N64 Month | Cubed3's Top Nintendo 64 Games: Part 3

By Jorge Ba-oh 17.03.2012 17

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We are deep into March and fast approaching the top 5 titles in Cubed3's essential, but not definitive, selection of Nintendo 64 greats.

The classic format was the Japanese studio's first attempt at the world of polygons and 3D control, and boy did Nintendo, Second and Third Party developers deliver. Granted there wasn't exactly a huge selection of games to begin with, but those that did make the cut into Cubed3's retro memories are still a joy even today.

In part three of four, the Cubed3 team explores five more Nintendo 64 games, creeping ever closer to the sublime top five.


10) Diddy Kong Racing

Throughout the history of video games there have always been titles that, for some strange reason, are considered rivals -- both leaders in the same genre, but quite simply different strokes for different folks. One of these pairs during the Nintendo 64 era was Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing; both loved by most, but racing enthusiasts generally preferred one over the other.

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With Nintendo's flagship series often touted as the king of racing games, how did Rare's attempt at the difficult go-karting concept compare? The British studio took a cast of adorable furries, a turtle, a clock and let them loose in cars, planes and hovercrafts -- almost blending three of Nintendo's best vehicle franchises into a neat little package. Racing was fast, tight and frantic. Courses varied, set to memorable jingles and brimming with bright, inviting designs. However, what truly set Diddy Kong Racing apart was the sheer replay value; a huge adventure mode with coin collecting, boss battles, secrets to unravel and a later section that was quite literally out of this world.

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Rare's Nintendo 64 gem was far beyond a generic Mario Kart clone, establishing itself as a more than worthy competitor, and the better game for some. A version was remade for the Nintendo DS more recently, yet stripped back some of the charm that made the original one of Cubed3's must haves. Cubed3 would no doubt recommend this racer as an essential retro purchase, since little has surpassed it to date -- except for the more contemporary Mario Kart, of course!
Jorge Ba-oh

9) Mario Kart 64

Super Mario Kart was one of the Super NES’ best-selling games, so it was only natural for a sequel to appear on the Nintendo 64. In Mario Kart 64 players were able to race in bigger, more detailed courses based on levels across the Mario universe. The full 3D environments allowed for completely new track designs, including elevated floors and boost pads that launched racers across rivers. New weapons that became a staple part of the item list for future games to come made their appearance here, too, such as the much-loved (or hated) blue shell. Some of the best maps in the series debuted in Mario Kart 64, and I always get extremely excited whenever an N64 track is included in any new Mario Kart these days.

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Almost every course had its own unique characteristic that will always be fondly (or not) remembered: Kalimari Desert forced players to make a decision of playing it safe and waiting for the train to cross, or risk it by bombing through in an attempt to stay ahead. Toad’s Turnpike brought out the best reactions by steering past traffic on a speeding highway and Yoshi Valley's giant egg made a few too many pancake characters as it rolled around the cliffs. Mario Kart 64 had some incredible shortcuts, too. Did you ever pull off a sub-20 seconds time in Wario Stadium? Who could forget the awesome jump at the beginning of Rainbow Road that cut off half of the lap? It was always a heart-in-mouth moment as your racer came close to landing it.

Pretty much the same game modes from Super Mario Kart returned in the sequel but with four-player support built into the system, it was the multiplayer events that brought out the best this racer had to offer. Battle mode with three of your mates in some brilliant arenas, including the famous Block Fort, caused many a late night for players the world over. There is no doubt that Mario Kart 64 provided some of the best multiplayer on the N64, cementing a worthy place in our list of the console’s best games.
Az Elias

8) F-Zero X

Considering I am personally not a massive fan of the racing genre in general, it really is testament to the development quality that Nintendo has that many of my favourite experiences from the 64-Bit console come from that particular field. One such game is the cheek-flappingly fast F-Zero X, which dropped over-the-top flashy visuals in favour of a rock-solid frame-rate that left all other Nintendo 64 racers in the dust, even when thirty racers were bustling together on-screen at the same time. Whilst WipeOut's floaty vehicle feel suited some, the tighter controls of F-Zero X was maintained from the Super Nintendo original and help elevate it to higher than Psygnosis' WipeOut 64, as well as Acclaim's attempt at the jumping on the bandwagon with Extreme-G.

