Game Opinion Summaries: Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 is my favorite console ever, and has an incredible library of great games.  I got my first N64 back in September 1999, and quickly came to love it.  The system is one of the best-looking consoles ever, and has one of the best gamepads ever as well.  I know some critics dislike the N64 controller, but I couldn’t disagree any more strongly — it’s incredibly well designed!  It does have one weakness, in the way the analog sticks break down, but that takes a while, and those can be replaced.  Otherwise, they’re near-perfect, as is the console as a whole.

I bought 24 or 25 N64 games during its active life, between Sept. 1999 and January 2002.  I never entirely stopped playing the games I had for the system, most notably Rush 2049, but did stop buying games for it for several years, in favor of the Gamecube and PC.  I did get one game game in early ’03, but otherwise, I got the rest of the games below over time since I started getting games for the system again in 2004.  Most recently, just this year (2013) I got some Japanese import games, including Neon Genesis Evangelion and Sin & Punishment.

The reviews or summaries below are complete in that all games have a summary, but eventually I will rewrite some to make them longer — some of these games deserve many more words than I’ve given them!  Still though,  there’s something here for everything.  I wrote most of this list last year, but added 16 more reviews to the list, and posted it here, this month.

Notes – I mention when games are available on other platforms. If I say nothing, the game is N64 exclusive as far as physical releases go.  That is, I mention any PC, PS1, DC, etc. versions, but don’t always mention Wii Virtual Console or other digital re-releases of games.  Most of the games that I have are exclusives because the N64 had a lot of exclusive games. The list is largely in alphabetical order, but I ignore that for series, so I have the three Rush games together and in order, for instance, and the Cruis’n games listed in release order.

I will list whether games save to cartridge or controller pak (memory card) because N64 controller paks don’t hold much, and I think that it’s important to know whether you’ll need one for your game because of how much of a pain it can be.  I do not list whether games have a password save option unless the game ONLY lets you save via passwords, though; I expect most people would only ever be saving to a memory card.  As a result I will also list how many pages each controller pak save game uses to save. Remember that each controller pak has 123 pages (blocks), and can have a maximum of 16 notes (files) saved to it. I also list if games have Expansion Pak support or not. I won’t bother listing everything with Rumble Pak support, because most games from mid ’97 on support it, and it’s not that big of a deal either way.

Finally, review length and game quality have no relations, here. Don’t assume that I think games are better just because I say more about them, it’s rarely true. I say more about games that I have more to say about, or ones I think are lesser-known, mostly; it’s nothing to do with quality.

Table of Contents

007: The World Is Not Enough
1080° Snowboarding (aka 1080 Degrees Snowboarding)
A Bug’s Life
Aero Fighters Assault
Aero Gauge
Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage
All-Star Baseball ’99
Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M.
Army Men: Air Combat
Automobili Lamborghini
BattleTanx: Global Assault
Battlezone: Rise of the Black Dogs
Beetle Adventure Racing
Big Mountain 2000
Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. (aka Bio Freaks)
Blast Corps
Body Harvest
Bomberman 64 (US) (JP title: Baku Bomberman)
Bomberman Hero
Buck Bumble
Bust-A-Move ’99
California Speed
Carmageddon 64
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
Chameleon Twist
Chameleon Twist 2
Charlie Blast’s Territory
Chopper Attack
ClayFighter 63 1/3
ClayFighter 63 1/3: Sculptor’s Cut
Command & Conquer
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Cruis’n USA
Cruis’n World
Cruis’n Exotica
Custom Robo (J)
Dark Rift
Destruction Derby 64
Diddy Kong Racing
Donkey Kong 64
Doom 64
Doraemon: Nobita & the 3 Fairy Spirit Stones (J)
Dr. Mario 64
Dual Heroes
Duck Dodgers starring Daffy Duck
Duke Nukem: Zero Hour
Excitebike 64
Extreme-G 2: XG2
F-1 World Grand Prix
F-Zero X
Fighter’s Destiny
Fighter Destiny 2
Flying Dragon
Forsaken 64
Gauntlet Legends
Goemon’s Great Adventure
GT64 Championship Racing
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Hexen 64
Hot Wheels Turbo Racing
Hybrid Heaven
Hydro Thunder
Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine
Indy Racing 2000
Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000
Jet Force Gemini
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Knife Edge: Nose Gunner
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Lego Racers
Lode Runner 3D
Mace: The Dark Age
Mario Kart 64
Mario Party 2
Mario Party 3 (J)
Mario Tennis
Mickey’s Racing USA
Mega Man 64
Micro Machines 64 Turbo
Milo’s Astro Lanes
Mischief Makers
Mission: Impossible
Monaco Grand Prix
Monster Truck Madness 64
MRC – Multi Racing Championship
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
NBA Hang Time (aka NBA Hangtime)
Neon Genesis Evangelion (J)
The New Tetris
Nightmare Creatures
NFL Blitz 2000
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
Paper Mario
Penny Racers
Perfect Dark
Pilotwings 64
Pokemon Puzzle League
Polaris SnoCross
The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction
Quake II
Rally Challenge 2000
Rampage: World Tour
Resident Evil 2
Ridge Racer 64
Road Rash 64
Robotron 64
Rocket: Robot on Wheels
San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing
Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA
San Francisco Rush 2049
S.C.A.R.S. (Super Computer Animal Racing Simulation)
Scooby-Doo: Classic Creep Capers
SD Hiryu no Ken Densetsu (J) [SD Flying Dragon Legend]
Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers
Shadow Man
Snowboard Kids 2
Space Invaders
Space Station Silicon Valley
Star Fox 64
Starshot: Space Circus Fever
Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Star Wars: Episode I Racer
Star Wars: Battle for Naboo
Super Mario 64
Super Smash Bros.
Supercross 2000 (EA Sports)
Tarzan (Disney’s)
Tigger’s Honey Hunt
Tonic Trouble
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Top Gear Rally
Top Gear Overdrive
Top Gear Rally 2
Top Gear Hyper-Bike
Tsumi to Batsu: Hoshi no Keishousha – Sin and Punishment (J) [Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Earth]
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Turok: Rage Wars
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion
Twisted Edge Extreme Snowboarding
Vigilante 8
V-Rally Edition ’99
War Gods
Wave Race 64
Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey
Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey ’98
WCW/NWO Revenge
WipEout 64
Worms Armageddon
Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate
Yoshi’s Story

The Summaries – total 163 games covered (I think, if I counted right)

007: The World Is Not Enough – Good FPS from later in the N64’s life. Good graphics, good gameplay, fun levels. The game is a blatant Goldeneye clone from Eurocom, but they did a fairly good job of it and the game’s a pretty fun one. In high res this game really does look quite nice, this game probably has some of the best graphics in an N64 FPS. You have a nice variety of weapons and items to use too. This is a good game, recommended for N64 FPS fans and anyone who liked Goldeneye, particularly Goldeneye’s single player mode (I haven’t played this in multiplayer, so I don’t know how it compares.). The game has great level designs as well, and every mission has the multiple objectives, gadgets, enemies, and trickery you expect from a Goldeneye sequel. The game plays even better than it looks, I would say. Note that the PSX title of the same name is from a different developer and is completely different, and worse. Four player multiplayer. Expansion Pak support. Controller Pak saving (2 pages).

1080° Snowboarding
– I like this game less than many people, but it is okay. I don’t know, I just find it a little boring… I’ve never stuck with it long enough to finish the game, and it’s a pretty short game. It is a quality game though. The graphics are reasonably good. I wish that it was more of a racing game, though — while there is one-on-one racing, 1080 has a strong focus on stunts, and I don’t find stunts as fun as I do racing, in snowboarding games. Also, as I said, this game is short, probably even shorter than something like Wave Race 64. People who love it will find plenty of replay value I’m sure, but still, it won’t take long until you see everything. Oh, even if I don’t love this game nearly as much as many people did at the time, it’s still better than most any Playstation or Saturn snowboarding game. Two player multiplayer. Oncart saving.

A Bug’s Life – A Bug’s Life, from Traveller’s Tales, is the first of two games from the longtime licensed-game developer for the N64. Unfortunately, while TT (now TT Games of Lego ____ fame) could sometimes make good games, their N64 ports were badly botched and subpar. Whether this game or Toy Story 2, both games have worse presentation, closer draw distances, lower framerates, and worse graphics on the N64 than they have on PS1. It’s really, really sad. A Bug’s Life is a 3d platform/action game based on the decent Pixar movie. The game is quite linear, and plays from a behind-and-above angle. It’s not well thought through, and making jumps is much harder than it should be because of the horrible camera angles. If you had a problem with something like Croc, don’t even think about trying this, because it’s much, MUCH worse. The game is very linear, too; branching paths exist, but always dead-end. You throw stuff at enemies to fight, while wrestling with the bad camera of course. Very basic. There are some puzzle elements though, and they do add a bit to the game. Generally the puzzles are simple, as you figure out which things to use where in order to get to a higher area for instance, but I did like that element. In addition to the main story mode, there is also a Challenge mode where you have to do specific goals within a strict, and tight, time limit. Challenge mode is actually quite challenging, surprisingly enough, but mostly not for good reasons — the objectives are not always clearly explained, the time limits are tight, and the bad camera makes success difficult. One other major problem is, as I said earlier, how bad the porting job was from the PS1. I imagine that this game isn’t that great on the PS1 either, but this version is, unfortunately, worse. The FMV cutscenes are of course gone, replaced with still images. The framerate is bad, and I just couldn’t adjust. Normally I have no problem with N64 framerates, but somehow this games’ choppyness was just a little bit too bad. It’s like the worse moments in Banjo-Tooie or Conker, except the whole game’s framerate is like that, and there are no good graphics to explain the awful framerate away, either. Just bad programmers, sadly. Making this worse is a horrendous camera. It’s really bad, and makes the whole game harder and much less fun. Play this game and then something like Mario 64 or Jet Force Gemini and you’ll appreciate all over again how competent those sometimes-tricky camera systems are in comparison to this one! So yeah, this game is bad. Don’t get it. One player, Controller Pak saving (12 pages). Also on PS1.

Aero Fighters Assault – This is the closest thing the N64 has to a flight sim, and it’s thoroughly mediocre and disappointing. It’s an arcadey flight combat game probably closer to Rogue Squadron than a flight sim, which would be fine if the game was actually fun. Unfortunately, it’s not. The graphics are average, and the game simply isn’t much fun. It’s a fairly short game, but it gets frustrating later on and probably isn’t worth the time. This is a sequel of sorts to the great early to mid ’90s shmup series Aero Fighters, but unfortunately this game is nowhere near as good as those, genre shift aside. At least the two player versus mode is okay. Two player multiplayer. Oncart saving.

Aero Gauge
– Aero Gauge is a futuristic racing game where you fly through the air, instead of just hovering or driving on the ground as you do in most racing games. The graphics aren’t very good, and look pretty outdated for a 1998 release. It has a lot of pixeley textures, the N64 can do much better than this. There’s a lot of fog, too. The game has some good sized areas, but with all that fog around you really can only see what’s close to you. They could have done better than this. The menus and interface are stylish and cool looking, though, and the music’s fairly good, so some elements of the presentation are done well. This game got mostly poor reviews, and I can understand why, it is a flawed game. One thing to know is how to boost start; the game doesn’t tell you how, you need the manual or internet, and you will never win a single race if you don’t boost start every single time.  You hold down A+B before the race begins, then let go of B after the announcer says ‘set’. Turbo around corners to get ahead, as well, by pressing A+Z with left or right to powerslide; after powersliding let go of A and Z and then press A again to hopefully boost, if you did it right. These two techniques are important.  There are no weapons or items in this game, and the six tracks are on the short side. The game mostly tries to make up for that with its very high difficulty level, which somewhat succeeds — this is not an easy game. Unfortunately, the main result is just that it gets quite frustrating. I kind of like the game anyway, because flying racing games aren’t very common and the game does some things right and is some fun to play, but I am a huge futuristic racing game fan. Non fans of the genre are unlikely to like the game, I think. Two player multiplayer. Oncart saving, with controller pak support for ghost saves (93 pages per ghost; like Mario Kart 64 the cart can’t save any ghosts, only controller paks, and it takes most of a controller pak to save one.). Do not have a controller pak plugged into controller 1 unless you’re using it to save replays.

Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage – This epic RPG was a late N64 release in 2001, got poor reviews, and was forgotten. Unfortunately this game will never get the sequel that the title suggests there should be. Admittedly, Aidyn Chronicles has some serious bugs (it can corrupt your save files, for instance! ALWAYS keep backups!) and is in some ways a deeply flawed game — for example, if a character dies they’re dead forever; make use of the save anywhere feature and save often, loading if anyone dies. Apparently they were going to have resurrection, but it was too buggy so it was removed late in development. Also, the character art is pretty bad.  Despite these issues though, once you get used to it, Aidyn Chronicles is a great game unlike anything else on the N64. It is a complex, deep Western RPG, and it is a slow paced game as well, so it will take a long time to get used to the game and even longer to finish. The world is large and fun to explore — I love the big overworld, the N64 does fairly large worlds well and the system is being used well here. There’s a lot to explore, and finding your way around and finding the secrets is great. The controls are great. I particularly like the use of the analog stick and C-buttons in the menus, it works very well. The detail put into the game really is impressive, from the magic system to the world to the game design. The combat engine was inspired by Quest 64’s, except it’s improved here. The battle system is a good, strategic system where all characters appear on a map, with movement circles. You move your characters around, attacking the enemies with weapons or magic when in range. You do more damage attacking enemies from behind. Magic requires reagents, so you can’t just cast spells as much as you want — you have to be judicious about your use of magic. Spells early on aren’t just fireballs and stuff too, you’ll need to think more in this game. Your starting spells are things like shield, vs. necromancy, weakness, and strength — useful spells, but subtle compared to fireballs or even Magic Missile. It works though. Enemies are visible in the overworld, so there are no random battles, which is fantastic. The story isn’t incredibly original, but it’s a good epic story of your hero’s rise. And for once, no burning village; the hero sets off on his journey for a reason that is just as good, but is a little more unique. Yeah, despite its big problems, I really like this game. Just be warned, it is long and slow. Oh, and the framerate is pretty slow, though steady, particularly in High Res mode. This bothers some people, but not me; at least it’s steady and doesn’t jump up and down. The slow pace of gameplay also helps make the framerate matter less. Overall, Aidyn Chronicles is an incredibly ambitious games, in some ways one of the system’s most ambitious games in fact. It fails as much as it succeeds, and is very much a love or hate game, but if you can get into it you might get hooked for a long time. I think it’s good to great. Expansion Pak support (use High Res mode!). Controller Pak required to save (28 pages per save file). One player.

All-Star Baseball ’99 – This is a decent baseball game from Acclaim from 1998. With dDecent gameplay and graphics, it’s a fine baseball game for its generation. This was the first of three N64 All-Star Baseball games. I’d like to play this more, but don’t have enough memory cards to have one dedicated just to this game… Controller Pak required to save (107 pages).

Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M. – An FPS from Acclaim. It got mediocre reviews, unlike Acclaim’s other N64 FPSes, the Turok series. This is Acclaim’s only N64 FPS that also was released on the Playstation (the first two Turok games had PC ports, but not PSX), but reviews of that port say that it’s quite a bit worse than the N64 version. I believe it, the game, clearly running on the Turok engine, uses the power of the system and wouldn’t downgrade well. I actually think this game is decent, despite the reviews. I love N64 FPS controls, Turok-style FPS controls are the best console FPS controls ever, in my sure to be lonely opinion. Armorines is a straightforward, linear FPS running in the Turok engine, where you shoot lots of bug alien invaders, solve some simple puzzles as you explore each area trying to figure out how to progress to the next one, and then shoot more bugs and move on. It’s simple, but fun enough that I can definitely enjoy myself, and the graphics are reasonably nice though not the greatest. You can play as a male or female character, which is cool. The game has four player versus mode multiplayer, and a two player co-op option in the campaign, which is awesome. Expansion Pak support. Controller Pak required to save (1 page).

Army Men: Air Combat – Army Men Air Combat is a port of the Playstation game Army Men Air Attack. It is improved over the original version, with four player multiplayer, better graphics, and more. This series was 3DO’s attempt to take on EA’s Strike series, and I think it worked pretty well. This is probably one of the best Army Men games, and I like the game. You fly around, in a top-down perspective where you do not have actual 3d control — that is, you have no control over height you’re flying but the game used 3d graphics.  You spend your time shooting enemies and turrets, picking up powerups, etc. The graphics are nice enough, and the game is a lot of fun. The only real negatives are that it’s a bit easy and too short — Army Men Air Combat strips out most of the Strike series’ high difficulty level, to be much more accessible for young audiences —  but it’s fun while it lasts. I like this game more than the 4th gen Strike games, in fact, though it’s a closer fight versus the 5th gen ones. Do you prefer simple and fun, or complex and challenging?  None of those have a four player mode though… Four player multiplayer. Controller Pak required to save (1 page).

Automobili Lamborghini – Titus’s first N64 racing game, Automobili Lamborghini is their second Lamborghini game, after Lamborghini American Challenge on the Super Nintendo. The game has nice graphics for a 1997 N64 game, but bland, generic gameplay that probably won’t hold most people’s interest for particularly long. The game has six or so tracks, a decent number for the time, and four player splitscreen, which is nice. There’s only a somewhat barebones single-player game — choose difficulty and tracks and go — but while somewhat weak, it could be worse. Overall, the game is fun for a little while, but unfortunately it gets dull fast. There’s not much variety here, average, mostly-arcadey controls and handling, and no special gimmicks to hold your attention. Still, it’s not actually bad, just bland. I find the game fun for a while. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (7 pages).

Banjo-Kazooie – This game is one of the all-time classic 3d platformers, and it is indeed a great game. It isn’t my favorite Rare 3d platformer, but it is a great one that deserves most of the praise it has received. The graphics are quite good, the game is well designed in both general game design and levels, and there’s a lot to do. I do dislike how you have to re-collect notes and such each time you go into a level unless you get all of them, though. You can be in a level without a power you’ll need to get all 100 notes, but you don’t know it and start collecting them… only to realize some time later you wasted your time and will need to do it again later. It’s quite annoying. Other than that though, this game is pretty good. Rare’s first 3d platformer is still a great game. Like all of Rare’s 3d platformers, BK has a lot of content and will take a good while to finish. It is also on XBox 360 Live Arcade, but I haven’t played that version so I can’t compare them. One player, on cart saving.

Banjo-Tooie – The sequel to the previous game, bigger and better than the first one in most respects. Tooie is a pretty good game. It doesn’t repeat the first game’s problems, and has some pretty cool levels too. It’s not as original as the first game, though, and some people dislike the multiple characters you now have. I don’t mind that, but I did find it kind of annoying at some points and haven’t finished the game, despite owning it for many years (since 2002, precisely). The game has some framerate problems — they simply tried too much for the un-enhanced N64, I really wish that this game had had Expansion Pak support, I think it needed it. Some parts have some bad framerate drops. Still, the game is great overall. Like the first game it is also on XBox 360 Live Arcade, but I haven’t played those versions so I can’t compare them. Four player (battle mode and minigames for multiplayer), oncart saving.

BattleTanx – I did a thread about this game once. It’s great fun, the first of 3DO’s tank action games and is still well worth playing. While it’s great overall, it does have some issues, most prominently the quite mediocre graphics. The game is short too, just like its sequel – this game won’t take long to finish. There are only three kinds of tanks in the game, so there’s not too much variety. The post-apocalyptic story is simple but effective, and it works as a setup. Multiplayer was the focus here, and it shows — even the single player missions are all fought in the same levels as the multiplayer, large, square cities full of stuff to destroy and players starting at different points. The sequel would add much more level variety. Fortunately, it’s still incredibly fun to drive around and shoot stuff. That’s the core of Battletanx, and that’s why it’s great. Buildings crumble as you shoot them. Levels are large and a lot of fun to navigate and are full of enemies, obstacles, and buildings, many of which you can level. This game’s good and well worth playing. Four player multiplayer (various versus modes). Controller Pak to save (1 page).

BattleTanx: Global Assault – The sequel to the above game, and better than it in every way. The story is better, there are a lot more tanks to control, the campaign is longer (though still short and easy), there are more maps, there is a much greater variety of level designs, there are more multiplayer modes and mission types in single player, there are more control options, and more. I really loved this game, it’s one of the best multiplayer games on the N64, and yes, I know that’s saying a lot. My only complaint is that I wish there was a sequel, because this game ends with a cliffhanger that was never resolved. Bah! 3DO did make some more vehicular action games after this, the two WDL games from 2000-2001 (both PS1 and PS2 exclusives, quite sadly), but they are entirely separate story-wise and do not continue this plot. Still though, BTGA is fantastic. It would have been nice to see actual height differences in the levels — there are tunnels you can go down, and little hills, but no real rolling terrain — but really, this game’s very good and extremely fun to play. Of the multiplayer modes, the two player co-op campaign is really cool, and for versus play BattleLord mode (it’s Capture the Flag, essentially) steals the show. That mode’s so great I rarely even touch the others. You can play against any mixture of four human and computer players, can play 2v2 with one human and one computer on each team, and more. There was a later Playstation version of the game, but it’s got new, worse prerendered FMV CG story scenes, entirely redesigned, smaller and less interesting (but more numerous, though it doesn’t make up for the problems) levels with completely different level maps, and more. It’s nowhere near as good as the N64 version and is two player only. N64 BTGA has a two player co-op campaign, and four player versus modes. Play the better BTGA game, this N64 version. Controller Pak to save (1 page).

