There have been rumors Mario Karting around for months now that Nintendo is going to release an N64 classic console, something that made gamers everywhere start paying attention. The rumors got even more exciting when someone dug up a mysterious list of N64 games that were quickly rumored to be a bundle of N64 games due for release.
Unfortunately, it looks like that list didn't really have anything to do with the N64, and Nintendo probably doesn't have any plans to release a new version of its beloved console and three-pronged controllers. But it got us all talking a ton about what our favorite N64 games were, and which games we want to play again, and it turns out that is not the same list.
You see, there are some N64 games that got tons of hype and made plenty of good memories when they first came out all those years ago but they just don't have it anymore. Either technology has made them obsolete, or old flaws are just too hard to overlook these days. We think it's important to talk about which games should really stay in the past, additional platform releases aside.
So, here are the games that fans loved back in the day, but which have serious problems now that shouldn't be overlooked. Yes, many of them are famous. Many of them were great back in their prime. But here's why they can't compete anymore.
15 Not A Modern Smash Hit
When Super Smash Bros 64 first came out, it did a few things, like revolutionize fighting games and show how cool it was to have all the Nintendo characters in a dynamic environment. We're not understating its importance. We're saying you can never play it again.
Think how long it has been since that game came out. How many other versions of Smash Bros have hit Nintendo consoles every generation (sometimes more than one). It's created a cult following that has studied the ins and outs of every character, their weaknesses, their timing, all the little obsessive things that make Smash Bros a great game. But now? Go back to Smash 64, and it feels insanely clunky and unbalanced. All the little refinements are gone, and it's just not the experience that the newer games have become.
14 A Kong-Sized Mess
Of course the N64 was going to get a Donkey Kong game. But did it have to be this one? DK64 feels like a blatant excuse to get Kong on the console without much thought about gameplay, and we were so excited about back then we didn't notice the facts. The best parts are stolen from Banjo-Kazooie, and the worst parts are, well, they're really bad. Having to do the same levels over and over again with different characters was a huge drag, the controls were frequently obnoxious (or you may have blanked the jetpack from your memory), and the enemies were on a crazy grid from "impossible to fight just run past" to "oh, oops, I killed him." Has there even been a good DK game since?
13 Oh My God! They Killed This Game!
South Park has a surprising number of video games, and yes, some of them are very good, especially in recent years as they've mastered the formula. But the first game was the 1998 South Park for N64, and it was horrible. Part of the problem was the early release date. If South Park had slowed its roll and waited a couple year before starting this series, it probably would have been vastly improved (Luv Shack and Rally were the other two games).
Unfortunately, the version we got was horrible, with fuzzy textures and a ton of repetition or just plain missing elements. Plus, the character voice reactions are cool for a very short amount of time, but they repeat them every time they get hit, which slowly drives you insane, as does the highly repetitive music and gameplay.
12 At Least It's Not Mighty No. 9
Mega Man Legends, aka Mega Man 64, made a lot of fans give up on Mega Man games, and for good reason. The huge problem? It didn't play like a Mega Man game. The pew-pewing, transforming, and level-exploring of the many other Mega Man games, was gone. In its place was a very odd RPG in a semi-3D world where you are expected to control Mega Man and wander around crafting your weapons. It wasn't a bad effort, but it felt like Mega Man had been slapped onto another entire game. It had flaws, even as Legends on PlayStation. When it jumped to 64 three years later, it was just an outdated port that even Mega Man fans have a hard time defending these days, despite the excitement at the time.
11 64 Mario Hasn't Aged Well
Oh, we really wish it had. But firing up that old memory leads to a lot of disappointment. Remember, this was the first time Mario was in a big 3D world like this. It was one of the first big 3D worlds on console, period. Of course, it was revolutionary. And plastic airplanes were pretty amazing when you were four years old. But playing with plastic airplanes again today isn't nearly as much fun. Likewise, much of the adventure and charm of Super Mario 64 feels experimental and infantile, and the movements/controls have aged terribly. We deserve better Marios than this, and we have them, so let's forget about this one. Super Mario Odyssey puts this adventure to shame, we should all just accept that.
10 Food For The Worms
Earthworm Jim was a unique, crazy, and super fun series for two games. Earthworm Jim 3D was crazy, but neither unique nor fun. Bundled with a weird advertisement for a pager (seriously) and marred by horrible game design, this game not only flopped but essentially canceled any plans to make another Earthworm Jim game. From nasty decisions like resetting your marble count every time you died to advertising enemies that didn't even make it to the final game, this Jim game didn't get any love from anyone. Plus, the controls were even harder to use than the punishing first games, which didn't win over any new fans. We should have forgotten it in 1999. Let's not try to remember it now.
9 This Party's NOT Bumping
The first Mario Party should have technically been the best since the others are basically imitations with a few new modes and relatively little innovation. But if you go back through the Mario Party history, you'll notice that the first one had serious problems. The basic level-hopping style is still there but everything feels flat and unnecessarily pushed together. The minigames are both easy to learn and then incredibly repetitive, which makes the game very hard to keep playing after, oh, 20 minutes or so. It's actually pretty remarkable how just a few tweaks improved the next Mario Party games and made them less of a chore to go through. Plus, we have better Mario games inspired by Mario Party these days, so let's focus on those.