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From the mind of Tadashi Sugiyama, the Director behind the first Super Mario Kart and its Game Boy Advance successor, this first 3D outing, ditching the previous Mode 7 graphics thanks to the power of the new hardware, was a true test of gamers' resolve. Plasma-powered hovercars were let loose at speeds of up to 1,500 km/h along treacherous tracks filled with hills, loops, tunnels, corkscrews, and pipes. There were also a plethora of obstacles to navigate through, such as dirt patches, tricky jumps, and tubes, all the while trying to avoid falling over the edge into the abyss. One specific aspect that made for an intriguing tactical element was how boosting reduced your craft's shield, meaning the right balance between speed shifts and protecting yourself was imperative, and that edging across at the right time over any re-engerising strips was essential.

There is always the fear that hard earned money will be spent on short-lived experiences, yet this was definitely not the case with F-Zero X. From the 26 new vehicles, four from the original F-Zero, each with their own characteristics, to the five main modes of gameplay (Grand Prix, Practice, Time Trial, Death Race and Vs. Battle), there was so much to do that F-Zero X was without a doubt one of my most played games over that entire generation. Trying to beat all 29 opponents across four difficulty levels, one of which -- Master -- only opened up after the other three had been cleared, or even taking on the spectacular Death Race, where the objective is to annihilate all other racers in the quickest time possible using any means necessary (spin attack worked wonders), was enough to satiate any gamer, but on top of that there was the X Cup where courses were randomly generated and a four-player split-screen mode to extend play even further.

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Sadly this was the last Nintendo EAD-developed entry and the series has been languishing in the shadows since the Japanese-only Suzak-developed GBA title, F-Zero: Climaz that included a full course editor. Despite fans praying for a DS or Wii version, sadly nothing has arrived, but hopefully either Wii U or Nintendo 3DS will receive a new true update to F-Zero X, with Nintendo at the helm once more.
Adam Riley


7) Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 provided a perfect transition from 2D to 3D for the Mario series of platformers. It is still considered by many as one of the most revolutionary games ever developed and regarded by studio veterans in video game Industry as the father of all modern 3D games -- the conventions and rules it established in controls and camera work. Super Mario 64's legacy can still be felt through all modern 3D games, no less.

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Fortunately Nintendo didn't just transcribe its usual 2D gameplay into a 3D adventure. The team completely re-created the concept of what a Mario game should be. This could be felt in the level design, removing the feeling that you are going straight for the goal and multiplying tenfold the number of paths possible to it. The goal now was collecting the numerous stars based on various objectives in each world.

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For many, this game also served as the first Nintendo 64 experience. The feeling of controlling Mario in vast environments for the first time was quite remarkable and a once in a lifetime moment. Nintendo's debut 3D adventure featured beautiful worlds to explore through a clever system that had players jumping through paintings around Princess Peach’s castle, and most had an innovative touch common to most Nintendo games. The lack of Luigi and a two-player mode may be regrettable, although Nintendo did play with the idea even back then until the concept was fully realised in the Nintendo DS port, Super Mario 64 DS. That aside, this Nintendo 64 game did everything right from the start, blowing everyone's minds away forever as the world embraced a new era of 3D games from then on.
Ross Marrs/Rudy Lavaux

6) Conker's Bad Fur Day

In 2001 Rare, before the sale to Microsoft, was still Nintendo's bed-friend. However, it was in that very same year that Nintendo, like the ever-trusting partner, found out something deeply disturbing about its other half. In this case it was no fling with the neighbour, but instead the fact that Rare had a hidden dark side, eager to reveal to the world its flirtation with the naughty, and even sometimes disgusting. Yes, of course, the subject of the matter is none other than Conker's Bad Fur Day. After the massive success of Diddy Kong Racing, it became quite apparent that Rare had used the Nintendo racer as a platform for testing out new characters. The Banjo duo of releases were enormously successful, and there were plans for a Timber the Tiger game at some point. The other character to get a spin-off series was Conker T. Squirrel (can you guess his middle name?), first starring in the moderately enjoyable Conker's Pocket Tales. It looked as if he would feature in the light-hearted Conker's Quest, later renamed as Twelve Tails: Conker 64 before going into hibernation for being too family-friendly and similar to Banjo Kazooie.

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What eventually emerged from the sidelines was the vulgar, sexual, caustic adventure known as Conker's Bad Fur Day, which Nintendo refused to touch in Europe, leaving THQ to publish at an extortionate price towards the latter days of the Nintendo 64's existence. This third-person 3D adventure romp was the standard Rare fare, filled with the same excellence the UK outfit was renowned for, but was now packed to the brim with hilarious sarcasm, childish innuendo-laden jokes, plenty of sexual references, and all manner of disgusting tasks to undertake.