Battlezone: Rise of the Black Dogs – This isn’t like the ’80s arcade classic, but instead is the only console game based off of the late ’90s PC strategy/action series of the same title. The concept is that it is the Cold War, and the US and USSR are fighting a secret war on the moon between forces they have landed there. Yeah, it’s a cool concept. Activision tried to bring back Battlezone, but as a strategy/FPS/RTS hybrid, like some titles from 3DO and Microsoft such as Uprising. There were two games in this series on the PC, but only this one on consoles, which is an original title and not a port. The game is simplified from the PC original, understandably, given that it is on a console and needs to use a gamepad instead of keyboard and mouse — the PC games had complex controls, using lots of keyboard keys for various stuff. You can drive around and shoot enemies, but you also have to build a base, build units, and give them orders in your efforts to defeat the enemy. The controls work on the N64, but are complex and they will take a while to get used to. Once you do though it’s a pretty good game. The graphics are just average, and there is ever-present fog in the not-far-enough-away distance, but they do the job just well enough to do. There is also a shooting-only arcade mode, but the strategy mode is the core of the game. Four player multiplayer. Controller Pak required to save (1 page).

Beetle Adventure Racing – This is a very popular classic racing game from Paradigm and EA. The game plays like a hybrid between San Francisco Rush and Need for Speed, and is about as great as that sounds. I think that the Rush series is better than BAR, no question, but BAR is pretty good too. The tracks, while few, are huge and lots of fun to drive around and explore.  The tracks in this game are absolutely full of shortcuts, so it will take a good amount of time to learn each one.  The games’ visuals are good as well. The game has plenty of replay value due to its high difficulty level, point boxes to find hidden all over the stages, and more.  The multiplayer mode is disappointing, though.  Race mode is two player only; only the not-that-great battle mode supports three or four players.  Too bad.  Also, the tracks sometimes feel like they are too long for their own good.  The game’s great fun at first, but by the later tracks, the long race times make failures frustrating — at times one mistake can force you to restart the race or more.  I never finished this game because, as good as it is, I got tired of it after a few tracks.  Still, with good graphics, good controls, and lots to do, BAR is a great racing game.  Controller Pak required to save (4 pages). Two player only in multiplayer race mode, four players in battle mode.

Big Mountain 2000 – This little-known skiing/snowboarding game is actually my favorite winter sports game on the N64. The developer, Imagineer, made some of the N64’s more mediocre racing games — MRC, GT64, Rally Challenge 2000 — but this one is genuinely good. All four games are somewhat lacking in content, but this one’s more fun while it lasts than the others. Big Mountain 2000 is a port of a Japanese release from 1998, so the graphics are not exactly the equal of other N64 games from 2000, but I think that the great gameplay makes up for it. BM2k is a simple, straightforward, and racing-centric skiing and snowboarding game — this is not an SSX or even 1080 style trick-centric game, but a game that really is about the racing, and that’s how I like it. The controls are just about perfect, and are exactly the way I would want them to be for a game of this kind. There is a very minimal trick component, where you can do tricks off of specific jumps if you want, but it doesn’t get you anything of note and there is no stunt mode. I am entirely fine with this; I always prefer race to stunt mode in 1080 and SSX games. Indeed, the half pipes are usually my most hated “tracks” in those games. The game is somewhat short, with just four mountains, but that’s still one more course than Imagineer’s first two N64 racing games have, and there are three races on each mountain, so the game’s not TOO short. You have a normal race down the mountain, Downhill, and two different races where you need to go between the flags, Slalom and Giant Slalom. The two have different flag and path layouts for each of the races of course. There is also a reverse mode, after you beat the normal, and you can choose a character and skiis or snowboards, though I didn’t notice much of a difference between the two. I got hooked by this game and played it quite a bit until finishing it. It’s fun to just race down the mountain. Two player multiplayer. On-cart saving. (Yes, it’s one of those rare third-party N64 games with on-cart saving! Imagineer’s other three N64 racing games don’t have it, for sure.)

Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. – Arcade port fighting game from Midway, also ported to Playstation. This game, released in 1998, was Midway’s one of Midway’s later 3d fighting games, and unlike most other Midway fighters that generation, this one actually supports saving, which is great. Only this and MK4 do (and the DC version of MK4, MK Gold, doesn’t either!). Anyway, in Bio Freaks, you’ve got everything you expect from a Midway fighting game, plus more — it has ridiculous character designs, decent graphics for the system, multi-tiered arenas, fatalities, etc. The characters can fly too, so uniquely, it’s got both air and ground combat. All characters have both projectile and melee attacks as well. It is a 5th gen 3d fighting game, though, so it’s not exactly anywhere near the mark 6th gen 3d fighters hit. It’s a bit slow for instance, like so many N64 games. Still, for an N64 3d fighter, not bad. There is also an in-game moves list, which makes this game one of the only N64 fighting games with that awesome feature! The gameplay’s only above average — it definitely is not exactly balanced, which hurts, and it’s a bit slow — but the feature set in the game is pretty good, and it is unique and at least somewhat fun. Two player. Controller pak to save (3 pages).

Blast Corps – Blast Corps is an early N64 Rare game. The game is both original and brilliant, and, despite the many incredible games that Rare made for the system, still stands as one of their best. The graphics are poor, first gen work, but the incredibly fun gameplay makes up for it. In Blast Corps, you have to destroy all the buildings that are in the way of a runaway nuclear missile carrier which cannot stop. If it hits anything, it explodes. You control a variety of different vehicles in your destructive work. The game is essentially an action/puzzle game, and figuring out the fastest and best way to beat each level is both a lot of fun and very challenging. There are medals, and you unlock bonus stages, and the ability to try for platinum medals, if you manage to get all the gold medals. Good luck there, the difficulty is crazy. In addition to the destroying, there are also occasional bonus stages where you do other stuff such as flying around with a jetpack-like thing, and some racing levels where you do some top down racing. It’s a great, great game. Controller pak or internal save. One player. Note that the game will give an error message (“foreign object detected in controller pak port” or something) if you have a rumble pak plugged in, and you cannot access the internal save unless you do NOT have a controller pak plugged into controller one. Also, if the space is available, the game will automatically make four 10-14 page notes on your memory card to save onto. How nice. So, before playing Blast Corps, make sure to remove anything from your controller’s accessory port! One player.

Body Harvest – Body Harvest is an interesting N64 on foot and vehicular combat game from the same studio as Grand Theft Auto. The game suffered years of delays, originally being planned as an early N64 game but not coming out until 1998. It also saw a publisher change, as Nintendo dropped the game during development and it was picked up by Midway. Fortunately they kept the on-cart saving. In the game, you, a time traveling soldier, have to fight off a bug alien invasion. What it it about N64 alien invasions so often being bugs… Starship Troopers influence I guess? Anyway, these bugs aren’t just attacking, they’re attacking throughout time! So, use your time machine and save all of the affected eras from the bugs, one after another. The graphics are first-generation poor, and the controls are just okay. The main hook is that you can control many different kinds of vehicles during the game, different ones during each time period. Like in GTA (except before any 3d GTA games), you can jump in and out of the vehicles at will. It’s a good game, but I don’t love it and always lose interest after a while. I haven’t actually gotten too far in this game as a result. One player, on-cart saving.

Bomberman 64 – Bomberman 64 is the first Bomberman game of four on the N64, and it is to this day still the only full, Mario 64-inspired open 3d world Bomberman 3d platformer. All Bomberman 3d platformers after it followed much more linear designs, and the Gamecube ones don’t even have 3d multiplayer, just the usual 2d grid stuff. Bomberman 64 was different. The game is very, very difficult, too difficult I would say, but it’s a very good game. I do need to say though, the graphics are mediocre at best. Don’t expect a lot from this game. It’s just good enough to get by, but nothing above that. It’s clearly first gen work. My other main complaint is that there is an entire sixth world in the main game that you can only access by getting ALL of the golden tickets (this game’s equivalent to Mario 64’s stars). ARGH! Some of those tickets are very hard to get… I’ve never seen world six. It’s pretty annoying, I’ve heard it’s cool. Even so though, I like the game a lot. The levels are fun to explore and well designed, and there’s a lot to do in the game. This game is pretty good. The bossfights are a challenge too, but often fun. The multiplayer is great, too. The maps are actually 3d, and instead of cross explosions like classic Bomberman, are circular like in the single player game. This is the only 3d Bomberman game where normal bombs explode in circular blasts in multiplayer mode; The 2nd Attack also has 3d arenas, but cross bombs (super bombs excepted, those have round blasts), and the two GC/PS2 games have, as I said, the classic 2d style of gameplay only for their multiplayer, though their single players are (poor, subpar) linear-path 3d platformers. Thus in both single and multi player, Bomberman 64 is an original game unlike anything else in the series. 3d platformer and Bomberman fans who haven’t played it should try it. Four players. On-cart saving, though if you want to save a custom multiplayer character (a unique look for your multiplayer character, made up of parts you unlock in the main game), you’ll need to save that character to a memory card, so you can bring it to a friends’ and use it there, I assume. Each of those character files are one page.

Bomberman Hero – Bomberman Hero actually started out as a Bonk game. When I learned this suddenly this game made a lot more sense to me, because at the time I thought that Bomberman Hero was pretty strange for a Bomberman game. It has no multiplayer, it’s linear and you just follow a path instead of wandering around larger worlds like in Bomberman 64, and you mostly throw bombs instead of just dropping them. Well, it didn’t start out as Bomberman. The game’s alright, with some fun linear-corridor 3d platforming challenge and Bomberman 64-esque boss battles. The graphics aren’t much improved over Bomberman 64, but oh well. It’s not the game people expected it to be, but it’s an okay to good game even so. Oh, this is the only N64 Bomberman game to be released on the Wii Virtual Console, for whatever reason. It’s too bad the two Bomberman 64 games weren’t. One player, on-cart saving.

Buck Bumble – Buck Bumble is a 3d flight combat game where you control a heavily armed bee. You fly around, killing enemies and doing missions. The graphics are okay at best, nothing special, and the gameplay’s no competition for Factor 5’s Star Wars games. It’s a good game I guess, though not great. This game has lots of fog. Way too much of it really, given the only average graphics. The N64 can do a lot better than this. Even so, for anyone who likes flight combat games, Buck Bumble is probably worth a look — there aren’t too many games like this on the N64, and even if it could be a better, the game is okay and definitely will provide plenty of challenge. Indeed, this game isn’t easy. It’s also got multiplayer, something Factor 5 didn’t attempt. Four players, controller pak to save (3 pages).

Bust-A-Move ’99 – BAM ’99 is a port of the arcade game Bust-A-Move 3. It was also on PSX and Saturn. Compared to the other versions, the N64 has a plus and a minus. On the good side, the game has an N64-exclusive four player splitscreen multiplayer mode. There’s no music in 3 or 4 player mode, but still it’s and awesome feature to have, and this is still one of only a very few BAM games with a 4 player splitscreen mode. On the downside, some people will like the cart remixes of the music less than the CD audio on other versions. I think the music’s fine, though, and love this game. It’s easily one of the N64’s best puzzle games. I love the characters in BAM2, it’s my favorite BAM cast. I like the music and graphics. I love that BAM3 has more modes and options than most other BAM games — there isn’t just a puzzle mode, a versus mode, and an infinite mode or something, like BAM1, but a total of eight different modes — in Arcade Puzzle, Arcade Vs. CPU, Arcade 2-P Versus, 4-P Versus (separate because in this mode the windows are much smaller and there’s no music; with just two people play in arcade mode, not here.), Win Contest (another versus mode where you see how many CPUs you can beat), Challenge (another puzzle mode, try to meet some specific conditions to finish the stages. You are graded, see how well you can do!), a collection of 1024 puzzles made by Japanese fans that are included on the cart, and puzzle edit mode where you can make your own. In the series, only BAM4 (PC/PS1/DC) comes close to this game in features, and it doesn’t have a four player mode. There are multiple graphic sets in this game for the bubbles too — the game as at least three different looks in different modes and stages. This game has a lot of content, for sure, and will consume you for many hours. My only real complaint is that the save file is insanely large. What in the world HAPPENED here? Why is it 64 pages? BAM2 for Saturn’s file is about 64 blocks, and that’s out of 500… in a 32KB memory space. This game uses 64 pages of 123 on a 256KB space. Featurewise the games are very similar — both have a puzzle edit mode with 16 user-creatable puzzles (Saturn exclusive in BAM2, but present in all versions I think of BAM3; N64 certainly has it at least), etc. The N64 game does have more modes and unlockables, but that should only account for a little more space, not the exponential increase in comparison it has. This is really the only blemish on an otherwise exceptional, incredibly addictive game. It’s annoying, but doesn’t ruin the game. This is one of my favorite puzzle games of all time. Four player multiplayer, controller pak to save (64 pages).

California Speed – California Speed is a port of the Midway/Atari Games arcade game of the same name. The game is essentially Atari Games’ take on the Cruis’n USA concept, and repurposes the San Francisco Rush engine to run a Cruis’n-ish point-to-point racer with more Rush-like handling. While only moderately popular, I liked California Speed quite a bit in the arcades back when it came out. It’s a somewhat easy game, but being a cross of Cruis’n, which are fun games, and San Francisco Rush, which is my favorite racing game series, I thought it was pretty good. On that note, the controls do feel a lot like a Rush game. The cars handle a lot like Rush cars, so don’t expect to be able to turn on a dime. You’ll need to learn the courses and prepare. I really like the Rush series’ handling, so I think this is great. Fortunately, as I said, this game isn’t that hard, and the courses are mostly straightforward. The graphics are okay too. There is fog in the distance, unfortunately, but it’s far enough away to not be too bothersome, and I love many of the environments you race through. There really are some great tracks in California Speed. Some of my favorites are the roller coaster section of one track (it’s really one of the more distinctive things in the game, in my opinion), the mall you go through in another track (straight from the country to a giant mall…), the part where you seem to be driving inside a giant computer circuitboard, or the alien ship. Yeah, I love the track designs here, the designers did a good job. The graphics are about the same as Rush 1 or 2 on the N64, or perhaps slightly improved over those, so they aren’t great, but once you get used to the style it looks okay. Easy or no I like this game a lot, it’s just so much fun to drive through the levels. There is some challenge later on, too — the game’s got a solidly lengthy single player mode to race though, with multiple circuits and modes, and three different sets of vehicles too. There are three or four different championships and several difficulty levels, so there’s plenty of content if you like the game like I do. I just wish it had on-cart saving like the Cruis’n games do. Two player multiplayer, controller pak to save (35 pages).

Carmageddon 64 – Carmageddon 64 is widely hated, and indeed loathed, but I actually like this game. I can understand why people hate it, but I think it is actually a decent game in some respects, and it definitely can be fun. Based on one of the later Carmageddon games for the PC, Carmageddon 64 may not be as good as the original PC Carmageddon game — and it isn’t — but neither were Carmagedodon’s sequels, and Carmageddon 64 is not anywhere near as awful as reported. Really, in plenty of ways it’s a decent game. As usual with Carmageddon, there are three ways to complete each level — either finish three laps of the race by going through the checkpoints enough time (as always in the series there are no finishing places, or positions recorded. If you finish at all you win.), crush all zombies in the level (harder than it sounds), or destroy the other three cars and be the last car standing (yeah, only four cars in the race). This last one is often the easiest way to win, and the computers are aggressive and attack eachother constantly, so that’s their tactic too. If you’re following the checkpoints, though, do know that the checkpoints are VERY touchy — pay attention, it’s easy to miss a checkpoint if you were too far from the marker. I’ve had multiple times where I reach the next checkpoint, only to be told to go back because I missed the last one. The game has only three environments, but all three are huge, and contain a variety of different courses. Each level brings you through different areas of the environment, through different routes, and more, so they do feel different. Each layout is marked with arrow signs that you must follow. I find it easy enough to stay on course, but there are no rails, so you do have to pay attention. The handling is pretty much standard Carmageddon handling, so it feels somewhat Rush-ish, but not quite as well done. Handling is tricky, and I find myself regularly running into walls, but I think the controls are solid, overall; I don’t have a problem with them. In narrow paths like you’re often driving through in this game, it’s understandable that it’d be tricky to stay on the track. It can be done, just drive more carefully and get used to the controls. The button combination to heal up your car some — hold Z and then press R to heal a little, or hold Z and then double-tap R to fully heal — is quite important, you take damage easily and will need to heal frequently. Fortunately, though healing costs money, you usually have plenty. The graphics are decent, and there are a fair number of “zombies” to run over. Silly console censorship, they’re supposed to be people… it’s more fun running over humans, but oh well. Sometimes you can complete whole races without seeing the zombies, but they are out there, 80-160 of them per course. Often they’re hiding, though in some courses you’ll run across plenty of them to easily squish. Fun stuff. Carmageddon 64 is clearly a somewhat low budget game, and needed some more bug testing for sure, so I can see why so many people hate it, but no, this is NOT the worst game on the N64, not by a longshot. I’m not sure what kind of score to give it, I could almost see anything from a B to a D, but I do know I’m entertained and will be playing this game more. Two player, controller pak saving (1 page).

Castlevania – The first 3d Castlevania game, this game has a pretty bad reputation. While I will agree that the early N64 graphics don’t look that good (the graphics definitely are the worst thing about this game), the gameplay is better than the graphics. However, the improved version below makes this game outdated for all but its most hardcore fans. I will describe the game, but considering that LoD is pretty much the same thing but better, there’s not much reason to get this. On its own though, Castlevania is a fairly impressive achievement in some ways. First, as should be expected from Konami, the music is fantastic. In addition, the levels are large and well designed. Castlevania for the N64 has elements of 3d platforming, 3d action, and adventure gaming in it, and the platforming and adventure elements are done especially well. As an action game it’s probably not above average, but the game’s focus is elsewhere so that’s fine, in my opinion. I love the adventure game elements, this game has a great sense of suspense sometimes and the puzzles in the game are often challenging and fun. The game follows multiple routes with the two characters, who share some levels but each play some the other character doesn’t. The little girl (mage) character is way better than the guy with the whip, because his weapon is short range while she can shoot far, which is a huge help in a 3d game. There are multiple endings too, depending on how long you took to finish it. The platforming controls are pretty good — your character will grab onto any platform edge you get anywhere near while jumping, so absolute precision is, thankfully, not necessary. Overall, flawed but good. One player, controller pak (9 pages) to save. The Japanese version has on-cart saving, but like all Konami N64 games it was removed from the Western releases because Konami are cheap and annoying, apparently.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness – I got this game in the mid ’00s not expecting much, because of how much bad things I’d heard over the years about the N64 Castlevanias, but I was very pleasantly surprised, and I think this is a pretty good game. LoD is an improved version of the above title. Essentially, it is everything Castlevania for the N64 is, and more. It has better graphics, more stages, more playable characters, some level design changes, and more. The expansion pak support is an optional Hi Res mode; the framerate is lower, but the graphics look great. The graphics are improved over the first version even in low res mode, but high res is particularly good looking. Many people dislike the slow framerate of hi res mode, but I think it’s fine and always play LoD in high res. The new stages are great too. I love the new first level, on the ships; it’s a better intro stage than that dark forest the original starts with (and that is level 2 this time), I think. Great boss too. The new characters change the game’s progression. In LoD, first you play as Cornell. Cornell is a werewolf and is incredibly powerful; few bosses will be much of a challenge for wolf mode Cornell, so save your red gems for boss battles and then just destroy the bosses. This lets you focus on what’s best about the game, the platforming and puzzles. Cornell is pretty cool, he’s my favorite character in this game. This mode has only one ending and no time limit, and you go through all of the stages in the game. After you beat the game with Cornell, you unlock a second character. This guy has a time limit and has to find five children hiding in a certain set of stages you play through before time runs out. Do that and you unlock the original two characters from the first version, and can play through their two modes, much like the first game but with some minor changes here and there, so it won’t be exactly the same experience, just similar. One player only, controller pak (17 pages) to save. Expansion Pak supported for a high-res mode. I always play with high res on, but people bothered by the framerate might want to disable it. The Japanese version has on-cart saving, but like all Konami N64 games it was removed from the Western releases because Konami are cheap and annoying.

Chameleon Twist – Chameleon Twist is a fun, but somewhat short and easy, 3d platformer. In this earlier N64 game (it’s from 1997), you control a chameleon. Your character is a pretty cute big-head creature that only looks vaguely like a chameleon, but oh well. The main feature here is that your chameleon has a very long tongue, which you can use to grab onto things to swing yourself around, to attack, and more. The tongue mechanic is somewhat original and leads to some fun gameplay challenges, as you swing yourself around to figure out what to do. It’s nothing deep and epic, but it is a fun little 3d platformer that I enjoy. Sure, the graphics are mediocre and it could be harder, but what’s here is solid fun. Four player (multiplayer battle mode). On-cart saving (note that Chameleon Twist 2 does not have multiplayer or on-cart saving, and requires controller pak save instead; reasons to prefer the first one!).

Chameleon Twist 2 – The second Chameleon Twist game is similar to the first one, but with slightly better graphics and new levels. This game feels a little more cheaply made than the first game, since the multiplayer versus mode was removed — this is a single player only game, though you can choose to play as any of the chameleons from the first game during play — and the internal save was replaced with controller pak only saving, but the base gameplay is the same, and it’s still good. The graphics are still average at best, though. They may have improved a bit, but they’re still second or third rate. This time the player characters look much more like chameleons, though. In the first game the “chameleons” are very cartoony figures that look little like their supposed form, but in this game they do look like chameleons, albeit cartoony ones. I like the new character designs. Chameleon Twist 2 feels something like a 4th gen third-party platformer, in that it has six big levels but is much more linear than platformers from Nintendo and won’t last you nearly as long. Each of the six levels are long, with multiple sections followed by a boss fight, and the game has some challenging parts for sure. You do get a lot of health though, so you can make many mistakes before losing a life. Unless you care about how well you are doing (as you are rated at the end of each level) or whether you’re finding the collectables along the way, beating the game probably won’t take long. There is a little replay value in going back and trying to find everything, but it’s limited. As before, levels are completely linear areas, often on platforms floating in space. This is a 3d platformer, but your path is mostly linear. Some areas may have multiple routes, but often those are just hiding places for collectables. I do like the level designs, though. The controls work similarly to the first game, so once again, the central focus is on your chameleon’s long tongue. You can attach to things with the tongue, swing around, and more. Getting used to it is tricky, so practice — you’ll need it! Swinging with precision is central to the game. The training rooms can be tough, but you will need to have mastered the moves, with the tongue particularly, in order to get through the levels. As with the first game, you get used to it with practice. Overall, Chameleon Twist 2’s structure, with the small number of big long levels, is dated, but the gameplay is fun. This is a classic, simple platformer. There aren’t all that many 5th gen 3d platformers developed in Japan, but this series is. They are no match for the top N64 3d platformers, but are simple, fun games that 3d platformer fans should try. Expect a short game though — there’s not much to this one. Fortunately it’s fun while it lasts. One player, Controller Pak saving (5 pages).

