The 9 best Nintendo 64 games of all time: From $20 | Finder

The 9 best Nintendo 64 games of all time

Nintendo’s 64 put the power of a 32-bit gaming platform into gamer’s hands at the turn of the century – and here’s the very best games that you must own for it.

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The best Nintendo 64 games

Nintendo followed up its massive success with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1996 by sticking to its cartridge-first philosophy with the Nintendo 64. While that gave Sony (and to a much lesser extent, Sega) room to explore what could be done with CD-Rom storage in the gaming industry, it also meant that developers producing games for Nintendo's hardware had higher production costs and more risk than for the wildly popular PlayStation or more niche Sega Saturn.

Still, the Nintendo 64 was home to a decent library of games, many of which still stand up very well after a quarter of a century. There's no system quite like the Nintendo 64, and it's a highly collectible and enjoyable games system in its own right, well worth investing your time and money into.

But which of its games are the very best? Here's our picks.

How did we pick this list?

We've assembled this list based both on the extensive personal experience of the author, whose Nintendo 64 library comprises hundreds of physical titles, as well as online reviews from consumers and professional writers to come up with the definitive list of the finest Nintendo 64 games.

Read more detail on our methodology below.

Best Nintendo 64 game overall: WWF No Mercy/Virtual Pro Wrestling 2

Pros

  • Classic roster of wrestlers from the Attitude era to play as
  • Deep character creation and branching storylines

Cons

  • Early PAL carts have a terrible save bug that wipes your progress randomly, and no blood
  • Chris Benoit is on the roster

Price (RRP): $50-$100+

Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

Once again, we'd recommend that if you're looking to build out a Nintendo 64 library, then every game on this list is a must-have inclusion, funds permitting. There's good variety in this list, no matter your gaming preferences.

Mario 64 redefined platform games for the 3D age, Ocarina did likewise for Role Playing Games and Goldeneye was absolutely foundational for console first person shooters to come for decades afterwards.

However, we'll give the crown to WWF No Mercy (and its Japanese equivalent, Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 – grab both if you can run both western and Japanese N64 games) because while we've seen better FPS, RPG and platform games since, there's very little that challenges No Mercy specifically as being the best of its type, even decades after its release.


Best Nintendo 64 game – Action Adventure: Conker's Bad Fur Day

Pros

  • Conker is the anti-Mario you never knew you wanted
  • Beyond the crudity lies a fun action platforming game

Cons

  • Rare Replay version looks slicker and is cheaper for Xbox One owners
  • Some jokes have NOT aged well

Price (RRP): $40-$200

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Why we chose it

Nintendo's public image is of a family-friendly, always-safe space with lots of primary colours and cuteness. It had been that way for years, so it was something of a shock to the system when Nintendo-owned Rare released Conker's Bad Fur Day, a game about an alcoholic, profanity-inclined squirrel and his platforming adventures that encompass everything from furry sex lives to a singing pile of excrement and plenty more besides. Shock value of the content aside, Conker's Bad Fur Day has some smart game design and variety that helps it stand out from the crowd.


Best Nintendo 64 game – Platform: Super Mario 64

Pros

  • A lot of variety in star collecting challenges
  • Always new secrets to uncover for new players

Cons

  • Camera controls on 3D games would get a lot better
  • Bowser fights feel slightly anticlimactic after much of the game’s smarter innovations

Price (RRP): $30-$100+

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Why we chose it

When Mario 64 burst onto the scene as one of a tiny library of Nintendo 64 launch games, it was a revelation. Its blend of classic Mario platforming with a truly 3D world (or one that faked it very, very well in some cases) left everyone else making platform games scrambling for years, with most failing both on the Nintendo 64 and elsewhere. While there are other good 3D platform games on the Nintendo 64 – the Banjo Kazooie titles being the obvious next contenders – there's only one game that combines well balanced fun and innovation on the platform, and that's Mario 64.


