When the N64 was released, it was probably the single most exciting day of my life. I’m a Nintendo fanboy ‘til I die, so you can imagine how pumped I was to finally be able to talk about gaming experiences with the Sony kids that actually compete!
I played pretty much every single N64 game I could get my hands on. There was a real sense of gaming advancing, a feeling you would have only felt at this time if you were a PC gamer.
Cut to the present day and the question is, do these games hold up to today’s standards? Well, some do, but a surprising number don’t! Games like Turok Dinosaur Hunter blew me away, but revisiting reveals clumsy controls and an almost unforgivable background fog. I remember games like Jet Force Gemini being amazing at the time, but now it feels sluggish and a bit repetitive. Even the mighty Goldeneye hasn’t aged well with regards to the multiplayer. Despite having invested thousands of hours into this, I would still rather play Halo or Call of Duty.
There are still some landmarks games that are definitely worth picking up again, as well as some experiences that are still pretty unique when compared with today’s offerings. Let’s look at my Wob Wob Rob Top 5.
Super Mario 64
Kind of an obvious pick, but there’s no denying Super Mario 64's influence, scope and importance. It pretty much defined a brand new genre. Playing the game now, it still controls beautifully, looks great and still retains that sense of wonder as you explore the worlds. It also encourages you to play the different worlds in new and imaginative ways as you quest for each Power Star. I’m super pleased to see that Super Mario Odyssey has returned to this less linear structure as that’s the kind of game I like playing.
Banjo Kazooie takes what Super Mario 64 created and injects it with even bigger worlds, better graphics, zanier characters and topping it all off with one of my all-time favourite soundtracks. It’s great that Xbox owners get a chance to sample its delights now through Rare Replay.
At the time, just the fact that Tetrisphere was a 3D puzzle game was enough to excite me. Fast forward to the present day when I am on a constant mission to find a satisfying puzzle game for my phone, it’s easy to forget just how unique this game was. It was a genuinely tricky game to master, and the puzzle sphere approaching your screen when time runs out created some genuinely tense moments.
Fighters Destiny is probably the only brawler in the N64’s catalogue outside of Super Smash Brothers worth playing (the less said about about Clayfighter the better!). It’s a fairly standard fighting game but its unique points system for determining each victor sets it apart. By default, knocking the character off the fighting platform (a "Ring Out") is worth one point, taking down an opponent with a throw nets the player two points, while a typical K.O. is worth three points, as well as taking the opponent down with a counterattack, and executing a "special" is worth four points. This vastly changes your tactics.
To my mind, there is nothing like Blast Corps on any system. You take control of many different vehicles and robots, with the sole aim to demolish a path so an out of control warhead doesn’t wipe out earth’s population. Completing the game is tough in its own right, but to unlock all its secrets requires serious skill. To this day I still haven’t 100% completed this and I’ve played it for nearly a decade! Again, Rare Replay owners can indulge in this game all over again.
I must throw out some honourable mentions to F-Zero X, Lylat Wars (Starfox 64), Spacestation Silicon Valley and Mario Kart 64, all of which I could happily smash through again.
Watch this space for some Let's Play videos of N64 games. Definitely something I would like to do! What are your favourite N64 games?