The Nintendo 64 is a controversial console. Currently, Nintendo is not the juggernaut that it once was during the times of the NES and SNES. As of this writing, the Wii U has stopped production around the world. It only sold about 13.5 million units while the Wii sold nearly eight times that amount at 101.6 million units. It is the worst selling Nintendo console of all time, falling way behind the Wii and its monstrous sales. So you would have to wonder, how did it turn out this way? Where did it go wrong for Nintendo? Some will say the GameCube was the beginning of the end for Nintendo. But, I say the Nintendo 64 was the beginning of the end for Nintendo.
The Nintendo 64 had a rough life. Technology wise, it couldn’t compete with the PlayStation that dominated during that console generation. Plus, the PlayStation was a better place for third party companies. As a result, the N64 was faced with an up-hill battle. That isn’t to say that the N64 didn’t have great games. Nintendo made great games despite the adversity. Some of those games have been very influential for many developers. A select few have even been lauded as some of the greatest games of all time. GolMaybe the reason people look at these games as amazing was because the memory of the Super Nintendo was still fresh in the minds of gamers.
So I wanted to start the list off with the most iconic first person shooter on the N64, Goldeneye 007. I say iconic because it was one of the best first person shooter on a console at the time, but even then, the game wasn’t good. The controls are really stiff and the camera can be nauseating. The graphics don’t help it out either, as everything looks the same. It gets confusing and frustrating to walk through the same looking corridors. I will say that the game definitely deserves some of the respect its given. It showed that FPS games can work on consoles and be decent to play. Despite the respect that it receives, Goldeneye wasn’t really a fun game to play. Multiplayer, while at fun at times, is broken and can be easily exploited via the game’s bugs.
Donkey Kong 64 has always been a weird game to me. Donkey Kong 64 took what Banjo-Kazooie did, but worse. When Super Mario 64 came out, it was Nintendo’s first 3D platformer and they gave it an amazing first try. I’ll get more into detail as to why Super Mario 64 is overrated and its issues later on in the list, but suffice it to say, there was a lot that could be fixed. Banjo took Mario 64 and made it great. However, DK64 was a weird turn. It was a glorified collect-a-thon. It was all about the items and moving on and that got old pretty quickly. Sure, the different characters were fun and so were their weapons, but that couldn’t really mask what was wrong with DK64: sheer repetition.
Simply, Pokemon Snap is really boring. It’s a cute idea and, as a kid, I loved it. But at the end of the day, it’s a on-rails shooter with not much to other. The Pokemon are just animals who don’t really do anything of note in the game. There’s somewhat of a challenge in getting the right shot, but you can just replay the level with no real setback. Maybe that’s why, despite fan request, Nintendo hasn't made a Pokemon Snap 2 despite having the Wii U. The Wii U tablet is perfect to held up like a camera (look up Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water for the Wii U. It does just that). However, I think Nintendo wants to flex its creative muscle and create a more interactive game. And that’s probably for the best.
I put these two games together because they’re pretty much the same game. The Pokemon Stadium games are just battle simulator games. Admittedly, the real reason the Pokemon Stadium games were played was because the world was in the middle of Poke-mania. Anything Pokemon was automatically good. And we have to face facts: these games suck. On a side note, Pokemon games on consoles have never made it work. Maybe it’s not so strange that Pokemon games have always put their A game on consoles after all, as the whole point of the game is to share with others and create memories on the go. You can’t have the adventure of a lifetime while sitting at home, which is why these bland games really fell short.
Given the immense success of the other entries in the Super Smash Bros. series, you would think that all of the entries have been 10/10 games. Well, that is definitely not the case with the original Super Smash Bros. The original game was a pretty big risk for its time. No other company had allowed various characters to get together and fight, making it a weird game for its time. As a game though, it’s not great. Not every entry in this series can be a Melee or Smash Four. The single player is short and boring, though the multiplayer aspect is still fun to play to an extent. The trident of the N64 is going to be an obstacle no matter what. The ‘trident’ is hard to get a good grip on and with a game like Super Smash Bros that requires precise time and frame perfect input, I doubt many people are going back to the original.
Yoshi’s Story is a poor man’s Yoshi’s Island, as it simply can’t compare to what Yoshi’s Island did. Yoshi’s Island has great responsive controls, a cute art style, and unique and intuitive mechanics. Say what you want about Baby Mario crying, but the baby screaming and crying works great at emphasizing that you need to save the damn baby. Yoshi’s Story tried to copy the formula, but it did it the worst way possible. The levels are shorter and way too easy. I honestly think the game can be beat in like an hour. It’s definitely cute and set Yoshi’s voice and character up to this point, but Yoshi’s Story definitely could’ve been so much more and I think that’s what attracted people to that game in the first place.
I never understood the shock when Capcom canceled Mega Man Legends 3, as fans were outraged when it happened. I understand that Mega Man Legends has its fans and people like the game, but I’ve always wondered why the game had such a cult following. Mega Man Legends, or Mega Man 64 on the Nintendo 64, was the series’ first jump into 3D and, like Super Mario 64, it was a good first jump. People praised its story. However, the game had bad tank-like controls and a camera that made things difficult to see. Mega Man 64 also didn’t add anything to this pot and, if anything, it took things away. A review by Matt Casamassina on IGN criticized the game by asking why were N64 owners made to suffer and we totally agree with him.