Best Nintendo 64 game - Racing: F-Zero X

Pros

  • It’s very fast
  • Loads of replayability with randomly generated courses

Cons

  • It’s very tough for new players
  • Some cheap AI tactics can make races frustrating

Price (RRP): $40-$100+

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Why we chose it

The primary analog stick on the Nintendo 64 controller gave it a leg up for racing games for some time – bearing in mind that the original PlayStation and Saturn controllers were digital-only – and that led to some really great racing games, including the likes of Wave Race 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Mario Kart 64 and Beetle Adventure Racing.

If you want to get your high speed thrills on, however, there's only one garage you should visit, and that's F-Zero X. It's an almost ridiculously fast racing game that takes the flat levels of the SNES original and gives them a polygon twist that will rapidly have you spinning around tubes, flying through the air and, all too often, crashing explosively into the cityscapes that lie below your racetrack. F-Zero X is a tough but rewarding game with a load of depth, especially once you unlock the hidden X-Cup track generator.


Best Nintendo 64 game – Shooting: Goldeneye 007

Pros

  • A fantastic representation of the movie
  • Great mix of shooting and narrative challenges

Cons

  • Framerate suffers a lot if there’s plenty of explosions
  • Dual stick control is kind of wacky from a modern perspective

Price (RRP): $30-$150+

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Why we chose it

Many gamers will tell you that Halo reimagined the FPS for consoles as the first game to do so. These gamers are wrong, and dead wrong at that, because years before Halo, Rare's exceptional Goldeneye was showing how you could bring the FPS action that defined 90s PC gaming to the console world in its own way. Goldeneye 007 uses the unique-at-the-time features of the Nintendo 64 controller superbly, and while the visuals have dated over time as you'd expect, the core gameplay for single player still stands up superbly. Again, while multiplayer FPS expectations have changed over the years, at the time there was nothing – utterly nothing – that matched up to split-screen multiplayer Goldeneye 007, even if the framerate did suffer a tad when it all got hectic or some maniac laid down landmines absolutely everywhere.


Best Nintendo 64 game - RPG: The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time

Pros

  • A deep world that changes massively through time travel
  • Beautiful soundtrack

Cons

  • The N64 fog of war effect does hurt some areas
  • Camera control is better in the 3DS remake

Price (RRP): $70-$200+

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Why we chose it

It does feel a tad cheap to declare a Zelda game as the "best" RPG on any given Nintendo system because outside the Virtual Boy, they're basically assured to exist on every single Nintendo system. Yes, even the Game & Watch series has a Zelda entry. The challenge here is that while there are Japanese RPGs for the N64 that are quite interesting, there's only a smaller quantity of genuinely great RPGs with English translations. Paper Mario 64 is a great game, but it's hyper-expensive these days, and Ocarina's successor, Majora's Mask does some fascinating work with both themes and an in-game timer element, but it's a more constrained adventure than Ocarina really is. When you consider that at the time, open-world games weren't really a thing, it becomes more apparent how revolutionary Ocarina Of Time truly is. It's a classic that every Nintendo 64 gamer should both play and own.


Best Nintendo 64 game - Fighting: Super Smash Bros.

Pros

  • A surprisingly deep fighting system that Nintendo’s really only tweaked to this day
  • Few games do multiplayer fighting beyond 2 players this well

Cons

  • Polygon Mario does look weird if you’re used to later Smash Bros titles
  • Much smaller roster than later titles, focusing only on core Nintendo characters

Price (RRP): $50-$200+

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Why we chose it

Where the SNES sold on the back of that amazing bundled Street Fighter II pack, by the time the Nintendo 64 rolled around, fighting games had moved into the 3D world, and honestly, the best of the arcade fighters were more easily found on the rival PlayStation platform. Sure, Nintendo had Killer Instinct, but that game could only get the big N so far.

So naturally, Nintendo did what it does best, and redefine the genre in its own way with its own IP at the very heart of the experience with Super Smash Bros. The very first game in the series still stands up quite well, even if it’s not a visual patch on the latest Switch Ultimate title, thanks to that core simple fighting mechanics system. Rather than try to force fighting game fans to adjust to the Nintendo 64’s tiny C-buttons for attacks, Nintendo boiled it down to some simple directions, flashy attacks and a whole lot of smashing that remains a classic to this day.


