The Nintendo 64 is maybe the greatest all-time example of getting lemons and making lemonade. When the rest of the gaming industry was making the move to disc, Nintendo stuck with cartridges, giving the N64 the unique feel of having out of date graphics just months after it came out. Regardless, it speaks to Nintendo’s ingenuity that you could make a strong argument the system produced some of the best games of all time: The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, MarioKart 64, and Super Mario 64 just to name a few. None of those games are on this list.
Instead, we’ve decided here to focus on some of the Nintendo 64’s greatest clunkers. Games that were so bad, in some cases, even getting past the title screen could be considered a major accomplishment. Games so bad that prolonged playing of any of them could likely lead to massive frustration and a shattered controller. And in an era where games were retailing for as much as $70 a pop, coming home with a stinker could sting both your brain and your wallet.
So grab a Kool-Aid Burst, throw on some Snick in the background, and brace yourself for a rather bumpy stroll down memory lane: this is The 30 Worst Nintendo 64 Games Of All Time.
Anything we missed? Drop a comment and make your voice be heard.
30. F.R.E.A.K.S And Geeks
To start off our list, I have a question: what even is this game? Seriously, I know video games can get a little out there when it comes to concepts and storylines (I’m looking at you, Nier:Automata) but Bio F.R.E.A.K.S takes it to another level. Here’s a synopsis of the game, from it’s Wikipedia page:
“In the not-too-distant future, The United States fell like all great empires throughout history. Fifty states were broken into private territories after the Techno-Industrial Civil Wars. Technology and bio-engineering accelerated at such an incredible rate, and forced an industrial competition of corporate espionage–”
How are we already three sentences into the game’s plot and there is still NO MENTION OF ANYTHING EITHER BIO OR FREAK RELATED? I’ll spare you, reading the whole thing and just tell you that “F.R.E.A.K.S” stands for Flying Robotic Enhanced Armored Killing Synthoids. So that solves that mystery.
29. War Clods
Imagine, if you will, that Mortal Kombat was a terrible game, with blocky player models, uninteresting characters, and a soundtrack that consisted of an organ playing some kind of Phantom of the Opera ripoff on repeat. Mix it all together and you’ve got Midway’s War Gods! The AI in this game is all over the place. Responding to criticisms that the AI in the arcade version was painstakingly dumb, Midway tried to ramp it up in the N64 port, but the result is computer opponents who can take you down before you even figure out what you’re doing. Attacks are choppy and feel forced, as opposed to say, the smooth combat featured in the MK games. And the characters just completely lack any form of inspiration. As opposed to classic characters like Sub-Zero or Raiden, War Gods instead offers us such instant favorites as Kabuki Joe. That’s right. Kabuki Joe. Better make sure we keep him away from Bunraku Steve.
28. Those Dumb Babies
Who doesn’t love the Rugrats? A knowledge of the adventures of Tommy, Chucky, Phil and Lil, and the ever antagonizing Angelica were an essential part of any 90s kid’s repertoire, and the show continues to be popular even today. But what the Rugrats were not, and never will be known for is their video games. Rugrats in Paris may have been a cinematic masterpiece that many refer to as a modern-day Citizen Kane (I think), but to say the game left a lot to be desire would be an understatement. Between the low frame rate, terrible graphics, and gameplay that wouldn’t entertain most five-year-olds, I’d say this one would probably be better suited at the bottom of Tommy Pickles’ diaper pail.
27. All Downhill From Here
There are few things more thrilling than the Winter Olympics. The rush of downhill skiing. The thrill of speed skating. Curling. It’s the best. What would really be great is if someone took the excitement of the Winter Olympics and put it all in one video game for the Nintendo 64. Spoiler alert: that did not happen. What we got instead was Nagano Winter Olympics ’98, a pile of trash that was as broken as Tonya Harding’s laces. Boasting lousy graphics, limited modes, and zero Rumble Pack support, probably the worst thing about this game is the decision to not include ice hockey. Skiing is fun, sure, but ice hockey is one of the lynchpins of the winter games, and leaving it out was a massive omission. Lame.