Charlie Blast’s Territory – Charlie Blast’s Territory is a small, low budget N64 puzzle game. It’s a puzzle game of the “figure out how to solve it” variety, not the block dropping variety, and you have to figure out in each level how to destroy all the bombs, and thus the stage, in the 3d, tile grid design levels. You move Charlie around, pushing bombs to get them arranged correctly to blow up the stage with a single blow. The game is okay, but has a very simple look and you can tell that the cart size is small. The game’s by Kemco, and is basically and N64 version of what was released on Playstation as “The Bombing Islands”, except with the new character Charlie Blast as your character instead of Kid Klown and perhaps some different puzzles. One player. Saving is by password only. This is the only N64 game I know of with password-only saving. All others with password options also have controller pak support.

Chopper Attack – This is game is another Strike series clone on the N64, except this one is played from a behind-the-helicopter view instead of the 3/4ths overhead view of the Strike games and Army Men Air Attack. Despite the change in viewpoint, you have no more vertical control in this game than you do in those. That is, you have no control over vertical flying height. Once you accept that, this game’s actually somewhat fun. You fly around, shooting enemies and turrets and buildings and such and accomplishing your objectives. Not bad. The graphics and sound are nothing special — there are lots of big blurry textures here — and nor is the gameplay really. Oh, and the game is short, it won’t take long to finish. This game is average, but it’s fun anyway. Despite the problems, it’s an okay game overall. I never liked the 16-bit Strike games, but do like most of the 5th gen games of this style. One player, on-cart saving.

ClayFighter 63 1/3 – This is a fighting game, and the first of two N64 ClayFighter games. The game is okay, but not great. The graphics are amusing, in that ClayFighter style, and the 3d arenas are cool. There is 3d movement, so this isn’t just a 2.5d game. I like that. There are combos, KI style, as well as special moves. There are several hidden characters too, accessible by cheat codes. In addition to the ClayFighter characters, the other Interplay characters Earthworm Jim and Boogerman are also playable, which is cool. I don’t like KI-style combo systems, but you don’t need to know it to play this game. This isn’t a great game, but it is stupidly amusing, which is about all you should hope for from something like this. Two player, no saving.

ClayFighter 63 1/3: Sculptor’s Cut – This rental-only N64 game is somewhat rare and pricey as a result of its limited release, but I lucked into a cheap copy. Sculptor’s Cut is a somewhat interesting modified version of the first Clayfighter 63 1/3 game. While the environments and characters are similar (all of the stages and characters from the first version return, and the story, such as it is, is not different), there are many changes, both minor and major. First, the game’s now entirely 2.5d — 3d movement has been removed, so gameplay is now on a 2d plane. That’s disappointing, I liked the 3d movement of the first version. Now instead of having to maneuver people towards areas where stages change, you just push your opponent to the edge and you’ll move in to them naturally. It makes stage changes easier, but overall wasn’t a good change. On the other hand, four new characters have been added, which is great — more characters is very nice, in a game like this, and the new characters are all great to see. But again on the other hand, there were yet more changes made in order to save space and simplify gameplay — the KI-style combo system was mostly removed, leaving just moves, special moves, and super moves in place. Some returning characters have fewer moves, too. I never liked KI-style combo/combo breaker systems at all, so I think this was probably a good change (apart from the removed special moves), but I’m sure some people disagree. Overall, I don’t know that this is worth the money — there are as many negative changes as positive, and this is one of the pricier US releases. Still, it IS still to date the most recent Clayfighter game, and it does have four characters exclusive to this version, so series fans at least should certainly check it out. Fighting game fans who prefer 2d gameplay to 3d in their polygonal fighting games also might like this version more. Two player, no saving.

Command & Conquer – C&C for the N64 is a remake of the PC original, except with 3d graphics. The live action FMV cutscenes have been removed, of course, in favor of static images, text, and some speech. That is too bad, C&C series FMV is always entertaining stuff. There’s also no multiplayer, and the game only includes the original campaign, not either of the expansions, which were never released for N64. There are four additional N64-exclusive levels, though. The actual game’s the same, though, except in 3d instead of drawn 2d. The visuals actually look pretty good, particularly in high res mode. The game looks and plays better than I expected, I wasn’t expecting it to be good at all but it’s actually fun and works reasonably decently. You can zoom in and out, so you can hopefully get it to the size you want. Small units are always an issue in C&C games, with all that tiny infantry, but they do what they can here. The 3d graphical redo is interesting and makes the game different enough to be worth a look, even if the gameplay is the same, and that gameplay functions about as well as can be hoped for on a console controller with analog stick. C&C for the N64 may or may not be worth playing, but at least they tried something a little different. One player, on-cart saving, Expansion Pak support.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day – Rare’s last N64 3d platformer, Conker’s Bad Fur Day was long in development but worth the wait. Conker has impressive graphics, though it does have some framerate issues like Banjo-Tooie likely because it doesn’t use the expansion pak. It also has great platformer gameplay, with the usual good Rare level design. This game is less about collecting than Rare’s other 3d platformers; the game does have some, you are collecting items, but it’s more straightforward than Rare’s other 3d platformers. This game is streamlined versus the previous ones. I’m not so sure the change was a good one, I like the other three more overall, but it does make for something different and is a pretty good game as well. What Conker is best known for, however, of course, is its mature theme. This game’s M rating is well earned. The game has a later Xbox remake, but while the graphics on the Xbox are better, the game is actually censored more on that platform — many swears that are unbeeped on the N64 (the game is fully voiced) are censored on the Xbox. The game is full of dark, British humor and just crazy situations, perhaps most famously the Great Mighty Poo. Normally I am not one for poop jokes, but that whole bossfight, with an opera-singing giant poo monster fighting against Conker, who you defeat by throwing giant toilet paper rolls at it, was pretty awesome stuff. Not everyone is going to like the adult nature of the game, and this is not a game for kids, but it’s a very good game all 3d platformer fans should try. Thanks to the lesser censorship the N64 probably has the better version, though it won’t be cheap. Four player multiplayer (various modes, many of them shooter-style; the Xbox version has different multiplayer content, so the two are not the same in that regard), on-cart saving.

Cruis’n USA – Cruis’n USA is a port of the 1994 arcade classic and one of the most successful arcade racing games ever. While the home ports have been hated almost since the release of the first one, this game for the N64, the arcade machines always have been very popular, both in the Cruis’n and followup (from the same people) The Fast & The Furious arcade games. Cruis’n USA is a simple racing game where you drive along long, often wide roads, tearing across America in your quest to become the first racer to go from San Francisco to Washington D.C.. The game clearly has a strong Outrun influence, except newer and American-made instead of Japanese. The arcade game was fun, but there are flaws in this home port. The N64 version is a straight arcade port, with absolutely no added features. This means that you simply access the hidden cars via cheat codes, not unlocking, and once you’ve beaten the main race mode there isn’t much reason to revisit this game except to try to improve your times in the courses. That’s disappointing, because while fun this game won’t last long. Also, the multiplayer is two player only. At the time though, the biggest letdown was the graphics, people were expecting it to be arcade perfect but it’s definitely not. There’s fog and popup too. Still, there’s enough fun here to make it worth a few bucks, and this was a very early N64 release. Two player, on-cart saving.

Cruis’n World – Cruis’n World is the second of the three N64 Cruis’n games. The gameplay is the same as ever, as you race along roads all over the world this time looking at the scenery, avoiding traffic, and winning races. All Cruis’n games were better in the arcades, but if you like simple racing games from the Outrun school, the Cruis’n games really aren’t that bad. I at least find them fun. Though it is true that they’re simplistic and boring after a little while, they’re fun while they last and good for plenty of return plays later. It’s the best reviewed game of the series and probably is the fans’ favorite Cruis’n game. This N64 version can’t match the graphics of the arcade, but it does add a lot of great features when compared to Cruis’n USA for the N64. First, the single player mode was significantly expanded in this game. Instead of just racing through all the tracks and that’s it, multiple variants of each track have been added. In arcade mode you just play through the arcade game, but in the new mode you play several different variants of each track. You have to unlock the hidden cars, which there are a few of, as well, which is a nice improvement versus the original. It’s great to see Cruis’n with more content. The new four player multiplayer mode is great too, and the visuals have been improved. However, there still is fog in the distance. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Cruis’n Exotica
– Cruis’n Exotica is the last of the N64 Cruis’n games, and it has the most features, content, and options of the trilogy. It’s a little less popular than World, though, for some reason. I think that Exotica is the best of the three, myself. I like some of the new options. It’s good to have a Cruis’n game that will take longer to finish, if World greatly expanded versus USA Exotica greatly expands again. This time you have even more variants on each track, including drag races, which, if you do right, will earn you boosts you can use in the other tracks. In the Exotica mode, you race a drag race, circuit lap race, short race, and two part long race in each environment. You unlock hidden cars based on miles driven, too. It will take quite a while to unlock all of the cars. There are also several alternate graphics modes that can be unlocked, including one where everything uses negative colors and looks squished, and another one where everything is stretched out and crazy warped. It’s hard to play in these graphics modes, but they’re pretty amusing options. However, of course, the basic gameplay is as simple as ever. All Cruis’n games are simply about driving forward along the endless road, going as fast as you can, avoiding traffic, and trying to finish in first. They are very simple and straightforward racing games. Also, even in this third game there is still fog. I guess the system simply can’t render farther out. Your vision goes far enough out for you to be able to see well, but things do appear in the distance and it is a little distracting. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Custom Robo (J) – Custom Robo is an outstanding game which started a great and highly under-rated series. For anyone who has played the (US-released) Gamecube or Nintendo DS Custom Robo games, this N64 original is very similar, just in Japanese. The series’ basic gameplay has been the same from the start, and it start off great. The Gamecube game is the best one in the series, since it is the only Custom Robo game with a simultaneous four player battle mode and those three and four player battles are really, REALLY fun, but otherwise, this game holds up very well. Custom Robo is a fighting game RPG, essentially. Each fight happens in a small arena. You move around the arena, and try to defeat your opponent with your weapons. You have three weapon types to use, a main gun, a missile weapon, and a bomb, each mapped to a different button. There are many types of each to unlock. You can also jump up, or dash forward. The games’ graphics are average at best, but the game is extremely fast and fluid. If they compromised the graphics here to keep the framerate up, it worked! I was worried that this would be yet another slow-paced N64 fighting game, but it isn’t at all. Fights in Custom Robo are just as fast and fun as they are in the Gamecube or DS games, and controls are better than the DS game too, since you have an analog stick. Normally I would talk about graphics after game modes, but it’s very important to say how well the game plays. It makes the game great. Once you learn the moves, you can run around, jump and dodge attacks, charge enemies, use your three weapon types judiciously in order to leat the enemies into your fire (as the guns, missiles, and bombs each have different firing patterns and uses), and more. It’s a great fighting-action game, one of the better ones around. Fighting is simple but great fun, and there is depth.

Custom Robo has three main modes, a battle tournament mode where you fight through eight or so opponents in your usual tournament game, a two player versus mode, and a story mode where you play through the RPG-ish main game. All Custom Robo games have an “RPG” mode like this one. Here you play as a young boy who is just getting into Custom Robo battles, battles fought between mini robots which you can customize with various parts. As you progress you unlock more and more parts for your robot, which with to make it better and try out new weapons. You don’t really gain levels, but instead unlock parts. It is very unfortunate that this game wasn’t released here, because it really is a great game and I’d like to know what the story is, too. Fortunately, Custom Robo is a fairly simple game, so even not knowing the language it is not hard to figure out how to play. As with the later games, the game mostly plays out in a city, and has a basic overworld map with the various places you can go, connected by paths, and the various areas (buildings, usually) once you go to them. As I said earlier the battles are entirely polygonal, but the environments you explore as a person have sprite-based characters in polygonal worlds. They look okay, not great, but do use that Custom Robo style you also see in the later games. Occasionally you will need to wander around to figure out where to go, but none of the Custom Robo games have all that many areas, so it’s not hard. The game doesn’t even have a guide online worth mentioning, but it’s entirely playable. The main language-barrier issue with the game is the part names. Instead of being able to figure them out by name, you’ll have to try the parts out. That’s alright, though, it’s not too bad.

Overall, Custom Robo is a fantastic game. I was hoping that it’d be alright, considering how much I like the GC and DS games, but it exceeded my expectations, and I’m very happy to have gotten it. The game also has a Japan-only sequel on the N64, Custom Robo V2. I’ll need to get it eventually. There’s also a GBA game only released in Japan as well, though it’s entirely 2d (side-scrolling battles and everything) and doesn’t look quite as interesting as the other games. Regardless, the Custom Robo series is a great fighting/action/RPG game series, and I highly recommend it, and this game. The US-released ones will probably be easier to find, but this N64 game is fantastic as well and is well worth tracking down! I actually got this game complete with the box, and it was worth it. It’s not too expensive either. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Dark Rift – Dark Rift is a terrible 3d fighting game for the PC and N64 made by the same developer who had previously done Criticom on Playstation and Saturn. Trying to sell games by releasing your next game on different platforms which won’t know of the kind of “quality” your games are, huh? I wonder if it worked… anyway, yeah, Dark Rift is bad. The game has okay graphics for its time, and it IS 3d and not 2.5d or something, but the gameplay is poor, the game is no fun, and the computer opponents are insanely hard. Seriously, beating this game once was a very, very stiff challenge, and not for any of the right reasons. The controls are mediocre, the enemy unfair, and you don’t have much of a chance at victory. As far as N64 fighting games go, this is right at the bottom of the list, along with, or maybe even below (because that game might be even worse, but has more humor value) War Gods. Two player, no saving.

Destruction Derby 64 – DD64, the only racing game published and actually released by Looking Glass Seattle, is a somewhat interesting and fun, but flawed, N64 spinoff of Psygnosis’ Destruction Derby series. This game shares the name and concept of the Playstation series, but has some important differences in gameplay and execution, some good and some bad. DD64 has eight tracks, four crash arenas, and a capture the flag arena, so there are a decent number of tracks. Graphically the game looks okay to good. The graphics are somewhat pixelated and grainy, but they look decently nice most of the time even so. The framerate feels a little low, too, but I did get used to it in not too long; still, I wish it was smoother. There is vehicle damage, which is fun to see. There could be even more (the doors don’t seem to come off…), but there’s at least some. The most unique feature about this game is that instead of starting all the cars in a grid, the cars are started in three groups of four (or in one track two groups of six), at different points in the track and driving in different directions. In tracks with three groups, the player’s group goes one way while the other two go the other. This concept is pretty cool, because it makes for a lot more crashing and banging than there would be if everyone was driving the same direction. However, having two groups going one way and you going the other unfairly breaks the game in your favor — it’s much harder for the cars in the two groups to compete, having only one group of cars to crash into instead of two. This design decision made a lot of the game pretty easy. In addition, once you die, the race ends in seconds — no matter if you crashed out with 9 cars still going in the race and after only two checkpoints reached of the seven maximum allowed, it’ll be done in instants and you’ll do fine and maybe even win overall. It’s kind of stupid, and makes most of the races FAR too easy through the first three of four circuits. Fortunately, the crash arenas, the one track with 6 cars in each direction, and the top difficulty level are more challenging, and the game is fun enough to be entertaining even if it’s flawed. Driving around crashing into other cars is quite entertaining. I don’t know if it’s better than Destruction Derby 1 or 2 (far better graphics, but maybe not quite as good gameplay overall, and not nearly as hard), or the Dreamcast (but not PS1!) version of Demolition Racer — it certainly can’t match that great crash-racing game — but even so it is a fun game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Diddy Kong Racing – Rare’s first attempt at a Mario Kart clone, DKR is a great game in its own right. The game’s fully polygonal, unlike MK64, and has an extensive, challenging single player mode. Indeed, when I played this game back in 1999-2000, I found it TOO challenging — I could never beat the first Wizpig battle at the end of the game, it’s just insanely, insanely hard. There are a lot of tracks, a battle mode, decently good multiplayer, three vehicle types, and more. I love the planes, they’re a lot of fun to fly around with. Overall, I think that Mario Kart 64, though much shorter, is a little bit better game. Even so, DKR is a fantastic, must-play title. There is a DS version, though it has a few changes; I haven’t played it myself though. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Donkey Kong 64 – Unlike many people, I love this game. Indeed, DK64 is my favorite of the Rare 3d platformers on the N64. I got this game shortly after it came out in late 1999, and absolutely loved it. I played the game steadily through until I beat the game with every single golden banana and got the best ending. DK64 has fantastic graphics, great level designs, a lot of variety, a huge number of things to do, a bunch of different fun minigames, unlockable versions of two classic games (Rare’s Jetpack and Nintendo’s Donkey Kong), and more. There are five playable characters, and you do have to revisit each of the eight levels with each character, but you do different things with each one, so it works — you’re not just doing the same thing over and over, you’re exploring new areas and doing new things with each character. Everything you collect with each character saves, so there’s no repeat play required, unlike BK. The levels, characters, gameplay, graphics, music, bosses… everything about this game is just fantastic and among the best on the system. Four player multiplayer (battle mode; it’s okay but kind of average), on-cart saving. Expansion Pak required.

Doom 64 – Doom 64 is an N64-exclusive Doom game. It is not a port of the original Doom, but instead is a new game with an all-new set of 32 levels done by Midway. The graphics are great — this game really looks quite good. The game’s actually polygonal 3d, not raycasted fake 3d, so the environments actually look 3d, and can do things that Doom couldn’t before like have a path you can walk on above another one, something impossible in the original Doom engine. The new levels have some challenging puzzles, lots of enemies, and impressive graphical enhancements versus the PC original. It’s a challenging game, but rewarding. The game uses an atmospheric soundtrack, instead of the musical style of the original game, and while I do miss Doom’s great soundtrack, the atmospheric sound does work well and fits the tense, dangerous world of Doom very well. Doom 64’s biggest problem is the lack of multiplayer, which is quite unfortunate but isn’t a deal-breaker. This game is definitely worth playing anyway. One player, password or controller pak saving (1 or 2 pages; if two or more pages are free it will create a 2 page file with 16 save slots, but if you have only 1 page free on a cart it will create a 1 page file with 8 save slots.)

Doraemon: Nobita & The 3 Fairy Spirit Stones (J) – This is the first of three 3d platformer Doraemon games on the N64. All three were only released in Japan, of course. With average graphics, not the best controls, and no really special gameplay elements, we didn’t miss all that much here, but this game is moderately amusing if you like 3d platformers. The game does have a language barrier at first, but there is a good GameFAQs guide which can help with that. I recommend reading it if you don’t know the language. Doraemon is not a complex game, as expected from a game based on a childrens’ cartoon, but you do need to go from place to place and need to know what the menu options do. Doraemon and friends have to collect the pieces of the titular three spirit stones, which have been broken. The intro is far too long, for how simple the story is. In the game, you start out as Doraemon, but as you progress you can switch to Doraemon’s human friends as you save (and unlock) them. Doraemon also gets a few new abilities as well. It’s the usual stuff — items to swim, fly, and such. The game has an overworld, from where you go into missions in the levels. You have to talk to a person then get the right item and go to the right place to reach each level, so a guide is helpful if you can’t read Japanese, though the areas are not that large, so you’d probably figure it out eventually anyway. The levels themselves are each a linear sequence of rooms to get through. Each area has some jumps, enemies, collectables, invisible walls (argh), etc. This game is probably too simple and predictable; it’s got nothing original about it, and the levels aren’t large or complex enough to really grab me, either. The graphics are okay, but bland. It’s quite average visually, just like the gameplay. It looks alright, but doesn’t have the size, scope, or graphical quality of the systems’ better 3d platformers. I was interested to try this, but the mediocre reviews I see of it online are, unfortunately, accurate. Still, I don’t regret getting it; it’s interesting to see one of the only N64 3d platformers not released in the US (there are these three and that’s about it, the Taz game aside…). And even if the game is probably below average for an N64 3d platformer, it’s still playable. I wonder if the sequels are any better. I’m not sure. At least it does have on-cart saving. One player, on-cart saving..

