Released on September 24th, 1996 in America, the Nintendo 64 was the latest Nintendo console stuffed to the brim with titles that would go on to define the 3D graphics-era of modern gaming today. Sure, the PlayStation had a greater variety of experiences, and maybe newer systems like the Wii had more innovation in terms of gameplay, but the sense of camaraderie I felt while playing the N64 is still unmatched.
Let’s celebrate twenty years of the Nintendo 64 by waxing nostalgic about five obvious classics. Despite newer incarnations of these games in the years since, these are the ones we still love to play.
Based on the 1995 James Bond movie of the same name, GoldenEye 007 got people playing for hours with its highly addictive split-screen multiplayer mode that is still the perfect balance for not-so-hardcore gamers like me. Up to four players at a time would run around in fully rendered environments from the film doing battle with soviet machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and even classic Bond weapons like the PP7 and Moonraker Laser. I’m ashamed to admit I was the kid laying down Proximity Mine booby traps, but it was so satisfying seeing my friends cry out in surprise as they realized their mistake, their screen being swallowed up by pixelated fire while I giggled endlessly.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time tells the familiar Zelda tale: Link must save the kingdom of Hyrule and rescue Princess Zelda from the nefarious Ganon. However, when Ocarina Of Time told this tale in glorious 3D with Koji Kondo’s iconic score, it felt like the most cinematic adventure game ever. The dungeons were fun, engrossing, and sometimes maddening (I’m looking at you Water Temple). And yes, the gameplay felt intuitive and fluid, but it was the story, the classic good versus evil with enough whimsy to make Hayao Miyazaki blush, that drew and still draws in players today.
Mario Kart 64
Second only to Super Mario 64 as the bestselling Nintendo 64 game of all time, Mario Kart 64 was the only white-knuckle experience I could handle as an anxious ten year-old. The twists! The turns! The jumps! That freakin’ spiny aka blue shell! Despite the limited courses (Both in the circuit and the battle mode) my friends and I poured hours into this game. I was the worst at it too, and yet I loved every minute.
While Ash (I mean Red) and his Pikachu were tootin’ around like flatlanders in Game Boy land, it was Todd Snap (yes, really) that was really living out our Pokémon dreams. Pokémon Snap is a rail-based game where the player attempts to take the most glorious (or silly) photos of those lovable pocket monsters in their natural habitat. This game has curiously endured (In 2014, Kotaku readers voted it number 2 in what game they’d want Nintendo to remake for the Wii U) and showed the Pokémon fandom a taste of what a real world filled with these creatures might be like. Umm, Pokémon Go! much?
Super Smash Bros.
Yes, other Super Smash Bros games like Melee and the more recent Wii U incarnation have gone on to feel like more fully-fleshed out competitive challenges. There is something quaint about the original fighting game where Nintendo icons like Mario, Samus, Kirby, Link, and more duked it out with simple combat that capitalized on what made each character (and their respective franchise) unique. With its nine stages and only twelve playable characters, the no frills nature of the original is actually refreshing. With a concept as straightforward as Super Smash Bros, sometimes the simplest version is still the best.
Do you still have a Nintendo 64? What were your favorite memories playing the system? What games do you still play even now? Let us know in the comments below!
All images by Nintendo, courtesy of the Nintendo Wikia