The N64 was a system that throughout the '90s brought friends together and simultaneously pitted them against each other. This was the system that introduced Nintendo games to the modern era, giving 3D makeovers to some of the company's most memorable characters, including Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong.
There were plenty of great games available for the system, but only a few of them have stood the test of time in order to be considered the best. Sure, the original PlayStation had some great games as well, and a better graphics processor, but there was something special about the N64, and its games have remained as popular as ever among gamers.
10 MARIO PARTY
It was the game that could end a thousand friendships, but man was it a lot of fun. Mario Party set the standard for all party games to come after it, but none of them could ever really live up to the original. There was something so fun about stealing a star from your friend right after they just managed to get one.
The games were often down to the wire, making a more exciting gaming experience. A victory could be made or broken in something as simple as the final mini-game. Though it was followed by a slew of sequels, the original Mario Party in its bare bones form remains the best.
9 BANJO KAZOOIE
Banjo Kazooie might not have featured any of the classic Nintendo characters that fans knew and loved, but it quickly became one of the defining games of the beloved console. The colorful game provided a ton of platforming fun, a silly but endearing story, and featured a great pair of characters for characters to control.
Most people might not even remember that Banjo had only been introduced in Diddy Kong Racing before getting his own game. Banjo Kazooie was, more than anything, expansive, allowing players to really dive deep into the game and explore a wide variety of areas.
8 DONKEY KONG 64
Donkey Kong had already been the star of several popular Super Nintendo games, proving that there was still room for this classic Nintendo character to develop. Along with his new sidekick, Diddy, Donkey Kong found himself facing off against King K. Rool several times. For his first and only outing on the Nintendo 64, Donkey Kong was given a huge, sprawling world to explore.
He also brought plenty of new friends along, including Lanky Kong and Chunky Kong. The game was packed with all sorts of features and necessitated the N64 expansion pack. It also gets a lot of points for the DK rap.
7 POKEMON SNAP
The first Pokemon game released for the N64 was a bit of an enigma. It did not feature any Pokemon battles or any of the adventure elements found in the original games. Instead, it put players in the role of a photographer traveling around various areas of a scenic island in order to document various Pokemon for Professor Oak's compendium of findings.
It was a strange formula that paid off in huge ways. There was something truly relaxing about traveling the island on a rail system and snapping photos of various Pokemon. As the game progressed and you were given tools like apples, pester balls, and the pokeflute, you were able to get better photos and even open up new areas of the island.
6 BANJO TOOIE
Video game sequels often have a hard hill to climb. They have to be bigger and pack in more features than their previous entries, without losing any of the charm or gameplay that made the originals so great. Banjo Tooie managed to do this to great effect. The game not only built on its predecessor's story and world, but it included more collectibles and areas to explore without making things feel like a chore.
While the previous game (as well as Donkey Kong 64) required a fair amount of backtracking, Banjo Tooie embraced a more linear style of gameplay, while still allowing players to take their time and find all of the game's secrets.
5 MARIO KART 64
Forget Forza and Need for Speed, because everyone knows that the king of racing games is none other than Mario Kart. When it was released for the N64, Mario Kart 64 quickly became the gold standard for racing games. The controls were tight, the tracks were fun and creative, and it was a perfect multiplayer game.
Who could forget being in first place, about to cross the finish line, only to get hit with that dreaded blue shell? Or discovering all of the game's shortcuts that would allow players to get the drop on their opponents. Though later games would continue to improve on the formula, it was Mario Kart 64 that set the standard for all of the sequels that came after.
4 SUPER MARIO 64
Mario finally got the three-dimensional treatment in the N64's flagship game, Super Mario 64. The game changed everything people had ever known about Mario games. Gone were the one-way side-scrolling levels of the past. Super Mario 64 introduced players to levels where they could run all over the place, discovering secret areas and hidden items.
The game also introduced the hub system, with players able to choose their levels by running around Peach's castle and exploring the grounds. The game also eschewed the power-up items of the past, choosing instead to give Mario a health meter. It may not have been the perfect 3D platformer, but it set the standards for all of the games that came after it.
It's safe to say that Rare was on a hot streak in the '90s. They created some of the most popular games for the N64, ones that remain the gold standard for early 3D gaming. One of those games was Goldeneye, the first person shooter that almost everyone had in their house. This game was one of the most well-made movie-to-game adaptations ever, and its multiplayer mode still stands as one of the best in video game history.
It does suffer from some early 3D shooter problems (such as the inability to aim without stopping in your tracks), but the levels were designed well, and there was plenty of fun to be had in both multiplayer and single player (like driving that tank).
2 SUPER SMASH BROS.
When Super Smash Bros. first came out, it was unlike any game people had ever seen before. Years before The Avengers would hit theaters, Nintendo was already creating their own shared universe. Super Smash Bros. was unlike any fighting game that had ever come before it, not just because of its mechanics, cast of memorable Nintendo characters, or useful items, but because of how much entertainment value was stuffed into one game.
Four players could duke it out in Hyrule Castle, or you could journey through the single-player mode, culminating in fights against metal Mario and Master Hand. There were four characters to unlock, and even more maps to open up. The game had so much to offer, and it continues to be one of the most popular franchises in Nintendo's history.
1 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME
The Legend of Zelda had long been a game series that found great success on the previous Nintendo consoles (including one of the best Game Boy games ever made, Link's Awakening). However, it wasn't until The Ocarina of Time that fans got to see the full potential of the classic adventure game. This N64 game was a masterpiece, a sprawling adventure that took players to every corner of Hyrule. It was a game that could be bright and cheery one moment, then completely scary the next.
The dungeons were challenging, which made them all the more satisfying to complete, and the story was full of twists and turns without feeling convoluted. The next game in the series, Majora's Mask, was great in its own way, but it was Ocarina of Time that set the new standard for Zelda games to come.