Dr. Mario 64 – A late N64 release, one of Nintendo’s last first party N64 games and a US-exclusive release on the N64, Dr. Mario 64 is a game many people never played. It wasn’t released in Japan at all on the N64, though they did get a port of it in the Japan-only, but American (NST)-developed, Nintendo Puzzle Collection on the Gamecube, along with Panel de Pon 64 (the unreleased on the N64 Japanese version of Pokemon Puzzle League) and a new version of Yoshi’s Cookie. As for the N64 version though, it’s a great version of Dr. Mario that I think more people would love if they’d played it. This game’s fantastic fun. The visuals remind me of Paper Mario — the characters all look “flat” in the 3d map as they move around between stages. The game has a simple but good visual look, with plenty of style and good design. Actual gameplay is entirely 2d, and plays like Dr. Mario but with saving this time, finally. There are six gameplay modes, including Story (a fairly difficult versus mode with story scenes between levels), Original (clear the stages), infinite, vs. CPU, and Flash (like the Columns mode, destroy the flashing virus to win). There are also 2 player and 1-4 player multiplayer modes, and you can have computers fill in in the 4-player mode, so you can play a 1 player game against three opponents there, which is awesome. I wish that the single player game modes had some four player matches, but at least there’s this, and it’s pretty cool. This, The New Tetris, and Bust-A-Move ’99 were the N64’s main three 4-player puzzle games, and all are fantastic. BAM’99 is incredible otherwise but the 4-p mode isn’t quite as good as the rest of the game, while aside from the slight shrinking of the graphics this is (plus there’s music in 4p mode in Dr. Mario 64 too, unlike BAM’99); it’s closer between The New Tetris and this, but I think that was humans only so this might be the best of the bunch… either way though it’s great to have. The game’s simple but complex, with a high difficulty level and a good amount of strategy to use once you get into the game and start learning how to play. The three color system seems very simple, but in fact the game’s difficult and requires a lot of thought about where you’re going to put the pills, and you don’t have much time to make the decisions in either. No infinite spin here, that’s for sure. This is a quite good game, it’s too bad it recieved so little notice, likely because of its late release date. Oh, the game’s d-pad only, no analog control. I know this game is going to be better with the dpad, but I wish they let you use it anyway if you wanted to. Oh well, not a big deal. I do have one complaint though, I kind of wish that they’d added a “3d” mode of some kind like Pokemon Puzzle League did. That game’s tube-style 3d mode was pretty awesome, it’d be really cool if some other puzzle games had copied the idea and done something similar, but I don’t know of any for anything. Oh well, this clearly wasn’t the largest budget game. Anyway though, game’s very good, with great gameplay with a bunch of modes, good enough graphics, and good music. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Dual Heroes – This fighting game, developed by Produce and published by Hudson in Japan and Europe and Culture Brain in the US, is okay. First, one oddity — the game requires you to use the analog stick to move, strangely for a 3d fighting game. Apart from that it’s standard stuff, with three action buttons, Punch, Kick, and Block. The game is nothing great, to be sure, but it does a couple of slightly interesting things for its generation, and does at least have decently fast paced action for a 5th gen 3d fighter. That should be taken to be the quite lukewarm praise it is, but still, I think this game is better than the 2.8 and 3.7 out of 10 that IGN and Gamespot gave it. Dual Heroes is a sentai-style fighting game, where you control one of eight different Japanese superhero show-inspired (think Power Rangers) characters, fighting to stop an evil invading alien force in a future destroyed Earth. The game has average graphics, with blurry textures and minimal environments. The framerate is decent, though, and the action moves at a good clip for its time. The game’s a 3d fighting game with an emphasis on 3d — you can’t jump unless you press jump+direction together, up alone does nothing. Still, you do need to hold a button (Z by default) to move in 3d, like with most 3d fighting games that generation; there is a duck move when not holding it, so there is something you can’t do with Z held. Because holding Z does give you true 3d movement though, not a static “shift into/out of screen” motion like you see in, say, Mace, the game does have a nice 3d fighter feel to it. As for moves, you don’t have too many; there’s a super mode, where your character gets stronger, and some basic specials, but mostly you’ll just be doing various punches and kicks. It’s somewhat bland in that respect, but tolerable. Arenas either have edges — and do try to not fall off, unlike Soulcalibur if both people go off it’s a draw, and a draw here means the round is void and needs to be refought — or in a glass-walled arena. The two types have different gameplay, as you’d expect. You don’t fight your own character in this game, but do fight three bosses at the end, so there are ten matches. There’s no flavor text between the rounds, or insults, or anything — it just goes straight from match to match. There is a story text block at the beginning of the game, and each character has their own backstory, but the endings are all largely the same, and are very inconclusive — this game’s “ending” seems like a setup for a sequel that never happened, and the stories set up in the characters’ bios largely go nowhere. Pretty annoying. The game does save your settings, your best times for getting through the story mode, etc. Still, I went into this expecting it to be awful, but instead it’s just bland, generic, and a bit dull, particularly in retrospect, so I was a little bit positively surprised by Dual Heroes. I found it just entertaining enough to play through a couple of times, though I don’t expect to return to this one very often. Two players, controller pak saving (20 pages).

Duck Dodgers starring Daffy Duck – Duck Dodgers is a 3d platformer from Paradigm, and it’s their only attempt at the genre — their other N64 games were all flight or racing games. The game makes me think a bit of games like Croc or Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (both on PC/PS1) — it’s a fun, but somewhat unpolished, game with a very Looney Tunes graphical style. Now, I love the Looney Tunes — it’s my favorite cartoon series by far. Duck Dodgers is a fantastic character, too. In this game you play as Duck Dodgers, of course, and have to collect fuel and such and defeat badguys helping out in Marvin the Martian’s latest plot to destroy the earth. This game is inspired by the original Duck Dodgers cartoons, and predates the newer Cartoon Network show, so unfortunately characters that series added, such as the Martian Queen, don’t appear here. That’s too bad, but the classic cartoons are great too. The characters that are here are all fully voiced, which is nice; all of the voice acting is well done, and it’s great that Daffy has a voice. It really does add to the game. The game is somewhat linear, as in each world, you’ll go through a succession of areas. Each area is somewhat small, so this game doesn’t have the scale of the system’s top 3d platformers. Still, while small, the areas do have some good design elements and nice visual touches; as I said, this looks like a classic Looney Tunes cartoon gone 5th-gen 3d. It would have been nice if they were larger, though; these areas really are Croc-small. That’s okay though I guess, and I do love Croc. Anyway, the areas are connected together with doors. When you enter an area, the game will show on screen how many fuel items there are left in the area. These serve as the game’s stars or such. The other pickup are some blue crystal things. These respawn when you enter an area, and collecting fifty will get you an extra life. Run out of lives and it’s game over, of course. The game over cutscene is quite amusing. The game starts out simple, but quickly gets more challenging. The controls here are somewhat flawed — you don’t have perfect control over Dodgers like you do Mario, or a Rare 3d platformer character. Jumps can be hard to make, and I found myself frequently missing them. Distance can be hard to judge, and the camera is mediocre at best. You can move it around, but good luck getting a perfect angle while zipping along on a moving mine car. However, the underwater controls are fantastic — swimming with Daffy feels natural, and it’s much easier to control him underwater than it is above. There’s also a tiptoe button while on land, with the matching Looney Tunes sound effects. Still, most of the game is on land and you don’t need to tiptoe very often. The controls are another reason why I compared Duck Dodgers to the games I did earlier, in addition to the visual style and mostly-linear-sequence-of-areas game design. Managing to get where you want, or WHAT you want, in trickier jetpack sections can be frustrating too. It’s unfortunate that the controls aren’t better; this game’s good, but because of the controls, and somewhat simple level designs, isn’t a match for Rare’s great classics on the system. Still, Duck Dodgers is certainly worth a look. It’s a decent game that many 3d platformer fans probably haven’t played, and even if it has some problems, it does some things right too. And of course, it’s a voiced Looney Tunes game on the N64, which is great. This game’s better than most of the 16-bit Looney Tunes games too, I would say. If the controls were better this game would be a definite recommendation, but as-is, I would say that it’s probably mostly for genre, or series, fans. I am a big fan of both 3d platformers and Looney Tunes, so I do enjoy the game for sure, but if you’re not, the frustrating controls might well drive you away. Oh, and it’s not the longest game either, certainly; Duck Dodgers is a bit on the short side. One player, on-cart saving.

Duke Nukem: Zero Hour – One of three console-only third-person Duke Nukem action-shooting games, this one’s the N64 one; the other two are on Playstation. I haven’t played those, but this one, from accomplished developer Eurocom, is a pretty good game. The controls do take some getting used to, as the game uses a lot of buttons and combinations, but once you figure them out, the game plays well and you have good control over Duke. This game’s good — the levels are huge and challenging, and there’s a lot to do and find in the game too. I do find the game pretty tough, but I’m not that good at this kind of thing. Even so, this game’s quality clearly shows. This isn’t the best third person action-shooting game ever, but it is a good one. I’m not a big fan of third person shooting games, but this one’s good. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (17 pages).

Excitebike 64 – Excitebike 64 is one of the best motorcycle racing games ever made, and is one of the N64’s top tier of racing games without question. Excitebike 64 is a beautiful, ridiculously feature-rich extravaganza full of many tracks, numerous modes and unlockables, fantastic graphics, perfectly balanced gameplay, and one of the best overall packages on the system. The N64 does have a lot of great racing games, and I wouldn’t call this one the very best, but it’s right up there. I particularly love the outdoor tracks, and the bonus modes; the indoor courses aren’t nearly as interesting as the outdoor ones. Unfortunately, while the game does have a track editor, like many motocross games that generation, it’s for making arena-style tracks only. Kind of disappointing. Also, the music’s only okay, but that’s largely because I don’t like rock very much, and this game has a rock music soundtrack. It fits the sport, but it’s not my thing. This game’s tough and challenging, but once you finally do complete something, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment. Each circuit consists of five races, with a standard points system used. As for the bonus modes, there’s a multiplayer-only soccer game, a pretty great, and tough, Hill Climb course, an endless (single player only) desert course where you drive from checkpoint to checkpoint in an infinite, generated-on-the-fly desert, an unlockable version of the original NES Excitebike (only with saving now for your custom track!), and finally a 3d version of the original Excitebike’s first track, which is cool. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. The cart has three slots for saving tracks you make in the track editor, but any beyond that can be saved to controller paks (4 pages per track). Expansion Pak supported, but this is the one case where I rarely use the high- res mode — high res is letterboxed only, which I don’t like, and has a lower framerate, so I play this in normal res. It still looks beautiful.

Extreme-G – The first game in this classic futuristic racing game series set the franchise off to a great start. Extreme-G may have been surpassed graphically by later N64 games, but its gameplay and creativity hold up well. Extreme-G has twelve tracks, each quite different from the last, and a good number of bikes to choose from as well. The graphics, (techno) music, and gameplay all are about average for the time, which means dated, but give this game a chance — there is a very good racing game here, if you stick with it. The later tracks are particularly cool and interesting in design, and I love the gameplay. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (9 pages).

Extreme-G 2: XG2 – XG2 improves over the first game in every way. It’s got more course layouts, more bikes, better graphics, more modes (multiplayer battle mode’s in!), and an outstanding overall package that I absolutely love. I do think that the PC version of the game is even better, with CD audio and no slowdown, but this N64 version’s great too. I think that the framerate’s high enough to be entirely playable, at least, even if it’s not completely smooth like it is on the PC, and the graphics really are nice. The course designs in this game are just fantastic. Each of the twelve environments (and 36 layouts, because there are three course variants in each setting) looks great, and the tracks are complex circuits full of twists, turns, branches, and more. The variants are not completely different — instead, some section(s) of each variant are different, while a part of the track, sometimes a large part, is shared between the three variants — but still, the game has a lot of courses to explore. XG2 has some of my favorite track designs in the futuristic racing genre, and the rest of the game’s just as great too. The game has a succession of circuits, each harder than the last, and up to 12 races long each. You can only save after every four races, or three races for a 6-race circuit, so the challenge is high. Just get that PC version too if you can find it… the CD audio alone makes it worth it! Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (36 pages).

F-1 World Grand Prix – The first of Paradigm’s two F1 games on the N64, F-1 World Grand Prix is a very good game for its genre and time that I personally have only a very low interest in playing. I’ve never liked racing sims nearly as much as I do arcadey racing games, and this is a sim for sure. I just don’t find racing on these kinds of realistic tracks that fun… still though, for an N64 F1 sim, this game’s good — it’s got tough controls, accurate courses, good graphics, and more. This is probably the best F1 game released in the US on the N64 — this game’s sequel was Europe-only on the N64 and only saw a US release on Dreamcast. This game was on the N64 first, but did later see ports to the PS1 and DC, though I don’t think Paradigm made the ports. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

F-Zero X – F-Zero X, the long-awaited sequel to the great SNES classic F-Zero, is a truly exceptional game and another one of my favorite racing games ever. I generally find it very hard to decide between F-Zero, F-Zero X, and F-Zero GX, but all three games are so outstanding that it doesn’t really matter. F-Zero X does have a very simple visual style — unlike most racing games that generation this game has a 100% smooth 60fps framerate, so the visuals are simple — but the style does work, and the smooth gameplay means that any mistakes are your fault, not the game’s. The game has a lot of tracks, even more cars, a random track mode that sets you up against randomly designed courses, and a stiff but beatable difficulty level. It’s really exceptionally designed all around — it’s hard, but not F-Zero GX hard. I think X has the best difficulty balance of the three games, though while losing again and again to one of those racers that love to always stay just ahead of you you might not think so. But yeah, overall, fantastic. The music’s okay to good too, though the machine-like “3-2-1-Go” voice is kind of weird. There’s also a roulette option, in multiplayer, to let dead players mess with the ones still living… I think it adds a fun challenge to the game, I’d like to see more things like it in racing games. It is unfortunate that even two player multiplayer mode has only four total vehicles though — Wipeout 64 for instance has a full field in 2-player mode, and only cuts it to four with 3 or 4 players. It hurts the 2 player mode, versus Wipeout. Still, overall, this is a fantastic game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Fighter’s Destiny – Fighter’s Destiny is an interesting and unique 3d fighting game. The game has unique design and concept, and apart from its sequel isn’t exactly like any other fighting games out there. The game’s true 3d, so you don’t need to hold a button to move in 3d, you move in 3d by default. Matches are fought on a raised platform (size variable), and the game’s most unique feature is the points system. You don’t just win in Fighter’s Destiny by winning two out of three matches, you see. Instead, there are five ways to score points, including a ring out, knockout, throw, draining out their health bar, etc. Each method gets you a different number of points, and if you dislike the defaults, you can change all of the point values in the options menu. The first to seven points wins. It’s a very unique system, only seen in this game and its sequel, and it makes these games still worth playing. Fighter’s Destiny and its sequel are some of the best fighting games on the N64, no question. Oh, the graphics are okay, but nothing amazing. Music is okay but nothing special. Don’t expect too much story either — the main draw here is the unique scoring system. Fortunately, it’s a good one. Two player multiplayer, on-cart and controller pak (2 pages) saving. I’m not entirely sure whether the controller pak file is a backup or required, and what is saved on the cart. It may be unlocked characters, and I believe the file is required.

Fighter Destiny 2 – This game is similar to the first game, but with some more characters and features, essentially. So yeah, it’s still a 3d fighting game with a points system where you get different amounts of points depending on how you defeat your opponent in each round. The most important new feature is a boardgame-style mode where you choose a character and them move them around a board, fighitng enemies as you land on tiles or run across some bosses. It’s an interesting mode and is a nice diversion from the main game. Still, if you have the first game, this game isn’t necessarily a must-buy — it IS very similar overall, without dramatic changes. For anyone who did like the first game, though, it’s probably worth it to consider picking up a copy of this sequel. It’s the only other game like Fighter’s Destiny, and it is every bit as good as the first version. Two player multiplayer, on-cart and controller pak (2 pages) saving. Both files required, same as the first game.

Flying Dragon – This is a 2.5d and 3d fighting game by Hudson. There are two modes here, SD and VR. The VR mode, clearly inspired by Virtua Fighter, is a 2.5d (no 3d movement) fighting game with adult characters. Choose a character and go — this game’s a basic arcade-style game. It’s fun, but isn’t as good as Virtua Fighter. The larger mode is SD mode. As the name suggests, here the characters are all super-deformed. In addition, there’s also something more than just the arcade-style mode — there’s also an RPG-ish mode, where you get items and such for winning matches that you can then equip on your character. This adds a lot to the game and will take a while to master. SD mode is 3d, too — you do have 3d movement. The gameplay’s a bit slow, as was often true that generation and on the N64, but it is a decent, though not great, fighting game. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (47 pages). Yeah, it’s a big file. Kind of annoying.

Forsaken 64 – Forsaken 64 is a pretty good Descent clone. This is not a port, either — unlike Playstation Forsaken, which is a straight, downgraded port of the PC Forsaken title, Forsaken 64 is an entirely different game from the PC title, and was made by a different developer as well. I need to mention the game’s biggest flaw first, though — there’s no map, unlike in Descent. You’ll just have to figure out the stage layouts on your own, with no help from a map. This makes the game confusing for sure at times, but the quality’s high enough that it’s a great game anyway, and the level designs are pretty good and well thought out — this game has good graphics and varied stage designs for sure. Forsaken 64 is an action-focused game, with only a bare minimum of text-box story to get you going before you’re sent out to the action. That’s fine with me, that’s all you need here. The frantic action, shooting, and flying more than carry the game on their own. This game is HARD, too — you can only save after every four levels, and good luck getting through four levels without dying much. You have limited lives, so if you want to have much left to challenge the next four levels with, you’ll have to play very well. I find it tough to make much progress in this game, as much as I love it… Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (1 page).

Gauntlet Legends – I absolutely loved Gauntlet Legends in the arcade and N64 back in the late ’90s. It’s a fantastic game, and is one of the few games in its genre that generation — while the 6th gen saw a proliferation of multiplayer action-RPGs, there were only a few in the 5th gen, and this is the most prominent of them. However, this game’s value is somewhat hurt because all but one level in this game were also included in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy for the GC/Xbox (and PS2, but that version’s worse and not worth getting compared to the GC or Xbox ones). Dark Legacy has better graphics, nearly twice as many stages in total, twice as many characters (though based on the same four base types), and more. Even so, Legends is still a good game, and the N64 does have the best home version — the Dreamcast version’s not really Legends, it’s actually the first half of Dark Legacy with the second half removed. If you want a home version of Legends, this is the version to get. It’s the only version of Legends where you an save the items you have picked up in a permanent inventory. It’s bug free, something not true about any of the home ports of Dark Legacy (all have crash bugs and more). It’s got a great inventory system, the best in the franchise in fact, that lets you view your character stats, experience, XP to next level (no way to view any of this in Dark Legacy!), how many gems you have towards each of the five bonus characters, etc. This is also the only version where you can sell every item — in DL, there are some items which can’t be sold. Also, only N64 Legends, and GC and Xbox DL, allow you to buy health in the shop. Seriously, these games are no fun at all without this feature… and being able to sell all items makes getting more health easier. DL rebalanced things too, to reduce XP from lower-level enemies (slowing levelling) and to make items time out faster against bosses. DL also versus this game), doesn’t have a specific number for how long items will last, unlike th N64 version where you can see a specific number. Also, in this game bonus coins are saved, which makes it easy to get the bonus characters — if you fail to get all the coins, just come back later and try again. In Dark Legacy, if you fail the stage is reset your next time, so you must get every coin in order to get the character — obviously a much higher challenge. Also, the unlocking systems are different between the games, so some things will be different between Legends and Dark Legacy. And there is that one level not brought over to DL — it’s in the Airship world, and it’s a great level. So yeah, while the casual player probably won’t want to bother with this, the real fan, like me, should consider the N64 version of Legends still a must-own title. Despite all its flaws DL is the better overall game thanks to all that added content, but I still love Gauntlet Legends. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (4 pages per character file). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Glover – Glover is a fairly unique, but extremely difficult, 3d platformer. Initially an N64 exclusive, the game later had PC and Playstation ports. The PS1 port is pretty bad, however. Is the N64 version worth playing, though? Well… that depends. The graphics are mediocre for the system, and the fog is not just present, but too close. It’s no visual standout, that’s for sure. The gameplay’s the main potential draw, though, and it’s polarizing. Are you prepared for a difficult, frustrating 3d platformer that will test your patience again and again and again? If so, then maybe give it a try. The key to Glover’s gameplay, and uniqueness, is the ball. Your character, Glover, is a disembodied hand, and he fights, or operates puzzles, with a ball. The ball can take several different forms, including a bowling ball, marble, and crystal, and each is useful in different situations. You’ll need to roll it around the levels, keeping it away from hazards, hitting switches by throwing the ball at them, defeating enemies by slapping or bouncing the ball at them, and more. COntrolling the ball can be a pain at times, and you’ll often die by accident. Howver, the ball mechanic is unique, and if you can get used to it, there’s a lot to this game — it’ll take a good while to finish, and the challenge, and reward, are certainly there. I could see some people really getting hooked by this game, but others hate it for sure, and both reactions are reasonable depending on the player. Myself, I think it’s okay. Frustrating, but a decently good game. One player, on-cart saving.

Goemon’s Great Adventure – One of my favorite N64 games, Goemon’s Great Adventure is a fantastic, fantastic 2.5d sidescrolling platformer with isometric towns. The game is very, very Japanese, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun — it’s got a very strong style and great world that is a lot of fun to explore. This 2d-gameplay, isometric-towns style is one taken from several of the (Japan-only) SNES Goemon games, and it works very well. GGA has good graphics, great level designs, almost endless fun, lots of secrets to find, a substantial quest for the genre, a funny, weird plot, and more. It is unfortunate that the Impact song sections were removed from the US release, even though they’d been left into the first N64 Goemon game (Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon), and that the vocal song that plays on the main menu was removed as well, but those are minor changes — neither cut affects the plot (unlike MNSG, neither song is plot-relevant), and they did keep the fully Japanese voiced intro and ending to the game, which is cool. GGA has four playable characters, the four characters from Goemon’s gang, and though it’s normally a two player co-op game, it does have a hidden, unlockable four player mode (see below). This game’s main collectable are Tickets, and you get them through a wide variety of ways. Some come from beating stages, but many require you to do missions for people in the towns. Search the towns high and low, and do all the missions! Many send you through a platformer stage, but some are crazy fun stuff, and some are just absurd, like the one where one of the characters has to do a phone support line… :lol This is my favorite 2d or 2.5d platformer on the N64. Four player multiplayer (two player only by default, but a hidden 3-4 player mode can be accessed after beating the game, look up the code on GameFAQs), controller pak saving (7 pages). Like with some other Konami N64 games the game has has on-cart saving in Japan, controller pak only elsewhere because Konami are mean.

