Released in September 1996, the Nintendo 64 was the last Nintendo console to use cartridges until the Switch came out in 2016. The N64 was a powerful console that had the capabilities to process graphics faster and better than anything before it. For the developers that utilized this power, great games resulted. Like Goldeneye 64, Jet Force Gemini, F-Zero X, Blast Corps, and Paper Mario.
But for every great game, there exists many awful games for the Nintendo 64, many of them coming later in the console’s life. This might be due to the fact gamemakers wanted to capitalize on the N64’s popularity for a quick cash grab. As you’ll see from this list, many of the games are licensed properties. Games were rushed or lazily put together, which affected graphics, control, game depth, replay value, and sound.
The list below has games from different genres to show you no developer or license or publisher was immune to releasing a bad game. Even well-known companies released sub-standard games criticized by the gaming community.
So as you read 20 Absolute WORST Nintendo 64 Games think back to the ones you’ve played yourself. Hopefully, remembering these games brings back nostalgia for the console, not the anger brought on by a bad game
20. Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt
Looking to take advantage of the popularity of the Nickelodeon TV show, THQ released Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt in 1999. The game centers around the player controlling one of the four different characters (Lil, Phil, Chuckie, or Tommy) through three different board games. The goal is to collect objects by searching the chosen game board while not letting your energy level reach zero. Otherwise, your character is forced to take a nap.
Gameplay is monotonous and excruciatingly slow – many tasks take more than one turn, such as moving from room to room. The graphics are choppy and blockier than they should be, even for a Nintendo 64 game, and the designers barely gave the characters (especially non-player ones) any animations. There is new dialogue, and the game uses the original voice actors from the show, so those are small bright spots.
19. War Gods
War Gods received criticism on its port to the N64 because of its similarities to Midwa’s other, more familiar fighting game, Mortal Kombat. A port from a coin-operated arcade machine, War Gods founds its way to the Nintendo 64 in 1997 to less-than-lukewarm reviews.
The polygonal characters were not as crisp and smooth as other comparable games, like Tekken 2, especially during movement. The game tried hard to use the power of the N64, but failed when you actually played the game. If you did manage to move past the start menu to select a character, you’d notice an obvious correlation between Mortal Kombat and War Gods in terms of character design and fighting style. The uninspired characters seemed plucked from Mortal Kombat with a cookie-cutter design thrown together in a game clunky to play and was unimpressive to look at.
18. Clayfighter 63 1/3
In an effort to parody fighting games of the late 1990s and poke fun at the obligatory “64” designers placed in game titles for the Nintendo 64, Interplay released ClayFighter 63 1/3 in 1997. The entire series uses claymation and stop-motion capturing in lieu of computer animation to provide a different feel for a fighting game.
It’s perhaps the method of animation that caused many gamers and reviewers to be less than enthralled with the graphics and action. Many of the character combos are derivative of the games it parodies (Killer Instinct and Street Fighter for example), but are presented and executed in awkward ways. Despite that, the A.I. was amazingly easy to beat so there was no need to master combos.
The original Clayfighter 63 1/3 is simple to find, but if you are a video game collector, you can attempt to get your hands on Clayfighter: Scultptor’s Cut, which was a rental-only release and now fetches premium collector prices.
17. Starshot: Space Circus Fever
Starshot: Space Circus Fever has the distinction of being one of the few games on the Nintendo 64 to be played in 16:9 widescreen. But that didn’t save everything else about the game. You play as Starshot, an interstellar circus performer for Space Circus, which is being overtaken by the dastardly Wolfgang von Ravel.
This 3D platformer is general fare where you encounter enemies, jump around, and dodge traps, but it’s important that a platform has good camera movement, smooth graphics, and non-frustrating controls. Infogrames used in-house technology called “I3D” that purported to run around 45,000-50,000 polygons and over 10 animated characters at one time without slowdown. However, frame-rate is so bad the graphics suffer, which in turn causes the controls to be inconsistent and the camera movement sluggish.
16. Golden Nugget 64
Golden Nugget is your typical casino game anthology. With Casino mode, you play any of the games like Blackjack, Craps, one of three poker variants, Roulette, Mini-Bacccarat, Big Six Wheel (like Roulette), and one of six slot machines. Tournament mode has you solving a mystery that stars Adam West. He’s a “fictional crime fighter.“
It’s hard to mess up graphics that don’t need fancy polygons or crisp details, but Golden Nugget 64 manages to create a bland casino simulation game that gets boring after a while.
If you think getting your friends together for a Vegas night was in the cards, then you’ll be disappointed: only about one-fourth of the games are multiplayer. But if you’ve never been to the Golden Nugget casino, you can see it virtually because this game is set there.
15. Castlevania 64
The first 3D game in the Castlevania series, Castlevania 64 is about stopping Dracula from returning to power after being inactive for a century. You can play as either the orphan Carrie Fernandez, or the familiar Reinhardt Schneider, who returns once again to wield his whip.