26. Sub-Zero Or Sub Par
On the surface, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero sounds like an awesome idea. A game that highlights one character from the beloved franchise, and delves deeper into their own personal story, giving players a chance to better identify MK’sstone-cold killer. However, in terms of execution, calling this game a complete and total train wreck may be going too easy on it. The cutscenes consist of stagnant captioned images, and, unlike the PlayStation port, lack any kind of voice or even just regular acting. And when it comes to gameplay, you can probably get a better feeling of what it’s like to be Sub-Zero by spending a weekend sitting in a meat locker. Finish him? No need, my friend. He’s already done.
25. SnoWay I’m Playing This
Let me ask you something. When you think “hottest extreme sports that have withstood the test of time and today continue to be loved by millions,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Wait, let me stop you. I already know we’re both thinking of the same classic, American winter’s past time that is extreme snowmobiling. Fortunately, there’s a game for the Nintendo 64 that let’s you live this mainstream and widely accepted as good sport any time: Polaris SnoCross.
Honestly, I understand how this game got made (the 90s were a different time), but what I don’t understand is how the developers released such a piece of garbage for mass consumption. The game is terrible, it looks shoddy, handles terribly, and it plays like it’s begging you to turn it off. Trees and mountains disappear as you drive, and getting stuck in the walls happens so often they should have advertised it as a feature. No thanks.
24. No Thank You Sir, I Would Not Like Another
Based on the ultra popular characters, the green army men toys, Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes finally lets you take control of green army men toys and march them into battle. Now, for a minute, forget the fact that you could re enact this game in your parent’s basement with a bucket of green army men for about $5-$10, and let’s just look at it for what it is.
The green army and the tan army are at it again, locked in the classic battle of…green vs tan. But are their fights taking place on some bloody battlefield, or at sea? No. They’re fighting…in your backyard. From the IGN review:
“General Plastro and his evil Tan Army have discovered portals that offer passage into the world of humans although neither the Tan nor the Green Army are aware that they are running around in such places as a bathroom or garden.” (IGN)
23. Die, Katana
WOOF. This game is terrible. I mean, even on a list of terrible games, this one has the unique distinction of being truly awful. It’s never a good sign when a game’s release gets repeatedly pushed back, three times in the case of Daikatana, and sadly, its release confirmed many peoples’ suspicions that the final product would not deliver. It represented a rare step backward for revered game developer John Romero, known for titles like Commander Keen and Doom.
Maybe Daikatana’s biggest issue is by the time it did actually come out, other shooters had already arrived that left it in the dust, like Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. Even your help in the game didn’t work, the AI characters that were supposed to assist you just felt like deadweight.
22. The Sleeping Man’s Fighter
Deadly Arts. Finally, a fighting game where every time your character gets hit, they lie on the ground for an extended period of time. You know, when you think about it, that’s really what fighters are missing these days. Realism. When someone gets kicked, why do they get up so fast? Kicking hurts. It hurts to get kicked. People should react as such. Imagine a fighter where every time you got punched or kicked, you had to lie there and consider whether or not it was worth going on with the fight, and guess what, you’re basically at Deadly Arts. Kind of weird that a game with “Deadly” in the title doesn’t seem to include any actual deadly combat, opting instead for a sort of Virtua Fighter feel (you know, minus the fun).
21. Beyond Torture
What is it about game companies that make them think they can just slap a licensed title on a game, package it, and sell it like a finished product? The Batman Beyond animated series is a classic, reimagining the caped and cowled crusader in the future as teenager Terry McGinnis with Bruce Wayne playing the role of a mentor. But this game, based on the movie of the same name, could not be less imaginative. For some reason, Batman jiggles from side to side, even when he’s supposed to be standing still. His torso seems three times too big for his body. The cutscenes, all of which are inanimate slides, feature dialogue that inexplicably moves at a breakneck pace. They say the night is darkest just before the dawn. Sadly, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker never found that light switch it was scrambling for.
20. Say It Ain’t So, Jim
Earthworm Jim on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis (or MasterDrive, for my friends across the pond) was an instant classic. I mean, it had all the elements of a perfect game. An earthworm in a space suit, a whip, cows, it was all there. Unfortunately, when the title tried to make the jump to 3D on the N64, it fell embarrassingly short of the high bar it had set for itself. Shiny Entertainment, who developed the first two games, didn’t develop this one, and it’s a prime example of what happens when the mad scientist hands over the lab to the guy who works down the hall (I’m looking at you, BioShock 2.)
