When many people grew up, they remember playing Nintendo games. A lot of today’s grown-ups fondly recall the days they spent with their friends racing in Mario Kart on the N64 or playing Super Smash Bros for the very first time. Games like these helped create memories that caused a lot of people to cherish the Nintendo 64.
However, some have looked at the N64 more objectively, weighing its pros and cons. While there’s no doubt that it had some of the best games ever made, it also had its fair share of problems. This was the first sign that Nintendo was going to march to the beat of their own drum, immune to industry trends and what their competitors were doing. They wanted to do their own thing, and it started with the N64.
Over the N64’s lifetime, there were several things that happened that left consumers wondering what Nintendo was thinking. For every Super Mario 64, there was a bad decision that the Big N made in trying to be innovative. As a result, there were many issues during the N64’s life that still affect gamers today. With a company like Nintendo, it’s important to expect quality with their products, but they proved in the N64 that they weren’t always in tune to what their consumers wanted.
With that said, we’ll be taking a rather painful trip down memory lane as we go through 25 Nintendo 64 pictures that show why gamers have trust issues. Get those neon controllers ready.
25 Lighting Doesn't Strike Twice
Banjo Kazooie is one of the most beloved games on the N64 as well as one of the best 3D platformers ever made. Starring a bear and a bird as they make their way through all sorts of wacky and delightful scenarios, there seemed to be no end to how fun that game could’ve been. Unfortunately, Rare couldn’t strike lightning twice with the game’s sequel, Banjo Tooie. The game was criticized for being too ambitious, not having the concise and focused design of its predecessor.
24 Klunky Kongtrols
Rare had a few blights when they worked on the Nintendo 64, and the Donkey Kong franchise is one of them. After they proved their worth with the Donkey Kong Country series on the SNES, many expected them to continue the franchise triumphantly in 3D. Unfortunately, the resulting Donkey Kong 64 had its fair share of problems. Forcing players to switch Kongs to collect many items was a drag, which led to a lot of needless backtracking and clunky controls.
23 A Boring Battle Simulator
There are people who remember Pokémon Stadium fondly through using their creatures caught on the Game Boy to battle on a big screen. However, a major console Pokémon game is far from what Pokémon Stadium was. It was essentially a battle simulator, and that went to define how console Pokémon games would be from that point onward. It wasn’t until the GameCube that a more fleshed-out Pokémon game was released, and it wouldn’t be until the Nintendo Switch that fans would get a real core Pokemon game on a home console.
22 Too Little, Too Late
Nintendo realized that there was something to storing games on optical discs, so they had an idea: they would create an attachment to the N64 that could read discs and develop a new line of games for it. However, their attempt was too little too late. Not only was the N64 DD a weird peripheral at best, but it was done so awkwardly and late that no one cared for it. Besides, the strategy of releasing an add-on with exclusive games seemed ridiculous to consumers, so it wasn’t long before Nintendo discontinued the product.
21 How Do You Hold This?
One look at the N64 controller, and it’s hard to understand how to hold the darn thing. Instead of the cleaner design of modern controllers, the N64’s was odd and unwieldy.
Having a third handle where the analog stick sat was odd.
Most players weren’t sure how to hold the controller, and those who figured it out still complained about how unbalanced the whole thing was. Keep in mind that people were playing first-person shooters, fighting games, and party games on those things.
20 Everyone Remembers This One
Much doesn’t need to be said other than the title. Superman 64 is infamous for being one of the worst video games of all time. Seemingly rushed, the game controlled poorly, looked awful, and didn’t even run correctly. The game consisted of little more than flying through rings. Fans of Superman were greatly disappointed. Later, there was work put into porting the game to PS1, and the development team in charge had to redesign the game from the ground up.
19 Only Downhill From Here
Mario Tennis was great on the N64. Introducing new characters to Mario’s world complete with a solid set of mechanics and additions, the developers knew what they were doing. However, Mario Tennis serves as a reminder that subsequent games in the franchise haven’t recaptured the magic. The franchise slowly went downhill, leading to Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, one of the worst games on the Wii U to date. Mario Tennis Aces seems to be a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t have the same punch of the N64 version.