GT64 Championship Racing – Imagineer’s second N64 racing game, GT64 is a very bland and generic GT racing game. It’s got average arcadey-with-a-hint-of-sim handling, three not-too long tracks, and little else. There is a championship circuit, at least, but still, this game really doesn’t have much to it. This is really for fans of those early PS1 and Saturn racing games that are much like this, the ones with only 1 to 3 tracks, few options, and often somewhat bland gameplay. That doesn’t mean it’s a completely terrible game — actually, I find it kind of fun to play for a while. It’s just as bland, generic, and subpar for the N64 as they come. Also, two of the three tracks are too easy and rail you on the course pretty much the whole time, keeping you going forward at a fast clip. Only one has shoulders, which makes that track much more challenging than the others as you need to pay much more attention to the turns. There are some branching paths at times, but still, this game’s simplistic stuff. Two player, controller pak saving (3 pages ea.).

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys – Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is one of only two games based on Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules TV show; the other one is a GBC game. So, it’s a licensed game based on a TV show set in a fantasy version of ancient Greece. As it apparently is in the show this doesn’t feel much at all like Greece, and has lots of medieval fantasy elements in it, but it’s always that way, unfortunately. The game was also published by Titus, another bad sign. However, the game is actually okay! Yeah, I was surprised too. That’s nice; I haven’t watched the show before, myself, but did love Sorbo’s next TV show, the sci-fi series Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda (which sadly never had a videogame; it should have). Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, though, is a 3d action-adventure game with beat ’em up-style combat and Zelda-inspired towns and adventure elements. The game has decent graphics, too. They aren’t the best, and you can clearly see the Ocarina of Time influence in the games’ graphical design, but they did a good job of making something that looks somewhat similar. The game does have fog, and I wish the draw distance was farther back, but it is enough to see where you are going, and the graphics are reasonably good. Just remember to center the camera behind you frequently. You play as Hercules at first, but eventually unlock two more characters you can switch between, or use in areas that the others cannot reach. This gives the game some nice variety. Hercules is slow and strong, Iolaus fast and agile, and Serena is better at ranged attacks (and is a centaur). The game feels different with each character, which is good. Enemies are definitely tougher with Iolaus than Hercules. The battle system does get repetitive, though; don’t expect greatness here, just average stuff.

The game is linear in that you have to do things in order, but has puzzles and exploration along the way, as you would expect. You’ll have to talk to people in the towns, solve some puzzles, and the like, in addition to going around fighting enemies and exploring. Talk to everyone! This is often necessary to progress. This game is not nearly as great as a Zelda game, but still, it’s a fun little game. The game does have some parts where you have to find specific objects or people but aren’t told specifically where to go, but just explore and talk to everyone again, that will usually help. Or use a guide, if you’re really stuck; the game does have them. As I said earlier, though, the combat is nothing like a Zelda game. With Hercules, it plays much more like a beat ’em up. Hit the buttons to punch and kick the enemies (or hit them with your weapons), use basic combos to keep the hits going. Enemies all have health bars on them. You can ignore some enemies, but some you will have to fight, either to progress or in order to get drops (health, money, and such) you need. There are also bosses occasionally. Overall, this game is unoriginal, but it’s alright. It’s a decently average game (or maybe slightly above average? It’s in that range, anyway), which is pretty good considering we’re talking about a licensed game published by Titus. One player, Controller Pak saving (16 pages per save).

Hexen 64 – Hexen 64 is a port of the original PC game Hexen. I had Hexen for the PC back in the ’90s and liked it quite a bit, so this game isn’t new to me, but it is a good port. Hexen was ported to the N64, Playstation, and Saturn, and isn’t too different on all three platforms, but the N64 version does have one thing going for it the other versions don’t — four player split-screen multiplayer. The other ports are one player only. I believe this was the N64’s first four player FPS, and it’s a decent start — the game has solid visuals, which do a nice job of updating the Doom-engine classic with N64 effects, and the level designs and gameplay is just as you expect from the original. It is unfortunate that none of the console ports include the expansion pack’s content, but oh well… Hexen’s a pretty good game, and this is a fine port of it, though there isn’t too much of a reason to play it over the PC original of course. Oh, and all three versions have VERY large save files; indeed, on Saturn it requires a memory card (and not Action Replay) to properly save. This is because the game has save anywhere, just like on the PC. I don’t believe any other N64 FPSes have true save anywhere, but Hexen does… and has the huge save file that that requires. Oh well. Four player, controller pak saving (90 pages).

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing – Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is an okay futuristic racing game. The game is a Playstation port and looks it, unfortunately. This game also has some very narrow tracks. Perhaps that’s being accurate to the license, but the best Hot Wheels games, such as Stunt Track Challenge, aren’t like that. That is a newer game than this one, though. This game looks dated. As with many earlier polygonal racing games, environments feel small, too many tracks have walls cloose by on both sides as if this game was from years before it released, and the graphics are mediocre at best — the N64 can do much better than this. But of course, this is only a PS1 port. Still, the graphics are below average for the N64. There aren’t all that many tracks, either, and the game isn’t fun enough to make me want to master them and unlock the hidden ones. The game does have some nice track elements, such as loops, curving walls, traps to avoid, and the like, though, so there is something interesting here. Each track will take a bit of practice to master, but even so this isn’t that long of a game. The stunt system is another disappointment, though. It’s kind of like Rush 2 or Rush 2049’s, except without a dedicated stunt mode and with far fewer ways to get points; instead, you just get points for spins and flips and the like that you make during jumps during races. Spinning a bit during jumps is vitally important because it can get you turbos, but it’s nowhere near as fun, varied, or interesting to look at as Rush 2049’s, or even Rush 2’s. As for modes, you’ve got circuit championships in several difficulties, a single-race mode, and two player splitscreen. That’s about it. Futuristic and arcade style racing games are one of my favorite kinds of games, but this one isn’t particularly good at either. This game isn’t really worth playing. Two player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (28 pages). Also on PS1.

Hybrid Heaven – Hybrid Heaven is a sci-fi Action-RPG from Konami, released in 1999. The game clearly was a high-quality effort — it’s got a fully English voice acted introduction, for instance, and pretty good character graphics as well. The story tells a complex and interesting sci-fi story involving many classic sci-fi themes. The gameplay’s unique too, with an original mix of traditional RPG elements and action-RPG or action-adventure elements. There isn’t anything else that plays exactly like Hybrid Heaven. The game is slow, with a somewhat low framerate and often slow-paced gameplay, and isn’t as long as many people would like, but it’s pretty good while it lasts, and the gameplay and are as good as they are original. Your character’s a pretty tough guy, and you have a lot of martial arts style moves to beat the enemies up with. One player, controller pak to save (53 pages). This one did require controller paks in Japan too. The game has Expansion Pak support, which enables an optional High Res mode. High Res mode has a lower framerate, but better graphics.

Hydro Thunder – The N64 version of Hydro Thunder released in early 2000, some months after the Dreamcast release at that system’s launch the previous year, but Eurocom’s time was not wasted — the N64 version of Hydro Thunder is fantastic, and has one exclusive mode you still can’t get anywhere else, a three or four player mode. Yeah, if you want a home version of Hydro Thunder with 3 or 4 player splitscreen, this is your only option. Apart from that though, the N64 version is largely the same thing you’ll find on the Dreamcast, PS1, or arcades. The tracks are all the same, and the unlock system is identical to the Dreamcast version’s — as you beat groups of tracks, you unlock the harder groups. This means that there are only about 15 races in the whole game, but the very high difficulty level will keep you coming back for a long time before you beat it. Hydro Thunder has beautiful graphics, and really shows what the N64 can do visually. It looks about as close to the arcade game as you could get on the system, I think. I know that the Dreamcast version, or its ports in Midway Arcade Treasures 3 (Gc/Xbox/PS2) have better graphics and a faster overall speed, but I think the N64 version of Hydro Thunder holds up pretty well, and is still a great, very fun game. Of the six point-to-point racing games Midway made on the N64, this is one of the best (only California Speed is close, but I think Hydro Thunder might edge it out). I have the DC and GC versions of this game, and they do have even better graphics, but but I still return to the N64 version sometimes anyway… it’s also the only version I’ve actually beaten, too. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (6 pages). Expansion Pak enhanced. Three or four player modes require an Expansion Pak, and in 3 or 4 player mode you cannot switch out of the first-person camera, which is kind of annoying, but helps keep the framerate up.

Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls – Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls is a 2.5d sidescrolling platform racing game. Yeah, it’s pretty original stuff. In this game, four different ball-shaped characters race through a stage, sidescrolling platformer style, trying to complete three laps before the other characters do. The graphics are simple, but plenty good enough — you have your ball characters, your platforms, your lengthy levels… what more do you need? The platforms are thin and stacked high, so though the gameplay is 2d, the game has a strong 3d look. The game quickly reaches a frenetic pace, as you frantically run, jump, and grab your way through the stages, trying to find new routes that get you through the course faster. There are a variety of different special tiles and effects, attacks with the grabber arm to push back your opponents, stage elements that force you to memorize the best route through trickier areas, and more. The computer’s a stiff competitor, but you can win once you get good enough. This game’s something that both platformer and racing game fans should try for sure. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (3 pages).

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine – This game is a port of the PC original, and is the only console port of the game. Factor 5 did a great job with the port, and the graphics and textures are among the system’s best, as expected from Factor 5. The audio is of course also fantastic, and the controls are somewhat improved versus the PC original too. This game’s not too common, but if you can find a copy of it, pick it up! This is the closest thing the N64 has to a Tomb Raider game, and fortunately, it’s reasonably good. I don’t think it’s as good as the classic Indy adventure games — none of the actioney 3d Indy games match Fate of Atlantis’ level of greatness — but it is a good game full of plenty of challenges, good puzzles, solid level design, and fun. This was a rental-only game, so copies of this game are somewhat scarce. One player, on-cart saving.

Indy Racing 2000 – Indy Racing 2000 is one of Paradigm’s later N64 games, and is not the sim that its name and developer might make you think it is. While you are racing IndyCar cars, on IndyCar tracks, the gameplay here is fast, fun, and somewhat arcadey. This is a pretty good, fun game with fast gameplay and plenty of options. Paradigm always made very good games on the N64, and this one is no exception. Don’t ignore this game because based on its title you think it’s a sim, or because you want to play F1 sims and not IndyCar — this game’s something anyone who likes fast, fun, somewhat arcadey N64 racing games should try. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 – Acclaim’s attempt at a motorcycle racing game, Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 (for both N64 and Playstation) is an okay game. It’s nothing above okay to decent, though — it’s got decent but not amazing visuals, playable and sometimes fun but not great gameplay, the expected track editor, four player splitscreen, etc. It’s about what you’d expect, though at least they did put in 4-player splitscreen, versus the PSX version. This game’s not quite as simmish as EA’s Supercross 2000 game, but isn’t as arcadey as Excitebike 64 or Top Gear Hyper-Bike, either. Instead, it’s sort of in between, and as usual for such titles it somewhat suffers because of it. I can’t think of too many reasons to be excited about playing this game. Still, it’s not actually bad, just solidly average stuff for its generation and genre. It might be some fun, particularly for people who like motocross games from this era. Four player, controller pak saving (2 pages for options, plus 2 pages per season save).

Jet Force Gemini – Jet Force Gemini is another Rare classic for the N64. Most people probably already know it, but it’s a third person platform/shooter, with three playable characters, different routes for each character, and a good mix of shooting and platform action. The graphics are good as you expect from Rare, and the game’s fantastic. About the only negative of note is that the game gets quite tough later on, and the final collection quest is unreasonably broad and annoying — imagine if you had to get every single star before you could fight the final Bowser in Mario 64, for example. That’s basically what JFG does. Yeah, it was Rare’s love for collection quests going a little too far… apart from that, though JFG is an outstanding, must-play game. One of the system’s best! Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards – Kirby 64 is Nintendo’s second try at a sidescrolling platformer on the N64, and it’s a good one. I do think the game is somewhat disappointing — I was hoping that this game would be as great as Kirby 2 for the Game Boy, but it just isn’t — but still, it is a good, nice-looking game with some nice features. Kirby 64’s best feature, expanded on from the “powers plus friends” combinations of Kirbies 2 and 3, is power combination. Kirby doesn’t use friends for power combinations here; instead, Kirby can have two powers at once, and your ability will change depending on which two you possess. You have more than twice the number of combinations you did in Kirby 2, as a result. It works well and really adds something to the game. The game looks like a Kirby game, and plays a lot like Kirby 3, except with polygonal graphics. It’s that Kirby 3-style gameplay that is the problem, though — much like that previous game, Kirby 64 is a slow paced game. Kirby really seems to trudge along, and the good pacing of the three 8-bit Kirby platformers, or Super Star, is missing here. That hurts the game. An even bigger problem is that like in Smash Bros., Kirby has limited flight here. Really, this is a borderline unforgiveable mistake. I think that HAL had been playing too much Smash Bros., and not enough Kirby, when they made this game, but limited flight should never, ever have happened. Sure, it keeps you from flying over the stages, and you get used to it eventually, but it’s antithetical to the concept of Kirby games! I can understand putting it into SSB as a balancing mechanism, but there’s no excuse here. I also disliked how most minibosses don’t move — they just stand still and attack you with something, which is kind of boring. It was fun that Kirby teams up with some other characters in this game, though, including Dedede, but unfortunately, the two player co-op modes that both of the SNES Kirby platformers had are missing here — this is one player only in the main game. In addition, the amount of collecting has been substantially ramped up. Instead of six or so shards to find, like in Kirby 2. this game has over a hundred. As usual in Kirby platformers finishing the game is easy, but this collection quest is much more difficult — some shards require specific power combinations not available in the stages they are in, so you’ll need to get through several levels with the right power, without losing it, to get those. It adds challenge, but is annoying at times as well. The game’s multiplayer mode consists of three somewhat Mario Party-esque minigames. One, the apple collection one, is somewhat boring, but the other two are fantastic. Hundred Yard Hop is very simple but ridiculously addictive fun in multiplayer, and the tile-dropping game is good as well. Overall, Kirby 64 is a decently fun game, but the slow gameplay, dpad-only controls (I know it’s a sidescroller, but I wanted analog controls, like Goemon’s Great Adventure has), and shard-collection frustration dragged it down. GGA is the better game overall, though I do love two of the minigames, and like the game. Four player multiplayer (three minigames only, main game is single player), on-cart saving.

Knife Edge: Nose Gunner – Knife Edge is the N64’s only lightgun-style shooting game. That is, you move a cursor around the screen and shoot enemies without any control over your movement. The game’s okay, but not great. Really, this game could be a lot better. If you do like rail shooters or lightgun games it’s probably worth a try — the game’s not entirely without its good moments, and some of the areas, and enemies, are fun to fight — but this game’s definitely a C-grade effort. It’s got no saving, for instance — you start from the beginning again each time, and there’s no savying of scores or anythign else either. This isn’t the SNES anymore, people… I know, a bunch of N64 fighting games don’t save either, but it’s stupid there too. Also, while through most of the game you can choose your route, on the final level the route is chosen randomly each time, and because the level is of course quite difficult, this means that you have no control over if you’ll be on an easier or harder path every time, and just have to try to memorize them all. It’s kind of frustrating. Oh well… I kind of enjoyed this game anyway, though I did give up after many tries at the final stage. But yeah, despite its mediocrity, lightgun and rail shooter fans probably should try this. The four player co-op mode’s a nice feature too, you won’t find that in most lightgun games or rail shooters from before the Wii, and even many of the ones on it! Four player multiplayer, no saving.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is generally regarded as one of the greatest games ever made, and it is. OoT is the best console game ever made. I have loved the Zelda series for a long time, and OoT is one of the best of them. Zelda has a formula that few other games try to entirely emulate, and even fewer do well. This game does it right, with a great balance of action and adventure. Zelda has always been about exploration, puzzle solving, action, and bossfights, and this game has all of that, but with a new reformulation of the formula, and a move to 3d that worked better than almost anything. Of course, as with all games it is not flawless, but the overall package just can’t be beat. The controls were revolutionary at the time, and for good reason — the game’s “Z-targeting” system became the genre standard for 3d combat systems. The lockon range here might not be quite as long as in some later titles, but still, it works great. C-buttons are perfect for inventory items, too. Unfortunately this game has no item combinations like LA does, but oh well, it does have stuff that game didn’t, like magic, many more playable songs on your instrument, and a horse to ride. The game has a classic Zelda story, but it’s well told, and overall is one of the best stories in the franchise; of the “traditional” Zelda stories, where you have to save Zelda at some point and defeat Ganon, it’s the best one. Zelda is also a stronger character in this game than she usually is, and plays a relevant role in the story. That was good to see. All of the Sages’ stories are well done too. So yeah, the characters are good, the story is interesting, and the cutscenes look nice. The music, of course, is outstanding at all times, and is easily among the system’s best. The graphics are quite good as well. They show the usual limitations of their generation — for instance I have always thought that the “tree-walls” that block off your path look kind of silly — but there’s not much that could be done about that, I think. The overworld’s big enough. It is somewhat unfortunate that the overworld has less to do in it than in LA or MM, though; it’s fun to explore, but with so little to do there, and with an overworld that’s only so large, the gameworld may feel small and lacking in content compared to later 3d Zelda games. However, what is there is beautifully designed, and I’ve never lost my appreciation for how nice this game looks, as you’re riding Epona, or visiting the lake, or what have you. Also, importantly, OoT has far more to do in the towns than had ever been present in the series before; indeed, while previously towns were things you spent only relatively small amounts of time in, overall, in OoT they’re quite important, and are full of minigames, challenges, and more. LA may have been moving towards this, but OoT is well beyond it. The characters inhabiting the towns all have amusing, unique characteristics, too. It’s good stuff. The biggest star are the dungeons, though. The game’s nine dungeons are all huge, usually epic in scope and stunning in design. The dungeons start shorter, but by the fourth dungeon, they are long, complex affairs. My favorite dungeon was the Spirit Temple. Also, while many people complain about the Water Temple, it was always one of my favorites; the design is pretty cool, and I love the execution and challenge as well. The dungeon was hard, but not TOO hard. My least favorite dungeons are the third and fourth ones, Jabu-Jabu’s Belly and the Forest Temple. The Forest Temple has great atmosphere, but somehow I’ve just never liked it that much… even so though, all nine dungeons are very, very good. OoT set new standards when it released, and it’s still the very best of its series. One player, on-cart saving.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Majora’s Mask, the sequel to OoT, is a somewhat controversial game, and rightfully so. While on the one hand it’s regarded as one of the most original Zelda games, which it is, it also has some design decisions which can be hard to like. Back when I got this after it came out, I wasn’t sure what kind of score it deserved, it’s so good in some ways but so annoying in others. The problem is, the core of its uniqueness is also its biggest problem. The game runs on a time system, so you only have a certain amount of time before the moon crashes and it’s game over. So, all of your actions are on the clock. No time to take your time and explore here. You do eventually find a song that doubles the amount of time you have, and it’s absolutely vital, but still, time is an everpresent issue. For instance, if you run out of time in a dungeon, you’ll have to go back to the start and start the whole thing over. I don’t think I should even have to say how awful that is. Also, after you beat each dungeon, it changes the world — so beating the ice dungeon melts a lot of the snow in that area, etc. The problem is, these changes reset when you go back in time, so if you want to see it without snow, you’ll have go to through the dungeon AGAIN and beat the boss again too! Why would they do it that way? It’s annoying! Similarly, when you reset time you lose all consumable items, so you’ll need to get arrows, sticks, etc. all over again. Some stuff can be stored in the bank in town, but you can’t always get back there, and you can’t store everything. All of the repeat elements that I had to redo over and over got annoying. In addition, there are only four dungeons, an extremely small number for a Zelda game. Some are good, like the Stone Tower temple, but others are mediocre, like the water temple, and there are far too few of them. The combat in this game is easier overall than OoT, too, and you can get white-rimmed hearts (halves damage) midgame, instead of only at the very end like in OoT. So yeah, combat-wise this game is easier, and dungeon-wise it is half as long. The main balancing factor against those is that the game has many sidequests, which are kept track of in your quest book, and many of these are pretty difficult. This is where much of the challenge in the game comes from, and plenty of the fun as well. Also, it is pretty cool that each character follows a path through the three days you keep repeating, so stores are only open during the day, the postman makes his rounds, etc. It’s cool stuff for a Zelda game. In addition, while the overworld is smaller than OoT’s (which I did find disappointing), there is a LOT more stuff in it, so you’ll probably spend more time in the overworld overall — there’s more to do. That’s great. So, overall, MM is a mixed bag, with some great elements, like the living town and more detailed world, and some beautiful areas, like Ikana Canyon, but also a lot of frustration and questionable design elements. SOme people consider this one of their favorite Zelda games, but I’ve always had a much more mixed view of the game. One player, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak required.

Lego Racers – Lego Racers is a Lego-themed kart racing game. It’s got okay graphics and gameplay, but isn’t incredible. The game’s a bit easy,the graphics aren’t amazing, the kart customization (you can build your kart up with Lego bricks), while cool, is somewhat limited… still, if you want another kart racer to play but have already played the Nintendo and Rare ones, it’s a decent choice. There aren’t many others on the N64, and the game’s certainly competent, even if it’s not excitingly great. Also on PC and Playstation. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (62 pages).