It isn’t the story or the graphics that bring the quality down in Castlevania 64. What made the game sub-par – and got its on this list – were the camera and controls systems. Often, the camera gets jumpy and swings around the character at inopportune times, no matter how much you try to steady it. Death came often because of this, making gamers frustrated at a game in a popular series.
14. Quest 64
Quest 64 was the first role-playing game released for the Nintendo 64. It’s a single-player game about Brian, who is on a quest to find his father, who is on a quest himself to find a thief that has stolen a precious book.
While the graphics were impressive, everything else about the game brought many low scores from reviewers. Gameplay was too basic: walk around towns, speak to different people, learn what bad person is doing bad things, and defeat them to get a prize. Rinse and repeat until you have all the necessary amulets to defeat the final boss. The puzzles were simplistic and easy and exploration – a staple in RPGs – was deficient. Quest 64 lacked the depth to make it successful.
13. Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
Another Rugrats game makes the list with Rugrats in Paris: The Movie. It’s based on the movie from Nickelodeon. You play as one of six characters to obtain gold tickets to get the Reptar helmet to control the Reptar Robot.
For a kid’s game, there are enough puzzles and colorful scenes to keep them interested. What might frustrate kids and the adults brave enough to jump into the game are the stiff controls and inconsistent camera. The graphics often have clipping issues on the Nintendo 64 version, and the characters appear at times to be moving through molasses.
12. Elmo’s Number Journey
In Elmo’s Number Journey, you travel through three areas collecting numbers to solve mathematical problems given to you by that area’s host. Because of the theme, kids undoubtedly loved the game: it has Elmo, the Count, Cookie Monster, and Ernie. Plus, you start at Sesame Street!
The two biggest downsides to the game were controller usage and game longevity. The Nintendo 64’s controller was clearly not designed for tiny hands. It may take several tries for your child or toddler to get the controls down, but by then, their attention for the game may have disappeared. For parents, paying $50-$60 gives the expectation of long-lasting gameplay, but once the three areas are mastered, there’s nothing else to really do in the game.
Daikatana hits many magazine and online reviewers’ lists of the worst Nintendo 64 games and biggest video game busts of all time. This first-person shooter was in development in three years, delayed over and over again until its release in 2000.
By the time Daikatana released, other games – like Quake 3: Arena and Unreal Tournament – used better technology and graphics and had superior gameplay. Aside from the backwards game engine, much of the game itself was hated by players previously excited to get another game from John Romero (Wolfenstein 3-D, Commander Keen series, Doom).
You have a limited number of saves to use and there are sidekicks controlled by the A.I. that were more of a hindrance than anything else.
10. Aero Gauge
Released in 1998, Aero Gauge frequently gets compared to the Wipeout series due to the futuristic racing theme. But the main difference – one of the only differences – is in Aero Gauge, the ships not only hover, but fly, so you can perform stunts and tricks in the air to battle your way to first place.
What makes this a bad game on the Nintendo 64 is how much Aero Gauge is lacking. There are 4 tracks, minimal number of vehicles to start and unlock, and no multiplayer mode beyond 2 players. Once you master the secret routes of each track, there’s nothing else to do except to continuously play against the computer or a friend.
9. Blues Brothers 2000
Blues Brothers 2000 was a much-delayed game, coming out 2 years after the movie with the same name released. However, the game did release the same year the film was set. In the game, you begin at a prison as Elwood. You must get the band together and travel through Chicago to defeat bad guys, get Mac, and, perform at a battle of the bands concert two days away.
While the game has random plot elements thrown together to make a story loosely based on the movie, the monotonous gameplay turned gamers off. Each level makes you find 10 keys, and if you don’t find them all by the end of the level, you start that level completely over.
What slows the game down even more is encountering someone who teaches you a dance move you must replicate with the controller and remember throughout the game. You can’t bypass this, and there is no reason for these “mini-games.”
8. Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction
This game has some of the lowest scores from major magazines of any Nintendo 64 game. Game Informer rated it 1.5 out of 10, while IGN went up slightly with 2 out of 10. In Chemical X-Traction you progress through enemies by throwing things at them to win at least 2 out of 3 rounds. If this gameplay reminds you of Power Stone, you would be correct.
The designers took a 2D-like cartoon and pushed it to 3D, and this is the major failure of this game. There are numerous graphic issues, including clipping and hit detection, and the polygons that make up the environment and characters are terribly jaggy and blockish, as if Chemical X-Traction was the first 3D polygonal game ever created. Add to that really sluggish movement and tiny fighting spaces, and you’ve got a disaster.
7. South Park Rally
There are plenty of kart-like racing games for the Nintendo 64, most – if not all – of them much better than South Park Rally. If you’re looking to encounter iconic characters from the South Park show as you race in and around town, then this game is perfect for you.