Star Wars games have interesting entries in the N64 library. They made Rogue Squadron and the surprisingly fun Episode 1: Racer. Episode 1: Racer is admittedly not the best game, but it's fun nonetheless. Shadows of the Empire is remembered as one of those amazing Star Wars games, but I believe that people remember the first level more than anything. The Battle of Hoth is an awesome part of the game, as shooting the Walkers and towing the cable around the AT-AT walkers was so much fun. It’s really disappointing to find out the rest of the game has control and camera issues that make the game hard to play. The shooting isn’t all the great either. Players have to run around shooting in empty corridors, that after a while, start to look the same. So, with only one good level, this game is definitely not as good as we remember it.
Perfect Dark is similar to Banjo-Kazooie in that it fixed and improved what its predecessor did, as it fixed the controls and the camera. The camera no longer got in the way and wasn’t a hazard to the player. However, it didn’t really offer any other real improvements over Goldeneye 007. Yes, Perfect Dark did fix its spiritual predecessor’s issues, but it felt like more of the same. The game felt like an expansion pack, offering more levels and better controls, but the same things. Maybe the game could’ve been better if it wasn’t on the N64. The N64 was a mediocre console that couldn’t compete with the more powerful PlayStation and the controller’s design was the worst. The Xbox port of Perfect Dark is how the game was intended to be, but, by then, FPS had moved on beyond what Rare accomplished with Nintendo.
Like with Goldeneye 007, I have a lot of respect for this game. Honestly, almost all gamers have the utmost respect for this game. Super Mario 64 was the first 3D platformer that Nintendo put out and they knocked it out of the park. It was unlike anything people had seen during that time. However, it doesn’t hold up and it has nothing to do with its graphics. Simply put, the game is really boring. It’s the same fetch quests over and over again. Get the Power Star here or collect the 8 red coins. Knock this enemy into the lava and collect the star and jump back into the level. It gets tedious pretty fast. The controls still hold up to this day, even if the camera can be kinda awkward. On top of the bland missions, the worlds are pretty empty, as there isn’t a whole lot to them. While a crowning achievement for Nintendo, this game wasn't as great as we all said it was.
This was another game that I loved as a kid. I would actually say that Paper Mario is the best RPG on the N64, which admittedly isn’t saying much. The N64’s other RPGs, like Quest 64 and Ogre Battle 64, are long forgotten. As good as Paper Mario may be, the game felt like it was holding back. The battle system was fairly shallow, as several abilities simply repeated one another and wasn’t original. The battle system of the game was based on the old turned based system that games like Final Fantasy and Dragon’s Quest popularized, but again they didn’t try anything new. Paper Mario wouldn’t really find it’s true footing until its sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door: one of the best on the GameCube and a great RPG. It’s just disappointing to realize that the best RPG on the N64 is actually mediocre.
For whatever reason, the Nintendo 64 had three memorable Star Wars in its library: Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron (the best Star Wars game on the N64 I might add), and Episode I: Racer. When it comes to Rogue Squadron and Episode 1: Racer, the Star Wars games appear to get their biggest inspiration from other Nintendo Titles. In this case, it’s F-Zero X and Episode 1: Racer is a little too similar to that game. Yes, they’re both futuristic racers, but both games have the same type of appeal in that vehicles go blindingly fast and there are no weapons to use. Both games have weird cast of characters with the “hero” being a normal guy. I say stick to F-Zero X.
The N64 is an interesting console because a lot of firsts were done on that console. Super Mario 64 was Nintendo’s first 3D platformer and Goldeneye was the first fun FPS on a console (for the time). Something else that developers did on the N64 was improve some older titles. Mario Kart 64 holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts and honestly, I loved it too. I played it all the time. However, like Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing improved on Mario Kart 64. Diddy Kong Racing had a variety of vehicles to choose, which affected how the level was played; whether by land, water, or air. Mario Kart 64 had fun levels too, but was more of a standard racing game that didn’t have the creativity that Diddy Kong Racing had.
I love the humor of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It’s pure raunch and I love it. And for the time, it had great graphics and it didn’t require the expansion pack to run. That being said, the humor is not for everyone, making Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a polarizing game. Either you find it hilarious like I did or you’ll absolutely hate its humor. As a game, it’s just fine. Conker took what Banjo-Kazooie did (which is streamlined Mario 64), but did it poorly. Conker’s levels are still better than Mario 64’s levels, but not on the level of Banjo-Kazooie's and that design decision always struck me as strange. Conker seemed a little bland to me compared to Banjo-Kazooie, and its humor didn’t win over any extra people.
Ocarina of Time has been lauded as one of the greatest games of all time. It’s appeared on lists on every video game website known and has been praised endlessly. Ocarina of Time influenced a lot of 3D games and deserves respect for having done so. Despite that, Ocarina of Time feels like it's lacking in content. There’s a lot of emptiness to Ocarina that it feels unfinished at parts. Like the Gerudo’s Fortress could have been more. The Z-Targeting feels pretty awkward to use and dungeons aren’t consistent in terms of difficulty. As you progress, the temples should get more difficult, but at times they become easier or you experience a sudden spike in difficulty. Ocarina of Time made leaps in technology and what can be done on consoles, and it’s definitely a game that has aged well. In fact, with the exception of maybe two other games on this list, Ocarina of Time has aged the best. But, it doesn’t deserve best of all time consideration, even on the N64. Personally, Majora’s Mask holds that title, making Ocarina of Time is the most overrated Nintendo 64 game.