For those of you that are too young, I feel sorry for you. For those of you that are too old, may one day you be able to experience one of the greatest gaming systems of all time. Nintendo 64 was an absolute barn burner of a game system. I remember waking up on Christmas of 1997 in my dinosaur pajamas and accidentally opening up the N64 Rumble Pack before opening up the system itself. My brother and I were so confused. Little did we know that in a few moments we’d open up a gift that would change our childhood.
While everyone’s in quarantine and probably feeling a little bit down, I thought it would be fun to look back on simpler times with much fewer responsibilities. Here are my Top 10 N64 games of all time.
10 – Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey – 1996
I’m not a ‘hockey guy’ in the slightest, but this is one game that my brother and I would play for hours on end. The graphics and movement of the players in this game were incredible for its time and the fact that it had fighting made it so much better for those playing. And the absolute best part about it was that it was one of the first games that allowed you to play multiplayer, which was huge when my cousins came to town. And who could forget how cool it was when you found the cheat code to make their heads huge.
9 – Star Fox – 1997
Star Fox was the first game I got on N64 that was actually a storyline that you had to follow and it was also one of the first “violent” games I ever got as a kid. Since it was animals flying the planes and being shot down and burning alive I don’t think my mom cared as much. The number 1 on the list was a different story for mom, but we’ll get to that later.
Star Fox was huge simply because you and 3 other friends could sit there for hours and just have a battle royale. If you got bored with that you could all take turns actually trying to beat the game which was wicked hard, passing the sticks every time you died, and pleading with your friends that your death wasn’t your fault and that you shouldn’t have to pass the controller. Ahhh, the good ole days.
8 – Diddy Kong Racing – 1997
I know what you’re thinking, why is this on the list and not Mario Kart. Well, for some wild reason my parents bought us this game instead, but I will say though that I loved this game so much and for so many reasons. On top of the land racing that you could do in Mario Kart, you could fly planes and race boats in Diddy Kong Racing.
While it was no MarioKart, it definitely filled our time and kept all of us in front of the screen for hours. Hell, even my dad who hates video games would sit there with us and play until he got mad because he was losing and would go do some yard work or something. My mom would even sometimes say she’d play with us when we complained of being bored, but playing my mom in video games was almost like cheating. She was so catastrophically bad it was almost embarrassing. Like imagine a 2-year-old challenging LeBron James to a game of one-on-one, it’s a no-contest.
7 – Donkey Kong 64 – 1999
This was honestly one of the hardest games I ever played. I could never get far in the story mode because I was so confused all of the time. I think this was one of the first “open-world” video games to ever hit the market because you could straight up wander Donkey Kong’s world for hours and not get *anything* accomplished. Little 5 year old me was dumb-founded.
However, this was another game that you could play multi-player on and just go around shooting each other with fake guns made of bamboo and shoot coconuts and bananas at each other. Plus you could pick teams and change team colors which was a giant plus when you’re 5 and learning all of your colors, huge bonus and a great learning experience. Kudos to you mom and dad.
6 – Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr – 1998
If you want to tell me there is a better baseball video game out there in the world, you are simply wrong and there is no way around it. Nothing takes me back to when I was a kid more than coming home from school or waking up on a Saturday morning, turning on my N64 and hearing, “My name is Ken Griffey Jr, let’s play Major League Baseball” Ahhhh, there’s nothing better than that.
This game had it all. The 4-player Home Run Derby and the Multi-Player Franchise mode were absolute game-changers for me. And who could forget the unbelievably over-sized hitting circles for guys like Edgar Martinez and Griffey himself. Also, how wild were the hitting stances in that game, so memorable and so much fun. Might break out the N64 today and get my reps in.
5 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – 1998
Now, I will say that I never personally owned Zelda, but all of my friends had it and whenever I would go to their houses I couldn’t wait to play it. So much fun and really began the RPG phase of gaming and it was legendary for its time. While I never really got this message from the game, again because I didn’t own it and would only play it at friend’s houses, my research for this game lead me down a rabbit hole of people talking about the level of finesse that this game took to complete. Some people in chat rooms were talking about how this game taught them that toughness isn’t everything that counts and that somethings in life take finesse and tact? It seems legit, but I just liked it because you could collect stuff and break things. I was a demon child. Maybe that all struck home with you? Don’t know, but what a great game.
4 – Super Mario 64 – 1996
Not only is this game the top-grossing N64 game ever, which should tell you enough, it was also one of the first games I ever played in my life. Granted, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing until my brother showed me how to play, but none the less stretching Mario’s face in the loading screen made me laugh in ways I cannot recreate as an adult. There is so much that is great about this game I don’t think I can fit it all into this article because it would go on forever. So many challenges you have to overcome, a gripping back story, and the creativity put into each level was just so awesome. My favorite part of the whole game as a kid was going into the snow-covered level, can’t remember if it had a name or what it was, but going really high up the mountain and sliding down on Mario’s butt, also the whole part where you have to slide down the frozen slide and collect coins without falling off and dying was dope. Anyway, an amazing game and still one of my favorite games of all time.
3 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – 2000
This game changed my life as a kid. Not only because of how much time was spent playing it and how much fun I had playing it, but it segued me into a “skater” phase of my life where I made my mom buy me a skateboard and dragger her to skate parks where I couldn’t even do a trick but just wanted to be around it. I sucked at skateboarding, let’s be completely honest. But I’d be damned if I didn’t give full credit for all of that fun to anything but this game. Having to collect all of the tapes in each level in under 2 minutes seemed damn near impossible to me as a kid and it would take me so many times to collect everything. I was just so enamored by the fact that I was playing as Tony Hawk or Bob Burnquist or Bucky Lasek or Eric Koston. Also, I’m not ashamed to say that it took me no less than a full year to figure out how to do the 900.
2 – NFL Blitz – 1999
Blitz is simply one of the best video game franchises ever. It’s the original XFL in video game form, plus so much more violence. Everything from the tackles, hilarious commentary, and being able to beat the shit out of your friends well after the play was over made this game one of the top games on my list. I can still remember my two cousins, my brother, and I playing this game for hours and constantly getting mad at my cousin Matt for not stopping how much he would beat up our players on the ground. The dude was relentless and looking back on it, it was probably what he wanted to do to us physically but couldn’t because I would’ve told my mom on him.
1 – 007 Golden Eye – 1997
I don’t think anyone would disagree that this is one of the best video games of all time. Everything from the soundtrack to the setting and levels was awesome. Literally, the best multi-player game of all time with I think over 20 levels to play in. I mean, what’s better than blowing up your friends with rocket launchers or planting proximity mines all over the place. And I don’t think there was a more primal feeling you would get as a kid than when you got the Golden Gun. A man with the golden gun is a force to reckoned with, and dammit was I a force to be reckoned with.
One of my favorite memories as a child was showing up to my cousin’s house early on a Saturday morning with my brother and playing Golden Eye literally for 24 straight hours, only ever stopping to eat and pee.
Honorable Mention: Super Smash Bros, MarioKart 64, WWF No Mercy, Mortal Kombat, Pokemon Snap, Star Wars Episode I Racer, Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2, and Mario Golf
Obviously everyone’s child hood was different so your list may be different than mine. Comment below on what your favorite games were!
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