T-McBee’s Top 10 N64 Games

N64Games copy

Oh the N64… The game console from my older childhood/pre-teen years and one of my favourite systems that Nintendo has ever produced. I know a list like this has been done to death by so many reviewers and countdown artists, but you know that a fan of gaming like myself would at least make my own list of N64 games one day. And here it is!

The Nintendo 64 (or the N64) ran its mark from 1995 to 2001 and had a lot of awesome games that consumed any age group. It had some risky games, but also a lot of enduring games that were memorable to play from beginning to end. This is T-McBee here listing down my Top 10 N64 Games. This list is base on my personal preference, so if you see your favourite games not on the list, it’s either…

A. I haven’t played it.

B. I haven’t played enough of it to express my true thoughts on the game.

C. I may had some major nitpicks with the game or didn’t enjoy it.

Also, there were so many games that came out on the N64 that it was really hard to just only choose ten of them. So I hope you guys understand that this list wasn’t that easy. Well, without further ad0, let me begin a list that’s been done so much online starting with number 10.

10. Mario Tennis

Playing sport genre games aren’t my thing. I find many of them to be completely unnecessary for the most part, however, when you combine Mario and Tennis together, you get one addicting multiplayer experience. I know Mario Kart 64 gets a lot of praise to be a good multiplayer Mario game (which is a fun game too), but I do find Mario Tennis holds up as a funner game to play.

The best thing about Mario Tennis for me is the many modes and challenges that this game contains, especially for a Mario spin-off game on the N64. There are many characters to choose from, unique tennis courts to play on and great range of options to play a match against local players or computer players. The controls do work quite well too, except hitting the ball would sometimes feel stiff once in a while.

While there is a ton of variety and content with the game, I find that it slightly lacks the charm than what other multiplayer games for the N64 had brought out. Mario Kart 64 for example may not have a lot of variety in its gameplay, but it was memorably charming when it came to its racetracks. Mario Tennis is still a memorable game, but could have a bit more creativity with its tennis courts.

Mario Tennis was one game that got me skeptical at first until I gave the game a shot when I played the game with my best friend, her brother and her brother’s friend. This was one multiplayer experience that left me playing for hours up until 3 in the morning and my friends and I just couldn’t stop playing it. When you combine Mario with sports, you know it’s going to be fun.

9. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

I am quite a big fan of the Kirby series, which got me pretty excited to see Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards out in stores and video rental places at its original release. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is one of the prettiest looking games on the N64 I have ever seen with its colourful worlds, cute characters and some surprising moments that would leave a gamer unexpected.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards plays like your typical side scrolling Kirby game, except Kirby’s element abilities can combine together with a powerful copied ability, whether to be use in obstacles or battles. Some players may find the copy abilities in this Kirby game to be quite a gimmick, though the game is amusing and still plays like a Kirby game. There’s even multiplayer in the game as well, though there are only four mini-games in total.

Though I did had a lot of fun with Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, I do admit that the game isn’t perfect. My biggest gripe with the game is the pacing of the levels. The game moves pretty slowly, which could bore a gamer quite easily and if you are those gamers that likes to speed run things, then this game isn’t for you. The game is quite a cinch to beat, though completing the game at 100% is quite challenging, especially without checking a walkthrough.

Overall, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a fun game with a vibrant presentation. Even though this game took some risks to be different than other Kirby games, but it is still a fun title that Kirby fans will enjoy no matter what. Plus this is the only game that we see the character Ribbon teaming up with Kirby. I thought those two were an adorable pair in this game and their cuteness will surely be missed.

8. Harvest Moon 64

When my closest friend introduced me to Harvest Moon 64 for the first time, I got quite skeptical by the game’s farming simulation concept. I thought I would lose interest in the game right away until I play the game for the first time in 7th grade. Wow! I sure had a hard time putting this game down.

The Harvest Moon series is known to be highly addictive and this was one of the first games that I would play for days. In other words, this game was my Animal Crossing or Sims during my time. What makes this game so fascinating in my opinion are the open choices that the player can run the farmer’s life and his farm. It makes the game pretty exciting when choosing one decision will permanently change your game progress, for better or for worse.

While I like the charming vibe and the unexpected scenes that happens in Harvest Moon 64, I sometimes feel that the features in the N64 version felt too simple and unnecessary, whereas the PS1 version, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, had many features that were mostly necessary for the player. Another problem with the game is the few bugs and glitches it contains. It isn’t too bad, but it can be quite jarring sometimes.

Harvest Moon 64 was a game that I became so attached to that I couldn’t stop playing it until 4 in the morning. I sure had a lot of energy at age 12 and 13 to play this game for so long. Though I don’t play Harvest Moon 64 anymore, I had a lot of memories in playing this game with my best friend and other friends who liked this game. Basically, my closest friend got me into Harvest Moon and I thank her for that.

7. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was quite a hard game for me to swallow at first due to the different gameplay concept that this Zelda game had compare to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When I got the chance buy a copy of the game and played the game on my own for the first time, I somehow was blown away on how unique this game looked and played compare to other Zelda games.

Whenever people mention Zelda: Majora’s Mask, they will say it’s the best game ever. But why you might ask? I think the game was the best for its story. It had a really dark concept and a tale that wasn’t your typical Zelda game. You weren’t rescuing Zelda from the evil clutches of Gannondorf/Gannon, you were stopping a creepy looking moon crushing the world within 72 hours. Now that is big for a Zelda game.

Some Zelda fans may have mix feelings about the lack of dungeons and seeing more side quests in Zelda: Majora’s Mask, but I found the side quests were pretty rewarding and engaging overall, especially the famous Kafei side quest. I would have love this game more if the saving format was tweaked better. Using the owl statues only to save your progress made my experience quite stressful. Why quit the game after just saving your progress? It doesn’t make any sense.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is one unique Zelda game that I can understand the praise from fans now. The game had a really surreal vibe, intriguing levels and a lot of personality with its cast of characters compare to its predecessor. While it may not be a perfect game which rehashed some things from Ocarina of Time, but I give Nintendo a lot of credit for trying something different for their beloved franchise.

6. Perfect Dark

After the success of Goldeneye 007 in 1997, Rare decided to make another FP Shooter that came out in 2000, which is known as Perfect Dark. Perfect Dark may had the same vibe and game engine as GoldenEye 007, but Rare put more content and variety into that game than their first FPS game exclusively for the N64. In other words, I prefer Perfect Dark over GoldenEye 007.

What’s really awesome about Perfect Dark is the modes and missions that the game offers. For example, in the multiplayer section, solo players are able to play the multiplayer combat without other local players. They can use simulated players to fight against. I also like the fact that Rare decide to make their leading protagonist a female. Joanna is a good independent character despite her British wit can be a a bit bland sometimes.

The major problem that I can give Perfect Dark is the use of the Expansion Pak. It has less of the cool content without it. The game practically ruins the experience if the game is not played with the Expansion Pak, whereas with the Expansion Pak, you get everything in the game. Kind of a silly move for Rare to pull out if you ask me. But despite that major flaw with the game, it’s still fun none the less.

Perfect Dark may not be my favourite game on the N64, but I will say that it is one FPS game that I can go back to. The game had an unique sci-fi concept with many modes and challenges that will keep one or more players occupied for a while unless the game’s difficulty will make you give up so soon. Whether you play this game alone or with other people, there’s still a lot of things you can achieve when you play Perfect Dark.

5. Super Mario 64

One of the first and revolutionized 3D platforming games appeared on one of my favourite game consoles. Super Mario 64 amazed so many gamers when Mario jumped from 2D side-scolling levels into the 3D world, which they all had the urge to play the game. Though Super Mario 64 may not be my favourite 3D platformer on the N64 console, but I do appreciate the game being made.

Super Mario 64 brings a huge amount of nostalgia with the levels being held inside Princess Peach’s castle. It felt like something out of a toy box in a child’s room every time I come back playing this game. I really appreciate the open world vibe in each level and how the player can obtain a lot of the stars without going in a very linear path (i.e. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2). In other words, Nintendo took advantage of making players explore the 3D worlds in a fun and quite acrobatic way.

Super Mario 64 is a really fun game, though I do find that playing the game now for the most part is easy, except for a few missions where things can be a bit of a chore to accomplish, i.e. The last secret star mission when collecting the red coins in the sky. That one is quite annoying. However, Super Mario 64 brings out a lot of satisfaction to anyone who plays the game, especially when players don’t expect the unexpected when collecting the stars.

Though Super Mario 64 looks simply basic than todays gaming, it’s still a fun game to play and holds up well with the set ups and obstacles in the levels. There is a lot of creativity when it comes to Super Mario 64 and is still consider to be one of the better games on the N64. Even though I prefer two other 3D platformers on the console over this one, I still think the game is a must recommend for all N64 owners out there.

4. Donkey Kong 64

Whenever someone mentions Donkey Kong 64, people will either say it is a Banjo-Kazooie rip-off or that the game doesn’t have the same ambience as the Donkey Kong Country trilogy for the SNES. While I don’t think this game isn’t as superior as the DKC trilogy, but there was enough ambient levels and charm that Rare did to make the game pretty memorable.

What made Donkey Kong 64 so likeable in my perspective was the music track. Game composer Grant Kirkhope brought out a marvellous job in composing tunes for each world in this game and he did a good job with the overall soundtrack. I also cannot forget about the collecting in its gameplay and that there was a ton of things to collect, which it holds a record for most things to collect in a 3D platformer.

While it was great that there were a variety of missions to obtain the golden bananas, though I got to admit that some challenges were too tough to complete (i.e. The Beetle Race with Tiny Kong). Some gamers have complained about the backtracking to be horrendous when switching the 5 different characters around, but it didn’t bug me that much. At least the warp panels were quite helpful and made the backtracking less stressful (unlike Banjo-Tooie).

