Every Week I will be posting a new “top 10” list for every major video game platform in my lifetime, starting with the 5th generation of consoles and moving forward from there. I would love to hear your input on some of your favourite games, from each console or handheld. This is not necessarily an objective list of the 10 best games on the console, but rather my subjective opinion on the best 10 games of each console.
#10: Pokemon Stadium 2
Pokemon Stadium is an ingenious game. Simple in concept, it is essentially the handheld games everyone knows and loves but in a much grander scale. No more are you trying to catch them all – instead you are trying to win them all. The first Pokemon Stadium game was great, and it would be on this list if not for how Pokemon Stadium 2 completely blew the first out of the water. First off, the game looks great and accurately represents what we thought the Pokemon would look like in full 3D. The game also adds a neat functionality where with the expansion pack for the N64 controller you could put in your copy of Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow or Gold/Silver/Crystal and play your game on the television instead of a handheld! Not just a gimmick, as you no longer need to worry about battery life and the games come to life with its new found size. The actual battling is the same as any Pokemon game, there is a tournament and free-mode to play in, and the mini-games are incredible (seriously, they are worth the purchase alone). Unfortunately there is no way to play these games except for having them on the N64. Here’s hoping for a remake.
#9: Paper Mario
Paper Mario was the first RPG I ever played, and boy did it leave an impression on me. Paper Mario is a 2D side-scrolling RPG adventure where Mario has abilities, items, and companions he can use in battle (think Final Fantasy 7 style turn-based combat, but with Mario). The game is charming, the art-style still holds up to this day due to its ‘paper’ nature, and the game is surprisingly deep and full of things to do. The main story is good enough to stand on its own, but it is the unique environments, the soundtrack, and the rpg elements that really help this game stand on its head. If you haven’t tried Paper Mario yet, I encourage you to pick it up on the Wii U Virtual Console. It’s a gem.
#8: Diddy Kong Racing
Diddy Kong Racing is the better of the two major kart racers on the system, the other being Mario Kart 64. The problem with Mario Kart 64 is that it is incredibly unbalanced, and there is generally a trick to each map to win. With Diddy Kong Racing, there is a hub-world to explore that unlocks different maps, vehicles, and characters as well as challenging kart bosses to go against. The items are varied and more balanced than Mario Kart, the maps are unique and charming, and the game does not have nearly as many bugs. You can pick up Diddy Kong Racing on the DS if you haven’t played it on the N64.
#7: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Often considered the best Zelda game of all-time, Ocarina of Time perfectly blends traditional Zelda with the 3D world. The game looked great for its time and still holds up today, the dungeons are challenging, the controls are well-crafted, and the concept behind the game being the Ocarina and the different songs was a great twist. It is as close to a perfect game as you can get – however I think that there is another Zelda game on the N64 that trumps this one… You can also play this game on the 3DS with the remaster, and also the Virtual Console.
#6: Perfect Dark
What can I say, Perfect Dark was way ahead of its time. It barely runs on the N64, but it somehow managed to work. Perfect Dark combined some of the best shooting and gun-play we have seen in a video game yet with great 1st person action. Even after so many years, Perfect Dark looks great and feels just as good as it did more than 15 years ago. I encourage you to check this game out via the Rare Replay, where the game runs a lot better and you can get achievements!
#5: Goldeneye 007
What is a better shooter than Perfect Dark on the N64? Only Goldeneye can lay claim to that. Goldeneye holds a special place in a lot of gamer’s hearts, as the game fostered competitive couch free for all gameplay. The game just works – which is a lot more than some games can claim today (*COUGH BATTLEFIELD 4*). Awesome weapons, fun character skins, decent graphics, fun levels with many ways to get around, and an overall fantastic experience that, when coupled with friends, is an unforgettable game. You can pick up the Remaster for Goldeneye on the Wii.
#4: Banjo Tooie
Only 1 game series holds a candle to the flame that is Super Mario 64 in the platformer genre on the N64, and that is the Banjo Kazooie series, more specifically Banjo Tooie. Banjo Tooie takes everything that the first game did so well such as collectables, a loveable cast of characters, unique environments and secrets to explore, and a very functional control scheme not to mention a fun soundtrack, and turns it up to 11. The game itself is just a massive improvement in what was already so great about the first game, and I am glad that they were able to put out a sequel that did so. Banjo Tooie feels great, looks cute, sounds fun, plays well, and can be enjoyed by gamers’ of all audiences. The best way to experience this game is by playing it on the Rare Replay!
#3: Conkers Bad Fur Day
Conkers Bad Fur Day is a game that was, unfortunately, ahead of its time with its content and very mature nature. Full of adult innuendos, characters, and a witty story-line (with Nazi Teddy Bears, for Pete’s sake), this game successfully claims the crown of the most offensive but least ridiculed game of all time. The game itself is actually not too bad, aside from the controls which are damaged by the bad camera. The story takes you through a bunch of ripped-off movie scenes, borrowing themes and ideas while completely making fun of them from the likes of The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, and more. The multiplayer aspect of the game is great fun with friends, being able to do wave-racing, capture the flag, a heist mode, and even a mode with Dinosaurs. Never has a game thrown so many elements and ideas together and made it work this well other than Conkers Bad Fur Day. If you haven’t played it, please do on the Rare Replay. It’s an absolute treat, albeit a dirty one.
#2: Super Mario 64
If you know anything about video games, then you know about Super Mario 64. The first full 3D Mario game, and arguably the best one at that, Super Mario 64 blends fun and challenge perfectly. The game worlds take place inside paintings that you jump into, and the entire meta game is in Princess Peach’s castle that’s chalk full of secrets. This is one of the first few games where completionists and speedrunners could really dig their teeth into – “How fast did you beat the game?” or “Did you get every single star on this level?” – and everyone can be a part of it. You don’t have to be a ‘gamer’ to enjoy Super Mario 64, but you can also be seasoned and enjoy everything the game has to offer. The game has some bugs, and is not perfect by any technical means, but it is by all standards a perfect gamer’s game. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you really need to. You can experience it on the Virtual Console and the DS.
#1: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask is a weird game, but that is why it is the best game on the N64. The game puts Link in a “end of the world” scenario where he needs to stop the moon from crashing into the Earth. The way he progresses through the game is by altering time to go back and complete certain objectives and dungeons at certain times, and to recover Majora’s Mask. The game itself play just like Ocarina of Time, except that the plot and mechanics that were integrated into the plot push this game to one of the most rewarding experiments of all-time. My suggestion is to play Ocarina of Time first, then jump into Majora’s Mask to get the full Zelda experience. It is a game that you will never forget, and one that holds its place as the best N64 game of all time on my list. You can experience this game on the 3DS and the Virtual Console.
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