The 40 Best Nintendo 64 Games of All Time

Loveleen Kaur / ONE37pm

During the mid-90s, the biggest gaming companies that created and manufactured home consoles stepped into the burgeoning realm of 3D.

Nintendo just so happened to be one of those well-known institutions - visually appealing 3D titles, such as the Donkey Kong Country series and the very first Killer Instinct, pointed to the Japanese gaming establishment's commitment to that growing trend. When Nintendo decided to introduce a fully 3d piece of hardware to the gaming market, it ended up producing one of the most esteemed consoles of all time with the Nintendo 64. The fifth-generation console fought hard to take all the attention away from the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn with exclusive experiences that the "House of Mario" did so well.

With such a huge library of classic N64 games to look back on, we chose to highlight 40 of the absolute best.

1. ‘Super Mario 64’

True innovation for the gaming medium as a whole arrived in the form of this N64 launch title. Nintendo's world-renowned platforming plumber made the full jump to 3D and introduced gamers to a colorful world that was full of wondrous hopping & bopping to enjoy. This revolutionary platformer helped Mario transition from the world of 2D side-scrolling levels to open 3D stages that gave way to imaginative realms that are still a ton of fun to traverse.

2. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’

Just like good old Mario, The Legend of Zelda's green tunic-wearing hero jumped into the world of 3D with one of the greatest games of all time. Ocarina of Time breathed new life into the vast kingdom of Hyrule and incorporated the same dungeon-crawling treks that fans have come to adore. The game's intricate level design, a memorable cast of characters, flawless cinematics, and a wealth of other high marks present The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as one of Nintendo's biggest accomplishments.

3. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is a hell of a follow-up to the previous pick on this list. It adopted a darker storyline that centered around an approaching moon that's on the verge of destroying everyone and everything in Termina. Players had to fight against time itself in order to prevent that doomsday scenario from coming true. Majora's Mask brought back the amazing gameplay of Ocarina of Time while adding in the novel concept of Link being able to don masks that changed him into other beings with magical powers.

4. ‘GoldenEye 007’

First-person shooters come a dime a dozen these days on modern-day consoles. But back in the day, that was a rare occurrence since it was hard for developers to replicate the accuracy of controls FPS titles had on PC. Enter GoldenEye 007, one of the few examples of an amazing licensed game and a quality FPS that dropped on consoles back in the 90s. James Bond's explosive crusade against a crime syndicate welcomed players to an awesome campaign, plus the game's multiplayer suite was a regular go-to activity for anyone lucky enough to own four N64 gamepads.

5. ‘Super Smash Bros.’

The platform brawler that started it all is none other than Super Smash Bros. Masahiro Sakurai and HAL Laboratory ended up creating one of Nintendo's biggest franchises when it gave players the ability to get into intense brawls by playing with some of Nintendo's unmistakable icons. It's still a mind trip when you realize that the original Super Smash Bros. gave us all a roster that included Mario, Link, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, etc., and let everyone duke it out to determine who was truly the king/queen of the Nintendo kingdom.

6. ‘Mario Kart 64’

Super Mario Kart hit the scene in a major way when it launched on the SNES. And once the spinoff kart racer drove onto the 2D speedway, fans were blessed with one of the greatest multiplayer games of all time in Mario Kart 64. The list of standout tracks here are among some of the very best in the series - who could ever forget fighting for first place against their friends on Moo Moo Farm and Koopa Troopa Beach? The amazing game modes and super high fun factor make Mario Kart 64 an essential part of the N64 software library.

7. ‘Diddy Kong Racing’

A lot of folks love 'em some Mario Kart 64 and a whole bunch of kart racing fans also appreciate this next pick. Diddy Kong Racing placed Donkey Kong's lovable little brother in the spotlight alongside a roster full of other cutesy anthropomorphic characters. And they all took to the track to compete in races that incorporated cars, boats, and planes. Having the option to race in three different types of vehicles is the main pull of this great kart racer. The boss races made most folks rip their hair out due to frustration, but they still couldn't help but hop back in to enjoy some more racing hijinks with friends.