Earthworm Jim 3D is lacking in humor, something that drove the first two games, and featured frustrating camera angles that made the game virtually unplayable. Somebody get the early bird on the phone, this one’s a miss.
19. Sugar, Spice, And Everything Terrible
The Powerpuff Girls cartoon on Cartoon Network is among the most beloved animated shows to come out of the 90s. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup were a superhero team for the ages: three adorable kids who weren’t afraid to throw down and kick some tail when the situation called for it. Unfortunately, the only tail being kicked in their N64 game Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction was that of the person playing the game. It’s a glitchy, hideous mess. To make matters worse, the game featured no voice acting and wasn’t even an original creation, it was just a reskin of Tom and Jerry: Fists of Furywith Powerpuff Girls slapped on it. You couldn’t even play as two Powerpuff Girls in the game’s multiplayer. What’s the point? Denizens of the city of Townsville, you better hope Mojo Jojo takes the weekend off.
18. Insane In The Mem-Vania
How the mighty have fallen. Castlevania on the NES is a classic: eerie, fun, and the definition of “Nintendo hard.” Now Castlevania 64 on the other hand, drops the ball nearly every chance it gets. But the biggest problem with this game is the camera. Oh, my, the disastrously bad camera. Frequently jumping around, and, on occasion, just swinging around for absolutely no discernible reason, the camera angles in this came were literally so bad they could lead to the player dying.
Imagine playing a game like Bloodborne, which is already hard enough as is, and right as you’re about to beat a boss, the camera inexplicably swings all over the place, and you lose. It’s another to tear the game to pieces and throw it across the room. Although not necessarily in that order.
17. Just Blow It Up
As a lifelong wrestling fan, this makes me so sad. WCW Nitro, much like the program it was named after, was a game that had all the makings of a promising title, but in the end, simply could not deliver. The controls in this THQ developed game, later perfected by Asmik and AKI, were simply unplayable. Matches were far too short, and all in all, it made for a very frustrating experience.
Arguably the one saving grace of WCW Nitro on the Playstation was the wrestler intro videos. Before you picked a wrestler from the selection screen, he’d make a pitch to you as to why you should pick him (Alex Wright’s pitch will live forever in my memory). It was campy, fun, and silly, which, coincidentally, also makes for a good wrestling show. Unfortunately, this didn’t even make it to the N64, literally removing the one enjoyable thing about the game. The following match is schedule for one fail.
16. Wayne? Is That You In There?
Remember before, when we were talking about that Nagano game, and I was like “wow, how could they leave hockey out?” WELL, TURNS OUT MAYBE THAT WAS FOR THE BEST.
Olympic Hockey ’98 might be the worst thing to come out in 1998, and that’s a big deal, considering that was the same year that weird Godzilla reboot came out (remember that Puff Daddy/Jimmy Page song? I do, but only because I can’t forget). The game is just Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey 98, but with the characters reskinned with an Olympic theme. It’s literally the same game. So I guess if you hate pro ice hockey, but adore the Olympic version of the sport…then…this is the game for you? Also, who are you?
15. Mega Pain 64
Making the leap to 3D is hard. As we’ve already seen on this list, even the most successful 2D games can fail to deliver when they switch to 3D (looking at you, Earthworm Jim 3D). Unfortunately, Mega Man 64 falls into the category of franchises that were unable to adapt. What makes the early Mega Man titles fun is the run and gun, fast paced, incredibly difficult gameplay. Mega Man 64 has none of this, instead offering gamers a completely different, more story based Mega Man experience that, quite frankly, no one asked for.
In cases like these, developers need look no further for inspiration than the Super Mario franchise, who consistently find a way to maintain the charm of early Mario games while making a quality 3D product (Super Mario Oddessy) being the prime example. At the end of the day, it all comes down to gameplay and fun, and having Mega Man not wear his helmet doesn’t help facilitate either of those things.
14. They Killed Kenny…’s Reputation
South Park has since cleared its video game name with releases like The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, games that literally make the player feel as though they are playing through an episode of the TV show. But in the 90s, South Park games carried a very different stigma. They were known for being glitchy, graphically sub par, and, worst of all, not much fun.