The controls are extremely unpredictable and loose, causing you to crash and flip the kart more often than not. After a race or two, the music and quotes from the show will grow tiring (even though Matt Stone and Trey Parker contributed a few original lines) since they will repeat due to the game having limited quotes.
6. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
Splitting from the usual fighting games from Midway Games, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero focuses solely on Sub-Zero as he attempts to locate an amulet. It’s an action-adventure prequel to the first Mortal Kombat that fails on many aspects.
The N64 had to use still images for cut-scenes as the limited storage space of the cartridge couldn’t hold live-action scenes like the PlayStation could. While the controls are similar to other Mortal Kombat games, giving Sub-Zero his own game sounded good, but in execution gave IGN a reason to call it “the worst Mortal Kombat game of all time” in 2011.
Hardcore Mortal Kombat gamers might enjoy the game, but that enjoyment is short-lived because of the terrible-looking sprites and unusual and confounding deaths. Midway had planned to give other characters their own story, but based on the negative reviews canceled those plans.
5. South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack
The other franchise besides Rugrats to have two entries on this list is South Park. In Chef’s Luv Shack, you play as either Eric, Kyle, Stan, or Kenny scoring points for answering questions and completing mini-games.
You’ll quickly realize the questions tap not only South Park trivia knowledge, but also pop culture. Often, the questions require obscure answers that no one could possibly know. And if you get the question wrong, you’ll never know the right answer unless you guess right the next time or look it up. The mini-games take the competitiveness out of playing multiplayer and end far too fast to appreciate.
Two characteristics worse than the gameplay are the graphics and sound. The backgrounds and character animations are lackluster, seemingly rushed. The sound does nothing to enhance your love of Chef or the boys, often skipping or compressed so tight you can’t make out what was said.
4. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue is a 3D action game where you play as the Power Rangers battling bad guys in a beat-em-up atmosphere. There were four versions released for consoles, all different in terms of gameplay.
It doesn’t matter if you got to drive Power Ranger vehicles or fight big monsters, the game’s graphics were a throwback to 1st generation N64 games. But not in a good way. It’s clear Lightspeed Rescue didn’t use the power of the Nintendo 64 as other games released at the same time looked far superior. Controls were simplistic, only utilizing 2 buttons and either the D-pad or the analog stick. Despite this, controlling a vehicle or character took patience.
Gameplay involved driving or roaming around reused and boring levels and shooting missiles at a bad guy. The game can be easily beaten in a few hours, which is good because you can swiftly move on to something better.
3. Carmageddon 64
Inspired by the 1970s movie Death Race 2000, Carmageddon is a racing game where you complete races within a time limit. You can get more time by damaging other cars or by running over people.
What made Carmageddon a great game with previous releases is completely gone from the N64 version. Instead of pedestrians, the game now has zombies to run over. It’s curious why a game that received an “M” rating didn’t stick with what made it successful: exploding people and flying limbs and splattering blood. Graphics and sound were rushed in this port – almost as if it were coded for the Sega CD – and provides a depressing addition to the Carmageddon series.
Some reviewers consider Carmageddon 64 even worse than Superman 64, which was also published by the same company, Titus Software. And is probably one Nintendo wants you to forget about.
2. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
If you liked Final Fight, then Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker’s gameplay style might appeal to you. But that’s all you’ll enjoy. You play as Terry McGinnis partnering with an elderly Bruce Wayne to become the new Batman.
Return of the Joker is another attempt for a company to use a good, popular license, create a decent plan on paper, but execute it terribly. The graphics resemble something on the Super NES and have no detail and the backgrounds keep repeating. And what makes Batman who he is – technology, weapon usage, explosive strength – is lost on this game. You can kick and punch, and if you happen to do these two or three times in a row quickly, it was considered a “combo.”
1. Superman 64
When you ask a N64 gamer what the worse game on the console was, Superman 64 invariably is the universal answer. This game enjoys scores from 1 to 5 (out of 10) from many reviewers. Even Nintendo Power (notorious for giving higher scores than other game review magazines and sites for Nintendo games) gave it a 4.7 out of 10.
Everything about Superman 64 is atrocious. Graphic issues include lots of glitches, terrible hit detection, and appalling frame rate. The developer also overused background fog to hide the incompetent coding of the N64’s power to draw in background details smoothly. Buttons needed pressed more than once to execute actions and the basic gameplay involved completing tasks and puzzles with no depth or replay value.
Excuses were rampant to the negative responses of the game, from Warner Bros. and DC Comics limiting what Titus could do in the game, to gamers heavily relying on reviews before release. Still, that doesn’t justify that a game in development for two years should be this bad upon release.
What games did you play on this list? What games do you feel are missing? Let us know in the comments!
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