Everyone has their favorite console and an onslaught of games to go with it. Some will call on Sega Genesis or the original Playstation. Some will try to tell you that PS4 or Xbox is the shit, but their DVD playing, wifi connecting and streaming capabilities are what make them great, and the graphics are pretty freaking phenomenal as well. But the one that deserves all the recognition and is placed atop the pedestal is the N64.
Unveiled to the world in 1996 with nearly 33 million units sold to date, the N64 was a revolutionary gaming system that is still considered one of the best of all time. It entered the gaming industry with raving reviews, graphics and first of its kind joystick controller – aside from the Atari. Really the only negative thing from the basement-dwelling critics could stew up was the limited release of games. By the end of its time, N64 was accompanied by 600 games, half the count of its competition consoles. But of those 600, some continue to stand the test of time as the best video games ever created, especially with the rumble pak attached.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Considered to be one of the greatest games of all time, no matter the gaming console, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first interactive game where you—the player—determined the destiny of the story. If kids today knew any better, Fortnite never would’ve stood a chance, and we all would’ve been saved from the dance moves flossing by association. Link and his Ocarina of Time explored an expansive 3D environment where puzzles, trading with non-player characters for weaponry, and eventually time travel kept players invested in the game. After procuring the Master Sword, he is quickly transported to adult life like Tom Hanks in Big, with continued Ztargeting in an effort to finish off Ganondorf. Find an N64, find The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and we’ll see you in a month or so after your supply of Doritos has run dry.
Wave Race 64
Ripping around the surf on a standup jetski with the occasional barrel roll or backflip was and is the shit. Waver Race 64 was released in 1996 as the second coming from the original Gameboy version released 4yrs prior. Wave Race had the option of racing your fellow basement dweller or giving it your all through the stunt course. You could challenge yourself with the classic difficulty of normal, hard, or expert, and if you were good enough, you could jet power through all the courses in reverse. Similar to most games of the time, there were four racers to choose from, all with varying levels of expertise. But we know it came down to the one holding the controller and who could streamline through the red and yellow buoys quickest. And if you’re lucky enough to still own a 64 and Wave Race, the world record was recently set at Drake Lake with a time of 1:10.996 after decades of pursuit.
About the only time it will be deemed acceptable to hide above the stall in the bathroom was in 1997 with the release of GoldenEye 007. It was the first accomplished first-person shooter and ultimately set the tone for every game of its kind to date. Aside from the classically stirred Martini, Goldeneye 007 was all things Bond, moving through the storyline or setting landmines for your friends to unsuspectedly walk over. Granted Natalya was always getting into trouble and ran through your gunfire, the game was and is a modern marvel. Ask anyone over the age of 25 what their favorite video game was growing up, and without a doubt, it will be Goldeneye.
Mario Kart 64
Red shell, banana peels, Star Power, and that all too powerful Shrinking Lightning Bolt made the art of racing go-karts around mystical courses all too enticing. Mario Kart for 64 was the family-friendly release that continued its gaming dominance into the college house living rooms with cans of Keystone Light covering the table. It could be played in Grand Prix, Time Trial, Versus, and Battle modes with the option to choose from the family of 8 Mario cast members. But, let’s be honest if you chose anyone other than Princess Peach, you were out of your mind. Yet again, Mario Kart’s awesomeness is still relevant today and will soon be available for play on IOS and Android. Goodbye workday, hello Rainbow Road.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater
From the third-person perspective of Tony Hawk and his crew, the world becomes your playground of 50-50s, 540 varials, and continued run-ins with parked and moving cars. Tony Hawk Pro Skater gave the player the option to skate through career mode where the skater was presented with various tasks that need be completed to move onto the next level. Beyond career mode, you could battle yourself or others in Graffiti, Trick Attack, and Skate modes. Granted many of the moves were a bit far from reality, the game gave Jim, Bob, and Bobby a level playing field assuming they each had the dexterity to maneuver the joystick and hit buttons at the same time. And truly, was there anything better than airing a 720 Christ Air out of the pipe at Area 51 with strobing neon lights and aliens squealing? No, there wasn’t.
You know, or should know, that you had to double-tap the gas to get anywhere in life. Cruis’n USA was initially an arcade before it found its way to the N64 console, but the game remained true to its heart with multiple angle racing around the fairly realistic streets of America. Granted there were times your La Bomba or ‘63 Muscle Car would be met head-on by garbage trucks or loose bovine, but the race always continued after a somersault or two. And though the N64 version of the classic arcade game was met with some criticism, you can’t deny the pleasure of barrel rolling a Ferrari past three other exotics into a first-place finish.
Snowboarding was released at a time where boarding was the bad boy sport. None the less, 1080 gave riders the controls with five different riders to choose from, eight different Lamar Snowboards, 25 tricks to potentially stick, and two trick modes, three race modes, and a training mode. And regardless of the mountain peak you found yourself on, it was going to be a serious workout for your thumbs as you “spun” the joystick around in an effort to spin your boarder into oblivion. For some, it was as close as they’d ever get to the real snow experience and for others, it was a dream world of death-defying airs and cliff drops that they’d try to bring to the hill themselves. And as the1080 had just been landed for the first time in real life, the trick took a sequence of nine actions to complete the spins in the game.
So when it comes down to it, if you had an N64, you definitely had your favorites and surely most of the above were part of your library. There are certainly some other classics out there that deserve recognition like Star Fox or Crash Bandicoot, but nothing changes the fact that Goldeneye, Mario Kart, and Zelda reign supreme.
Other notables… Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Crash, and Mario Party
There is rumor of an N64 Mini — oh all things good in life let it be
Check the lists, Superman holds top position of the worst N64 game of all time
The original name was Project Reality
Go back in time… what are you waiting for?