There are certain moments in life that one will never forget. For me, one of those moments is Christmas of 1996. I was only ten years old at the time, but I’ve already experienced the magic of both the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Super Nintendo, so you can imagine my excitement for this ultra 3D Nintendo console. Well, too bad I didn’t get to experience it on Christmas morning.
I received a lot of great gifts that morning, three of which included the N64 console, Wave Race 64, and of course, Super Mario 64. I unwrapped everything in screaming glee, rushed to the TV, but was baffled by the connections. Where was the damn RF Switch, and why didn’t it come with my N64? RF Modulator? What in the blue hell is that? You may have guessed it, my TV did not support AV Cables.
I was stuck with an unplayable Nintendo 64 on Christmas Morning, and it was awful. I had to wait until stores opened the day after Boxing Day to go and buy the RF Switch/Modulator needed to play the console. Luckily, not all was bad because I also got this awesome Sheriff’s Lockup LEGO set which helped pass the time. Once I got the RF Switch, I experienced Nintendo’s magic like it was the first time all over again.
Part of that magic came from Super Mario 64, a game that is loved by many, and for good reason. It single-handedly laid the foundation for all 3D platformers to come. Mario Kart 64 evolved from its SNES counterpart to include much more elaborate and better looking tracks. Super Smash Bros. was a surprise hit for Nintendo. Characters from Nintendo franchises beating up each other is such a simple concept, but worked wonders. Playing with up to four people was a great strength for the N64, solidified by this game and many others.
Wave Race 64 would be the second part to that magical moment felt on Christmas Morning. I’ve already raved on about Wave Race 64 in my review, so you can read those thoughts there. 1080 Snowboarding? Another N64 classic that I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing.
Unfortunately, not all games can be considered a classic. South Park on the N64 was awesome back in 1998, probably only because I was 12 and really only played the game because of its toilet humor. Plus I was deeply involved with the TV show, so you know, marketing. However, Fighters Destiny can be considered a classic, an underrated classic. I loved this game’s unique fighting style and scoring system. It combines striking, grappling and a small touch of special moves to round out a surprisingly fun game. I need to review this game soon.
Star Fox 64 is an example of a game I rented, but loved so much that I needed a copy of my own. This game is still fun to pick up today and play through its many different paths. Some are easy, and some are downright frustrating. Regardless of which path you choose, this game is a lot of fun.
This is game that I really wanted at the time, but have since grown out of greatly. It was a unique and fun concept, but it just doesn’t hold my attention for any longer than that first level anymore.
If any game on this list is further from Pokemon Snap in concept, it’s Resident Evil 2. I paid over $100 for this game in a catalog back in the day, but it was worth every penny. All of my peers were talking about Resident Evil this, Silent Hill that, but I had a Nintendo 64. It wasn’t until later when my brother would get a PlayStation, same year I got this game I believe. Anyways, this game is probably one of the best Nintendo 64 cartridges to own. It’s highly collectible as its the only Resident Evil game to appear on the console, and it packs the entire Resident Evil 2 experience in one extra large cart with a few extras as well.
Rareware, oh how you are missed. There was once a time when you could do no wrong. Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie and Donkey Kong 64 are great examples of pushing the N64 to its max potential. Though I believe the collect-a-thon type gameplay is dated, it was fun when I was younger and only had time to waste. Diddy Kong Racing is better than Mario Kart 64. I know some of you will agree, and why not? An adventure like twist on the generic Grand Prix mode was more than enough to convince me. Throw in amazing music, and much better level design, I’m sold. Lastly, and probably one of Rareware’s most misunderstood N64 games, Jet Force Gemini. I hated this game when I rented it at a friends house, in fact, we both hated the game. I’ve grown to love the game and feel foolish for not giving it a chance. Travelling between a number of planets with three different heroes and a shit ton of weapons at your disposal is the formula for fun. I also quite enjoyed the boss battles in this game as well. Overall, an awesome third person shooter experience on the Nintendo 64. A game that everyone should own.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Perhaps the greatest video game of all time? You already know tons about this game already, so let me tell you a personal story. I got this game as a random gift from my parents during the move to our new home. I guess it was a gift to help comfort me, but I was actually excited to be in a new spot. Playing the game was, um, magical. Did I use that word too much today? It really was though, because I can honestly remember that boxes were still packed, that I played on a small 13-inch TV, and the smell of our new home. It’s amazing that I can close my eyes and bring myself back to that moment, smell and all. Majora’s Mask was less magical, there’s that word again, but still a solid Zelda experience. It wouldn’t be until many years after before I fully appreciated the title. It was similar, yet different Zelda experience. Its goal was different, the theme was darker, and the environments and abilities really made this game unique. Other than the core framework, both games were different experiences.
Comparing Majora’s Mask to Ocarina of Time would be like comparing Pokemon Snap to Resident Evil 2. But who would try to pull that kind of nonsense?
I’d love to read about the stuff in your N64 collections as well. Post all the games, controllers, memory packs, rumble packs, the works in the comments below!