Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Everyone has a different opinion on what the greatest games of all time are. Such lists that state "The Best Games of All Time...Ever!" can't truly be 100% accurate, because it is the union of a staff at a said place, not so much the general populace. So, I slap a disclaimer on mine. This is MY personal opinion on what I think the Top 15 N64 games are. These are the ones I've gotten the most enjoyment and the most inspiration from. The games that have left an impact on me. The ones that have helped me love gaming as much as I do. I was there for the N64 launch and got to enjoy several N64 games from when it was the only Nintendo system available and into the years of the Gamecube, so I think I've developed a pretty strong sense of what games have left a lasting mark on my adolescence. So, without any further ado, here's the 15 games that have left a deep impression on me. A new feature is expanded views on games already on my Top 30 list or ones I have written opinions for. Just click the link to get more enriched with details...or something like that. For games that I don't have on my list, I'll try to get into more detail here.
1. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Link's first 3D outing is my #2 favorite game of all time. It is such an amazing title that I will have trouble describing my love for it in a lone paragraph. The game featured some of the best dungeons of the series, as well as fantastic controls. The look of the game was excellent (for the N64, at least), the music was some of the best for the system, and the whole experience is simply wonderful. I think everyone should play this game once in their lives. It's an experience like no other. For more on my opinion, read my favorite games notes.
2. Super Mario 64
Hey, it's-a me, Mario! It's amazing that it's been 10 years and no one has managed to truly top your first 3D outing! Not even your creators at Nintendo! Mario 64 is a testament to 3D game design, and it still holds up now. The game was a blast to explore and play, and held memorable music, moments and gameplay in its innards. A true classic. Download this on your Wii if you haven't played it yet. For more on my opinion, read my favorite game notes.
3. Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
Despite its goofy sounding subtitle, this is a great strat-RPG. Although you have no direct control of your units in combat, this game is all about building a strong team to win those fights. By combining spell casters and archers with berserkers and dragons, the team making never grows old, and there's plenty of stages and things to find within the expansive worlds loaded with hidden items, wild beasts and towns. The beautiful sprites proved the N64 can do sprite effects well enough, and also proves the system could handle RPG's (spits on Square...:P ). The storyline is great (despite some typos here and there), and the game's musical score is awesome. Just a great fantasy experience.
4. Goldeneye 007
Rare crafted an excellent game here. It helped start the FPS branching into objective gameplay, introduced stealth into the genre, has solid level designs, great gameplay and its multiplayer is a legend, but it hasn't aged quite as well as Zelda: OoT, Mario 64 and Ogre Battle 64 have, alas. I still enjoy playing the game, but single player, while better than Perfect Dark's, is a bit simple nowadays (the AI isn't as clever as modern FPS'es...although it did kick start the whole AI thing in FPS'es...) and the multiplayer doesn't quite match the depth of Perfect Dark's (some may scoff at this statement, but like I said with MM3, that's the beauty of differences of opinion). But the reasons as to why this game is still so high on my list (and well above Perfect Dark) are the great memories of playing multiplayer with friends, trying to get all of the cheats, and beating the game all the way through on 00 Agent (which was pretty tough). And it's still fun, and that's what counts.
5. Body Harvest
Body Harvest is a fantastic game by the studio that would later bring us GTA3. I've done the comparison angle to death in the game's opinion, so I figured now would be a good time to talk about some of the game's strongest features over doing the GTA comparison again.
The game doesn't look great, but at the cost of high-poly models DMA Design instead pushed huge levels with destructible houses. Considering that destructible environments are just now becoming a norm and only a few games in the PS2/GC/Xbox era had them, it's quite a feat that a N64 game had them. The gameplay didn't call for it to happen, nor did it really benefit the player (considering that a flow of humans would fly out into the waiting slimes of a harvester...), but still, it made the game feel more realistic and sometimes it was quite satisfying to raze a house down.
The gameplay is pretty solid, too. Adam may freeze when he pulls up his firearm, but the game's response time when you let up on the R button is quick, letting you move out of the way rather quickly. Adam can also roll out of the way or quick turn while aiming, keeping blasts from hitting Adam and preventing attacks on your backside. The vehicles all handle differently, and Adam can easily aim while driving, making vehicle use one of Adam's best options in battle. On top of that, vehicles have their own life bar, so Adam doesn't take any extra damage! Of course, vehicles can run over civilians (helping out the aliens), don't turn on a dime and have a fuel gauge, limiting their usefulness, but it's a great option for battle and a necessity to get around the game's massive worlds.
