Just in case you weren’t quite feeling your age today, we’re here to really rattle those ol’ bones and tell you the Nintendo 64 has officially turned 25 years old. Yes. 25 years old. While it seems like just yesterday we were grasping that strangely-pronged controller in our hands, it’s been some time since the console launched and helped revolutionize gaming. In celebration of this iconic console’s 25th anniversary, let’s talk a short stroll down memory lane and look at it’s top five games.
While Rare made a lot of incredible games for the Nintendo 64 and I will die on the hill that Diddy Kong Racing is the best kart-racing game ever made, out of all its titles Banjo-Kazooie is the one that deserves a spot on this list (sorry, Perfect Dark). The late 90s and early 2000s were a golden age for the mascot platformer. We got Spyro, Crash, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, Rayman, and countless others. However, as the one that seemingly started the wave, Banjo-Kazooie holds a special place in many a’ 90s kids’ hearts. With fun puzzles, a non-linear game design, and gameplay that quite simply a blast, the game deserves all the praise and accolades it gets.
4. Goldeneye 007
While Goldeneye 007 isn’t the greatest selling Nintendo 64 game of all time or the first first-person shooter, it is the greatest selling 64 game in the United States and indisputably had a massive impact on the shooter genre. For those playing on console, Goldeneye was the definitive FPS in the late 90s, boasting a fun single-player campaign, up to four player co-op, and an incorporation of stealth into the genre that helped popularize it as a whole. In addition, it added precision aiming, making the gunplay — at the time — cutting-edge.
3. Super Smash Bros.
There’s a lot of argument over what the definitive fighting game series is, but when it comes to which one is packed with the most fun and wild crossovers, Super Smash Bros. takes the cake easily. Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64 is the first entry in the series, and kicked off the popular saga that is still going strong even today and for good reason. I mean, how many series let you take on Solid Snake as Pikachu, or fight Sephiroth as Link? Just one. Much like Goldeneye, this game changed couch co-op gaming forever and became a go-to game for family game nights, social gatherings, and after-school hangs.
2. Super Mario 64
Of course, we can’t properly celebrate the Nintendo 64’s anniversary without also celebrating its big launch title: Super Mario 64. The first 3D Mario game, Super Mario 64 elevated not only the series, but platformers as a whole. Despite being the first game on the console, it’s remained the best-selling Nintendo 64 game of all time, with more than 11 million copies sold by 2003. While the game’s at times shoddy camera kept it from attaining the coveted “Greatest Game of All Time Award” and the top place on this list, it paved the way for the next game we’re going to talk about, which holds both.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time might not have been the Zelda game that started it all, but it certainly is the one that changed it. Much like the Nintendo 64 itself, Ocarina was a revolution. It introduced 3D graphics to Zelda and lock-on targeting systems to gaming, now a staple of the action-adventure genre. Widely recognized for its achievements in storytelling, gameplay, visuals, and, well, everything, it is the highest-rated game on Metacritic and has won the “Greatest Game of All Time” accolade at Edge, Entertainment Weekly, IGN, Nintendo Power, Game Informer, and countless other outlets.
So what do you think? Did you miss out on playing any of these classics or think something else deserved to be up here? Be sure to share your thoughts below!