It might be hard to believe this, but the Nintendo 64 is over twenty years old. The console, which sold over 30 million units, is now considered a retro console.
Whether you are old enough that it feels like it was only yesterday that you were running around like the Caves on License To Kill with knives only in GoldenEye or swapping boots in the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time, or the system was actually released before you were born, chances are that you are still feeling the reverberations of the system in pop culture and gaming to this day.
While there are some all-time classic games for the N64 that just about anyone can rattle off the top of their head like Super Mario 64 and Star Fox 64, there were nearly 400 games released for the console (worldwide).
It’d be pretty tough for the average person to remember the names of every single 64 game they played, be it a cult classic or an all-time stinker. Don’t worry-- we forgive you.
In fact, we’re here to help you out. In this list you’ll find some games whose names are probably just on the tip of your tongue, or that you forgot you played altogether (and the entries will bring you right back to simpler times).
With that said, here are the 16 Nintendo 64 Games You’ve Played… But Can’t Remember The Name Of.
16 Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
There were several Star Wars games released for the Nintendo 64. Probably the most memorable of the bunch was a tie-in to the first prequel, Star Wars Episode I: Racer, where you’d engage in pod racing.
Shadows of the Empire sold incredibly well for the system, but was released only a few months into the N64’s life on the shelves.
Shadows was notable for being about a character that doesn’t appear in the films, Dash Rendar, during the time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The game switches between 3rd-person blaster action and mild puzzle solving, and vehicle-based missions (like a fight against walkers and AT-ATs on Hoth). The game, despite selling well, was received tepidly by the critics.
The variety of gameplay manages only to highlight that the controls and camera leave something to be desired. In 2016, the game was re-released for Steam and GOG.
15 Diddy Kong Racing
With good reason, everyone remembers Mario Kart 64. Arguably the best of the series, it remains an all-time classic and one of the greatest kart racers ever. For reasons unknown, the legacy of another incredible Nintendo 64 kart racer seems to have been lost to the sands of time.
Diddy Kong Racing was released by Rare (Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Killer Instinct, Battletoads, etc.) in 1997 and wound up being one of the 10 best-selling games for the system.
Players could select between Diddy Kong (from the Donkey Kong Country series) and nine other racers. Power-ups came in the form of star-patterned balloons. Racers could also choose between a standard kart, a bi-plane, and a hovercraft to race in. Making the game more unique were the boss battle races that broke up the usual races.
14 Pokémon Snap
Players take on the perspective of main character Todd Snap as he is sent to Pokémon Island to photograph the Pokemon in their natural habitats for research.
The game played on "rails" (you do not control the forward momentum through the level), while you worked to take the best photos possible of the various Pokémon in each locale you travel to.
Extra points were earned by centered photos, multiple Pokémon in the same shot, or by capturing special poses. Also, a special deal with Blockbuster (and another chain in Japan) allowed players to get photo stickers of their favorite snapshots.
13 Wave Race 64
Nintendo has had some interesting divergent games from their usual franchises over the years. Wave Race 64 is one of the best examples of this. The game, released just a few months after the system came out, is actually a sequel to the Game Boy game Wave Race (which was released in 1992 and never came out in Japan).
Wave Race 64 was meant to highlight the superior graphical power of the N64 at the time, with lush tropical settings for the racers (that were more realistic than Nintendo’s typically cartoonish fare).
As the racers powered through the courses, they had to slalom around different colored buoys (chaining them together resulted in a speed boost). Missing too many buoys in a race disqualified a racer. Regarded as one of the best games of all-time on several lists, it was followed by a sequel for the GameCube in 2001.
12 Pilotwings 64
For the second Nintendo console in a row, a very underutilized Nintendo franchise wound up being one of the launch games for the system. Pilotwings 64 was the 1996 follow-up to 1990’s Pilotwings -- a launch title for the Super Nintendo.
Like its predecessor, Pilotwings 64 is a flight simulator where the goal is to earn a pilot’s license. The player selects from one of six characters (each a cartoonish human, like the rail thin Goose and his American flag-themed wardrobe).
The player pilots different vehicles with which to try and earn a license: a jetpack, a hang glider, and an autogyro. There are other bonus missions in the game that involve activities like becoming a human cannonball or skydiving, and a mode that allows the character to don a bird suit and fly around.