All and all, Body Harvest is a strong example of gameplay beating out graphics. It plays well, has tons of replay options and it is a blast to play. For more of my thoughts, read my opinion.
6. International Superstar Soccer 98
Konami's ISS series is the N64's sports highlight. It features fantastic gameplay, solid commentary, wonderful AI and captures the feel of soccer very well. If you like soccer or sports games, this is THE game to pick up on the N64. You won't be sorry. (Any of them would work, but I like 98 over ISS 64. Alas, I haven't seen 2000 in eons, nor do I expect to. I'd pick that one up if you could find it...)
7. Paper Mario
While Paper Mario has been outclassed by the GC rev, this is still a good game. The overall gameplay may be simple, but the great battle system makes up for it in spades. I also like the amount of territory to roam and there's plenty of sidequests to do. It also stands as one of the N64's better-looking games and the best normal RPG on the system.
Rare's finest 3D platformer thus far is the first one they released. Banjo's quest still looks rather good for its age, has solid music, good controls and didn't suffer too much from the Rare "collection" gameplay many following games had (probably because it's the one that started it :p ). A good pickup.
9. Perfect Dark
I like Perfect Dark. Quite a bit. I feel the multiplayer aspect of the game is a step-up from Goldeneye's in terms of customization and weaponry. The bots also made a great addition. The single player is not as good as Goldeneye's, but it still is a solid adventure. You can probably find it cheaper than 007's adventure, too. You will need an Expansion Pak to truly enjoy it, though.
10. Waverace 64
This game pushed the standards of racing games by introducing the most realistic water effects of its time. It helped make each race different, a feature not many racers even today can claim. The graphics are dated now, but were quite impressive at the time. And it controls excellently. A fantastic game.
11. 1080 Snowboarding
I NEED this game. This cartridge boasts some of the best visuals of the N64, excellent control that demanded mastery (1080s were so HARD to do!), solid level design and was just fun to play. It's a shame NST seemed to ignore most if not all of these qualities when they made Avalanche. This may scale up the list when I find it.
12. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The second N64 Zelda took the gameplay of Ocarina of Time and tweaked its engine to the point of making the experience completely different. The 3-day cycle was unique and innovative, and rarely hampered the game at all. The improved graphic engine created a decent living, breathing town (not as nicely as Minish Cap or Twilight Princess does...but hey, this was 6 years ago), and the mask mechanic helped expand the gameplay. I feel that the game's major shortcoming came from the small amount of dungeons...but a solid game nevertheless. You do need the Expansion Pak to even play it, though...
13. Resident Evil 2
An amazing port of 2 CD's crammed into one mega cartridge, RE2 is Capcom's best game on the system (which unfortunately isn't saying much...with Mega Man 64 and Disney's Magical Tetris Challenge being the only other two entries), with good graphics, excellent music and an enjoyable enough narrative that fleshed out as you played the game with both Leon and Claire (who are my two favorite RE characters). The controls are dated, and the frights pale in contrast to RE4, but it's still a solid game. I think it's the best "old-school" RE you can get. Another Expansion Pak required game...
14. Mario Kart 64
You know, I don't usually like racers, and yet this list has 3 of them on it. Well, these three are some of the ones I like the most, what can I say? Mario's karting here has several of my favorite MK tracks - Wario Stadium, Banshee Boardwalk, Koopa Troopa Beach, Bowser's Castle, Rainbow Road, Sherbet Land and Mario Speedway all were great tracks (shame only one of those made MKDS...). There's plenty more than that too. The graphics do not impress now (nor did they then, really), but the game's charm is in its strong gameplay. Chris, my wife and I played the game's still-addictive battle mode for an hour last he visited, which says a lot about its longevity.
15. Star Fox 64
I have not played any other Star Fox title. Shooters and I don't tend to get along. But I did pick this up (probably because of the depressing lapses of time between quality games the N64 frequently suffered :p ) and I did enjoy my time with it. The graphics are not impressive anymore (but they do suffice), but the top notch gameplay, music and surprisingly decent voice work make for a solid gaming experience. And it also introduced the console world to force-feedback via the Rumble Pak. ^^