Hexbyte – Science and Tech
With the Nintendo 64 turning 22 years old today and an N64 Classic potentially on the horizon, we’re taking a look at 10 different games that need to be on the classic version of the console.
Despite going on sale in the United States a few days ahead of schedule, the Nintendo 64 was originally supposed to be released on September 29, 1996, a date that makes the console exactly 22 years old. We took a look at the history of the Nintendo 64, but it looks like the console has a future as well. A trademark filed suggests that Nintendo is moving right along with its classic console products with the possibility of an N64 Classic seeming ever more likely.
While Nintendo hasn’t yet confirmed that the classic version of the console is real, the timing of the console’s 22-year anniversary makes for a perfect opportunity to recall some of the best games that the classic console just wouldn’t be complete without.
It wouldn’t be fair to fill the N64 Classic with Mario games no matter how easy that might be, but it’d be even crueler to leave Super Mario 64 off the list, one of the two launch games for the original console in North America.
Taking the typical formula for Mario games and making use of the technology offered by the Nintendo 64 at the time, Super Mario 64 was a 3D platformer that had Mario collecting Star and Coins while facing off against his usual slew of enemies including Bowser and his minions. Also one of the first Mario games that expanded the character’s controls outside of just running from side to side and jumping and one that’s still a go-to choice for speedrunners to this day, Super Mario 64 is a game that would be included on an N64 Classic without a second thought.
Letting players take on the role of James Bond, the 3D game gave players some freedom to do what they wanted when embarking into a world of espionage, but where the game truly shined was the competitive aspect of it that pit players against each other. The age of online gaming hadn’t been reached just yet, but the four-player split-screen combat featured several characters to choose from and was often cited as the most popular part of the game. You were cheating if you played as Oddjob, though, and that’c coming straight from the game’s creators.
Whether you want to fly an X-Wing, Y-Wing, a TIE Fighter, or take down an AT-AT on Hoth, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was the place to do it when it was released on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998.
The game that started the Rogue Squadron series of titles, this first one for the Nintendo 64 kept Star Wars fans in the cockpits of their favorite ships as they took on different missions across many different planets. Just as they do in the Star Wars universe, the ships specialized in different tasks ranging from shooting down other ships to bombing structures and tripping up the Empire’s AT-ATs. The Nintendo 64 had more than one Star Wars game on the console, but it’d be a shame to not have this one on the N64 Classic.
A Legend of Zelda game developed for the Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still regarded as one of the best games that was available both on the console and during the time period when it was released in 1998.
Like Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time plopped Legend of Zelda players in a 3D adventure where they controlled Link. Looking at this game alongside the most recent in the series called Breath of the Wild shows how dramatically the series has changed over the course of 20 years, but those who recall playing this game on the Nintendo 64 will undoubtedly remember the side quests and adventuring parts of the game that laid the framework for many more years’ worth of The Legend of Zelda.
While it owes its success to the game that preceded it on the Nintendo 64, Mario Party 2 finds its spot on the N64 Classic’s must-have list as the second game in the series that contains many more after it.
Mario Party was the first game in the series that came out for the Nintendo 64 with the party game releasing in North America in 1999, but Mario Party 2 followed soon after and built on the formula while still being released only for the Nintendo 64 at the time. Mostly everyone will know what the Mario Party series is now, especially since a new game in the series is coming out just next week for the Nintendo Switch, and Mario Party 2 was where Nintendo first started to expand the boundaries of its party-style game. Offering new game modes that built on the basic competitive nature of the first, the game was later ported to the Wii and Wii U to keep the party going.
Featuring boss fights, different lands to travel to, enemies from across the Donkey Kong universe, and more Kongs than players could toss a banana at, Donkey Kong 64 was again a 3D adventure made possibly by the Nintendo 64. Featuring an connected world that let players start at a hub location and proceed through the story while being able to backtrack to previous locations to unlock new challenges and opportunities once new Kongs and powers were earned, Donkey Kong 64 is a game that’ll take up quite a bit of players’ time if it’s on a N64 Classic.
It’s the game that started it all for Smash fans with players able to control a modest selection of 12 different characters across Nintendo franchises, several of which had to be unlocked through different challenges. Featuring a single-player mode where players fought against different characters and eventually faced off against Master Hand, it’s the multiplayer aspect of the game where friendships were truly tested as up to four players played against each other. The formula for bringing together Nintendo’s most recognizable characters and pitting them against one another was bound to be a success, so it’s no wonder that the series has grown to the massive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that’s coming out in December, a culmination of the entire franchise and then some.
If not just for merit alone, it needs to be on the console because of how robbed players were when it was eventually ported to a system beyond the Nintendo 64 and Wii. While requests had been made to have the on-rails Pokemon game brought to the Nintendo Wii U, the dream only came true right at the end of the Wii U’s lifespan. Brought to the system’s virtual console, the Nintendo Switch quickly made the Wii U obsolete, and with it went people’s desires to play Pokemon Snap on the outdated console. Bringing it to the N64 Classic would allow buyers to have the best of both worlds with their Switch and Pokemon Snap side by side.
Featuring the Star Fox crew that consisted of many more characters than just the pilot known as Star Fox and his companion Falco that many people are familiar with from the Smash Bros. games, Star Fox 64 let players fly their ships through different missions in the game’s universe while taking on enemy ships and structures. It contained several branching paths depending on if certain missions were completed in the levels that would unlock different planets to travel through, a feature that added tons of replay value to an already excellent Star Fox game.
Featuring a 2D version of Mario and his companions, players controlled Mario and traveled through the game’s various settings while picking up companions and taking on classic and original enemies. The turn-based combat and RPG elements let players craft a version of Mario that worked best for them with different skills and companion powers used throughout the game as they leveled up, and the sense of humor that permeated the game continued on into the numerous Paper Mario sequels that found their way onto future console and handheld devices.