The game was succeeded by 2011’s Pilotwings Resort for the 3DS.
11 Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
Mystical Ninja was a third person action-adventure game from Konami that followed the exploits of kid ninja Goemon and his friends (a female ninja, a robot, and a “lazy” and “perverted” ninja named Ebisumaru, according to the instruction manuel).
The game was charming but odd, and has found its niche as a cult classic. Blending a feudal Japanese setting with distinctly Japanese humor ensured that its success would be primarily found in Japan.
In Japan, there have been over two dozen games and spin-offs compared to the four released in North America (Mystical Ninja was the second, after the SNES game The Legend of the Mystical Ninja).
Goemon’s crew must save Japan from being turned into a Westernized playhouse by aliens. The game, which cares not a lick for historical accuracy, lets Goemon pilot a giant robot and has talk of pizza.
Developed by Rare, Banjo-Kazooie was released to smash critical and commercial success in 1998. As main star Banjo the bear was a playable racer in Diddy Kong Racing first, the game is technically a part of the Donkey Kong Country universe.
The game is a non-linear 3D platformer (think Super Mario 64 and the N64 Zelda games) featuring Banjo on a quest to interfere with the plans of an evil witch. Banjo carries a backpack that holds his loudmouth bird friend, Kazooie.
Kazooie enables extra abilities for the player like a double jump (via Kazooie’s wings) and running fast (via Kazooie’s long legs). The game forces the heroes to collect musical notes and jiggies (pieces of a jigsaw puzzle) in order to advance through the game.
Two sequels followed, and Banjo-Kazooie was included in the XBox One anthology Rare Replay in 2015.
9 Nightmare Creatures
One of the rare games on this list to have been released on multiple platforms initially (it was originally a PC game in 1997, and was released for the N64 and PlayStation in late 1998), Nightmare Creatures was released to very mixed reviews on the Nintendo 64.
The game was made by Kalisto Entertainment (who never did much of note before folding 4 years after the release of this game) and released by Activision.
An action-heavy survival horror game, Nightmare Creatures is set in 19th century London. Players can select between Ignatius Blackward (a mystical staff-wielder) or Nadia Franciscus (the vengeance-seeking doctor of a murdered American doctor) and combat hordes of the undead, werewolves, and other beasties in the London fog to end the machinations of a secret Satanist cult.
A sequel was released in 2000 for the PlayStation and Dreamcast.
If there were one constant with video games since the days of the NES, it is the inclusion of Tetris on the console’s roster. The puzzle game of falling blocks has been featured virtually everywhere, and is guaranteed to be a good seller.
However, over the years there have been many attempts to recapture the magic of Tetris by creating a variation of the staid formula.
In 1997, H2O Entertainment had become the latest company to put their own spin on the classic. Players would rotate a sphere loaded with tetraminos (the 4-tiled Tetris pieces) and drop a tetramino onto the sphere to create a match.
Matched pieces would disappear, and the goal was to clear the sphere. While the cultural impact of the game never lived up to its predecessor, it is fondly remembered and considered to be a classic game.
7 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
The character of Turok, a dinosaur-hunting Native American, dates all the way back to comic books from the ‘50s. The character was re-introduced comic book readers by Valiant Comics (a would-be competitor to Marvel and DC’s stranglehold on mainstream books that never quite took off) in the early ‘90s.
Game publisher Acclaim purchased Valiant, and in 1997 released a first-person shooter based on the Turok series. The game was a monster hit (because who doesn’t want to fight dinosaurs with bows, shotguns, and sci-fi weapons?), and wound up being the only 3rd party game (at the time) to become a “Player’s Choice” for the N64.
Multiple sequels were released over the years. Most recently, the original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was remastered and released for PC and Mac.
6 Cruis'n USA
A 1996 port of the 1994 arcade game Cruis’n USA was the first in the popular Cruis’n series. The game, probably the highest profile non-Nintendo racing game for the system, was not very well-reviewed.
Players would select from between a handful of cars (from hot rods to luxury sports cars) , and select a manual or automatic transmission. Races took place in a variety of iconic locales around the United States, including Golden Gate Park, Death Valley, Chicago, and the Appalachian region.
