Nintendo has truly been banking on (and making bank with) exploiting nostalgia the past few years, releasing both the NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic Edition to enormous amounts of demand — and artificial supply shortages. The two miniature consoles took gamers through some of the greatest games of the ’80s and ’90s, letting us jump, float, fight, shoot, and more through glorious worlds of 8 and 16-bit wonder. With the release of the SNES Classic Edition now a few months behind us, we here at Nintendo Wire are looking toward the future: the inevitable N64 Classic Edition.
Nintendo hasn’t announced — or even hinted — at the possible future existence of a mini-Nintendo 64, but there have been signs pointing to its one-day birth. A European trademark for an N64 Controller came alongside trademarks for minimalist images of NES and SNES controllers last July, planting seeds of hope in the minds of late-’90s Nintendo fans. Could it be that a N64 Classic is just within our reach?
Before the announcement and release of the SNES Classic last year, we threw down our 30 most-wanted games for the then-hypothetical system. This year, we’re doing it again. Here’s the Nintendo Wire team’s top picks for the N64 Classic Edition.
1. Super Mario 64
The first must-have game on my wishlist is Super Mario 64 — the iconic plumber’s first outing in 3D and one of the Nintendo 64’s two U.S. launch titles. Super Mario 64 was a pioneer of open world, exploration-based gameplay helped inspire some of the most beloved 3D Mario cames of the past two decades — especially Super Mario Odyssey. With its many re-releases and remakes over the years, Super Mario 64 is a no-brainer inclusion on an N64 Classic Edition.
2. Mario Kart 64
Like Super Mario 64 did for Mario platforming, Mario Kart 64 did the same for Mario go-kart racing. Mario Kart 64 saw the introduction of both Wario and Donkey Kong to the series, as well as the ability to hold more than one item at a time. With a plethora of unforgettable tracks, including one of my favorite Rainbow Roads, this game remains one of the greatest multiplayer experiences available on the Nintendo 64. An N64 Classic Edition without it just wouldn’t be an N64 Classic Edition at all.
3. Pokémon Stadium
Aside from Super Smash Bros. (and maybe Beetle Adventure Racing), no other N64 game defined my childhood like Pokémon Stadium did. I spent countless hours with my cousins duking it out with our monsters — both rented and owned, transferred from our copies of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Not only was Pokémon battling in 3D unprecedented at the time (we’re kind of spoiled nowadays with the 3DS Pokemon titles), but Stadium was jam-packed full of mini-games that Mario Party can’t ever hope to hold a candle to. Who didn’t love themselves a little Lickitunging in Sushi-Go-Round?
Sadly, I feel the addition of Pokémon Stadium might not be a definite thing given its handheld game connectivity features. However, is it possible that the N64’s GamePak could be emulated via wireless technology? If so, I feel the N64 Classic could connect to 3DS eShop versions of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow to replicate the same experience on the original game.
4. GoldenEye 007
Speaking of great multiplayer experiences, GoldenEye 007 is another game whose home is on a future N64 Mini. This James Bond-starring first-person shooter revolutionized the genre and became the third-best selling N64 game — right behind Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. GoldenEye was another title that owned several of my summers growing up, thanks to its pulse-pounding, split-screen action. Since then, I’ve grown to love almost all games starring The Man with the Golden Gun — Agent Under Fire for the GameCube being my most favorite. Oh, and of course… who can possibly forget the Paintball Mode cheat?
5. Wave Race 64
There’s a reason why people call the N64 one of the best — if not the best — multiplayer consoles, and that’s simply because it has such a fantastic collection of multiplayer games. Wave Race 64 is no exception, pairing a great singleplayer mode with an even better multiplayer one. Along with a spot on our list of must-have games for the N64 Classic Edition, consider Wave Race as a top contender for a someday “Games That Absolutely, 100 Percent Deserve a Revival” list, too.
6. Pokémon Stadium 2
What Pokémon Stadium did amazing, Pokémon Stadium 2 did even better, featuring the entire Kanto + Johto roster of creatures, an upgraded Gym Leader Castle, and ever more connectivity with the handheld games. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I was as a kid to use Stadium 2’s Mystery Gift to earn decorations for my room in Pokemon Gold and Crystal. Pokémon Stadium 2’s mini-game offerings were just as good as its predecessor’s, boasting personal favorites like Delibird Delivery and Egg Emergency.