Lode Runner 3D – Lode Runner 3D is a sort of 2.5d, sort of 3d platform/puzzle game. It’s an N64-exclusive entry in this long-running series. In the game, you move along sidescrolling paths that curve through a 3d space, sort of like Iggy’s Reckin Balls. However, here the paths branch, so the game has a 3d movement element when you switch from one path to another. The goal, as always in Lode Runnner games, is to collect all of the gold and then reach the exit. Blocking your way are the Mad Monks, out to kill you like usual. You can dig holes to your left or right, to trap the monks or to cut through the ground to reach areas below. Each level generally has a specific solution, so it’s as much more more puzzle game as it is platformer. The 3d element is really cool and gives this game an original feel — even today, there aren’t too many games that play like this. Lode Runner 3D’s something of a hidden gem and is well worth playing. It’ll provide plenty of challenge, has good gameplay and design, and even has oncart saving. The graphics are average stuff, but the gameplay more than makes up for that. Overall though, play this game! It’s pretty good. One player, on-cart saving.

Mace: The Dark Age – Mace: The Dark Age is a 3d fighting game from Midway. An arcade and N64 exclusive, Mace is Midway’s only fighting game that was console-exclusive on the N64. Fortunately, they chose a good one to make exclusive — Mace is one of Midway’s better fighting games. Mace is a dark fantasy fighting game set in a medieval world, where a varied cast of characters fight over the great power of the Mace. While most Midway fighting games either are Mortal Kombat games or play like Mortal Kombat (see War Gods), Mace is its own thing. Mace has slower paced gameplay than MK, and is a weapon-based fighter too, from before MK added weapons. The slower pace makes me think some of Street Fighter; Mace doesn’t have the balanace an SF game would and is breakable, but still, it’s about as close to an SF-paced game as you’ll find from Midway. I like that; I always preferred SF to MK. The game has the fatalities you expect from Midway fighting games, and hidden characters too. The character designs in this game are pretty good, with a nice variety of fantasy medieval warriors, demonic soldiers, and comic figures. I like this game’s cast, it’s one of Midway’s better ones. As for the gameplay, this is one of the 3d fighting games where you do have 3d movement, but the 3d move is done with a separate button. R moves you into the screen, R+Down moves you towards. Yeah, it’s kind of limited, but it works well enough for the game. The characters all have standard special moves, combos, etc. as well. The arenas are pretty innovative for their time, or for the genre in general, as well — Mace arenas aren’t flat! Yes, Mace arenas can have multiple levels, steps, raised platforms, and more. They also have traps in them, for you to try to knock your opponent into. Stage edges either are walls ore damage areas that hurt you if you land in them (sort of like DoA1, I guess, in that respect); which it is depends on the stage and layout. The stages in this game are pretty cool and definitely make the game more interesting. Overall, the game is flawed — not all characters, or moves, are equal, and button mashing with certain characters can bring you a long way — but it’s a pretty good game even so, for its time, and is one of the N64’s best 3d fighting games. It is kind of lame it doesn’t save anything, but it’s good overall apart from that. Two player multiplayer, no saving. (You unlock the hidden characters with a cheatcode — look it up, and use it when you turn the game on each time!)

Mario Kart 64 – Mario Kart 64 is, in my opinion, still the game that all other kart racing games should be compared to. A substantial improvement over the SNES Mario Kart game, Mario Kart 64 is an exceptional masterpiece of game design. The tracks are all fantastic, the graphics are good enough, and the fun, particularly in multiplayer, is about as good as it gets. About the only flaw here is that the single player game won’t take all that long to finish. Even so, it is a lot of fun while it lasts. Only the DS and Wii Mario Kart games rival this title’s greatness, within the series. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Ghost saves are controller pak only, 121 pages per ghost.

Mario Party 2 – This is the only one of the three N64 Mario Party games I’ve played for any length of time, and while it is a fun multiplayer game, it does suffer in single player. Some multiplayer-focused games I do enjoy a lot in single player, like Gauntlet Legends or Rush 2049’s stunt mode, but this one… it’s okay (a lot better than Sonic Shuffle at least!), but it does get boring. Anyway, Mario Party 2 is the second Mario Party game, and it’s much improved over the first game — the controller, and thumb, destroying “spin the stick fast” minigames from the first game are gone here, thankfully. In their place are a wide variety of new minigames, some fun and others not so much, of course, but good overall. This is a good game for sure. I think it’s worth having at least one of the Mario Party games, and 2 or 3 are the better ones, on the N64. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Mario Party 3 (J) – Mario Party 3 is the third Mario Party game, and it’s pretty much the same basic thing as the second game, except with new minigames, new boards, and a few minor new modes. Unfortunately, since the US version of this game was the last game Nintendo released for the N64 before abandoning the system before its time, the US version is not cheap. I ended up getting this Japanese version in a lot with several other games (Doraemon, Flying Dragon SD). And… yeah, it’s pretty much more Mario Party, just with a language barrier that makes figuring out how to play it a little harder. Once you do figure out how to get into the main game, though, it’s the same Mario Party as ever. Well, minigame instructions are also in Japanese, but most games are simple enough to easily figure out. The new mode is a mode with very few minigames; instead, you go around and try to take as many of the board spaces as you can. Honestly though, it’s kind of boring, since the minigames are the best part about Mario Party games. The main tables and minigames are fine, but I don’t think this game is quite as good as Mario Party 2, language barrier aside. That game was quite an improvement over the first game, but this is pretty much more of the same. Also, as always, the game isn’t very fun in single player mode. Mario Party and Wii Party games just aren’t remotely the same when played single player, and Nintendo, Hudson, or the current series developers have never figured out how to solve that problem. This game certainly doesn’t do that. So yeah, probably just stick with Mario Party 2, for your N64 Mario Party needs — that game is cheaper. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Mario Tennis – Mario’s Tennis is, surprisingly or not, a very good tennis game. Free of the overdone super-smash things of Mario Power Tennis (GC) and beyond, this is a more solid game of tennis than that title; I do think the N64 title is the better, here. Choose a character, start a tournament, and play tennis… this is a great Mario-themed tennis game, definitely better than I was expecting it to be.  The game has a similar character roster to the N64 Mario Party, Kart, and Golf titles, so there are eight characters to choose from.  The game is for the most part a classic tennis game, just with Mario characters and a simple, arcadey style.  Mario Power Tennis adds in super moves which completely change the game, for the worse in my opinion, but you don’t have those here; instead, you’ve got to actually play well to win.  It’s great.  The graphics are reasonably good as well.  It’s not the system’s best, but the characters look like they should.  There are various tournaments to play through, so the game has some single player life to it, but multi probably the biggest draw.  Either way though, this is a great tennis game that’s well worth playing.  Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Mickey’s Racing USA – I reviewed this game once, but this later Rare title is an under-appreciated, but quite good, game. Mickey’s Racing USA is a good kart racing game with a solid cast of Disney characters, a lot of different tracks to race on, and fun, high speed gameplay. I do wish that it’d used the expansion pack and that they could have pushed the fog back more — it is somewhat noticeably present — but still, the game has good graphics and very solid kart racing gameplay. The game gets faster on each difficulty, and by the time you get to hard, it’s a quite fast, challenging game. This is a pretty good game, I definitely like the tracks, challenge, and design. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Mega Man 64 – This is a very, very (three years later) late port of Mega Man Legends from the PS1. It’s a solid, but unenhanced, port. All of the voice acting is still here, which is nice, but the failure to give the game true analog controls — instead, the analog stick controls Mega Man as if it was a d-pad — is a pretty serious letdown. This game released in 2001, over 3 years after the PS1 release… there’s NO excuse for not giving the game analog controls, none! Apart from that though, the graphics at least do benefit from the N64’s hardware features, and the game’s the same. It’s not very Mega Man like, and has little in common with the great platformer games, but on its own it’s a decently fun game. I didn’t go into this expecting very much, but while it definitely has its issues — the controls, not being very Mega Man like in gameplay, not getting powers from bosses, etc — as a standalone title it was more fun than I expected. One player, on-cart saving.

Micro Machines 64 Turbo – This is a port of Micro Machines V3, also on PC, PSX, and GBC. It’s a pretty good port of the game, and has good graphics and all the content of the other versions. Micro Machines is a great, classic racing game series, and this was the first effort at the game in 3d. It’s classic Micro Machines all right, with top-down gameplay, lots of tracks, and a high challenge level. However, the game is in 3d, and this comes into play with the camera. The camera moves around constantly, and it can make the game harder at times. This would also be an issue in MMV4 (PC/PS2/DS/PSP), and it is a real problem — until you memorize the courses, the shifting camera definitely can make them tougher than they are. I almost would rather play the GBC version; sure it needs passwords to save and doesn’t look nearly as good, but the camera’s static… Still, despite the camera this is a great game, well worth getting if you don’t have MMV3 for another system already. Oh, and as always in the Micro Machines series, it’s a fantastic multiplayer game. The MM series has a great, and unique, multiplayer system where all players race on the same screen, and the first player to hit the top of the screen gets a point. Over the course of the race the players fight over the points, trying to max out their gauge, or have the most points at the end. It’s crazy and fun stuff, and is always a major draw in the franchise. Eight player multiplayer (via controller sharing — two people on each controller, one with dpad and other with c-buttons), controller pak saving (8 pages per character file).

Milo’s Astro Lanes – Milo’s Astro Lanes is a bowling game, as the title suggests. However, instead of being earthbound, this is a futuristic bowling game in space. Each lane has a different design, with obstacles and tricks to learn on the course. So yeah, the game has a decent concept to make things a bit more interesting than average. The graphics are basic, with lanes floating in space and very simple, small hub areas to choose levels in. The game looks okay, but it’s quite simple for the platform. There are powerup icons on the courses too, and part of the strategy of the game is learning the powerups and deciding when to use each one. The bowling action itself is done well too, though. The ball and pin physics all work as they should. However, this is a very difficult game — even the very first matches will require very high scores to complete. The game may seem simple at first, but you’ll need to be very good to get beyond the second match. I find it maybe a bit too hard, actually… it’s frustrating to score well but still lose. Apart from that though, it’s good. I imagine that people good at bowling will have a much easier time with this game; I’m not all that good at it, clearly. The computer cheats, too — it adjusts its play to match, and slightly exceed, yours, during matches. This makes winning frustratingly difficult. I can’t compare this to the other bowling games on the N64, though, because I haven’t played the other two for the system. Four player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving.

Mischief Makers – Mischief Makers is a sidescrolling, 2.5d platformer from Treasure. The game is largely 2d, but there are some polygonal elements here and there, so it is a 2.5d game. The game centers around one thing, a grab-and-shake mechanic. Your character, Marina the robot, defeats enemies and interacts with objects in the world by grabbing onto them and shaking them with a voiced “shake-shake”. Yeah, it’s silly stuff, as is the anime-style plot in this game. Whether you like the game or not will basically depend on whether you like the shake-shake mechanic, because you will be doing a whole lot of it in this game. Yeah, the game does have somewhat lacking variety. Even so, it’s a pretty good game that any platformer fan should play — the unique mechanics aren’t like other games, and the game’s a lot of fun to play most of the time. One player, on-cart saving.

Mission: Impossible – This stealth action game, also on Playstation, was heavily hyped on the N64 before its release, but when it finally did come out, it was considered disappointing, or at least only average and not great like people were hoping. I’ve always had mixed opinions about stealth games — on the one hand, I like the concept, but on the other hand, I often have trouble being patient enough, or get frustrated after failing something repeatedly. This game’s like that sometimes. It is alright, though, with some okay puzzles, average graphics, and decent action, but yeah, it’s nothing outstanding. I haven’t gotten too far into the game, but it’s not really bad, just more average. One player, on-cart saving.

Monaco Grand Prix – Monaco Grand Prix is another F1 sim. This one isn’t licensed, though, so it doesn’t have the real cars and teams. As a game, it probably doesn’t quite match up to Paradigm’s F-1 World Grand Prix series, but it is pretty solid too, and is a good game for its genre. That is, I quickly get bored, but for what it is — a F1 sim on the N64 — it does a fine job. The graphics are good, the tracks are all here, and the game plays fairly well. I’d just rather play a different kind of racing game, though I have given this one a few plays here and there. Two player multiplayer, on-cart and controller pak to save (on-cart saves settings, driver names, and options, but seasons require an ~8 page controller pak file.)

Monster Truck Madness 64 – Based on Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness 2 for the PC, I found MTM64 fairly underwhelming despite some good reviews. The fog in this game is pretty close, and the graphics mediocre at best, first. Sure, it has four player play and a good number of tracks and monster trucks, but I wish I could see farther, and it’s just not as fun as many other N64 racing games are. I did enjoy the first MTM game on the PC back in 1997, but looking back it probably was because it was one of my first racing games for the new computer we’d gotten as much as anything… it’s not a terrible game, but it gets boring fast. This game is similar, except with weaker graphics because of the hardware. Of course, it also doesn’t help that I don’t care much about monster trucks. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

MRC – Multi Racing Championship – Another racing game from Imagineer, MRC was one of their first N64 games, and it’s pretty mediocre. The game has three tracks, and not a lot of options or modes either. The graphics are pretty poor for and N64 game as well; it looks far too close to a PSX or Saturn game for comfort. However, I do know a few people like this game, probably because it plays more like a ~1995-1997 PSX or Saturn racer too, much more so than most N64 racing games do. Also, the game is a little bit simmish, so you will need to learn the tracks if you don’t want to fail — it’s not an easy game. For me though, I consider this one of the weakest of the N64’s racing games. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (45 pages).

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon – The first N64 Goemon game was also the first Goemeon game Konami released in the West in years. Yes, after skipping the last three SNES games, and the PSX ones, Konami finally bought the series here again on the N64. MNSG is a 3d action-RPG-platform game with a large open world, and it’s a lot of fun. The graphics are simple and it looks very first gen, but then again it is from 1997, so it is first gen. The game also has some control issues — this is a 3d game, but doesn’t has OoT style lockon because that hadn’t been invented yet (this is a year before OoT after all), so you’re stuck with difficulty actually hitting your enemies, far too often. Hitting them in 3d can be tricky sometimes. However, the game is great even so. The large world is fun to explore, and there’s plenty to find as well. It makes the game feel somewhat Zelda-ish, and this is before OoT, too! If you can look past the visuals and get used to the controls, MNSG reveals itself to be a great adventure, lots of fun from beginning to end. I do wish the game lasted a bit longer, but still, it’s fantastic fun while it lasts. The overworlds, dungeons, Impact sections (complete with Japanese-language intro song!), bosses, and everything else have lots of character and are fun to explore through. So yeah, overall the game has a few issues, but it’s a good game on the whole. One player, controller pak saving (16 pages). This one also did require controller paks in Japan, I believe.

NBA Hang Time – NBA Hangtime is a home port of Midway’s third arcade basketball title. While Midway lost the NBA Jam name to Acclaim, they kept making games in the series, just under new names. The first of those was NBA Hangtime, and the second NBA Showtime (which I have for Dreamcast). Originally an arcade game, Hangtime was ported to multiple platforms (SNES, Genesis, GB, PS1, N64), but the N64 has one of the best versions. The game is classic NBA Jam, and has 2-on-2 arcade basketball, with that great NBA Jam gameplay that holds up so well. The graphics are quite good, too — this game is sprite-based, and looks quite nice on the N64. Of course it has real sprite scaling, as you’d expect for a 5th gen platform. As a result, the game looks and plays great. However, some of NBA Jam T.E.’s innovations are sadly cut out of this version, however, which is a real disappointment; overall, I like T.E. more than I do Hangtime as a result. Most notably, turbo mode (2x, 3x, and 4x speeds), Hot Spots, and Power Ups are all gone. Also, T.E.’s quarter-based player replacement system is gone. Instead, you can only switch players at halftime, instead of each quarter. This completely gets rid of the slight strategy element T.E. had in having to manage your players’ injury ratings (since the player on the bench healed up; remember that in T.E. there were only three players on most teams). Those first three mode removals are unfortunate, but that last change really is bad. I thought that the addition of injury ratings and quarter-based player replacement were probably the best thing about T.E. compared to the original NBA Jam. Why in the world did Midway remove it from their next game? That was a big mistake. There is one new feature, though, apart from the better graphics and the roster update: there is a player creation feature now. If you create players it’ll take up some memory card space of course, but it’s a nice feature to have. Midway’s later basketball games would bring this feature back, though; it’s not only in this game. Still though, despite its flaws, NBA Hangtime is a good game that is great fun to play, and I’d absolutely recommend it. It is a good arcade basketball game with some nice scaling 2d graphics and great gameplay. Unfortunately some feature cuts place it slightly below its predecessor in my opinion, but still, it’s a very good game. Four player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (7 pages per player file, more for create-a-player files). Also on Arcade, PS1, SNES, Genesis, and Game Boy.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (J) – Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most popular anime series of the last couple of decades, or at least it’s one of the best known in the West. It is a series about teenagers who fight in giant robot suits called EVAs, defending the Earth from monsters called Angels which are trying to destroy it. Well, that’s just the story on the surface; below that there’s a very complex story going on about the characters and Shinji (the main character)’s psychology that I won’t get into. Evangelion was an interesting anime, I liked it. In Japan there have been many Evangelion games, but most were adventure or board/card games; only a few are action games, and this was the first of those (there have since been PS2 and PSP Evangelion action games). As such, back during the N64’s life, this game became known as the “good Evangelion game”, because it’s the one that Western gamers could actually play. Is it actually a good game, though? Well… not really; it’s a below average collection of minigames of sorts, sadly. The GRAPHICS, however, are absolutely incredible! Seriously, Evangelion is one of the very best looking games on the N64, and should be on any list of the best-looking N64 games. This game looks fantastic, the EVAs look extremely impressive. They even get the animations and expressions down perfectly. The games’ presentation is also spot-on. The menus and cutscenes look like something straight out of Evangelion, and there are plenty of speech samples in this game, too. The music is also fantastic, and sounds just like the music from the show. The music is MIDI, so there aren’t voices in the ending theme (which is used in the end-level screen, cleverly enough), but still, the graphics and music in this game are outstanding.

But that gameplay? Yeah, that is the weak link here. The many cutscenes during missions are flashy, and the ingame graphics good as well, but the actual gameplay isn’t as good. The Story mode starts with several battles against Angels, 2.5d fighting game-style. You control your EVA, and can walk forward and back, do a weak attack with A, do a strong attack/grab with A+B plus a direction, block with B, or use your shield (AT Field) with C-down. The EVAs are huge, so the long delay between when you press a button and when something happens actually makes sense, sort of. I hope it was intentional, anyway. It is annoying and frustrating, but you’ll have to get used to it. Timing is key in this game, both in the fighting missions and later. Attacks, blocks, etc. must be done at the right time to succeed, and the game is not forgiving. AT Fields are great, but you can only use it occasionally; the bar on the center-left of the screen tells you if you can use it or not. When trying to break through an Angel’s AT Field with your own, alternate button presses on C-down and A if you want to succeed. The gameplay is simple, but hard at times. The first level isn’t too bad, but the second one is quite challenging, even on “Easy”. In addition to your and the Angel’s health (on the upper left and right corners), you also have a sync ratio between your pilot and EVA. There’s an extremely useful guide on GameFAQs that tells you which moves you can do depending on your sync ratio — the lower it goes, the fewer moves you can use. Fortunately the game saves your progress at each match, but still, I’m sure some people have just given up at level two. I sure was tempted to. If you get past match two, the game starts varying what you do in each mission. You play as Shinji in most of the 13 (13.5 really) missions, but Asuka has two (2.5 really, since one is split into two parts) missions, and Rei one. There is a sniping level (very short), a rhythm-style level where Shinji has to synchronize with Asuka (I hate this stuff…), some levels entirely about timed button pressing, and more, though it does return to some fighting-style levels later as well.

However, regardless of mission type the gameplay is never better than average, and that’s probably being kind. You don’t fight all the Angels from the TV show, either. Since there are only 13 full missions, some are skipped over, unfortunately, probably for cartridge space reasons. There are multiple difficulty levels to complete, though, and the second and third difficulties do each have one more level on the end, versus Normal, to encourage you to replay the game a few times. You also unlock a mission-select option after beating the game on Hard. Given the mediocre gameplay, though, you may or may not want to do that. There is also Simulation mode, which basically is just a series of target-shooting tests. You choose any one of the five Children — yes, here you can play as any of the five, including Kawada, Toji, and Rei, as well as the two from the Story mode. However, it really is just a shooting gallery, so that’s a minor bonus unfortunately. These Angel target-shooting tests are pretty hard to get a good rating in, though, despite their simplicity. Try to hit the weak points if you want to do well — it’s not easy. Overall, whether NGE is worth getting or not depends almost entirely on what you think of the anime. The game is easily playable for non-Japanese speakers who know the series, since menus are in English, the story is the same as in the anime, and the controls are easy to figure out, but the lacking gameplay is a problem. I highly doubt that people who don’t know, or don’t like, the anime would have much interest in this game, apart from looking at the quite impressive graphics, but I do like the anime, so yeah, I do think this game was worth getting. This game could have been a lot better, but fans of the series, or those who want to see some of the systems’ best graphics, might want to check this game out. It’s not the cheapest import, but isn’t one of the most expensive either, fortunately. I wouldn’t want to pay the cost for a boxed copy, though; as cool as that box looks in pictures it probably isn’t worth it. One player, on-cart saving.

