N64 Month | Cubed3's Top Nintendo 64 Games: Part 2

By Jorge Ba-oh 10.03.2012 11

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It's the second week of Cubed3's Nintendo 64 celebrations and the team has rekindled its romance with five more must-play games as part of the Cubed3 Nintendo 64 Top 20. Whilst, of course, not a definitive list, here are what Cubed3 deems to be the essential titles that are worth a look-in, creeping closer to the coveted Top 10.

15) Jet Force Gemini

Perhaps one of the best of Rareware's shots at creating original IPs, Jet Force Gemini was considered far off its other titles on the Nintendo 64. In an attempt to make the game a more mature experience than usual, Rareware went so far as to change the character designs in the middle of development; from kids to teenagers -- although an unlockable feature allows the player to revert them back to the originals.

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Akin to Starship Troopers, the game featured humans and a dog up against armies of insect aliens, ant-like drones, while trying to save bear-like tribals. It became one of the more unique experiences on the system. The time spent exploring every inch of each of the planets for those cutesy tribals, taking advantage of unique character abilities and searching for pieces of armament was a gripping experience.

Also worth mentioning are those delightfully beautiful real-time cinematics. One familiar scene shows a tribal working hard to clean the floor, until one of the drone soldiers kicks his bucket and he ends up gazing at his own reflection in a puddle of water. It is one of the most memorable on the Nintendo 64, and is still burned into the memories of every fan to this very day. Almost every scene in the game made some clever use of cinematography to induce the feeling of watching a movie. The only other games that come to mind are both Zelda games. The excellent soundtrack helped this greatly too!

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Gameplay aside, the most defining aspect of Jet Force Gemini has to be its difficulty. Who doesn't remember the twin Mantis and the final battle against the evil Mizar? Just seeing the ending was no small task and the sections where players had to control Floyd the little flying robot to get a golden medal had the potential to drive people mad. Jet Force Gemini is full of absolutely memorable moments. Here is one last memory: the night club on Ichor. Classic!
Rudy Lavaux

14) WWF No Mercy

Think of any great Nintendo 64 gaming memory and chances are that more than one controller port on the front of the machine was responsible for making it happen. A vast majority of the top multiplayer games on the console turn up on this list, and yet there is one specific genre that has arguably yet to be outclassed on any modern graphics beast or gameplay innovator. The Nintendo 64 saw a fair share of wrestling games in its lifetime, but those that truly stood out were the ones created by Japanese developer AKI Corporation. Now renamed as syn Sophia (the brains behind...Style Boutique), the studio brought its trademark gaming engine into World Championship Wrestling licensed games, and, later on, the almighty World Wrestling Federation, resulting in the fantastic WWF No Mercy.

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No Mercy was the game that took every great feature of the previous AKI brawlers and made them submit in inferiority. A Story Mode, King of the Ring elimination, Ladder Matches, Royal Rumble, Ironman Matches, Handicap Bouts, Street Fights -- they were all here in their blocky glory, backed up by one of the most satisfying and robust gameplay engines in a competitive videogame, perfectly mapped to what was certainly the strangest controller at the time. No Mercy featured all of the biggest names in what was the World Wrestling Federation's prime: Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Andre the Giant -- you name it. Voicework was but a pipe dream at the time, but the titantron music for each wrestler was intact and the unique tunes during matches certainly stuck in the mind long after play.

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Although syn Sophia's gameplay style has shown up in later games like the GameCube's Def Jam Duo and Japan's Ultimate Muscle, No Mercy was the last of the WWF line from the team, and has yet to be topped for sheer lunacy, hilarity, and content. A tip for all those still enjoying this masterpiece: get into the highly detailed Create-a-Wrestler Mode, make anyone you wish, and assign them the ring-bill as a weapon. You will thank me later...
Shane Jury

13) Mario Tennis

Considering that Mario has a busy time saving worlds and rescuing princesses, he does have an awfully good exercise regime on his days off! Following his German tuned efficiency of a work-life balance, we see him donning his tennis shoes and heading off to the courts with his pals. Being quite the tennis fan, I was naturally inclined to enjoy smashing and slicing balls effortlessly (as opposed to real life) down the court without breaking a sweat, especially with my favourite Nintendo characters.