18 A Poor Turn For The Series
Mega Man was one of the most popular game franchises back in the day, and it makes sense that Capcom would try to launch it into 3D. Unfortunately, Mega Man 64 wasn’t the step that fans wanted. The game had no clue how to properly replicate the tight gameplay of the series and translate it into a 3D space. Simple actions like turning were difficult to execute. Furthermore, the sound and graphics of the N64 version were just off; those issues were fixed in the PS1 version.
17 We Deserved More From Castlevania
The Castlevania franchise was another non-Nintendo property that captivated gamers during the days of earlier consoles. Releases such as Symphony of the Night and Dracula’s Curse were among some of the best games in their class.
Unfortunately, Konami wasn’t sure how to gracefully thrust the franchise into 3D.
Castlevania 64 was one of the worst games in the franchise, dealing with drab graphics, bad camera movement, and strange enemy designs. Castlevania fans deserved more, but all they got was a subpar game that didn’t even star a Belmont character.
16 The Game That Never Was
With the Final Fantasy series taking place on Nintendo consoles for years, fans were excited to see what could be done with the 3D hardware of the N64. Square was also ambitious, working quickly on the project that would become Final Fantasy VII. However, the data of the game was simply too massive for the N64 cartridges, which inevitably prompted Square to put the game on optical discs, which would only work on the PS1. Thus, Final Fantasy and Nintendo parted ways for many years.
15 Broken N64 Promises
After the success of Earthbound, the game’s creators were hard at work to bring the series to the N64 in a game aptly titled Earthbound 64. It was far along in development, to the point where images and footage were released. However, the game’s developers didn’t feel they could make a great game using the N64, so the project was scrapped. The game’s story would be adapted to Mother 3, which has yet to make it in the west. Earthbound fans have never been more bitter about anything.
14 The Missing Metroid Game
Along with franchises like Earthbound and Kid Icarus, Nintendo treated Metroid poorly. Focusing the bulk of their time on creating games for the N64, Nintendo approached the Metroid team to make a new game for the system. They lamented that it couldn’t be effectively done, leading to the absence of Samus on the N64 (save for Super Smash Bros). The bounty hunter wouldn’t appear in a 3D space until the GameCube with the release of Metroid Prime from Retro Studios.
13 No Personality For This Worm
Earthworm Jim was one of the best-looking platformers on the SNES. With the help of hand-drawn graphics, wacky environments, expressive characters, and tight gameplay, it had a chance at becoming a beloved franchise alongside Sonic and Mario.
However, its jump to the N64 left much to be desired.
The gorgeous graphics and animations were entirely replaced with ugly low-polygon models. On top of that, the controls weren’t as tight, and the environments were stale. It was Earthworm Jim without his personality.
12 Too Short For What We Wanted
Yoshi’s Story was the successor to Yoshi’s Island. While it had its own crisp and unique art style, Yoshi’s Story had problems with being too easy and too short. Where Yoshi’s Island was one of the best platformers released on the SNES, Yoshi’s Story was a massive letdown, being sold below its retail value shortly after its release. The game cut Yoshi’s Island’s level count, meaning that players could beat in a day if they wanted. It didn’t help that there wasn’t much challenge either, having no obstacles to halt any progress.
11 RPG 101
Despite its premise inciting dreams of exploration and adventure, Quest 64 was a game that delivered on none of its promises. Despite having “quest” in its title, the game is little more than a straightforward adventure where the player’s hand is held the entire time. There isn’t much depth or diversity, meaning that it feels like an RPG game for babies. It just felt like an RPG without polish, which meant that RPG fans wouldn’t get their fix on the N64. Most of the better RPGs had moved on to other systems.
