On September 29, 1996, a little console called the Nintendo 64 was released in the U.S., forever altering the way we think about video games.
Whether you loved it for your first glimpses at 3D gaming in “Super Mario 64” or your first experience with four-player competitive gaming in “GoldenEye 007,” almost everyone has a fond memory of playing this iconic console.
Here are the top 20 games that graced the Nintendo 64:
'Pilotwings 64' was a surprisingly robust flight simulator that re-defined the way we thought about navigating 3D space in a video game.
Throughout the game, you could unlock different vehicles, including a hang-glider and a jet pack, offering different ways for you to navigate the game's different environments.
Release date: September 29, 1996
'Blast Corps' is a Nintendo 64 classic developed by game developer 'Rare' in the late '90s. This action-puzzle game gave you control over a wide variety of vehicles, allowing you to dramatically crash through buildings, bridging gaps, and wreaking havoc.
Whether or not you hate its twangy country music-inspired soundtrack, 'Blast Corps' stands as one of the best Nintendo 64 games ever.
Release date: March 24, 1997
'Jet Force Gemini' was one of the pioneers of the third-person shooter genre, and for its time, it's really quite impressive! This stylish sci-fi game developed by Rare looks chunky and silly, but the sound of bullets whizzing by as you run-and-gun still sound incredible.
Release date: October 11, 1999
Sure, sure, 'Pokémon Stadium' had a fun battle mode where Pokémon would fight head-to-head, but let's be honest: the real draw of 'Pokémon Stadium' were its many excellent multiplayer mini-games. Whether you liked the split-second timing of 'Run, Rattata, Run,' or the memory-based 'Clefairy Says,' you probably sunk a ton of hours into 'Pokémon Stadium.'
Release date: March 6, 2000
'Conker's Bad Fur Day' probably wormed its way into the hands of many unsuspecting kids who thought it was just a charming sequel to 'Banjo-Kazooie.' Their parents were probably a bit surprised when they walked past the television, only to hear one of its many poop jokes or references to Conker's gnarly hangover.
This juvenile platformer is one of the N64's best titles, and not just because it was audacious enough to be vulgar on one of the world's most kid-friendly consoles.
Release date: March 5, 2001
One game more responsible for shattered friendships than any other is 'Mario Party.' Nothing induces rage like having your hard-earned stars stolen at the last minute. Though you probably have a love-hate relationship with it, you can't deny that 'Mario Party' is one of the greatest games for the N64.
Release date: December 18, 1998
'Pokémon Snap' was an enigma when it came out, and it still holds up as one of the strangest, yet most addictive Nintendo 64 games ever made.
Though most Pokémon games emphasise the capturing and battling of those cute little pocket monsters, 'Pokémon Snap' just let you tempt them with apples and snap a few pictures before you continued on your journey.
Release date: June 30, 1999
'Star Wars: Rogue Squadron' is not just a great 'Star Wars' game, but an amazing ship combat game, too. Though, we'll admit that just hearing that iconic roar of a TIE Fighter does a lot of the work.
Release date: December 23, 1998
It's easy to brush off a simple sports game as being not particularly ambitious or noteworthy, but 'Mario Tennis' was a fantastic multiplayer competitive game that really set the standard for what the genre could be. Plus, it's probably responsible for teaching a whole generation of kids about the utterly bizarre world of tennis scoring terminology.
Release date: August 28, 2000
When you first heard that Mario's new game was going to be a weird, flat, paper-themed role-playing game, you probably thought Nintendo was totally of its rocker.
But the creativity of 'Paper Mario' more than delivered on its weird premise, offering up an intoxicating combination of humour, quirk, and smart level design that defines the best of what Nintendo makes.
Release date: February 5, 2001
OK, 'Mario Kart,' your little go-carts are cute and all, but move out of the way. 'F-Zero X' turned the volume up on the racing genre in more ways than one: whether you loved the blisteringly fast pace of the cars or the invigorating guitar licks on its soundtrack, 'F-Zero X' was like a shot of pure adrenaline.
Release date: October 26, 1998
Though Kirby's pink, squishy body doesn't look particularly tough, 'Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards' stands out as one of the most ambitious Nintendo 64 titles ever made. That's because Kirby could absorb enemies' abilities or even combine two different abilities to make something completely new.
Finding new combinations of abilities was always thrilling, and for a game released 16 years ago, that one mechanic still stands out as being totally awesome.
Release date: June 26, 2000
If there's one game most closely associated with college dorm rooms of late '90s, it's 'GoldenEye 007.' Though it's definitely outdated by today's standards, this one game singlehandedly introduced a huge number of people to the world of competitive first-person shooters.
Release date: August 25, 1997
'Perfect Dark' was one of the few Mature-rated games on the N64, and its slick sci-fi style gave it an identity all its own. Also, though it's controversial to say, it boasted a more robust multiplayer mode than 'GoldenEye 007,' in addition to having a totally stellar campaign.
Release date: May 22, 2000
The Nintendo 64 was the main home for the massive trend of 3-D platformers that swept the gaming world in the late '90s, and 'Banjo-Kazooie' was one of the main titles at the helm. 'Banjo-Kazooie' re-appeared more recently in 'Rare Replay,' a collection of 30 of Rare's best games, so be sure to pick that up if you need a little more nostalgia in your life.
Release date: June 29, 1998
Though it moves pretty slowly compared to the blisteringly quick 'Super Smash Bros. for Wii U' released recently, 'Super Smash Bros.' for the Nintendo 64 was a major game changer when it first came out. Watching all your favourite Nintendo characters beating the pulp out of each other provided a unique brand of catharsis.
Release date: April 26, 1999
Though it only took a few short hours to play 'Star Fox 64' from start to finish, the game's countless shortcuts and secrets kept players coming back to play again and again. Not to mention, it's responsible for one of gaming's most iconic lines of dialogue: 'Do a barrel roll!'
Release date: April 27, 1997
Another game that causes an emotional response perfectly balanced between rage and joy is 'Mario Kart 64.' Let's have a moment of silence for all the controllers that broke from being thrown across the room in a blue shell-related fit of rage.
Release date: December 4, 1996
Was there ever any question that 'Super Mario 64' would be on this list?
For many, this game was the very first truly 3D game they ever played, and it still holds up today for its incredible level design and responsive, precise movement. Plus, there's nothing that rivals the joy of looking up at the skylight in the castle and discovering that secret flying level. Oops! Did we spoil it?
Release date: September 29, 1996
'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time' still holds up as one of the best 'Legend of Zelda' games ever released, which is saying something considering the incredible level of quality across so many 'Zelda' titles.
Its iconic soundtrack mixed with its perfect puzzle design make this a game we'll be going back to for the next 20 years and beyond.
Release date: November 23, 1998
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