In South Park Rally, gamers had the chance to answer the age old question of “what if MarioKart, instead of featuring the cast of the Mario games, instead enlisted the talents of the cast of South Park?” Answer? Who cares. The limited character sound bites and lack of humor the TV show coveys so well doomed this title from the start. Stick to MarioKart, and just imaging Yoshi’s farts every once and a while.
13. Not All It’s Quacked Up To Be
Quack quack, my friends! Disney characters are not incapable of starring in memorable games that can appeal to all ages (Castle of Illusion comes to mind), but Mr. Duck’s Nintendo 64 debut is not among them. The game does have some positives in it’s corner, like a broad cast of characters, all voiced by their actual voice actors, but at the end of the day, it feels more like a demo of a game than an actual title. The game is amazingly short, and while the levels are remarkably easy, the bosses can be very to extremely difficult (Merlock at the end of the game could make even Cuphead blush).
12. Fight Me
Do you get the joke in the title of this game? Let me explain it to you. At the time this title was released, lots of games had “64” at the end of their name. It was a way of telling the gamer that this game was released for the Nintendo 64 (if you couldn’t already tell by the fact it was on a cartridge instead of a disc like every other game at the time). But this game puts it’s own spin on that concept. Instead of the number 64, Clay Fighter uses 63 1/3! How ridiculous. Not only is this number less than 64, the number most games used in their title, it’s also a fraction! If you want your game to do well, a nice snappy title is key. This is the opposite of that! It’s almost like the title is calling to your attention the fact that this game is quirky, and purposefully different from all the other titles out there! Do you get it now? I hope so!
How many different Power Rangers teams are there? I’m serious. Does anybody know? When I was a kid, I remember there was the original Power Rangers (Tina, Davey, Alex, Burt, and Jennifer), but now, there’s like tons of new Power Rangers, like Power Rangers Alpha Blockade, Power Rangers Optical Unit, Power Rangers: SVU, I just can’t keep up anymore. Anyway.
This game is a travesty. For a game that game out towards the end of the Nintendo 64’s run, it looks truly awful graphically. It just basically feels like running around in a park shooting at bad guys (Power Rangers have guns?). It’s also so short it makes a round of Candy Crush feel like Skyrim. Just play the beat em up on the SNES instead.
10. Tooie? Too You!
Banjo-Tooie isn’t a terrible game per say, but considering the fact it was the follow up to one of the single greatest titles on the Nintendo 64, it was a massive let down. The pacing is totally different from it’s predecessor, it’s much slower and forces the player to take far longer to complete very simple tasks. While the game offers a deeper storyline and arguably a more in depth experience, that’s not what gamers go to this series games for.
To quote the great VideoGameDonkey:
“It’s the moment to moment game play where Tooie tends to screw up. The original game was direct and simple. Banjo-Tooie is sprawling and confusing and everything takes too long to do.”
9. Got The Blues
Why’d they make this? Why did this movie need a game? It seems like one of those movies that you’d be like, “Well, that wasn’t great. They probably won’t make a game for it.” But then they did.
Not only that, the Blues Brothers 2000 game didn’t even come out until two years after the movie. Can you imagine that? A movie comes out, flops, and then two years after, they release a video game. That’d be like an Adventures of Pluto Nash video game coming out in 2004. Just…why?
8. Driving Towards Disaster
You know, a great car once said “Git ‘er done.” That car was Larry Mater, and he became famous because of his roles in great car documentaries like Cars and Cars 2 (can you tell writing this list is driving me slowly insane?). Sadly, Carmageddon 64 barely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as these previously released automotive classics.
This game is so bad. In previous Carmageddon games, you ran over people. Not exactly family friendly, but campy and honestly, pretty funny. In this game, you run over what appear to be cardboard cut outs of zombies. It feels nothing like the previous games that the series was known for, and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, stick with a classic car, like Steve “Lightning” Queens.
7. Swing And A Miss
I’ve been a New York Mets fan since I was a kid, and while yes, that has been and continues to be extremely painful, it can’t even begin to compare to the experience of playing this horrific baseball simulator. Character models are blocky and feel nothing like their real life counterparts. Pitching is a nightmare. The hitters don’t so much hit the ball as they do tap it, completely removing the satisfying feeling of timing your hit just right. And what’s with that slide whistle effect every time you make contact? Is this a baseball sim or a children’s birthday party? Don’t answer that.