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Despite all the controversy it caused upon release, the game was highly praised by critics, and rightly so, leaving the only sad point being that its planned sequel, Conker's Other Bad Day, never saw the light of day after Microsoft snapped up the Twycross-based developer.
Adam Riley.

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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Comments

heywes (guest) 18.03.2012#1

I thought the two mario games would be lower on the list to be honest.

Three racers in this part! Very hard to call which is the best, but I think I did get the most memories out of MK64's multiplayer. Although the slow 50Hz of MK64 and lack of adventure mode made Diddy Kong Racing a lot better for single player.

Is the second MK64 pic not showing up for anyone else, too..?

I have Conker's BFD on N64. Who wants to touch me?

Time for some shameless self-promotion!

Ahh that is quality. Love British dialogue <3 So gonna have to bag me a copy of Conker some day.

Azuardo said:
Ahh that is quality. Love British dialogue <3 So gonna have to bag me a copy of Conker some day.

Buy mine. It's PAL, and comes complete with box and manual. I'll give you gooood price. Five dorrar?

Martin_ said:
Azuardo said:
Ahh that is quality. Love British dialogue <3 So gonna have to bag me a copy of Conker some day.

Buy mine. It's PAL, and comes complete with box and manual. I'll give you gooood price. Five dorrar?


That's a joke, right?

Our member of the week

To me Diddy Kong Racing and Mario kart 64 should have been reversed, but that's a debate as old as the N64 itself, which I suppose which should not re-enact Smilie.

I have a complete copy of CBFD as well. But you can't touch me, and I'm not selling it either Smilie.

( Edited 18.03.2012 15:05 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
To me Diddy Kong Racing and Mario kart 64 should have been reversed, but that's a debate as old as the N64 itself, which I suppose which should not re-enact Smilie.

Why not? :] This is the perfect time to do so. I wouldn't disagree, anyway. I do have a lot more memories with MK64 since it was one of the games I got with my 64, so most of my multiplayer was with that game. Didn't play as much multi with DKR, since I bought it later on. But definitely the single player was better than MK64. It was bloody hard too! Really can't believe no MK game since then has introduced a single player mode like DKR.

( Edited 18.03.2012 15:11 by Azuardo )

Our member of the week

MK64 has the best multiplayer experience. DKR has the best solo, thanks to the adventure mode. 'nuf said.

(and I didn't want to start a controversy simply because I lack the time to dedicate myself to put my points across in long convoluted ramblings as I would normally do, is all Smilie )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Usually I don't get mad (mad's too strong of a word, can't think of a lesser profound word) at lists because I know it's somebody else's opinion, but seeing Mario 64 at seven made me do a double take. It totally revolutionized 3D gaming!

Fuji (guest) 18.03.2012#12

So how did MK64 do it? SNES MK was the same

Our member of the week

bornforthis43 said:
Usually I don't get mad (mad's too strong of a word, can't think of a lesser profound word) at lists because I know it's somebody else's opinion, but seeing Mario 64 at seven made me do a double take. It totally revolutionized 3D gaming!

We're talking about absolute favourite games here... Every so often, even knowing a certain game isn't as good as another one, it might have that special something to it that makes it your favourite, even though it's not THE BEST.

Anyway... I'm told there's a certain other platform game on Nintendo 64 which outperformed Super Mario 64 in almost every aspects....

( Edited 18.03.2012 22:37 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

This is why we will always have disagreements in a list like this. Even now I disagree with things. But yes, some people would rank SM64 much higher for the revolutionary aspect - and rightly so. However, I warmed much more to the one other obvious choice, especially combined with its comedy and music. But most definitely, a best N64 games list is never going to be agreeable; it's impossible.

That's why people do lists like these - great topics of discussion! Smilie

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

Well... erm, I did email this to Miyamoto's private inbox and he agreed with the list Smilie So thar!

Lol, I think I'll always prefer DKR over Mario Kart 64 simply because of the adventure mode and other vehnicles. Levels I felt were more varied too - that said MK64 does have the better multiplayer, so I agree - a toughie to call methinks,

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Haha, yea, even still considering the Banjo games, I think Mario 64 is a tad bit better. All are incredible, and obviously I'm not gonna hold a grudge or anything.

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