Anyone that knows me closely knows that I speak the truth in saying the Nintendo 64 was the greatest console of all time. OK, that may be pushing it a bit far - my perspective is definitely rose tinted - but while the N64 may not be the best console, it sure as hell produced some mighty fine (and important) games.
This week I'm going to be talking about 5 of my favourites, which range from games that couldn't not make it on a top 5 list to others that were unexpected surprises.
5. Pokemon Snap
For a lot of kids (and adults) that are into Pokemon, their first gaming experience with the franchise is almost always a classic - red or gold versions for the older among us, or one of the newer experiences such as black or pearl. Not so for myself - my very first experience with Pokemon outside of the TCG was Snap.
While as far as "canon" and continuity are not the strong point of Snap, the game makes up for it's strange story and setting with a neat novel idea that was fun and interesting. With smart systems that rewarded the player for being precise and clever, Pokemon Snap offered up a truly fascinating gameplay experience that took away any dangers of combat (truly novel at the time) and put you in charge of simply taking photos. The extreme variance in levels and multitude of hidden secrets rounded out the game to make it a sleeper hit for the N64.
Pokemon Snap is certainly one game that is easy to attribute a real world skill to - I learned more about photography playing this game when I was 10 than I ever did in high school.
Plus, that Mew level. Figuring out the best ways to get the perfect picture was so much fun.
4. Mario Kart
The title of "best Mario Kart game" has been hotly debated for centuries, but to me, nothing beats the classic tracks of Mario Kart 64. Plus, it helps that it was my first Mario Kart experience. Everyone remembers their first. Right?
Having a tight roster of 8 characters and 16 tracks to race on meant mastering this game became a much more manageable accomplishment. It was easy to learn every single little nook and cranny to every level, and while each character had their own stats (in regards to weight, acceleration and top speed) you could feel confident knowing that whoever you picked, you were going to have a good time - and more importantly, a shot at 1st place.
Mario Kart 64 was the first game I ever truly "Platinum'd". I got perfect gold cups in every GP across every difficulty, from 50cc to Reverse.
Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U is a damn good game, but nostalgia beats out for me here: Mario Kart 64 is king.
And finally: Battle mode. *Drops mic.*
3. Perfect Dark
Perfect Dark. Perfect memories.
I was enthralled by this game on that weekend my friend and I first hired this game. Being able to play multiplayer with bots in a multitude of different modes with a crazy array of weaponry catapulted this game passed GoldenEye to make this game something special for me.
For a long time, I'd only ever played the first level of the actual campaign - it wasn't until I was 17 years old did I actually buy the game and play through the story mode. Joanna's story is a fantastic spy adventure with everything gamers love - cool gadgets, aliens, betrayal - with a kick ass female protagonist to boot.
Perfect Dark was a shooter in a time when shooters were fantastic all around, and didn't just have a focus on one area with other parts tacked on. It a great campaign, fun as multiplayer and all sorts of interesting side stuff to keep you occupied in the interim. Great game.
2. Super Mario 64
It comes as no surprise that Super Mario 64 made it on this list. Often dubbed one of the greatest games of all time, Mario 64 redefined platformers, gaming and even Mario himself in a way that no one could have anticipated.
The fact that the classic polygonal graphics of the game still hold up today is testament to this game being a must play for any gamer out there. With the introduction into the hub world with the crazy levels found in paintings rounding it out, this game gave players a basic story as justification then said "here you go, go play!"
The amount of speedruns and crazy antics people manage to get up to with this game is insane - just seeing people charge around the sky worlds in ways the devs could never have imagined shows just how amazing the level design is in Mario 64.
Putting in the time to master this game and collect all 120 stars is a personal achievement of mine that I cherish from my gaming life, and the fact that I had fun the entire time doing it - priceless.
1. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
Shocker, I know - Ocarina of Time as number 1? Who'da thought.
Honestly though, here me out.
For a long time, I wasn't a Zelda fan. Never played any of the games. A cousin of mine had the gameboy games - not interested. A neighbor actually had Ocarina of Time - I ran around the starting area for a while, thought it was stupid that there was no jump button, so I put the controller down. Zelda, to me, was the crazy over hyped series that never truly stood a chance against the ton of fantastic N64 games that I had played already.
It wasn't until year 10, when I was 16, did I finally crack and give this game a true shot. Some friends of mine had the opinion that it was the greatest game of all time and that I just had to play it. So my good friend lent me their cartridge for the next few weeks.
I am forever grateful to this friend for introducing me to what is, for sure, the greatest game of all time.
Ocarina has it all - a fascinating story with fleshed out characters and interesting twists, a world of wonder to explore, a control scheme and system that still holds up perfectly, a soundtrack and general sound design that is a pure masterpiece... Every time I hear that opening sequence when booting up the game, I get chills.
Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the game that pulled me from the ugly depths of being addicted to an MMO. That's how amazing the game is; that's why it deserves it's number one spot.
There you have it, my top 5 Nintendo 64 games. There were so many games I wanted to mention here; Bomberman 64, Banjo Kazooie, Turok 2, Quake, GoldenEye... but while I'm sure many would disagree with me on these top 5, these are the games that are both the most memorable for me and the ones I have the greatest admiration for.
The Nintendo 64 man... What a console.
Header image by Hyper-Wil