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Eight Games That Defined The Nintendo 64

Eight Games That Defined The Nintendo 64

March the 4th will see the release of Bitmap Books’ latest visual compendium. Highlighting over 150 games that blessed the Nintendo 64, N64: a visual compendium promises to deliver nostalgia overload to fans of the console; or a historical delight to those wishing to learn more about this idiosyncratic machine. While the Nintendo 64 came a distant second to Sony’s all-conquering PlayStation in terms of sales, there is no doubt that many fans remember the console fondly.

For this feature, long-suffering N64 fan Graeme Mason looks back at the eight games he thinks defined the Nintendo console. Disagree with his picks? Please feel free to let us know! You can read about all these games and more in the forthcoming book, N64: a visual compendium.

8: Mario Party

Party Like It's 1998
The Nintendo 64 was home to three Mario Party games, and each features the same core gameplay, combining the spirit of family board games with cute minigames featuring famous Nintendo stars. With several gameplay modes available and dozens of minigames, the series rightly forged a reputation for not only multiplayer entertainment but an experience that all the family could enjoy.

7: Body Harvest

Defining Gameplay, Development Hell
DMA’s Body Harvest underwent wholesale changes to its gameplay, staff and core ethos. That it survived is a miracle in itself – that the game also introduced several groundbreaking elements is a wonder and a testament to the dedication and perseverance of its developer. Dropped by Nintendo and finally delivered years after the N64’s release, Body Harvest’s open-world and vehicle-based gameplay was a firm step towards the gaming behemoth that would become Grand Theft Auto. It also defined a mature direction for the console and the games industry.

6: WCW/nWo Revenge

Grappled By The Ghoulies
Wrestling games were highly popular on the N64, mainly thanks to AKI Corporation’s series of officially licensed WCW releases. It reached its pinnacle in 1998 with this sequel to WCW vs. nWo World Tour, becoming the top-selling third-party Nintendo 64 game in the process. With its improved grappling system, graphics and roster of wrestlers, this was the one to go for if you could only play one wrestling game on the N64.

5: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

Flying Out Of The Shadows
This flight action game wasn’t the first Star Wars game on the Nintendo 64 – that honour goes to Shadows Of The Empire – but it was the most popular and spawned a further two games, albeit on Nintendo’s next console, the GameCube. Unlike Shadows, Rogue Squadron focuses on vehicular combat and ties in more closely to the movies, as the player takes on the Empire throughout a series of famous locations. Like WCW, Star Wars had an essential run on the Nintendo 64, breaking the legendary film franchise into the modern age of console gaming.

4: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

A Jurassic Smash
Valiant Comics was one of the better second-tier comic publishers to emerge during the industry’s 90s boom period, and a few of its properties made their way to the N64, thanks to its owner, Acclaim. Armorines and Shadowman appeared later in the N64’s life, but it was the Native American warrior and dino hunter Turok that made the biggest splash. Perhaps influenced by a lingering interest in dinosaurs following the mega hit Jurassic Park and its sequel, Turok’s exciting first-person gameplay and rampant dino-slaying secured a bright future for the time-travelling hero. Its Nintendo exclusivity meant the series became synonymous with the N64.

3: The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

Linking Up With 3D
While a Nintendo 64 Zelda game was inevitable, few anticipated quite how remarkable Ocarina Of Time would be. Thrust into 3D, the series blossomed, its beautiful landscapes complemented with much innovative gameplay that we take for granted today. Often cited as one of the best games of all time, Ocarina Of Time hugely boosted the Nintendo 64’s standing and re-cemented the RPG’s reputation, which has continued to flourish to this day.

2: Super Mario 64

The Platform Game Comes Of Age
Highly anticipated by fans and heavily promoted by Nintendo, Mario’s jump into 3D, like Zelda’s, had to work exceptionally well. And boy, did it work, supplanting the tried-and-trusted 2D graphics with a brand-new 3D display, yet retaining the glorious gameplay that had made the earlier games so compulsive. Critically, Mario himself is given a new lease of life, jumping, crouching, kicking and swimming his way around the gorgeous world. As a link between Nintendo’s old world and new, there is no better example than Super Mario 64.


1: GoldenEye 007

Licence To Thrill
GoldenEye brings together so many trailblazing aspects, it’s difficult to know where to start. A maturer approach to console gaming; one of the finest 90s FPS’ to grace any games console; a film licence that, for once, is both a great game and an accurate recreation of the movie; and finally, an incredible multiplayer experience, uniting players in split-screen deathmatch inside the James Bond world. Gaming perfection, and the one game, more than any other, that defines the Nintendo 64.

That’s Graeme’s eight games that he thinks defined the Nintendo 64. Disagree? Let us know on social media, and don’t forget to check out N64: a visual compendium, available soon from Bitmap Books, the premier publisher of quality gaming titles.

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