The Nintendo 64 was officially released in 1996, forcing it to compete with both the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn (though the Saturn was by far the least successful of the three). If you were born in or around the 90’s, it’s very likely you grew up with an N64, a PlayStation, or even both consoles.
Which is why, in an effort to relive the glory days of gaming, I’m counting down my Top 5 Nintendo 64 Games, in a similar manner to my Top Five PS1 Games article. While the PlayStation will always be my baby, the Nintendo 64 did play a pretty giant role in my upbringing. And so, without any further ado, I officially give you my Top 5 Nintendo 64 Games. Let’s fire up the old emulator, shall we?
Disclaimer: Superman 64 will not be on this list. Sorry, folks.
5. GoldenEye 007 (1997)
Based on the 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye, GoldenEye 007 is best known as the forefather of first person shooters. Complete with a free-roaming solo campaign, as well as a multiplayer deathmatch mode, GoldenEye had everything that modern FPS’s simply don’t.
In the year 2000, GoldenEye developer Rare went on to create a spiritual successor for the game titled Perfect Dark. Needless to say, the alien shooter did not disappoint, and now both GE and PD are hailed as classics.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”
So what if Ocarina of Time’s direct sequel was a little dark, what with that creepy moon face and all? So what if the game’s theme was centered predominantly on death and despair? One of the most beautiful things about the Zelda franchise is its ability to take on an entirely new tone with each passing game, and Majora’s Mask took on a uniquely somber tone completely unlike any other Zelda game before it.
Still, for a Nintendo game, Majora’s Mask contained some pretty heavy stuff. From the gloomy townspeople of Termina (or, should I say, Terminal?), to the unforgettable horse-napping of Epona, to the recent theory that Link is actually dead throughout the entirety of the game (which you can find on The Game Theorists’ YouTube channel), MM is a wonderland of hopelessness. Looking back on it as an adult, it’s uncanny how very real — and how very astonishing — this game really was, right up to the final boss fight.
3. Super Mario 64 (1996)
Oddly enough, I never actually owned a copy of Super Mario 64, but I do remember playing it for hours at my local mall. Needless to say, I beat the living crap out of it. Twice.
What makes this one so very memorable, though, isn’t so much its actual gameplay, nor the fact that it’s highly regarded as one of the greatest Nintendo games of all-time. Rather, it would have to be the fact that it was the first official 3D Mario game. The portly plumber had finally made his way into the 3D gaming world, and for kid me, that was certainly okay in my book. Though it may not have been as important to me as, say, Crash Bandicoot, it was a fun game nonetheless. Of course, it did have a pretty groovy soundtrack, and those were the days long before Mario games became vastly overrated. Pardon me if I’m just a tad bit biased.
2. Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
Having never been a huge fan of Donkey Kong until my more recent years, there really isn’t much I can say about this title other than these three main points:
- It had anthropomorphic monkeys wearing clothes, which is pretty freakin’ cool in its own right.
- There’s nothing quite like being serenaded by a nerdy guy with the “DK Rap” heard at the opening cutscene of the game.
- Like GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, DK 64 was also developed by Rare, therefore it must be good.
There you go. I said it.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Bet you weren’t expecting this one, now, were you?
Okay, okay, so maybe it’s just a tad a bit overdone at this point. But honestly, who can forget wildly slashing at cuccos in Kakariko Village (only to have their friends come along and quickly diminish every single one of Link’s hard-earned hearts)? Or the untimely death of the mustachioed Great Deku Tree? Whether you were busy sneaking past the castle guards, or “playing tennis” with the evil Ganondorf, every single element, from the game’s original soundtrack, to its graphics, to its gameplay were all so very unprecedented. Nearly every gaming blog on the Internet lists OoT as the #1 game of its generation, and this particular writer isn’t willing to reject the opinions of gamers everywhere regarding such a timeless, beloved title from Nintendo.
If you haven’t played Ocarina of Time at least once during your lifetime, it’s likely that you either A.) Had absolutely no childhood whatsoever, or B.) Hate awesome things; because, let me tell you, it was (simply) awesome. And, although it certainly did have its fair share of glitches and bugs, I do have to say that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was, hands down, the greatest title the Nintendo 64 ever saw.
Do you agree with this list? Probably, but just in case you don’t, feel free to let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next time!