Donkey Kong 64 does get some mix opinions from gamers and N64 owners, but it is one game that holds a lot of nostalgia for me. In fact, this was one game that my sister (who isn’t a gamer) would actually play video games with me. In the summer of 2000, my sister and I would play this game all the time with my sister’s close friend and we would have a blast in playing it, even though it was pretty hard as hell. With a  game that holds a lot of memories from my pre-teen years, there is a reason why I put DK64 in my top 5.

3. Banjo-Kazooie

I never got the chance to play Banjo-Kazooie when the N64 was popular at the time. By the year of 2010, I manage to purchase a copy of the game at a convention and finally got the chance to play the game on my own. All I gotta say is…Wow! I feel pretty silly for not getting this game earlier. From all the N64 games that were developed by Rare, this one is my favourite from the company.

Banjo-Kazooie is a fun collective platformer with a lot of quirky charm. The game’s quirky tone easily drew my attention the first time I played it, which engage me further to play more of it. The game had a lot of memorable characters, lively worlds, and one music soundtrack that will keep one gamer humming along for a long time. Basically every place I go to in Banjo-Kazooie immediately made me smile.

While some gamers may not like the fact that collecting some items will put the counter back to zero if they die in a level (i.e. the music notes), but I feel like that it adds a bit of a challenge to the game, though I can understand their argument with that part of the game. Rusty Bucket Bay may be tough to collect all the music notes, though it isn’t bad as Click Clock Wood. That place is a nightmare!

Banjo-Kazooie is one of the liveliest 3D platformers that I have ever played on the N64. Most gamers would prefer Banjo-Tooie over Banjo-Kazooie, but I thought Banjo-Kazooie presented a full better product that’s easily playable despite some of the game’s flaws. Banjo-Tooie improved many things than in the first game, but with the slow frame-rate the game had, I have to go with Banjo-Kazooie more.

2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

One of the best N64 games of 1998 has only made it to the number two spot on my list. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time revolutionized the action-adventure genre in a 3D world with 3D game assets, which became one of the best games of all time. For me however, it’s only my second favourite game on the N64. I’m sure my decision to place this game on the runner up spot has disappointed a lot of people…or maybe not.

Many people already know the many great things in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and how it was a really great game for its time. One would have to be the atmosphere. From the environments to the music soundtrack, this game nailed the ambience so well, including having little effects like fog and lights to make each place so engaging to walk through. Second would have to be the dungeons, though not all the dungeons weren’t the best (i.e. The Water Temple), there were some fascinating puzzles and battles in each one.

A lot of people will say that the story and characters is the most memorable part in the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, the way the characters and story were written in this game don’t hold up that strong compare to other Zelda games like Majora’s Mask or even Skyward Sword. The cinematic sequences and character designs makes game endearing to play more of it, it just lacks some personality.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is loved by many gamers and Nintendo enthusiasts out there. Even though there are a few flaws with its gameplay (like the obnoxious Navi with her “Heys” and “Listens”), but what Zelda: Ocarina of Time did best is having a sense of exploration that makes the player feel a part of the adventure. While I do think it is a very overrated game now, I still think it is a well crafted game that gamers should at least play it once in their lifetime.

1. Paper Mario

I’m sure this has surprised a lot of people. However, for those who know me from itstailtime.net had a feeling that this game will end up as my number one choice. Paper Mario was one of those games I didn’t get into right away, but end up loving this game when I got a chance to play it from beginning to end. I am not  a huge fan of role-playing games, but somehow this game got me to appreciate RPG’s a little more.

Paper Mario had a magical charm that engage me to Mario in this style and format. I loved the music soundtrack, the art direction, the levels and the characters that were produced in Paper Mario, which immediately became a pretty memorable experience. While it may sort of had the same story concept as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars but backwards, it still was a delightful game that combine old concepts and gameplay ideas with newer ones.

I also like the fact that Paper Mario isn’t your typical turn base RPG like the Final Fantasy games. The way the game is played is rather unique where the player can use any badge abilities to help them in battle or avoid open enemies in the side-scrolling levels. I also like how Paper Mario changes up the gameplay a bit by adding some Princess Peach missions. However, there isn’t much to do when you play as her.

Overall, Paper Mario really amazed me the first time I played it. It was one game that I never got tired of and had given me the urge to play this game several times in my life. I know that the text dialogue in the Paper Mario games can slow the game experience and make people don’t care about the story, but I actually didn’t mind it since the story was pretty entertaining. Paper Mario is a relaxing and magical game that I can sit down, appreciate the game and be pretty calm every time. With all the things I’ve said about Paper Mario, you know now why this game is my favourite N64 game of all time.


One Comment on “T-McBee’s Top 10 N64 Games”

  1. thehande Says:

    Excellent list with lots of cool choices. I’m not that big of a fan of Mario Tennis, but anyway, good list. =D

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