Like the first game, I hope a hypothetical N64 Classic would be able to connect wirelessly to eShop copies of Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal. After all, battling your Pokéz on the big screen was one of the biggest selling points of the original.
7. Mario Party 3
The third installment in the ever-popular Mario Party franchise saw the introduction of everyone’s favorite gross, evil doppelgänger Waluigi, as well as the princess of Sarasaland herself, Daisy. Not only did Mario Party 3 introduce Story Mode to the series, but also control-stick-spinning mini-games, which may or may not have been tied to a serious epidemic that affected gamers’ Nintendo 64 controllers in the early ’00s. Because of these mini-games, and Mario Party 3’s lack of release on any Virtual Console (Wii or Wii U), it’s hard to say if Nintendo would consider packaging this classic in an N64 Classic Edition. Perhaps they’ll offer free controller replacements for those who purchase it, but I’m not holding my breath.
8. Star Fox 64
Much like the final face-off against Andross’s true form, Star Fox 64’s inclusion on the miniature machine is practically a no-brainer. The game burst like a supernova on our CRT screens back in 1997, setting its crosshairs on our hearts with its fast action, immersive set pieces and cast of cocky, yet colorful characters. Even today after 25 years of intergalactic dog fights and barrel rolls, the game’s widely considered the best in the franchise by fans and critics alike, earning this ragtag team of peppy space pilots top honors among the Nintendo mascot elite. It’s also one of the few handfuls of games on this list that still stands the test of time graphically, which even ace pilot Falco Lombardi himself could agree is worth being thankful for.
9. F-Zero X
Got an insatiable need for speed that the putter-paced prixs of the Mushroom Kingdom can’t cater to? Then it’s high time you hopped into the plasma-powered hovercrafts of F-Zero! Featuring hairsplitting speeds, fine-tuned controls, and enough twists and turns to make your nose bleed, X is in a league of its own when compared to its more tame karting cousin. It’s also one of the first racers to run at a smooth 60 frames-per-second, despite a boosted count of 24 vehicles barreling down the track. For many, F-Zero X remains the definitive version of the fast-and-furious franchise, even lapping its arcade inspired sequel on GameCube. To me, it’s a perfect excuse for family and friends to jump behind the wheel and “Show me ya moves!”
10. Sin and Punishment
Sin and Punishment is one of the most awe-inspiring and technical titles to sprint through the Nintendo 64 library, filling in a genre niche grossly underrepped beyond the intergalactic adventures of Team Star Fox. The ridiculous on-rail action, perfect pacing, and dystopian setting culminate in a barrage of bullets adrenaline junkies can’t quite quit. Co-developed by Nintendo and eventually localized for both the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console, we wouldn’t be surprised if this gritty run-‘n’-gunner continued to beat the odds and outshine its cult classic status. Hey, at least it’s got a better shot at making the cut than Snowboard Kids or anything by Rare.
11. Mega Man 64
I’ll be honest: Mega Man 64, otherwise known as Mega Man Legends, does not hold up well. The camera is disorienting, the controls are insulting, and graphics are an absolute eyesore. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was developed by Dr. Wily himself under some diabolical scheme to fry and frustrate our circuits into submission. Yet for all its many dings and dents, I can’t help but love this detestable hunk of scrap metal. Modding the legendary blue buddy with a dash of action-RPG stylings helped the series’s transition to 3D shine, relying less on twitch reflexes and more on exploration and storytelling. Sure, that meant the game shared very little in common with its pixel-plated platformers, but it was refreshing at the time to see Capcom take such bold risks with one of their most mega money-makers. Love it or hate it, it’s at least better than putting the entire franchise on ice for eight years…
12. Mischief Makers
Regrettably, fans of 2D platforming had little to work with during what I like to call the ‘90s-era polygonaclypse. After Super Mario 64 singlehandedly revolutionized the 3D space, jumpin’ through jaggies became all the rage, and little interest was placed on the simple pleasures of platformers past. Enter Mischief Makers: a quirky action adventure game bursting with charm, personality, and incessant shaking. Its key gameplay mechanic involved grabbing, shaking, and throwing any and all obstacles in your path, providing an incredible amount of variety to the puzzling perils that lay in wait. Couple that with some truly inventive level design, hearty challenge, and the most seductive soundbite to ever grace these eardrums and it’s not difficult to see why this colorful caper made our list.
13. Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Now here’s a game that’s practically been ported to every system under the sun, from the Dreamcast to the Nintendo DS. It’s not hard to see why, either. While not a 3D platformer on par with the likes of Mario 64, it’s a fun adventure nonetheless, with a unique, gloomy atmosphere rarely seen in the genre. Given Ubisoft’s cemented friendship thanks to Mario + Rabbids, this one might be more likely than you’d think.
14. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
This game really requires no introduction. It’s frequently topped “Best Games of All Time” lists ever since its initial release back in 1998 and it’s really well deserved. It was Link’s first foray into three dimensions, giving players a more immersive journey across Hyrule, and it still ranks as one of the best. While the game’s 3DS port arguably improves the core experience in key ways, the Nintendo 64 original holds up great and would almost certainly make the cut.
15. Paper Mario
Paper Mario was one of the last first-party Nintendo 64 games to be published in 2001, mere months before the launch of the GameCube. Thankfully, with its unique art direction and almost ageless game mechanics, the game manages to hold up as one of the system’s best to this day. Given the 64’s relative lack of RPGs, this one should be a shoe-in.
16. Mario Tennis
With Mario Tennis Aces on the horizon, now’s as good a time as any to reflect on Mario’s court roots. Granted, a Virtual Boy game technically preceded it, but this Nintendo 64 entry cemented the pure filtered fun that is Mario Tennis. It’s also the first appearance of Waluigi, which makes it a game of vital historical importance that cannot be overlooked. If they do port it over, though, Nintendo should include the characters and courts that were once locked behind using the Game Boy Transfer Pak with the handheld version. It would only be sporting.
17. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Considering how hot Star Wars is right now, Nintendo would be missing out if they didn’t add this classic dogfighter to a N64 Classic Edition. Scrapping the simulation mechanics seen in earlier Star Wars pilot games, Rogue Squadron is arcade action from the get-go, with plenty of iconic ships, sounds, and music that capture the cinematic legacy perfectly. Here’s hoping Disney would let it happen.
18. Super Smash Bros.
The one that started it all. We’ve come a long way from these humble roots of a crossover, but today’s Smash Bros. wouldn’t be without this earliest effort. Eight characters may not seem much, but that initial roster was legendary back in the day. There’s something deeply satisfying about Kirby throwing a Poké Ball at Fox McCloud’s face on Yoshi’s pop-up book of an island, and the kinds of moments you could kerfuffle your way through were nearly endless. Everyone I knew had a favorite character, and those that didn’t only needed to be shown the frantic four-player fighting to fall in love and get their first “main.”. This one isn’t just worthy — it’s down right necessary.
19. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Kirby’s first 3D adventure may not have been the kind of revolution that Link’s or Mario’s was, but that makes it no less beloved. Carrying on the story and sensibilities of Dream Lands 2 & 3, the main draw here was the ability to mix and match the game’s copy abilities to create new and more specialized ones. This is a game that let Kirby turn into a fridge and launch food at enemies — how can you not be on board with that? The hunt for the Crystal Shards is one I’ll never forget thanks to these, the friends you meet along the way, and a final boss fight that still stands among one of the series’s finest.
20. Donkey Kong 64
Here we go!
So you’re finally here, reading this list through;
Since you know the song, you can hum along, too!
Put your hands together, if you agree with me,
Donkey Kong 64 is ne-cess-a-ry!
Seriously, while I feel Banjo-Kazooie is the better game, Donkey Kong 64 is absolutely massive for a collectathon. This is the kind of game that can drive a completionist mad, with piles and piles of things to find. Where the game truly shines is the interplay of the five starring Kongs. DK, Diddy, Tiny, Lanky, and Chunky all have their unique skills and it’s knowing when to switch it up to complete a task that the often-intimidating level design scale becomes crystal (coconut) clear.
