is history.
Rudy Lavaux

16) Excitebike 64

Nintendo teamed up with various developers during the Nintendo 64 era, and actually purchased a stake in Left Field Productions, the US team that handled both highly acclaimed NBA Courtside: Featuring Kobe Bryant basketball titles for the system. One specific game that stands out from the crowd is the total overhaul of the old NES classic, Excitebike. Working hand-in-hand on the 3D resurrection of the ancient dirt-track racer, Left Field produced one of the finest racing experiences to date, and a game that still holds sufficient challenge and sheer class to play with the big boys of today's market, despite being over a decade old.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Packed with smooth handling of the bikes, clever track creation, a host of customisation features, a multitude of daring stunts, and extremely high production values (including the same over-the-top announcer found in Wave Race 64), Excitebike 64 sadly turned into one of those rare gems that was unfairly overlooked at retail. Left Field then got the chance to work its magic on the 1080 Snowboarding series, but ended up buying back Nintendo's holding share to become independent once more, meaning 1080 Avalanche ended up being reworked by Nintendo Software Technology, and the Excite games became a spin-off venture for Monster Games to toy with.

Image for N64 Month | Cubed3

Working alone, Left Field did attempt to recapture the magic with the announcement of Nitro Bike on Wii in 2007, which got old school fans on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Unfortunately, by the time it released in 2008, it was apparent that without the original team at the helm, the core feel of Excitebike 64 simply was not present.
Adam Riley

Do you share Cubed3's love for these Nintendo 64 games? What memories do you have for the likes of Wave Race, Perfect Dark or Resident Evil 2, or do you disagree with the first batch of top titles? Do share in the comments section below.

Watch this space for the remainder of Cubed3's top Nintendo 64 games.

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Comments


Annoyingly I have still to play the original Waverace simply because I have heard that the PAL version is atrocious. I'm on the lookout for an NTSC machine though.

Didn't play the 1st Goemon game on the N64 but I have the second one which returned to the forced perspective look on the SNES games - it's pretty bonkers and the side on platforming sections are pretty tough.

Our member of the week

davyK said:
Didn't play the 1st Goemon game on the N64 but I have the second one which returned to the forced perspective look on the SNES games - it's pretty bonkers and the side on platforming sections are pretty tough.

Funny that you mention it. Unfortunately that one didn't make the top, although it was one of my top personal favourites :/. Be on the lookout for the review of Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon 2, coming soon on Cubed3, and numerous mentions and throwbacks to that game, this month Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Well I thought my N64 collection was pretty good, but I don't own any of these! Time to keep an eye out on markets and ebay methinks. Smilie

Of this list I've only played Perfect Dark and Excitebike 64. Amazing games.

I didn't play Wave Race, but WR Blue Storm on the GameCube was awesome. Smilie Such a pretty game, even though I bought it years after I had a Wii.

Canyarion said:
Of this list I've only played Perfect Dark and Excitebike 64. Amazing games.

I didn't play Wave Race, but WR Blue Storm on the GameCube was awesome. Smilie Such a pretty game, even though I bought it years after I had a Wii.


Wave Race on GameCube was poor compared to the N64 version. I was gutted the same team didn't work on it, instead farming it out to the US branch, NST. The graphics were amazing, though. Definitely try out the WR64, though Smilie

Great to see another Excitbike 64 fan, by the way Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Super Mario 64 as Number 1 I'm betting


Mario, Mega Man and Rayman FTW!!!
erc (guest) 05.03.2012#7

Star Wars Episode 1 Podracer better be on the later part of this list.

I agree PodRacer should be in here in some element, i am really surprised about PD only hitting 20 though, i really do think this was one of the best 64 games, and dare i say it...made Goldeneye redundant in my world!

Monkey D Super (guest) 09.03.2012#9

Boy I miss Ware Race...

Nice list! Of course I don't agree with all the choices, but that's opinion for you. I'm glad to see Resident Evil 2 included. You forgot to mention that it's the most unique version of the game, possessing features that to this day no other version has (level-of-violence toggle, blood colour, EX Files, item randomiser so no two playthroughs are the same).

I would have to disagree with the inclusion of Excitebike 64. I have the cartridge myself. It's slow, and the bikes handle like tanks (hardly "smooth"). It has some great ideas, but for me the most important part - the gameplay - isn't up to scratch. I predict GoldenEye placing higher than PD, but really it should be the other way around. Basically, GE is Terminator 1, while PD is T2 (if you want an analogy). The first one is great, but the second one just blew us away.