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What amazes me about Mario Tennis is how varied and yet how simple the formula was and still is. With multiplayer games, it is usually hard to find the same appeal when playing alone, but Camelot's Nintendo 64 masterpiece got this balance just right. The Ring Shot, the Return Challenge -- the tournaments for singles/doubles (I had every cup with almost every character) makes for a lasting relationship with the console.

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I remember casually playing it at my uncle's house with my cousins and falling in love with the game. From the nail biting tournaments to the adrenaline boosting battles with four human players, it is a must for all Mario and sports fans!
Susan Gray

12) International Superstar Soccer '98

Hands-up who loves Pro Evolution Soccer? Okay, quite a few, but maybe not as many as a few years back. Well, cast your minds back to before the annual updates with years tagged onto the end, á la FIFA; back when there were the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer 2, 3, 4, and so on. What is now Konami's premier football (soccer) series was actually an inferior cousin back in the early days when it appeared on Sony's original PlayStation. Instead, an arcade game-turned console port, International Superstar Soccer, from internal team Major A had the run of the market -- at least in the eyes of critics fed up with FIFA Soccer's inability to pull its socks up properly. However, Electronic Arts had the monopoly on real-life player, club, and stadium names, as well as the rights to make players look 'life-like' (the final outcome was more than debatable, though), which led to FIFA Soccer trouncing Konami's series.

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That did not matter in the slightest to true football purists who wanted the best entertainment from their footballing shenanigans, and things did not get much better that International Superstar Soccer '98, with its solid visuals, fast gameplay, quick passing, intuitive control settings, and fantastic tactical aspects that all helped to make it the pinnacle of multiplayer fun on the Nintendo 64.

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In fact, so good an improvement it proved to be, that with its eventual successor, Major A struggled to come up with enough new content for International Superstar Soccer 2000 and ended up ruining the experience slightly by squeezing in an unnecessary RPG element. The second International Superstar Soccer on the N64 continues to be the best in the now deceased series, yet whilst gone, the fond memories will never fade.
Adam Riley

11) Banjo Tooie

The Nintendo 64 never got a wealth of titles released almost every week, like its biggest competitor the PlayStation. This was even truer in the system's twilight days. However, a few games, such as Banjo Tooie, acted as some last beacon of light that shone upon starved Nintendo 64 gamers, eager for the next big classic. Banjo Tooie didn't disappoint at this and brought back almost everything that made its predecessor great and improved upon all of these aspects: graphics, wealth of character moves, bonus unlockables, quality soundtrack and funny dialogue. Indeed, between the new cast, and the even more over-the-top script (mostly the lines for Kazooie), it was even more hilarious than its predecessor. Additionally, the level design was made far more intricate by interconnecting the different levels between themselves, sometimes requiring players to access a certain area by making a detour via another one first, putting a lot more emphasis on thorough exploration than before. With this sort of level design comes a fair bit of back-tracking, which might not be to everyone's taste, however. Finally, Banjo Tooie introduced a multiplayer feature, which even has arguably some of the best mini-games found in any Rareware game, going so far as introducing some GoldenEye/Perfect Dark-esque stages that were loads of fun to play.

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Banjo-Tooie was one of the very last great classics to grace the console; yet for all the improvements, it lacked that little something that made the original so magical. Perhaps this was because it didn't have the same "novelty" factor, plus the soundtrack, although good in its own right, ultimately wasn't quite up to par with that of Banjo-Kazooie.