8 Someone Call Simon To End This Madness
Let's be honest: Do you remember Castlevania 64? Do you remember what was in it? When you think of the Castlevania games, does this one make it on your memory list, or does it slip through the cracks? We don't blame you if it's the latter. Symphony of the Night on PlayStation, that was a memorable game. But N64 got the short end of the stick here with a different game that's not necessarily bad, just meh. Even efforts to be unique, like "you can't jump during this section" come across as tedious and unnecessary. It was especially torturous for true Castlevania fans since it had 4 different endings that required many different playthroughs of what's already just an okay game. No wonder Castlevania took a break for a while.
7 A Rotten Egg
Banjo-Kazooie had the potential to launch a huge new series, and then it didn't (no, we're not counting Yooka-Laylee and you can't make us). We blame Banjo-Tooie. It's a really bad game. First, instead of being truly creative, B-Too just ramped up the difficulty and made all the collectibles too hard to get, even for our greedy, well-trained fingers. At a certain point, it's just not worth it.
Additionally, the bigger level design doesn't do the game any favors, since it just takes forever to get anywhere, and certain features (like using Mumbo, dear god) seem intentionally slow and awkward as if to pad out gameplay. And don't get us started on poor decisions like the shoot-em-up sections and way too many vehicles.
6 Not So Golden Anymore
Let's sit back and think for a moment about just how many modern FPS games that GoldenEye has inspired. Together with Doom, that's pretty much all of them, right? Which is why GoldenEye is so problematic. It was the first of its kind, and it doesn't really have anything in common with the shooter games we play today. As others have noted, GoldenEye actually made horrible decisions regarding balance, had controls that were just this side of playable, and provided graphics that barely got the participation award for trying. These flaws weren't as evident at the time, but now it's all that you can see. FPS games have grown up, and GoldenEye is barely in the same genre anymore. Let's just keep it in our memories...and then not think too hard about it.
5 A Bad Day In General
Conker's is one of the first games to become truly infamous instead of famous. It had a lot of dirty jokes and some swearing, and that's about all it took in those days. Its popular reception was based on the fact that it was a game designed for adults and teenagers who liked to giggle. But force yourself to look past the naughty bits, and you'll see a game that's just a worse version of Banjo-Kazooie. It's very linear, the camera frequently goes off rails, and the game could barely run on the N64 without a shuddering framerate. In hindsight, that adult rating looks like an excuse to hide a really sub-par game that probably wouldn't have gotten noticed otherwise.
4 Racing Towards Disaster
DK Racing (seemingly) had one goal: To be better, or at least as good, or at least distracting enough, compared to Mario Kart. And it succeeded! That's why most of the old reviews you can find are extremely positive. The problem is that it's not a good racing game. In fact, the progression system and the more natural bots make it very clear that this is a game that's more fun on single-player and less fun as a multiplayer game, which kind of defeats the whole point!
This makes sense when you realize the game was actually designed as a vehicle to launch new characters first, and a racing game second. It should have probably gone back to the drawing board and re-invented the multiplayer aspects, but that wasn't the goal here.
3 Try A U-Turn (Away From This Title)!
The first Star Fox was an incredible game for its time – it was literally one of the first games I ever played, don't fight me on this. But Star Fox 64, in retrospect, just wasn't trying. Take a look at some footage and you'll realize that it's literally just the SNES version, but with more half-hearted 3D aspects and absolutely no textures whatsoever (unless vague blobs count).
But the gameplay deserves the most hate. Aiming and flying are somehow even worse than earlier Star Fox games, when that was the thing that really needed to be fixed. In fact, the only thing good about the game is the constant banter between the teammates, and that gets really old after 10 minutes. The future of Star Fox didn't end up being very great, either.
2 Gotta Catch 'Em All (Except This One)
Do you know what the best part of Pokémon Stadium was? I do, because friends have reminded me in no uncertain terms. You could port your Pokémon from your mobile game to the N64 with the transfer pack. When the best part of a game is being able to play another, cheaper game on it, you know something's wrong. And that's really all Pokémon Stadium was, an excuse to tie the Pokémon world closer together and give players more things to do with their monsters. Nintendo has always been really good at this but that doesn't make it a good game. It makes a shell of a game that deserved a lot more depth, exploration, and maybe any story at all. Oh, and the sequel didn't exactly do much better..
1 Imperfect Dark
Perfect Dark did many things right, including being a way better game than the sequel, the terrible Perfect Dark Zero. But let's take a step back and look at what the game really is....which is kind of hard to figure out. The story is a weird mishmash of sci-fi elements that were haphazardly thrown at coders with no reason, plus a strange level system that ended in cheat codes for some reason, also a co-op and a counter-op mode with really weird mechanics like enemy possession.
There's a lot more we could talk about too, like maddening death penalties, a customizable map creator no one knew what to do with, and more. The game feels like a bunch of innovative ideas that weren't tied together at all and wouldn't come into their own for several years. This was a game before its time, and unfortunately, it shows.