The New Tetris – The New Tetris is an N64-exclusive version of Tetris. One of the premiere four player N64 puzzle games, along with BAM ’99 and Dr. Mario 64, The New Tetris is a very good game. The game has a techno-style soundtrack that sounds good, and it plays like a Tetris game should. The visuals are good, with solid 2d ingame graphics and menus. There is some 3d, in these monuments that you can build by getting enough points in the game, but the game’s mostly 2d, which is just fine for a puzzle game. As expected for a newer Tetris game, there are various different gameplay modes. Long-term play of course relies on your wanting to play again and again, but a lot of people love Tetris, so that shouldn’t be too hard. I don’t love Tetris as much as some people — I do get bored with this game after a while — but it is a pretty good Tetris game, and maybe the best Tetris game of its generation. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Nightmare Creatures – Nightmare Creatures is a port of the PC and Playstation game of the same name. It’s a third person, 3d action/adventure game from the early days of 3d, and the graphics and gameplay are both on the mediocre side. I know some people like this game, but I never have much at all… the controls aren’t good, I only occasionally like these third-person action-adventure games, and the gameplay certainly doesn’t make this one of the good ones. First, the controls. They’re not the worst, and you can run forwards, jump back, turn, jump, and strafe, but your motions can be tricky to get right, particularly with the even bigger problems — the camera and draw distance. This game has close, close fog — anything more than a few feet away is a black wall. Of course, it’s the same on the other platforms too, and that’s how it keeps the game tense, by having the enemies constantly jump out and surprise you, but it’s frustrating. I want to be able to see! The camera does the game no favors either; while it’s often behind-the-character, on occasion it takes some more … cinematic … angles, and you can be in trouble sometimes when the camera won’t show you where you’re going, or an enemy coming at you. Camera controls are limited, too. As for the combat, basically, the idea here is to hold down block until you see an opening, at which point you should start mashing the attack buttons until the enemy dies. It’s important to block before this, though — enemies do a lot of damage, and you die easily and can’t save very often. This is a pretty challenging game. I do like that there are two playable characters, male or female, and the graphics are okay with some decent art design and appropriate settings, but overall, this game isn’t very good. One player, controller pak (2 pages) to save.

NFL Blitz 2000 – A port of the arcade game, this is also on PSX and DC. I greatly dislike football as a sport, but have this because I got it for free. The game’s a solid version of NFL Blitz, with all of the arcade action you expect from a good Midway sports game — this game isn’t as sim-ized as Gretzky ’98 is, I believe, it’s still very arcadish.That’s good, Midway was great at making arcade style sports games, but not very good at sims. I played one match of this and kind of enjoyed myself, even though it’s football. Do know it’ll take a whole memory card to save though. I’d probably play a little more of it otherwise. Four player multiplayer, controller pak (123 pages, full card) to save.

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber – Ogre Battle 64 is the N64’s biggest epic Japanese strategy game. A sequel to the SNES classic, Ogre Battle 64 is a strategy game with RPG elements, and it’s a very, very good one. The game uses a mixture of 2d and 3d elements. The characters are sprites, and battles and town scenes are drawn, but the overworld maps are done in 3d. The graphics look good, and it shows what the N64 can do. The music’s great and fits the game perfectly. It’s catchy stuff. The story, about a rebellion against an evil empire, essentially, isn’t the most amazingly original thing, but it is good, and the game’s both long and challenging as well. The game has the story depth, layers, and good and evil paths you expect from Ogre Battle games. As usual in Japanese games you can’t customize your main character, and are given certain preset commanders to lead some of your forces, but otherwise you can entirely customize your army, choosing commanders and troops for your units, so everyone will probably play this game somewhat differently. In each map, first you listen to the story setting things up for the map to come, as the drama of Ogre Battle moves forward, and then you move to the action. In the main map in each mission, you move your various troops around, exploring the world, siezing towns, fighting enemies, and uncovering secrets. Battles are fought on the battle screen once two troops bump into eachother, and like in the original Ogre Battle, each fight goes for just two rounds only per combat — they don’t fight until one side loses, only a few times each. This means that you’ll have to use your forces wisely, and can’t just flatten everything with one group. The game rewards strategic thinking and good planning. Remember to explore towns too, it’s always fun to talk to the townsfolk. For negatives, as usual for epic Japanese games, some game systems are hidden, and there are a lot of secrets. Don’t expect to get the most out of this game without a guide. Still, it’s a great game, and the game does give you enough information to have a lot of fun, certainly. The game is a bit pricey today, but it’s expensive for a reason. I was lucky enough to find a cheap, complete copy, but I doubt everyone else will be too. Still, it’s worth it, Ogre Battle 64 is a fantastic, addictive epic strategy game. One player, on-cart or controller pak saving. The game also allows you to back up your save files to controller pak, or even use a save file on the controller pak, if you hold Start when you turn the system on.

Paper Mario – Paper Mario is one of Nintendo’s later N64 games, but it shouldn’t be forgotten because it’s outstanding. Paper Mario is an RPG, and is a sequel (from a different developer) to 1996’s Mario RPG on the SNES. The game’s fantastic, and a nice improvement over Mario RPG in my opinion. Intelligent Systems really did a fantastic job with this game; it’s my favorite RPG Mario game, and it’s really just a great experience beginning to end. The game’s not too long for an RPG, at only 30 hours or so, but it’s so much fun along the way that that doesn’t really matter. The game uses a unique “paper characters in a 3d world” visual style that looks fantastic. They really are paper, too — they float down like paper when falling, turn on edge, etc. The sequel made even more use out of this, but it’s in the first game too, and it’s amusing stuff. The battle system is inspired by Mario RPG, but it’s improved over that game, with even more fun action elements to the combat. Yeah, this game isn’t just selecting things from menus, you also have to do timing minigames of sorts in order to increase your damage, do timed button-presses to reduce damage when attacked, etc. These are all fun elements of the game. Mario is the main character here, but he does have party members, all coming from the Mario enemy library — a Bob-omb, a Koopa, a Koopa Paratroopa, a ghost, and plenty more join Mario. You can have one teammate fighting at a time along with Mario, and can switch at will. Each has their own special ability, so you need to choose the right one for each situation. The system works quite well. The story’s nothing special — Bowser has kidnapped the princess yet again — but the game has fun with it, and it is soemwhat self-aware of how many times that story has been done. There are also some short segments where you play as the kidnapped Princess, in between the main chapters where you play as Mario and his allies. These segments, and the silliness of the plot, are quite entertaining. So, overall, this game is fantastic. There aren’t many RPGs on the N64, but this one at least is great. One player, on-cart saving.

Penny Racers – Penny Racers is based on the Japanese Choro-Q toy line. These toys are, as the name suggests, small little cars that will drive forward when you put a penny on the back of them, or something; I’ve never used one myself. There are many Choro-Q games, some of which have gotten US releases (of other US releases there are several on the PS2 and one on the Wii, in addition to this game, for instance), but they’re very much of mixed quality. This game is no exception. While on the one hand it can be a fun multiplayer title, as a single player game the game has some serious issues. First, the handling takes a LOT of getting used to. The cars are very touchy, and you flip over and roll sideways very easily. Flipping is really the bane of this game… while there are certain situations where it’s actually good and you’ll want to do this, more often you’ll find yourself flipping out in the middle of a turn, and falling behind. It gets quite annoying. In addition, the graphics are fairly average. They’re fine, nothing bad, but nothing great either for sure. There is plenty to do if you can tolerate the controls, though — as you play you can wager parts for your car, and winning new parts gives you more options to upgrade your car with. There are a lot of different parts in multiple categories. There are also a bunch of cars to choose from, and a decent selection of tracks as well. But those controls… gah! This game does have a sequel that was only released in Japan, but I haven’t played it so I don’t know how it compares. Four player multiplayer, on-cart and controller pak saving (68 pages, and it is required). The on-cart EEPROM chip saves your races completed and lap times, but if you want a full single player game you need a custom car with parts you collect from winning, and that requires one of these gigantic controller pak files that also includes multiple custom track files; I wish the custom tracks were saved individually, if you wanted to make them, and the car file was just a small little thing, but no, one stupidly large file is the way they went with…

Perfect Dark – Perfect Dark is Rare’s second FPS on the N64, and it’s an exceptional game. Goldeneye versus PD is a frequent issue of debate, among N64 and Rare fans, and I’m squarely on the PD side — I think it’s a better game all around than Goldeneye (I don’t own Goldeneye, but have beaten it before.). Perfect Dark is a sci-fi FPS starring the British secret agent Joanna Dark. The game has great graphics, lots of options and modes, incredible attention to detail for the platform, lots of content, and more. The main game is of good length, and has three difficulties, like Goldeneye, to make it even longer. Higher difficulties add more objectives, not just harder enemies. The game also has an arena challenge mode, where you fight against bots in a series of challenging stages, a standard multiplayer mode with bots (you can have up to eight!), a co-op mode, a counter-op mode where one person is Joanna and the other controls the regular enemies in the stage, and more. The game’s challening but beatable — if even I can finish this game on Agent, and get to the last mission on Secret Agent, anyone can. The story is good and well told for the genre, and the cast of characters are reasonably interesting and at times amusing (Elvis the alien… ). Perfect Dark really has it all, and is the N64’s most full-featured FPS. I don’t know if it’s my favorite N64 FPS or not — it quite likely is, but it does have some tough competition — but it’s a very, very good game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced, and required for the main game.

Pilotwings 64 – The sequel to the Mode 7 SNES launch title, Pilotwings 64 was again a launch title, this time for the N64. Pilotwings 64 is the N64’s only civilian aviation game, but while it is a bit short, fortunately it is a good game. The game was made by Paradigm, so it’s Western-developed, and they do a good job with the franchise. There are multiple islands to explore and several different events, so it’s got more locations than the one island in Pilotwings for the 3DS. Each event controls differently, of course, and the three main events vary in difficulty. The islands are fairly small, but still, the variety is nice. As for the graphics, the game is clearly a launch title, and there is a definite draw distance, but I think the game looks reasonably good. It’s got that clean, nice Nintendo look. I wasn’t sure if this game would hold up or not, but it ended up being good. It’s too bad it has no multiplayer and isn’t longer, but what’s here is good. One player, on-cart saving.

Pokemon Puzzle League – Pokemon Puzzle League is a Westernized port of the never-released Japanese title Panel de Pon 64, or, alternately, it’s the sequel to Tetris Attack and prequel to Planet Puzzle League. Whatever you call it though, Pokemon Puzzle League is a great game. I do kind of wish that it had the original Panel de Pon theme instead of Pokemon, because I didn’t like Pokemon at all back in the ’90s (I know, Nintendo fan but I couldn’t stand Pokemon), but apart from that this game is great. NST made the port, and I must admit that they did a good job of making the game feel a lot like the Pokemon TV show. The game has a story mode, endless modes, puzzle mode, and more — there’s a lot of content here. It doesn’t have a three or four player mode, unfortunately, but it as just about everything else you expect from Tetris Attack/Puzzle League. There’s one unique mode you won’t find in Planet Puzzle League, too — 3d stages, where the field is a rotating 3d ring of tiles. 3d mode is pretty awesome, it’s too bad that they dropped it from the most recent Puzzle League game. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Polaris SnoCross – Polaris SnoCross, from late 2000, is one of the N64’s last racing games, and it’s a pretty much unaltered Playstation port. Both versions got awful reviews, so set your expectations low. This is the N64’s only snowmobileing game, but that doesn’t mean it’s really worth playing. However, for a snowmobile game, this actually isn’t too bad. The graphics are decent, with a nice sharp look, first. The game clearly has visually benefitted from the move to the N64. The audio is incredibly horrible, though — the songs are literally around ten seconds long and looping. It’s painful. Fortunately, gameplay is a bit better. This game is bland and generic, but I found myself having fun, actually. The game’s simple — race against three other snowmobiles and try to finish in first. The game’s got lots of catchup, so you’ll catch up without too much difficulty unless you fall far back, but can’t build up a big lead without some luck. The tracks, of which there are about ten, are decently designed, and do have some minor alternate routes to keep things a bit more interesting. The physics are somewhat iffy, though — some hits that look like they should knock you down won’t, while some minor taps will send you flying. The best solution is to try to avoid hitting walls, ever. The game’s also somewaht easy — there are a fair number of circuits, but each is only three races, and because you can upgrade your snowmobile as you go, as you win the game gets easier and easier. It’ll be over in a matter of hours. Overall, this game is certainly not as good as Sled Storm on the PS1, but it is better than some other snowmobile racing games from that era, so it’s not a total loss. Polaris SnoCross isn’t quite as bad as reviews say — I think it’s okay. Generic, too short, and kind of disappointing, but not completely awful. This game has a sequel of sorts, Sea-Doo HydroCross, but that was only released on Playstation; the N64 version was one of the many casualties of the fading final year of the N64. I’m not sure if I’m sad about that or not… maybe? I’d have to play the PS1 version to see. Anyway though, don’t spend much, but this one’s nothing great, but is a decent diversion for a few hours. Four player, controller pak saving (21 pages).

The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction – Based on the popular, and amusing, cartoon, this game was released in late 2001, and is one of the later N64 releases. However, the game is abysmal. Seriously, don’t buy this, it’s the worst game I own for the Nintendo 64 — yes, it somehow manages to dethrone War Gods for that “honor!” This is a 3d fighting game perhaps somewhat inspired by Power Stone, but the designers were either incompetent or had no time to actually make a half-decent game, and the results are horrible. This game was also released on the Playstation, and this game feels like a down-port of that version, but oddly it seems to have released on N64 a month before PS1. On PS1 probably this game doesn’t stand out nearly as much in its badness, since there are so many bad PS1 games, but games this awful almost never also released on the N64… but this one, somehow, did. This is a 3d fighting game where you fight in tiny little arenas. The game has six arenas and nine characters (the three Powerpuff Girls and six villains), but extends its single player game by not giving you the ending until you beat all 6 rounds with each PPG member. When it comes to gameplay, though, the game has very little in terms of move variety. You can punch, kick, block (C-left/right), punch or kick repeatedly to do a very basic “combo”, jump plus punch or kick, and that’s about it. You can also block, but it’s hard to use, since it only blocks one hit, no more. This means that a block must be followed immediately with an attempted attack, or at least a jump, and you cannot block continuing enemy attacks — you’ve got to try to get out of the way. What a bizarre design decision, and it’s a bad one for sure. In a game where skill mattered that could potentially be interesting, but in this it’s just frustrating. On that note, jumping is the only good way to get out of a “combo”, when you are being hit by one. And by “combo” I mean “mashing one of the attack buttons repeatedly”, because that’s all you have to do to keep an attack going that only a well-timed jump or block plus jump or attack can get the victim out of. The AI will combo you a lot, so learn how to get out of them. This system gets very annoying, very fast, and is quite awful game design. Regardless, it’s stupid and horribly designed. Why is blocking so hard in a game that otherwise involves almost no skill? It’s bizarre! Also, you can try to throw objects in the arena at your enem (to stun them), but actually hitting them is hard, while they will hit you almost every time with the objects they throw. Argh.

The controls are also bad, because jump is mapped ONLY to the Z button, while L does nothing. So, if you want to use the D-pad, somehow you have to use it with Z, which is not going to be comfortable. Horrible design! The controls are not particularly responsive, either, I don’t think. However, the graphics are reasonably nice, honestly. The arenas are very small, but somewhat detailed, and character graphics are okay. The music, however, is another story. On the N64, this game has only one music track, the Powerpuff Girls theme, which plays in the menu and during every match. Yes, really. The rendition of the song isn’t that great, either. Unacceptable. Also, compared to the PS1 version, that version has a CGI intro video, while the N64 has a plain-text-only intro, without even any stills or something, like competent games would. And the text’s font is so bad that I honestly couldn’t read some of the words. Really. Also, there’s more speech on the PS1 version — on PS1, but not on N64 (in text or speech), there are silly little stage intro lines and it says the characters’ names before the fight. Characters do speak furing fights though on the N64, for their moves and such. Also, the PS1 version supports memory-card saving. On N64, bizarrely, saving is password only, making this one of only two N64 games I know of with password-only saving (the other is Charlie Blast’s Territory). However, the N64 version does have better in-fight graphics, thanks to its much cleaner graphics, so there is that. Overall, PPG:Chemical X-Traction is shamefully incompetent, horrible game for the N64. It may or may not be the overall worst game on the N64, but either way, it is definitely near the bottom of the list. Two player multiplayer, password save. Also on PS1 and PC.

Quake II – Quake II for the N64 was Activision’s first and only N64 FPS, and it’s not the port many people may have been expecting. Instead of being a port, like Quake 1 is for the N64, Quake II is more like Forsaken 64 and Doom 64, and has all-new level maps and some gameplay changes. Quake II isn’t one of my favorite FPSes on the N64, with a somewhat bland visual style and gameplay I just don’t like quite as much as the Rare or Acclaim FPSes on the system (or Doom 64), but it is a solid effort, and it was great to finally see an id-based N64 FPS with a four player mode. The levels do have some minor puzzle elements, in addition to lots of shooting, which is nice, and the game isn’t as unfairly hard as the earlier Acclaim N64 FPSes are, either. So yeah, it’s a good game with some good gameplay and all-new levels. I’d just rather play PD or Turok. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (3 pages). Expansion Pak supported.

Rally Challenge 2000 – Rally Challenge 2000 is Imagineer’s fourth and last N64 racing game. Released in Japan in 1999 and the US in 2000, this game has the best graphics and most content of the four. Yes, it’s an Imagineer racing game which actually looks decently good! Nice work. I like the graphics in this game; they’re not amazing, but they’re quite solid for the system. Each track looks different, and the car models are done well too. Rally Challenge 2000 has nine cars and nine tracks as well, so there’s more content here than in their previous games. The tracks have no shortcuts, as you’d expect from a rally game, but they’re all fairly well designed. There are no tracks anywhere near as bad as most of GT64’s tracks, for instance, thankfully. I came into Rally Challenge 2000 with low expectations, because the game has average review scores of around 6/10, or maybe 6.5 on the high end, but it surprised me — this game may not be great, but it certainly is fun! The racing is done well, controls are good, graphics are solid, and the track designs are good, too. The game does have some flaws that do hurt the game, but it is good overall. For modes, there are three — Arcade, Championship, and Versus. Arcade mode was inspired by Sega Rally. Here, you choose one of three sets of tracks. In each set, you’ll go through three tracks, doing one lap on each course, just like Sega Rally. Try to catch up to the computers and win — and yes, like Sega Rally, it’ll be quite tough. There are nine cars in each race, one of each of the nine in the game. The game will save your best lap time on each track. Arcade mode is fun. Versus mode works as you expect — choose a track and go. The game does have four player support, unlike the other Imagineer games. Championship mode has more problems, though. The basic concept is your standard points-based championship that goes through all nine tracks and allows saving between races, so this mode is more involved than the others. You do three laps per race in this mode too, not just one. There’s more added than just that, though — this mode also adds car customization and car damage. Customization allows you to adjust four different sliders, for the gear ratios, tire type, etc. I have no idea what to do with these, I know nothing about such things (though there is a guide on GameFAQs with some good suggestions for what settings to use in the game; quite helpful). You can save three car customization settings. The car damage element is probably the toughest thing about Championship mode, though — your car will wear down as you drive, so by the third lap your car will be harder to drive. Tire type does affect this, but it’ll be there at least somewhat with any of them. Championship mode is, as a result, MUCH more difficult than Arcade mode — while I’ve finished in the top three in all three Arcade mode championships, I can’t get above seventh in Championship mode races. It’s just brutal. Still though, this game is at least average, and is a fun game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart and Controller Pak (2 blocks) saving, both required. The on-cart part will save the options, car customization settings, and your best time in each track, but you’ll need to make a 2-block file to save your progress in the 9-race championship mode.

Rampage: World Tour – Rampage: World Tour started Midway’s rebirth of the Rampage series. The first Rampage, a popular ’80s arcade game that was ported to the NES and other systems, didn’t immediately get a sequel, but with this game, it finally got one. As in the original, you play as three monsters, and go around destroying cities. The monsters are humans who were transformed into monsters in science experiments gone wrong, and now you’re getting your revenge on humanity by levelling all of its cities, from a 2d side-scrolling view. Yes, this game is entirely 2d. The graphics are okay, but aren’t anything great, and use a pre-rendered style popular in the ’90s. The game has a simple concept, but it’s a simple series. You walk left or right, jump onto buildings to grab onto them and climb them King Kong style, and punch and kick them into rubble. There are human tanks, helicopters, soldiers, etc. shooting at you. Lots of hits cannot be avoided, as always in Rampage games; the series requires a little skill, but luck and endurance are more important. Rampage is a series which is fun for a little while, but gets old fast since there is never any variety whatsoever. World Tour tries to help that a bit with several different city environments, but the base gameplay never changes and does not require enough skill or strategy to not get tedious. It’s always been that way in Rampage games, and it is here. However, it is a fun game for a while, and unlike in the arcade version of World Tour, or any version of the first Rampage, the console versions of World Tour do let you save your progress. That is great, and that’s one reason to get this game for the N64 instead of just playing the emulated arcade version that was included in various Midway games and collections; there you’d have to play the entire long game in one sitting, which just is too boring to endure. As a result of that, the N64 version of Rampage: World Tour is still the best version — it’s the only one with both three player support AND saving. On that note, unlike the two-players-only PS1 or Saturn ports, N64 World Tour supports three player simultaneous play, which is great. The first Rampage was always a two player only game, but World Tour’s arcade version had three player support, and this does as well. Overall though, Rampage: World Tour is a somewhat average game. The game is a good port of an average game. The game has a sequel released in the arcades, PS1, and N64 called Rampage: Universal Tour, but I don’t have that one. There’s also a final PS1-exclusive one, Rampage Through Time. Both games are basically rehashes of this game though, with the same gameplay but some new environments and monsters to play as. Finally, there’s Rampage: Total Destruction for the GC/PS2/Xbox/Wii. It adds some new things to the series, such as isometric 3d gameplay (side-view-with-depth stuff, not full-roaming 3d); it’s alright. It’s still Rampage though, for good and bad. Rampage: World Tour is, ultimately, repetive, simplistic, and gets boring after a while. However, it’s fun to wreck cities for a while, and the game does save, so sure, pick it up if you like this kind of thing and it’s pretty cheap. Three player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (7 pages). Arcade port, also on PS1 and Saturn. The arcade version is also included in Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and Rampage: Total Destruction.