It's tough to pick a 'best' list when it comes to an awesome console like the N64. So many classics. How do you pick them? Impact upon release? How much they pushed the console? How objectively-enjoyable they still are today? It's a difficult one. Let's try and have some entrants which aren't OoT etc (which will blatantly get the top spot.. yawn). Don't forget your Mischief Makers, your Blast Corps, your ISS '98s, etc. Awesome games that get trampled by popularity whores.

Davy, NTSC Wave Race 64 is awesome. The PAL version is utter gash.

( Edited 09.03.2012 19:53 by Martin_ )

I'm in disagreement with some of the games that made the full list, but yeah, it's just opinions. For obvious reasons, I can't give any of them away, but you can look forward to the rest of the list soon.

I wouldn't take these lists seriously, they're just a bit of fun.

Marzy said:
I wouldn't take these lists seriously, they're just a bit of fun.

Yeah, of course. But I don't think you understand - I am the biggest N64 fan on this website. There's no way I wasn't gonna put in my two pennies! I could have contributed. Oh well!

Marzy said:
I wouldn't take these lists seriously, they're just a bit of fun.

This is probably the best way to look at it really. We're only a small team and haven't played every single game between us, so I think all of us are in disagreement with many of the choices and positions.

It's all good fun though.

Yeah, of course. But I don't think you understand - I am the biggest N64 fan on this website.

How could you possibly make such a claim?

Marzy said:
Yeah, of course. But I don't think you understand - I am the biggest N64 fan on this website.

How could you possibly make such a claim?

Unfortunately Miyamoto and Martin met one night... the rest is history!

You're more than welcome to contribute Martin - if you pop over a PM we can see if there's any bits you could take on.

The rest of the list is pretty good though! There'll be the usual suspects, plus a few surprises methinks!

Iggy's Balls is #1, btw.

( Edited 09.03.2012 20:47 by jb )

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Marzy said:
Yeah, of course. But I don't think you understand - I am the biggest N64 fan on this website.

How could you possibly make such a claim?

It was more of a joke than a serious comment. Though I am a huge, huge N64 fan, and have spent a fortune on various N64 hardwares and games. About the only thing I don't have is a 64DD.

Well, even if you were joking. Spending a fortune on N64 hardware and software doesn't make you a bigger fan then someone who hasn't. Some people simply don't like to waste their money on a console or games they already have in English.

I absolutely love the Nintendo 64, it's my favourite console of all-time. There's no way to distinguish who the bigger fan is though. More importantly, it's really pointless.

Anyway, I just wanted to question your claim. I hope I didn't come across as a fart about it. I just didn't know you were joking.

( Edited 10.03.2012 12:14 by Marzy )

Our member of the week

Martin_ said:
I am a huge, huge N64 fan, and have spent a fortune on various N64 hardwares and games. About the only thing I don't have is a 64DD.

Do you have the Densha de GO controller and game =3 ?

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Marzy said:
Well, even if you were joking. Spending a fortune on N64 hardware and software doesn't make you a bigger fan then someone who hasn't. Some people simply don't like to waste their money on a console or games they already have in English.

I absolutely love the Nintendo 64, it's my favourite console of all-time. There's no way to distinguish who the bigger fan is though. More importantly, it's really pointless.

OK OK! Smilie

Either Mario Kart or Mario 64 will be No.1. Banjo Kazooi could be in the top 5. I have not played the original Waverace, but I did play the one for Gamecube, and it was solid. Perfect Dark deserves to be in the top ten in my opinion.



SuperYoshi6 PSN name
3DS friend code 2878-9581-8999

Pfft, OoT will be #1.

I'm sorry guys. But I actually am the biggest N64 fan. I must confess - when I was 10, yes, a little chap at 10, I got an N64 console tattooed to my bottom. and the controller engraved into my ball sack.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

It's probably this guy. Well, at least when this was filmed!


 

 

Smilie Smilie Smilie Wow, Ross, you really crack me up sometimes! Too serious Smilie Smilie

Martin, since you're clearly the biggest N64 fan here ( Smilie Smilie ), perhaps you would be interested in writing something for us at some point as part of N64 Month? Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Adam Riley, Azuardo, Ofisil, ringlord71

There are 4 members online at the moment.