21. Mario Party 2
No sophomore slumps here — Mario Party 2 built off of the first game to make what might be my favorite in the franchise. The debut of items, more modes and minigames (and touched up standouts from the first Mario Party), and a greater degree of polish, overall — this is the full package and the gold standard I hold all other Mario Parties to. The boards had fun themes and even costumes to them, along with the Mini Game Coaster to keep you occupied even when partying solo. Whenever I dust off the N64 for a get-together, this is the first game I usually look for, and that’s definitely saying something.
22. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I’ve written about Majora’s Mask several times now, but it never gets old. This is the gold standard I hold Zelda games to (yes, even in a post-Breath-of-the-Wild world) and it has less to do with the gameplay and more to do with the exquisite world building and novel concept of becoming an absolute expert on the same, three, repeating days by game’s end. Add in a memorable antagonist and a whole host of collectable masks and it’s a game I’ll never say “no” to even in the face of a cataclysmic moonfall.
Here’s a good one: a bear and a bird walk into a witch’s mountain-side lair. No joking here, though, as this was the other gold standard of 3D platforming on the N64. Sure, Mario came first and had the benefit of being Nintendo’s main man. Banjo-Kazooie, on the other hand, came from the folks behind Donkey Kong Country and offered a completely different feel while maintaining the focus on exploration and collection. And googly eyes. Like, a lot of googly eyes. Every one of its worlds was worth turning upside down in pursuit of Jiggies, Music Notes, Cheato Pages, Jinjos, and all other utter nonsense. Even with a sequel and spiritual successor, there’s just no beating the original here.
24. Snowboard Kids (and Snowboard Kids 2, while we’re at it)
Some people like Mario Kart, some people like Diddy Kong Racing. Meanwhile, I spend my days carving the slopes of Snowboard Kids and its sequel for hours on end. These kids with their big, stupid noses and the absolutely peppy feel of the game’s music were enough to get me interested, but it’s the satisfaction of maintaining your momentum down the mountains and pulling off tricks that make every race feel special. Speaking of special, both aren’t just limited to snow: grassy hills, shifting sands, dinosauric jungles, a haunted house, and outer space were all fair game here and there’s still others that break the mold just as well. Whether it’s the first game’s more freestyle approach to riding or the sequel’s fun story and unlockables that make the grade, either of these racers are absolutely worth including.
25. Pokémon Puzzle League
Taking Panel de Pon and adding thematic elements from the Pokémon anime is an addictive puzzle game. With animated cutscenes, inclusion of key characters from the anime and the 4Kids voice cast, on the surface, it seems shallow and cash grabby. The Pokémon fever was intense and real in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, so almost anything Pokémon-related would sell. Pokémon Puzzle League, though, brought a “funny kind of Tetris” to the Nintendo 64 where you could play against another friend or the CPU. With easy modes and insane settings, this puzzle game is perfect for any fan!
26. Harvest Moon 64
The farming game that prepared me for Animal Crossing and dating sims, Harvest Moon 64 is a well loved classic in the Harvest Moon franchise. Tasked with restoring your grandfather’s old farm, you’re thrown into a new town. With people to befriend and even marry, there’s stories to discover with each of these characters. Even though there were other Harvest Moon games out – on SNES and Game Boy/Game Boy Color – this and it’s odd PlayStation sibling Harvest Moon: Back to Nature introduced a new world of gaming to everyone. When you needed a break from slaying monsters or trying to save the world, you could boot up Harvest Moon and decide what you wanted to do. Tend to crops, take care of animals, visit the mines, participate in holidays and festivals, even woo a bachelorette, and so much more.
Even with the game being released on the Wii U’s Virtual Console a year ago, anytime this game can be brought back to the masses, I’m all for it.
27. Yoshi’s Story
The sequel to Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Story might not live up to its predecessor hype, but it still sticks out in my mind due to the game’s aesthetics. A pop-up storybook that outlines the Yoshis journey in breaking Bowser’s spell caused me to be smitten with the game as a kid. Looking back at it now? There’s snippets of the cardboard and felt that came alive in Yoshi’s Woolly World and the newest Yoshi game planned for the Nintendo Switch. An extremely easy game that can be completed in under an hour, this Yoshi-themed adventure was a great starting point for young gamers, so it’s only fitting that the next generation should be introduced to it.