Best Nintendo 64 game - Sports: WWF No Mercy/Virtual Pro Wrestling 2

Pros

  • Classic roster of wrestlers from the Attitude era to play as
  • Deep character creation and branching storylines

Cons

  • Early PAL carts have a terrible save bug that wipes your progress randomly, and no blood
  • Chris Benoit is on the roster

Price (RRP): $50-$100+

Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

Sports games age worse than anything else, and for the Nintendo 64 that problem is compounded by an unusual controller and smaller third party support than competing platforms at the time. So while there are your Maddens and FIFAs/International SuperStar Soccers to play, they're not titles that stand up all that well through the lens of time.

The huge exception here is AKI's WWF No Mercy (or Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 if you've got a Japanese N64), still held up by nearly every wrestling game fan as the best wrestling game ever made. Not the best just for the Nintendo 64, but the best period. While obviously the visuals are a little compromised and clippy by modern standards, the underlying system does such an amazing job of creating a "realistic" version of pro wrestling that's both fun to play and even fun to watch that it simply doesn't matter. There's a reason why so many wrestling games since have tended to invoke No Mercy as the game they're "trying to be like", and that's because it's an amazing game that remains the gold standard.


Best Nintendo 64 game - Puzzle: Blast Corps

Pros

  • How many other rogue missile defusing games can you name?
  • Different vehicles encourage creative puzzle solutions

Cons

  • Not the best looking N64 game
  • Cheaper to pick it up as part of Rare Replay if you have an Xbox One

Price (RRP): $20-$100+

Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

The Nintendo 64 puzzle library isn't a wide one, although the usual suspects are present in the form of Tetris games – including some really superb Japan-only titles if you want to go multi-region hunting for them – Bust A Move and others, but if you're after a game that challenges both your reflexes and thinking, it's hard to go past Rare's Blast Corps. The basic idea is daft but fun, with you working to destroy buildings so that a nuclear missile on a truck doesn't crash into them. Yes, it doesn't pay to think too hard about all of that, but what you're left with is a game that forces you to think strategically about the path ahead, the challenges of each vehicle type you're given to achieve your aims and where all the game's hidden goodies lie. It takes a lot of dedication to get the platinum medals for every level – but it's one hell of an explosive ride.


Methodology

1
Brand considered
150+
Products compared
9
Best products chosen
  • Our picks are based on price, game ratings, availability and user and professional reviews.
  • The writer has 30+ years game collecting and curating experience.
  • The products on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not selected based on commercial relationships.

Buying Nintendo 64 games

What to consider when buying Nintendo 64 games:

  • Region lockout: The PAL consoles sold in Australia won't work with Japanese N64 games, and if you're after actual hardware and games at reasonable prices, that's a great way to save some cash. However, you'll either need a modded console, a Japanese N64 or an adaptor to take advantage of those titles.
  • Storage costs extra: The Nintendo 64 controller includes a slot for either a rumble cartridge or a storage cart ("Controller Pak") for saving games. Some third parties included combination units that could perform both features. Bear in mind that rumble in-game requires batteries – as always, sold separately – and that some games won't save without a controller pak.
  • Expansion cart only works with a few games: Late in the Nintendo 64's life, Nintendo released an expansion pak that promised better in-game visuals. It's handy for some games such as Turok 2 or Perfect Dark, and some games – notably Donkey Kong 64 and Perfect Dark – won't properly run on an N64 that lacks it.
  • Pirate carts are becoming common: There's a fairly brisk trade in "reproduction" Nintendo 64 carts. These are obviously pirate copies, and it's not entirely unusual to see some less scrupulous (or possibly unaware) sellers trying to palm them off as though they were genuine. As with most knockoff cartridges, the state of features like battery backups is a real gamble with these carts – and they're obviously basically worthless as collectibles.

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