6. Assault On The Senses
AW YEAH, BATTLETANX! What could possibly be bad about this game? You drive around IN A TANK, and shoot OTHER THANKS! Video game perfection, right? WRONG. You can get a more accurate feeling of what it’s like to have a tank battle by renting your own tank and sitting in it. Not even using it. Just sitting in it.
The camera angles are super clunky, and controls often feel unresponsive. Not only that, for some reason, the game always looks like it’s taking place on a foggy day, with other tanks (excuse me, tanx) disappearing off in the distance. Add to that a mind numbingly awful metal soundtrack and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Just keep shooting at the red triangles! Nothing more rewarding than repeatedly shooting at red triangles. Now that’s fun.
5. I Got SPACE CIRCUS FEVER!
Who among us, at one point or another, hasn’t dreamed of being a part of the space circus? I know I’ve always thought it would be amazing to be shot out of a space cannon, or walk the space tight rope, or even see the space bearded lady. Well, dream no more.
Starshot: Space Circus Fever puts you in the shoes of a space circus juggler on a quest to figure out who destroyed a rocket, or something. The game’s controls are dismal and the frame rate drops out constantly.
4. Rugrats: Struggle To Stay Awake
The Rugrats franchise has the unique distinction of being the only television show to get not one but TWO games on this list! Congrats, Rugrats!
Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt puts you in the shoes of your favorite Rugrats characters and lets you take them where you’ve always dreamed of going: on a scavenger hunt. You basically wander around on a game board looking for things and trying not to let your health hit zero. Because if it does, you’ve got to take a nap. You know, I wonder if this was the inspiration for Final Fantasy XV‘s innovative “when it gets dark, we have to stop playing and set up camp” engine. Because nothing is more fun than turning on a video game and watching the characters in it go to sleep. PARTY!
3. This Is The Worst Quest I’ve Ever Been On
Quest 64 was a good idea, in theory. When developer Square stopped working with Nintendo in favor of Sony and their fancy pants disc console, Nintendo knew they had to do something to remain in the RPG market. So what better idea than to create a brand new RPG franchise, one that would take players into a totally new world and inevitably wipe that dang Final Fantasy off the map?
Yeah, swing and a miss. Quest 64 isn’t a horrible game, per say, but in terms of achieving its goal of pushing similar RPGs from the spotlight, it failed miserably. There’s no currency system, no gear to switch on and off as you play through the game, and the stumpy graphics make it a real eyesore to look at. Not to mention an almost complete lack of story. Quest 64 takes a quick quest of its own from the store directly into the trash can.
2. It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s An Unmitigated Disaster
You guys all know Superman, right? Strapping young guy, poses as a reporter by day, dresses up in red and blue tights by night and pretty much any other time somebody needs saving? Okay, now think about the one thing that really defines Superman. Is it his commitment to truth, justice, and the American way? The way he’s always there right in the nick of time? The whole wearing underwear outside his costume thing? All wrong. It’s rings. Specifically, flying through them. The guy can’t get enough of it. And that’s what makes this game so good. Lex Luthor is up to his classic tricks: putting rings all over the city. And you gotta go through them. Go on, Superman. Get through those rings. Heat vision? Nah. Super strength. Uh uh. Leaping tall buildings? Bye, Felicia. Gimme some rings. And then, you know what? Give me some more rings. Super.
1. Immature Audiences Only
So, at this point, half of you are mad at me just for putting this game on the list, and the other half are mad at me for not giving Superman 64 the number one spot for worst N64 game in history. I get it, this may not be a terribly popular choice. But have you played Conker’s Bad Fur Day lately? This game is dumb. Like, really dumb. Billed as being one of the first “adults only” video games, Conker’s influence on the industry is indisputable. But while the adult comedy games that came after it, like South Park: The Stick of Truth or even Grand Theft Auto, are legitimately funny, Conker instead settles for basic, easy jokes, for example, “The Great Mighty Poo” or the ever popular “Sunflower that has a large chest.” At the time it may have been considering groundbreaking, but in retrospect, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a mediocre platformer with elementary school level humor.
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