10 Good Show, Not So Good Game
The N64 was released in a time where kids TV shows were becoming extremely popular. Of course, this also led to the unfortunate rise of games that were based on many of these TV shows. As most people know, none of them were very good. Shows like Rugrats and Sesame Street had tie-in games on the N64 just to capitalize on the popularity of their respective franchises. This trend would continue through many other consoles. While it has died down slightly, there are still plenty of these tie-ins released today.
9 Only Good For This One Thing
The idea of a microphone working with a game console seems cool on paper, but it’s not an idea that is very deep. There might be a few novel uses of such a device, but it would slowly lose its weight just a few moments in.
Unfortunately, that thought didn’t stop Nintendo from creating such a peripheral.
There weren’t many things that it could be used with, either. The best use of it was with Hey You, Pikachu!, where players could talk with the Pokémon mascot and do nothing else.
8 Just Releasing Them At This Point
TV shows weren’t the only storytelling mediums that had crappy tie-in video games released on the Nintendo 64. Movies also got the same treatment, with the higher-ups having largely the same philosophy of those in charge of popular TV shows. While some movie games were decent, most of them were hot garbage, either poorly ripping off a popular game franchise or trying something new without any care or thought put into it. They were just as bad back then as they are today.
7 Complicated Kombat
In the midst of the Mortal Kombat series was a little game titled Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero on the N64. It was radically different from the Mortal Kombat series up until that point, and it’s no wonder why people stayed away from it. Being more of an arcade brawler with fighting game mechanics, the game was clunky and unfinished. The controls were needlessly complicated, and without the power of the series’ full roster, it was hard to get fully invested in the game. It was bad.
6 Just Play Mario Kart
If there’s one thing that came from the N64, it was Mario Kart clones. With the release of Mario Kart 64, Nintendo had nearly perfected their kart racing formula. However, many developers would see this game and try to recreate it, with characters like Mickey Mouse getting behind the wheel to create their own version of Mario Kart. Unfortunately, clones of Nintendo’s racing franchise would only grow with future consoles, and the PS1 had more than its fair share of them.
5 The Franchise That Never Was
If there’s one type of game that was most prominent on the N64, it was the 3D platformer. With Nintendo practically making magic happen with Super Mario 64, many other developers wanted a piece of the action as well. This led to numerous new characters and 3D platformer franchises being released, such as Glover, Conker, and Mystical Ninja. However, many of these franchises wouldn’t stick around, as they were either poorly-made rip-offs or didn’t have enough iconicity to have more games made.
4 He Doesn't Really Look Like This
The N64 brought with it a new way of throwing graphics into a game. Assets and environments were entirely three-dimensional, which excited many people.
However, this led to a bad trend when it came to box art.
Where art prior to the N64 was stylistic and punchy, many N64 games were littered with low-polygon models of characters and enemies haphazardly placed without much thought. There was a lot less care and art put into the covers, which would define the industry trend for many years.
3 Hard On The Hand
Perhaps as infamous as the Mario Party franchise itself were the mini-games that involved players to make circles with the analog stick as quickly as possible. With those mini-games subtly peppered throughout each play session, it was common to get a lot of calluses on one’s hand. People would often resort to moving the sticks with their palms, which could only be done for so long. It’s a good thing those mini-games have since been removed from the franchise in subsequent entries.
2 Too Much Of A Good Thing
Diddy Kong Racing is not on the list of bad Mario Kart clones. On the contrary, the game is arguably better than Mario Kart 64. The reason Diddy Kong Racing is on the list is because it was such a unique and clever idea, having three types of karts on any given track at a time. However, with the buyout of Rare by Microsoft, the franchise was gone in the water before it could even get one sequel out. Nintendo has since then not pursued Diddy Kong Racing, and the franchise has been gone for years.
1 Odd Puzzle Games
Despite the new hardware of the N64 being ripe for creating all kinds of beautiful games, some developers had no intention of doing this.
Instead, they used all those assets to create a subpar puzzle game with 2D drawings and bland assets.
Even the Pokémon franchise was guilty of this, throwing out Pokémon Puzzle League, which had no business being on the N64 in the first place. Not everyone had the desire to make full use of the N64, which was a massive disappointment.