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Finally, being so advanced for the system in terms of visuals, the frame-rate tended to drop in detail-heavy sections. However, these tiny setbacks shouldn't be any reason for anyone not to play this gem. You are not a true Rare or Nintendo 64 fan unless you have given this classic a try!
Rudy Lavaux

What do you think of the latest additions to the Cubed3 Nintendo 64 Top 20 games? Are you also fans of these titles, or do you disagree?

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trevor (guest) 10.03.2012#1

I like how this isn't your run of the milll "Top N64 games list" It has games on here that no other best n64 games list has had before and makes me curious to give them a try. Having said that...some classics are a bit too far back for my liking.

trevor (guest) said:
I like how this isn't your run of the milll "Top N64 games list" It has games on here that no other best n64 games list has had before and makes me curious to give them a try. Having said that...some classics are a bit too far back for my liking.

Yea, it's good. I can see both sides of the table, though. It's good to have a list that comprises of plenty of genre types to give an idea of some of the best games the system had to offer. But I see Marzy's side too: there are a couple of games that didn't make it that I hope people haven't forgotten about.

I'm sure we can do a "Best of the Rest" list at somepoint - it is tricky to get a decent top 10, let alone top 20! I do hope that these give readers to try out some of the more obscure/less popular games.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

jb said:
I'm sure we can do a "Best of the Rest" list at somepoint


Sometimes that's the way things go with votes - we can't include absolutely everyone's favourite games in there, just as in the same breath we can't include every single niche game either.

I was gutted that a few of my initial choices weren't featured in the final Top 20, but hey, that's just the way the votes went! AND it means it gives me more to talk about in the next podcast, and/or write about in a 'What We Missed' article Smilie Smilie

Ross, I feel you should resurrect 'A Critical Hit' and vent like mad Smilie Smilie

EDIT: Can't spell Smilie

( Edited 11.03.2012 11:59 by Adam Riley )

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

Here's one - what's the best fighting game on the N64? There weren't many. There was one where it was kind of like two games in one. One half the characters had realistic proportions (in a sense), and the other half they were super-deformed. I can't remember what it was called.

I guess most people will say Smash Bros. If so, what's the best of the rest? Mortal Kombat 4 was pretty good.

Some people enjoyed Fighters Destiny, though I was never keen on it. I did enjoy Clayfighter though, despite its obvious crappyness. Smilie

Our member of the week

I'd say the best fighter is Mortal Kombat Trilogy. The N64 has the best version of it too ! 2 playable bosses that weren't on the other versions of the game, and it's the only version where those bosses had fatality moves too... not counting the absence of loading times... And finally a pad with 6 face buttons, which is great for fighting games.

Never played Mortal Kombat 4, but I guess this is also good, though I'm pretty sure it must be lacking content when compared to its Playstation and Dreamcast counterparts.

( Edited 11.03.2012 07:26 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Fighter's Destiny 1/2 or the MK games would have been my choices as well.

How about car-based racing games? Ridge Racer 64, Beetle Adventure Racing, San Francisco Rush, V-Rally, Top Gear Rally all spring to mind.

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

Adam Riley said:
How about car-based racing games? Ridge Racer 64, Beetle Adventure Racing, San Francisco Rush, V-Rally, Top Gear Rally all spring to mind.

To me, Ridge Racer 64, World Driving Championship and San Francisco Rush 2048 are the 3 best racers on the system Smilie (that are NOT kart racers...)

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I remember thinking Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. was a pretty cool game. Not sure if it's retained any of it's charm into the modern day, or if it's become one of those retro wrecks that's just totally shabby now.

RudyC3 said:
Never played Mortal Kombat 4, but I guess this is also good, though I'm pretty sure it must be lacking content when compared to its Playstation and Dreamcast counterparts.

Not really. Maybe some FMVs? Other than that and the DC one probably having more rounded models, there's not much I know of that separates them. The DC one is Mortal Kombat 4 GOLD, anyway, so you expect it to have more content.



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