So here we are, the final curtain. You’ve stuck with me for my top 25 N64 games so far, and today you’ll get to see what made my top 5. These are the cream of the crop, the best the N64 had to offer. The rest of the list can be found by following these links: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11 and 10-6.
5: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Credibility, meet window. Window, credibility. Ocarina of Time is still considered one of the best games of all time by many and it is superb. I do think it’s the best Zelda title ever released, and showed in spectacular fashion what Nintendo can do with 3D graphics, but there were games I preferred on the N64 – four to be precise. The adventure is a special one, full of excitement, intrigue and memorable boss encounters. Link’s quest to save Hyrule from Ganondorf deserves its place in the hearts of millions. A fantastic game.
4: Goldeneye 007
What hasn’t been said about Rare’s legendary reinvention of the first person shooter? You can spend hours on end enjoying the game’s four-player split-screen, but if that isn’t enough then the game’s lengthy, challenging singleplayer campaign will tide you over. This is the game that perfected the multiplayer shooter, a bar that has rarely been raised since. You may complain that the current generation lacks any sort of quality local multiplayer shooter, but if you’ve got a copy of the game and an N64 lying around, then you’ll likely play a better game than anything the PS4, Switch or Xbox One can offer.
3: Lylat Wars
Lylat Wars (or Star Fox 64 for you Americans out there), is about as good as the on-rails shooter gets. The action is frantic, challenging and a whole lot of fun. While completing the game may not take very long, there are plenty of hidden routes to discover that will take you to new stages. Along with the standard on-rails sections, you will fight bosses in complete 3D arenas. Lylat Wars is so good that Nintendo have struggled to carry on the series ever since.
2: FIFA World Cup 98
World Cup 98 was what got me into football. This legendary game let you play as any of the 32 teams that featured in the real World Cup in France, along with eight others that did not. All were fully licensed and trying to win the World Cup with likes of China was a brilliant challenge. I’d spend hours trying to win the famous tournament with all sorts of teams, but England, Croatia and Canada were always my favourites. The likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Alan Shearer and the almighty Alex Bunbury were all present. The game is best played with many people, as you can all choose a team to control in the World Cup, with the other players able to play as your opposition who would otherwise be computer controlled. Mashing the left C-button to sprint, scoring own goals with your keeper by spinning on the spot and randomly kicking and using the red-card tackle are all legendary in my household.
1: Super Mario 64
The best N64 game of all time is none other than Super Mario 64. You won’t be surprised by this if you’ve ever played it. Bringing Mario into 3D was no easy task for Nintendo, but they did so with aplomb. Taking the plucky plumber into big, open stages that you access through paintings hanging up in Peach’s Castle still feels great these days. Despite the basic graphics, Super Mario 64 remains immense fun today. Everything about the game is utterly amazing and special. While I think that the series has been bettered since (Mario Galaxy, I’m looking at you), Super Mario 64 remains a benchmark for all 3D platformers.