8. ‘Star Fox 64’

With the Rumble Pack in tow, Star Fox 64 truly felt like one of the most immersive flight shooters Nintendo has ever produced. Fox McCloud and the rest of his anthropomorphic flight crew hopped into their Arwings to defend the Lylat system from the evil Andross. This shoot 'em up is still worth going back to thanks to a combination of enjoyable dogfighting, varied modes of exploration, and a branching level system that gives players the incentive to try out different paths via multiple playthroughs.

9. ‘Paper Mario’

Since Square Enix was unable to make another Super Mario RPG, Nintendo & Intelligent Systems stuck close to that classic RPG's mechanics and threw them into a game with a standout art style that set it apart from its predecessor. Paper Mario throws the Mushroom Kingdom's main hero into a wild adventure that's all about saving Princess Peach, defeating Bowser, and recovering all the Star Spirits in order to fix everything the Star Rod has done. The active combat mechanics make every battle a joy to play and the visual presentation afford Paper Mario the legendary status it deserves.

10. ‘Conker’s Bad Fur Day’

At first, Conker was nothing more than an innocent little platforming paladin who was set to be introduced to the world in Conker's Quest/Twelve Tales: Conker 64. Once Rare pivoted from the far too cute stylings of that original game, it developed something far more mature and hilarious with Conker's Bad Fur Day. This cult classic will never be forgotten due to some outlandish comedy bits, a boss fight with a singing piece of poo, and a multiplayer mode that ended up being way better than expected. Conker's Bad Fur Day is an awesome adult-oriented experience that greatly diversified the usual child-friendly N64 games roster.

11.’ Banjo-Kazooie’

The world's most famous bear and bird combo took the open-world platformer baton from Mario for their amazing debut. Banjo-Kazooie was the very definition of a "collect-a-thon" - there's a smorgasbord of crucial items to get your hands on to progress through every nook and cranny of the game's vast world. The whimsical nature of it all is why this Rare-developed game is such a classic - the music, the gibberish during dialogue sequences, and the well-tuned gameplay that brought it all together makes Banjo-Kazooie such a joy to play to this day.

12. ‘Banjo-Tooie’

And then there's the equally astonishing follow-up called Banjo-Tooie. The hopping and bopping that solidified the original game's excellence came back in full here, plus the addition of a surprisingly addictive four-player multiplayer mode only added to the fun. The locales you could explore in this sequel seem even bigger than the ones featured in its predecessor, which means there was even more to see, do, and collect. The bigger emphasis on puzzle-solving made all those young kids' brains work overtime back in the day, that's for sure.

13. ‘Donkey Kong 64’

Donkey Kong 64 has to be one of the biggest time sinks anyone has ever played. Nintendo's lovable big ape made the jump to the N64 alongside a wily crew of fellow primates who also wanted to take out King K. Rool. Just like the previous two games we mentioned on this list, Donkey Kong 64 threw players into a vast world that was jam-packed with a wide assortment of items to collect. Becoming familiar with each monkey's signature ability was definitely a part of the fun, plus the wealth of minigames on hand here are incredibly fun to discover. And that "DK Rap." God-tier bars right there!

14. ‘Pokémon Snap’

The Pokémon rage was super strong during the late 90s. To the point where you could slap that name on a decent side game, trading card game, lunchbox, etc. and it would still sell like hotcakes. One of the more interesting spinoff games that came from the world's most popular monster-collecting RPG is Pokémon Snap. The simple act of hopping into a cart to take fascinating photos of Pokémon in their natural habitat works like a charm. Playing this game is so therapeutic since you'll always have a chill time setting up the best camera shots and using the items needed to do so.

