We celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nintendo’s ultra console with a list of hidden gems.
As of June 23, it has been 20 years since the Nintendo 64 was first released in Japan. Its library of games was relatively small compared to its rivals at the time, but there are still plenty of games that gamers around the globe probably missed out on for one reason or another. Below are 20 N64 games you may have missed:
Virtual Pro Wrestling 2
This Japan-only release is definitely one of the best N64 grapplers and is thoroughly recommended. Yes, it has a limited roster of known faces if you are more familiar with US Sports Entertainment, but it isn’t sluggish like WWF No Mercy can be. This wrestling game has a variety of options, a high degree of authenticity, and some absolutely bonkers Japanese commentary. If you have a Japanese N64, then Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 should be in your collection.
This is often a forgotten entry in the franchise because of the more popular PlayStation versions (especially 2097). However, this is where four-player Wipeout first happened, making it a worthwhile experience if you have friends together. It also has seven well-crafted tracks and some cool techno music. Of course, F-Zero X is far superior but if you long for new Wipeout game, maybe got back and check out this N64 version.
South Park Rally
South Park Rally is one of three South Park games on the system and is probably the best one. It has you speedily racing around numerous familiar locations with all the typical toilet humour we know and love from the early days of the Comedy Central classic. It is by no means a Mario Kart 64 or a Diddy Kong Racing, but it is certainly an enjoyable alternative for one to four players.
Michael Owen’s World League Soccer 2000
This same game was released as Mia Hamm Soccer 64 in North America. It was a football sim largely lost under the weight of Konami’s ISS series and EA’s FIFA games. Developed by British company Silicon Dreams Studio, it featured real Premier League teams and players from the late ‘90s. With atypical camera angles and a responsive control system, it plays well and is a cartridge well worth adding to your collection as it can be found inexpensively.
Of course, most people know of the lesser-spotted sibling of the acclaimed Banjo-Kazooie. However, it was released near to the end of the N64’s lifespan, hence why many gamers might have missed out on this good sequel. It was a bit over ambitious and sluggish as well as missing Banjo-Kazooie’s effortless simplicity. However, it is still better than many platformers on the system and therefore should be enjoyed if you missed out on it.
Goemon’s Great Adventure
Released in Europe as Mystical Ninja 2 Starring Goemon, some said this sequel was a step backwards from the 3D original, whereas most missed it altogether. If you were either of these people then please remedy that as soon as possible. Not only are the 2.5D levels more challenging and engaging as it progresses, but the game features further fantastic Impact battles and a rare two-player co-op mode. If you loved 2D platformers during the Super Nintendo era, get this game.
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
This was the game Castlevania 64 was meant to be. It has a new storyline which mixes original and new levels plus the whole original game is an unlockable bonus. Legacy of Darkness has improved visuals, a few bugs ironed out, and the same haunting atmosphere found in previous games in the series. Many didn’t buy it because it wasn’t a true follow-up but I think people need to experience what is new about it.
Space Station Silicon Valley
This game probably sounded like a ludicrous concept on paper but in execution, it works refreshingly well. Basically, you have to take control of animals on various space stations in order to solve an array of increasingly hard puzzles. Odd? Yes. Worth buying and playing? Most certainly. This game and Body Harvest helped DMA Design (now Rockstar Games) figure out how to evolve the Grand Theft Auto series. Even in just that historical context, it’s well worth revisiting
Hybrid Heaven is quite an ambitious RPG/platformer that slightly fell short but still has some standout moments. From the grand opening sequence to the dark, haunting underground labs, this Konami-made game keeps you hooked. If you can look past some of the dull moments, Hybrid Heaven might surprise you. There isn’t any game like it on the Nintendo 64.
Denryu Ira Ira Bou
This bonkers Japan-exclusive game is well worth hunting down if you own a Japanese Nintendo 64. Essentially, it is that game where you cannot touch the metal frame with your copper stick otherwise you get buzzed and have to start again. Denryu Ira Ira Bou is simple yet highly addictive. It will challenge your hard-eye coordination to the maximum as it gets monstrously hard in places.