Races were punctuated by a scantily clad flag girl, and trophies were handed out by another objectified woman (these were done in the same photo-real graphical style as the fighters in Mortal Kombat). There have since been 5 more entries in the series (Cruis’n World and Cruis’n Exotica both made it to the N64).
5 Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
As a cartoony boxing game by Midway that was clearly influenced by Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing was released in 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast. The following month, it was released for the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64.
Players could select from a co-ed roster of 17 pugilists characterized by little more than an ethnic stereotype. The marquee player was Afro Thunder (and his awe-inspiring afro), and other characters included Jet “Iron” Chin and handlebar-mustachioed “Big” Willy Johnson.
As the fight progressed, players earned letters that would wind up triggering a powerful "rumble flurry" mode that inflicted a great deal of damage to their opponent.
The game also licensed the likeness and voice of legendary announcer Michael Buffer. Two sequels followed the original, including Round 2, which also was released for the N64.
4 Conker's Bad Fur Day
In 2001, developer Rare took an unexpected left turn and released Conker’s Bad Fur Day. The game is based on the cutesy squirrel Conker, who was a featured racer in Diddy Kong Racing (alongside future game star Banjo the bear).
Instead of another kid-friendly 3D platformer, Bad Fur Day marked a rare Mature-rated release for the Nintendo 64.
The juxtaposition of the fluffy and adorable squirrel protagonist as a problem drinker created an instant cult classic. The game is rife with toilet humor, swearing, and a lot of innuendo.
One of the best-remembered sequences involves fighting The Great Mighty Poo by throwing wads of toilet paper as he sings a vulgar song with an operatic flair. The game was remade as Conker: Live & Reloaded for the XBox four years later. It has also been available as part of the Rare Replay anthology for the XBox One.
3 Perfect Dark
Of the most fondly remembered N64 games, GoldenEye 007 stands out for having both greatly influenced the world of first-person shooters (especially in terms of multiplayer) and showing that licensed games could actually be really good.
Rare decided to expand on what made GoldenEye great, and release Perfect Dark in 2000.
Perfect Dark was a first-person shooter using an original science fiction property. Players controlled Joanna Dark, an agent working for a R&D institute, in a tale of espionage and corporate sabotage and aliens.
With its interesting premise, dual-purpose sci-fi weapons, and its far more nuanced multiplayer experience, Perfect Dark was a very worthy follow-up to GoldenEye. It is frequently high up on critical lists of the best games ever, but somehow never developed the same place in peoples’ hearts as 007.
The game had one sequel, and a remastered version is available on Rare Replay.
2 Quest 64
In 1998, the Nintendo 64 was being criticized as being especially light on RPG offerings (a criticism that has seemed to follow with every Nintendo home console since).
It was to an RPG-starved audience that Imagineer and THQ released Quest 64 (easily one of the laziest titles ever). The game itself was a disappointment, and lacked the depth that the role playing set was looking for. It was accordingly docked in reviews at the time.
Players are forced into playing just one character, a young mage named Brian. Brian’s development through the game is not based on experience points, but instead through a grade for each battle… which allows upgraded attacks using one of the four elements of magic.
There is also no shop or currency in the game, which adds to the casual RPG nature of the game. Quest 64 spawned two related games, but never a direct sequel.
1 Jet Force Gemini
Our final entry is yet another Rare game (in hindsight it’s easy to see that they dominated the Nintendo 64 alongside Nintendo themselves). Jet Force Gemini, released in 1999, was lauded as a unique and charming action-adventure game highly informed by gaming’s past.
The game, which had a distinct and colorful sci-fi aesthetic, featured a story mode alongside a multiplayer deathmatch mode.
In the story mode (a second player could join in and control a robot sidekick), players took control of three characters: Juno, Vela, and dog Lupus as they have to fight through the armies of the evil Mizar and rescue the Tribals, a race enslaved by the villain.
Each character was needed to solve different puzzles or access different areas in the game. A shame a sequel was never made, the game was included in the Rare Replay collection for XBox One.
What are some of your favorites from the N64 that folks might not remember? Let us know in the comments!