15. ‘Pokémon Stadium 2’

The very first Pokémon Stadium was an awesome realization of fans' ability to engage in some turn-based battles in a 3D format. But its sequel is where that whole concept truly entered its master stage. Pokémon Stadium 2 increased the roster tenfold by incorporating all the original Pocket Monsters from Red, Blue, and Yellow while also bringing in all the newbies from Gold, Silver, and Crystal. Making your way through all the battle "Cups," taking down each Gym Leader Castle, and even participating in all the assorted minigames on offer here provided bundles of unlimited fun.

16. ‘WCW/nWo Revenge’

The height of popularity for the world of professional wrestling resulted in some of the best wrestling video games the world has ever seen. World Championship Wrestling tagged in Asmik Ace Entertainment, AKI Corporation, and THQ to craft the perfect playable version of all the on-air mayhem that occurred on WCW Nitro back in the day. WCW/nWo Revenge features the perfect grappling system, a roster full of recognizable legends & hilarious easter eggs, and four-player matches that never outgrew their welcome. This game's intro is the stuff legends are made of, by the way.

17. ‘WWF No Mercy’

The World Wrestling Federation clearly took the hint after WCW/nWo Revenge's massive success because Vince McMahon's wrestling empire adopted that game's formula for its very own. First up was WWF WrestleMania 2000, which was then followed up by this superior sequel. WWF No Mercy hit the scene with a roster that reflected the depth of the company at the time. Plus it featured a pretty in-depth career mode that allowed for different championship paths that kept the fun alive and well. You can still spend hours just creating one wrestler due to all the options available to you. And we'd be crazy not to mention that incredible main menu theme song. "DIG-DIG-DIG DIG-DIGGITY DOG!"

18. ‘F-Zero X’

Captain Falcon's fame may have catapulted due to this guest appearance in the original Super Smash Bros. But his origin can be linked back to SNES's futuristic racing game series, F-Zero. When that same racer sped onto the N64, gamers were treated to one of the most hectic racers known to man. F-Zero X broke the speed limit with a wide array of superfast hovercars that zipped across some perilous tracks. The high-octane music, a huge assortment of vehicles & tracks to choose from, and the wild track designs all made for an engrossing racer that's still a must-play.

19. ‘Star Wars: Rogue Squadron’

That famed "galaxy far, far away" got replicated in the best way possible by a slew of great games. On the flight shooter side of things, Factor 5 and LucasArts crafted one of the very best with Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. The dogfights that take place here are nail-biting affairs - boosting through famous Star Wars locales while dodging laser fire and sending out some of your own raised the stakes during every playthrough. With a nice lineup of iconic ships at players' disposal (which includes the X-wing, A-wing, Y-wing, Snowspeeder, and V-wing), Star Wars: Rogue Squadron provided the ultimate flight simulator for its rabid fanbase.

20. ‘Perfect Dark’

Rare didn't rest on its laurels after crafting the greatest FPS game on the N64. The uber-talented development studio stepped its game up to craft an even better version of GoldenEye 007 that utilized a wholly original IP this time around. Perfect Dark turned out to be one of the most graphically impressive games on the N64 as it produced a futuristic sheen that shined brightly. Joanna Dark took center stage in an FPS that gave her access to some pretty cool weapons and useful gadgets. The ability to play the campaign with a friend or takedown three other local competitors within the multiplayer mode meant you could always count on someone else to increase Perfect Dark's replay value. Side note - the FarSight XR-20 is so OP!

Honorable Mentions

21. ‘Mario Party 2’

22. ‘Mario Golf’

23. ‘1080° Snowboarding’

24. ‘Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards’

25. ‘Mario Tennis’

26. ‘Wave Race 64’

27. ‘Blast Corps’

28. ‘Sin and Punishment’

29. ‘Jet Force Gemini’

30. ‘Excitebike 64’

31. ‘Turok 2: Seeds of Evil’

32. ‘Rayman 2: The Great Escape’

33. ‘Harvest Moon 64’

35. ‘Doom 64’

36. ‘Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon’

37. ‘Beetle Adventure Racing’

38. ‘Pokémon Puzzle League’

39. ‘Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber’

40. ‘Ridge Racer 64’

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