WCW vs nWo: World Tour
People will forget this because of the Nintendo 64 masterpieces that were WCW/nWo: Revenge and WWF No Mercy. However, replay this because it is the metaphorical granddad of both these games. It has a great selection of wrestlers (including the amazingly mulleted Scott Steiner), excellent single-player options and a brawling multiplayer mode.
F1 World Grand Prix II
F1 World Grand Prix II is a PAL-exclusive release that was possibly missed by the majority of Nintendo 64 gamers in other territories. It took what made the original the most realistic F1 game of its time and gave it a make-over for the 1998 season. It can be enjoyed by F1 enthusiasts in detail or just enjoyed by casual racing fans like any other racer on the system. If you own the original, however, there might not be much extra to warrant this sequel, but it’s still great for what it is.
Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M
With two of the best console first-person shooters available on the Nintendo 64, other games of the same genre were unsurprisingly overshadowed. Therefore, a lot of folks likely missed this little gem – almost the video game version of the film Starship Troopers. Much like Turok, this has an effective control system, as well as similar objectives and level layout. Armorines is a great member of the triumphant early goings of the console first-person shooter club and definitely worth playing if you have exhausted GoldenEye 007 or Perfect Dark.
Ridge Racer 64
Ridge Racer 64 is more than just an amalgamation of previous Ridge Racer game as this in-house developed version also has its own tracks and worthwhile hidden extras (no spoilers). In addition, it looks and plays incredibly well for its age. If you missed out, t might be a great addition to the great racers you have already in your collection.
The Nintendo 64 was home to quite a few classics that were upgraded to 3D, and this was one of the better ones. Most entertaining when played with friends, this hack ‘n’ slash marathon is a great advert for Nintendo 64 co-op games. You slay hoards of beasts across lush locations, making Gauntlet Legends the perfect game when you want to just button bash.
Premier Manager 64
This is another PAL exclusive at a time when football manager sims were a hot property. Making one for the Nintendo 64 was a bold move, and despite the hardware limitations, this isn’t too bad. It’s more like a lite version of PC manager games that could do it right. It’s enjoyable as a novelty and addictive when seeing out a season but no real longevity with it.
Paperboy is another Nintendo 64 update of a classic, which can actually be enormously addictive. Don’t be too put off by the subpar graphics and wonky controls because the levels are quite fun to play. The levels do get harder, making them equally challenging, frustrating, and rewarding. If you’ve never played it, Paperboy 64 is worth checking out.
Micro Machines 64 Turbo
With so many great racers on the Nintendo 64, many were bound to go unnoticed. Here’s another in the form of Micro Machines 64 Turbo. What’s great about it is that it is a different kettle of fish to most of what else is out there on the Nintendo 64. Your racing skills need to adapt to the limitations of the vehicles and tabletop courses you race on. Moreover, skills are further tested when you start adding up to seven other players to the mix. It’s frantic yet skilful fun and should be experienced if you never had the chance.
Sin and Punishment
Unless you downloaded this onto your Wii via the Virtual Console, you may have missed this hidden Japanese-only gem. A shoot-‘em-up much in the vein of Time Crisis, this is fantastic because the graphics are gorgeous, the shooting is frantic, and the storyline is wonderfully nonsensical. Please bear with the controls because once mastered, it becomes addictive and all-consuming. Consider looking up the Wii sequel as well if you somehow get bored of this or cannot locate a copy.
A British-produced puzzle game that is only comparable with its PlayStation 2 sequel. Even if puzzle games aren’t your cup of tea, try to pick this up as its level of creativity and originality for the Nintendo 64 is sublime. Rough-looking, yes, but you’ll be surprised at how addictive constructing a landscape to hold water (and subsequently evaporate it) can be.