28. Hey You, Pikachu!
A niche game for the Pokémon fandom that would require a microphone accessory (as well as the plastic mount that held it in place on the N64 controller), Hey You, Pikachu! probably won’t make the cut. Still, this “game” pulls at my heartstrings as a massive Pikachu fan. Being able to talk to Pikachu and get a response back was an interesting step forward in integrating mics and voice commands into gaming. You could possibly argue that this helped the development of Nintendogs on the Nintendo DS after all. With new Pokémon fans joining each and every day in addition to the franchise turning 20 years old in North America later this year, it would be lovely to see this odd gem be brought to life again.
29. Mario Party
Oh, a classic! When you weren’t throttling your friends or siblings in Super Smash Bros., it was time to try the same in Mario Party. The board game-game that would cause fights or shocked screams over the CPU winning, the franchise lives on to this day. Sure, there’re some disappointments with the way the last few games have been handled, so going back to the original would be a lovely trip down memory lane. Besides the wonderfully themed boards, the real draw to the OG Mario Party were the 50 mini-games: Bumper Balls, Cast Aways, Hot Rope Jump, Shy Guy Says, Tug o’ War, Bobsled Run, and more! Only six made it into Mario Party: The Top 100, so it’s only fair that we can play the entire library from the first Mario Party this year.
30. Animal Crossing
Never released in outside of Japan, Animal Crossing started as a Nintendo 64 game: Dōbutsu no Mori (or “Animal Forest” when translated to English). A possible release on Japan’s N64 Classic Mini, it would be lovely to see the series’s humble beginnings. While I haven’t played the game itself, I do remember discovering it online years ago (around 2000), back when there was a release date for Animal Crossing to come stateside. Yet with a late release on the N64 and the amount of localization needed, it would take four years of waiting to finally play an updated version, which was known as Animal Crossing on the GameCube.
Compared to the GameCube version, there isn’t as much polish on the original game. Thanks to a graphic update, the atmosphere is different. Plus, if you wanted to have multiple towns, you’d have to buy multiple cartridges, as save data was saved directly to the cartridge instead of a memory card. More than likely, this will stay behind in Nintendo’s vault. Not wanting to detract from the next game in the Animal Crossing franchise, we’ll just have to resort to acquiring an old N64 cartridge to experience the series’s origins.
31. Pokémon Snap
The “on-a-rail shooter” of Pokémon, Pokémon Snap had you wielding a camera as your “weapon.” Instead of a Pokédex, you were tasked with photographing Pokémon, trying to rack up as many points in accordance with Professor Oak’s judging standards. An odd combo on the surface, Pokémon Snap is one of the most defining games of the N64. Tasking the player to become a photographer was new and different in the realm of Pokémon, and, sure, you could argue that Todd Snap was present in the anime and manga, but photography wasn’t a key element of standard Pokémon gameplay before. In fact, since the game’s release almost 19 years ago, you still hear it mentioned in reviews today. Any type of photo feature in the latest game (for example, Pokémon Sun and Moon)? You’ll hear some comparison to Pokémon Snap.
32. Jet Force Gemini
The third-person shooter that mashed up the sci-fi genre and threw in a dash of the ‘80s, Jet Force Gemini captured my brothers’ and my attention. Setting out to protect Earth from an alien-insect-like race, a boy, a girl, and their dog go out for battle. A shoot-‘em-up game where you can play as a dog? It was kind of a must have at that point. With its single-player and multiplayer modes, the replay value increased due to my dragging friends over for some gaming sessions.
There’s a major but here, though, and it’s due to licensing issues. Thus, this probably won’t make it into the final roster for the N64 Classic Mini. With Rare being bought by Microsoft, this was one of the many games that was a part of the Rare Replay compilation crafted for Xbox One. There’s still a chance that Microsoft will sign a limited deal with Nintendo, but when there’s a hefty library of games to pick from, Jet Force Gemini may be pushed to the side.
There’s our wishlist! What’s yours, and what’d you think of ours? Let us know in the comments what games you’d like to see on the Nintendo 64 Classic Edition!
Leave a Comment