Re-Volt – Re-Volt is a simmish RC car racing game from Acclaim. Released on the PC, Dreamcast, N64, and Playstation, the game is far better on the former two platforms than on the latter two. Indeed, I can’t recommend that anyone with a Dreamcast should consider buying this game. Stick to the far superior DC version. For those who do want to play it, however, Re-Volt for the N64 has some good graphics for the system, and has all of the content too including all the tracks and cars, the track editor, four player splitscreen, and more, but they had to make some significant compromises here, versus the DC and PC. First, the framerate is worse. Smooth on the Dreamcast, the framerate’s quite choppy here and it does affect gameplay. I wouldn’t complain, because I can normally tolerate somewhat low framerates, but here it actually makes the game harder versus other versions. In addition, some moving track elements are gone — the opening and closing doors on the supermarket tracks are MIA here, for example, and many other things. It makes the tracks a little less fun to race on. Also, while the graphics are good, there is fog, and it’s a bit close for comfort, too. Acclaim kept pushing the N64 about as far as it could go, visually, but the results were many games with iffy framerates. THis is one of the worst of them, honestly. It’d be tolerable if this was the only version of the game, because the core gameplay IS fun — Re-Volt is a hard, hard game, with tough, realistic handling, interesting course layouts, and plenty of game to get through once you master the controls — but… play it on Dreamcast, or PC if it works on your system. Don’t play it on N64 unless you’re desperate. Oh, Re-Volt has a sequel of sorts, RC Revenge for the PS1 and PS2 only. It drops most of the sim elements in favor of arcade action. I doubt very much it’s as good as Re-Volt, and got worse reviews, but haven’t actually played it. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (16 pages for the main game file, 28 pages per track made in the track editor.). Expansion Pak enhanced (Hi Res mode, lower framerate but better graphics)

Resident Evil 2 – Resident Evil 2 is a very good, impressive port of the Playstation original. The port was done by teh US studio Angel Studios, and they did a great job cramming the whole two CD game onto one 64MB cartridge. Very few sacrifices were made — the only cuts are that video quality (in the FMVs) isn’t quite as good, and some videos are shared by both players instead of being slightly different for each. Apart from that, it’s the exact same game that took two discs on the PS1, except with better ingame graphics, an optional better control scheme never to be repeated in the series, and some exclusive bonus content. I have always had less interest in actually playing RE games than I have in thinking that I should like them because I like graphic adventure games, so I haven’t gotten anywhere near the end of this or any other RE game I own, but it is a very good version of the game, certainly. The higher-detail polygon models look great, and I love the real analog movement option — tank controls aren’t the worst, but when you’ve got real analog controls as an option too, it’s not a hard decision. It’s too bad Capcom itself never has allowed this as an option in the series. The game doesn’t have the Battle mode that the PC/DC/etc. versions add, but it does have some remixed modes with different item locations, and added info messages telling more of the story. It also has optional content locks, for reduced gore and green blood, if anyone wants them. By default they are off. Overall, this is one of the better versions of RE2 out there. One player, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced.

Ridge Racer 64 – Ridge Racer 64 may be based on the Namco series that had been Playstation exclusive, but the N64 game was made by Nintendo’s then-new American studio NST. RR64 released after all three PS1 RR games, but isn’t a straight port of any of them — the game is N64 and DS exclusive (released on the DS as RR DS, but it’s the same game). For courses, RR64 includes both variations on the track from the first Ridge Racer, one new variant based on the RR1 track, the three variants of the track from Ridge Racer Revolution, and three variants based on a new course, for a total of five old and four new variants. This game doesn’t have as many tracks as R4, much less most of the newer RR games (Vita version excepted, of course ), but still, while more tracks would be great, it’s enough to have some decent variety. It’s certainly worlds better than those first two PS1 games. It’s got a lot more to do than those games, too, though again R4 does have a longer campaign. As opposed to the team season championship mode from that game, it’s much simpler in RR64 — you simply have to win a series of individual races. The game’s a couple of dozen races long I believe, beginning to end, so it’s not short, but not as long as R4, or other newer Ridge Racer games, either. The game does try to make up for it with a fairly high difficulty level, and it somewhat succeeds. The game has good production values, too — it looks quite slick. The graphics are at least as good as well, and look quite nice. The game clearly has better visuals than any of the PS1 games. The game also has four player splitscreen (don’t bother looking for that on any other Ridge Racer game! This is the only one with it, I’m pretty sure.), a good number of cars, and more. There are two handling options, but both are classic, drift-heavy Ridge Racer stuff. So, overall, it’s a pretty good classic-style Ridge Racer game. The question is, how much do you like Ridge Racer? I’ve never been much of a fan, myself. Maybe part of it was that I identified it so much with the Playstation, but just looking at this game on its own — and RR64 was my first serious exposure to Ridge Racer — the game’s tough, frustrating, and overly hard. You must win races to progress, and you start far, FAR behind the lead car, so you basically have to race catchup through the whole race, with the hopes of catching the leader late in the race. I prefer racing games where you all start together and have to outrace your competition, as opposed to this stuff… this game’s frustrating. I don’t entirely like the handling, either; the auto-drifts are odd, I don’t really like the style. RR64 may have good graphics, style, and a decent amount of content, but there are plenty of other N64 racing games I’d rather play. Still, overall it’s an okay to good game worth a look. I’ve just always had some issues with the series’ design. It’s better than the DS version for sure — the analog controls make a difference. However, in the end I’d rather play almost any of Midway’s N64 racing games than this… Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Road Rash 64 – Road Rash 64 may be based on an EA property, but sort of like Ridge Racer 64, the game’s actually developed and published by a different studio. The game is okay, but not great, and I find it gets boring after not too long. Road Rash 64 was developed by Pacific Power & Light and published by THQ. The game started out as a port of Road Rash 3D on the Playstation, but it ended up as an entirely different game. Like Road Rash 3D the game has polygonal graphics, but this N64 game has much better graphics than the PS1 game, for sure. The game has decently good 3d. There is fog in the distance, which can be a little distracting, but it’s far enough back that it doesn’t affect gameplay, and the environments are large — you won’t find any rails holding you on the course here, the tracks are surrounded by wide expanses of grass and hills. Many people probably will prefer the 3DO/etc. Road Rash game’s sprites-and-polygons mix, overall, and I probably would agree with that, but this game doesn’t look too bad. The music’s rock music with vocals, which of course fits the motorcycle racing theme well. As for the gameplay, it’s fairly standard Road Rash stuff — you drive through long, one-way courses on a motorcycle, trying to finish first and beating up the other racers along the way. Of course, there are cars and pedestrians to avoid (and run over) as well. The tracks in this game are wide and not always exciting, so the focus really is on fighting over challenging driving. I find driving more interesting than fighting, in this kind of game, so I think I might actually prefer Road Rash 3D to this game, oddly enough. That game’s hideously ugly, but is much more about driving than this. Road Rash 64 enhances the fighting element even more by keeping the field in a tight pack most of the time — there’s usually a lot of bikes all mashed up together whacking on eachother. It’s a decent game. Still though, after a few races I get bored with this game. it’s not bad, but I would have liked it more with harder, more interesting tracks and more emphasis on the racing. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (1 page per player file). Expansion Pak enhanced — it adds an optional High Res mode. High Res mode still has a good, solid framerate, so turn it on.

Roadsters – Roadsters is Titus’s second racing game for the N64, after Automobili Lamborghini. Unlike that game, this one’s multiplatform and can also be found on Dreamcast and Playstation. Expect it to be worse on PSX, and very similar to maybe slightly better on DC, though apparently the DC version is actually missing some graphical elements from the N64 game. The N64 version came first, though, with the other two releasing months later. Titus clearly put some effort into this game, and it’s perhaps their best game on the N64 — yes, it’s an actual quality Titus game! The game does have some signs of being a Titus racing game, though. It’s entirely focused on driving with normal cars, with few gimmicks or frills beyond the nice graphics and car customization. There’s no limited use of turbo, and no realistic handling, weapons, crazy drifting, or anything of the sort here, like with all of their racing games. It’s just standard, generic arcadey racing. They tried to make it sort of a sim, but it really isn’t, many cars have very easy controls. However, even if that’s all it is, it’s somewhat good at it. First, the graphics are quite good — this is a visually impressive game with a good sense of speed and a solid framerate. The graphics might be the best thing about this game, in fact, as each track is full of pretty nice looking environments and scenery. The cars, all licensed, open-roofed roadsters as the title suggests, look great as well. Because all cars are open-roofed, you can see your driver too, so you’ve got a decent selection of drivers to choose from. The game has no fog, too — you can see to the horizon. It’s just too bad that the gameplay’s so much blander than the graphics… Titus almost had something here. However, even if the gameplay’s nothing special, the game’s fun enough that arcadey racing game fans should try it out. It’s worth seeing for sure, and the gameplay’s not bad, just bland. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (13 pages). Expansion Pak enhanced. It doesn’t give you an optional hi-res mode; instead, whatever it does is enabled by default.

Robotron 64 – Robotron 64 is a significantly improved port of Robotron 3D from the Playstation. The most important improvement on the N64 is the camera — instead of being stuck far too close in to the field, on the N64 you can zoom it out and get a good view of the whole field. Very important fix, always use the Arena camera angle! As for the game, it’s a good, but not amazing, update of the all-time classic Robotron 2084. The game has a solid, up-tempo techno soundtrack that fits well with the action. The polygon graphics are just okay, with some somewhat odd art (your character’s a strange-looking guy) and aren’t as timeless as the sprites of the early ’80s classic, but still, it’s a fun game. The game plays like Robotron, as you move around with the analog stick, and fire with the C-buttons. Naturally the N64 controller works well for this; it’s not dual analog, but it’s the next best thing. The game is too easy for too long, and it lets you save after levels too, something that makes it even easier, but even so, it’s fun to just run around and blast robots. Fortunately, the game does finally start to get challenging after level 50, so it eventually puts up a fight. It just takes a while to get there. If you save, of course, you can just keep trying and quickly get through the whole game, so I’d recommend that anyone decent at arena shooters not save except unless you want to stop playing, because otherwise the game’s not challenging enough. Once you get to the tougher parts though, it’s fun. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (16 pages).

Rocket: Robot on Wheels – Rocket: Robot on Wheels is a 3d platformer from Sucker Punch, the team that would go on to make Sly Cooper and be bought by Sony. Their first game was an N64 exclusive, however, and it’s a great one. Rocket is a physics-based 3d platformer. IN the game, you play as a robot who needs to save the futuristic theme park you work in. Each level is themed after something that could be in a theme park, and it’s got good variety. The graphics are somewhat bland, with only average models and a definite draw distance, but the physics modeling and variety make this game much more interesting than just looking at the graphics would suggest. I wasn’t too impressed by this game’s graphics when I got it back in 2000 or so, but I was quite impressed by the gameplay. Your robot has real physics when he jumps, for instance, so you’ll bounce off of things appropriately. You can also use grappling arms, beams to throw balls with, etc, and all of the stuff you interact with bounces and moves as it realistically should. Some pretty cool puzzles result. This game’s usual 3d platformer minigames are as likely to involve something with physics (throwing, or what have you) as anything else, though of course it’s also got plenty of enemies to fight and large worlds to explore. Overall, Rocket’s really a must-play for 3d platformer fans. Sucker Punch made a pretty original game here, and it’s still one of their best works; I like this more than the Sly trilogy, those games are quite good but feel more generic than Rocket does. Rocket’s got more originality, and those original ideas work. One player, on-cart saving.

San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing – San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing is a significantly feature-enhanced conversion of the arcade games San Francisco Rush and SF Rush The Rock: Alcatraz Edition. There’s also a bad Playstation version of the original Rush arcade game, but ignore it — it’s bad, and has none of the N64 version’s added content, so it has less than half the number of tracks and cars, and no coins to find, to name just a few issues. Midway Arcade Treasures 2 does have a straight port of the arcade game, so it has better graphics, but that doesn’t have the coins to find, or multiplayer. As for this version though, it’s great. SF Rush is my favorite racing game series, and the series got off to a very good start on the N64. SF Rush really is one of the N64’s best 1997 racing games; there’s some tough competition that year, but it’s a fantastic game. The game is very, very difficult, with a strict time limit and tough AI that will blow right past you if (when) you mess up, but if you can learn the tracks and actually get good at this game, it’s amazing. I do wish the AI was more dynamic — they mostly just follow a line, and stay fairly close together (and mostly ahead of you until you get good). Oh well. The graphics are okay, but not great; the system would do better later on. Similarly, the music’s alright, but not the best. Still, the environments are large at least, so it is doing a decent amount. The game has a total of seven tracks: the three from the original arcade game, three new tracks designed for this home version, and, hidden away behind an unguessable cheat code, a slightly stripped version of the The Rock track. Yes, the second arcade version Rush The Rock: Alcatraz Edition, was originally planned to have only one new track, Alcatraz. However, they saw the three tracks the N64 team were making, and decided to add those to the arcade game too, so Rush the Rock has seven total tracks. Graphics aside they’re the same here, all long, complex, and full of challenging turns, jumps, and more. The handling is tough and somewhat realistic — you’ll have to learn the courses, these cars won’t turn on a dime. Of course, as is Rush-standard, they also go flying in the air when they hit a jump, and the tracks have plenty of shortcuts, often with jumps on them, to find. All seven tracks are great, and I like Rush handling. The version of Alcatraz was not supposed to be available in a home game yet when this released (they wanted people to go to the arcdes to play that track), so it’s hidden behind a crazy password, but you can find the code on the net now of course. It has some stuff removed, in order to squeeze it into the tiny amount of remaining space on the cartridge, but it’s pretty cool that it’s there. The game also has coins to get in each track, in order to have something to do beyond just trying to get good at this quite challenging game. The coins aren’t available in any other versions, of course. Rush The Rock: Alcatraz Edition is one of my favorite arcade racing games ever, and while the N64 version can’t match its 3DFX-powered graphics, it does play just as well. This is a fantastic game, one of the best. Two players, controller pak saving (16 pages).

Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA – Rush 2 is an N64-exclusive sequel to the first Rush game for the N64. It runs in the same engine as the original game, so expect only a minimal graphical improvement if any. That’s too bad, as Rush 2049 shows, the N64 can do better than tis. The tracks also aren’t as interesting as the first game’s tracks are, either — these tracks are even longer, with fewer shortcuts and more cruel track elements to memorize (stupid walls in the road, where you have to know to turn to a side path!). Car control works pretty much the same as the first game as well, which is great. The game does have some AI improvements over the original game, so it’s not quite as brutally hard, which is nice. Rush 2’s still tough, but not quite AS tough. I like that. Also, as the name suggests, this game’s tracks are set across the USA. San Francisco is a fantastic racing game setting and overall probably can’t be beat as a place to put a racing game, but it’s cool to see some other locations too. The game has quite a few tracks, too — more than the first game had for sure. There are some fun unlockable ones as well, such as one where you drive through a giant version of the Midway offices. This was also the first Rush game to have a Stunt mode, set on its own Stunt course. There’s only one Stunt course, but it’s a big arena full of jumps. You get points based on the types of spins and flips your car does in the air after you launch yourself off of the jumps. The music’s okay, and is similar to the first game’s. There are coins to find again too, to unlock stuff and for additional stuff to do. Some are quite hard to get. It’s outstanding fun, but Rush 2049’s addition of wings makes Rush 2 stunt mode seem somewhat frustrating in comparison… there’s no way to readjust yourself in the air, so you’re just at the mercy of where you go, and that means even more explosions on impact than in Rush 2049. Still, it was a great start. A friend of mine in college loved this game the most of the N64 Rush games, but it’s always been my least favorite… still, it is Rush, so it is a very good game, one of the best. It’s also N64 exclusive, you can’t play this elsewhere! Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (34 pages).

San Francisco Rush 2049 – Before I begin, this is my favorite racing game ever, my favorite third party N64 game, and my most played console game ever. This is a game I still play on a regular basis to this day, and rarely has it not been in my N64 at least once every month or two since I got it in early 2001. Yes, I love this game more than almost any other. As for the game, it is a vastly enhanced arcade port (provided that you’re using an Expansion Pak; you are, right? Use one for this game!). There was another version of this game on Dreamcast, and that version was later ported to the PC, GC, XBox, and PS2 in the Midway Arcade Treasures 3 collection, but while they are similar, there are some differences of note between the N64 and DC versions of the game — the DC version has polygon-wise nearly identical, but sharper, graphics (I will note the differences later), and allows 3-4 players in race mode, while the N64 version is 1-2 only there. It also doesn’t have the slight framerate issues the N64 ver. does in a few places (track 6, most notably). Also, the games have different soundtracks. And lastly, the N64 version allows you to choose the exact colors you want for the three color areas on each car, so you can customize the car’s color scheme to a great extent. On Dreamcast, all you can do is select from one of eight car-wide presets — no direct color customization is available, unfortunately. Anyway, SF Rush 2049 is an exceptional futuristic racing game all around, brilliantly designed, feature-rich, beautiful, and with some of my favorite music ever in videogames, too. There are three major gameplay modes in Rush 2049, plus an unlockable bonus mode. The first mode, from the arcade game, is Race mode (for 1 to 2 players). Second is Stunt mode, for 1 to 4 players; there are no computer opponents, but I have always found it very fun alone anyway. Third is the 2 to 4 player only Battle mode. Last is the unlockable, 1 player only Obstacle Course. In addition to the latter three modes, coins, and different shortcuts, the other major addition versus the arcade version is that the cars have wings now. The wings, extendable by pressing a button, don’t let you fly, but let you control your car in the air, spinning it around or helping level it. Even with wings these cars still blow up on impact all the time (they have quite a propensity to land on their rooves, which of course makes the cars immediately explode, just like in Rush 1 or 2), but the wings help you make things a little easier, or do more exciting stunts. The game’s graphics are outstanding, as good as they get on the N64, pretty much. There are multiple handling options too, but I always use Extreme handling. The game looks incredibly close to the Dreamcast and arcade versions as well. Apart from some missing lighting effects (no projecting headlights on the night races, no car reflection on the car selection disc, no cone of light emanating from a building on track 3), it’s otherwise identical apart from the lower resolution and texture detail (things I find easy to ignore, it looks plenty good). There’s no fog either of course, except as a weather effect. The game’s a futuristic racing game of course (see the title), and has the great techno soundtrack you expect from the genre. The music in the N64 game is similar to the arcade and Dreamcast music, but it is not the same, and, while the N64 game has fewer total music tracks, in my opinion it has the best soundtrack. This music is just so insanely addictive and brilliant, I can listen to it forever. I got kind of hooked to this game back in 2001 when I first played it, I actually broke a TV remote or two tossing them in the air like Rush 2049 cars… So, the music and graphics are about as good as it gets on the N64. There are six tracks available in race mode. Five of the six tracks are significantly shorter than Rush 1 or Rush 2 courses; instead of the long courses of those games, Rush 2049’s tracks are mostly average length. Only one is longer. I think that works fine, though; the tracks in the first two games WERE quite long, I think the game has better pacing here with shorter, but more exciting, tracks. So yes, the game has fewer and shorter tracks than either Rush 1 or Rush 2 have, but the other modes, and great designs of the six that there are, make up for that. All six tracks are just brilliantly designed, and are absolutely jam-packed with shortcuts. The tracks in Rush 1 or Rush 2 had a shortcut here and there, but in Rush 2049, in many tracks you can actually spend a majority of the time off of the main course, provided you’re good enough to handle the shortcuts. The shortcuts are often more challenging than the main track, so it’s very much a risk/reward decision, but they’re lots of fun to find and explore. The tracks are complex and detailed, with buttons to press that change things, moving subways, planes, trolley cars, and trains, ramps, crazy shortcuts, and more. There’s a huge amount to find on each course, and I have more fun driving the tracks in this game than any other racing game. On the note of exploration, there are 16 coins in each Race and Stunt track this time — 8 usually easier to find Silver ones, and 8 harder Gold ones. You’ll unlock bonus cars by getting coins, and the race and stunt coins are separate, so there are a total of six cars to unlock. You’ll get one car in each mode for getting all silvers, half of the golds, and all of the golds. As much as I’ve played the game, I’ve only managed to unlock the two half of the golds cars; I’m close with all silvers, but a few stubbornly difficult ones have always eluded me. It’s really annoying, hopefully I’ll get them sometime. There are four championships in the game, starting with an eight track championship, and ending with a 24 track one (all tracks regular, mirror, reverse, and reverse mirror, that time.). As with the first two games, there’s also a Deaths Mode, where one explosion and you’re done for the race and move on to the next one. I never play with Deaths on in Rush 1 or 2, which is why I didn’t mention it there — with races that long, and without wings, it just makes those games too hard — but I do often play in Rush 2049 with Deaths on. It makes the game harder and more exciting, I think. As for Stunt mode, there are four stunt arenas. Arenas two and four are the best ones by far; 3’s not nearly as good, and 1’s too simplistic. I’ve played dozens of hours of Rush 2049 Stunt mode over the years, racking up millions of stunt points. It’s my favorite stunt mode ever. The last main mode, Battle mode, is multiplayer only and has no bots, unfortunately, so I’ve used it less. It’s too bad they didn’t do bots and make this a whole game, because it’s outstanding! I’d rather play this than any Mario Kart Battle mode, it’s got more arenas (there are eight, four to unlock and four at the start), a bunch of great weapons, and more. It’s just fantastic. Last, the Obstacle Course is a very difficult track you unlock by getting a million stunt points. It’s quite tough to get through, but is a lot of fun. Overall, this game has depth, variety, and overall quality like nothing else. Four player multiplayer (two player only in race mode, four player in stunt and battle modes), controller pak saving (9 pages). Expansion Pak enhanced, and required for some features — without the expansion pak, you’ll have no ingame music (!!!), can’t race on race mode tracks 5 or 6, won’t be able to play the third or fourth circuits as a result, and won’t see the moving objects ingame, such as the planes in track 3 or the cable cars in tracks 1 and 4. Yeah, don’t play this without the expansion pak!

S.C.A.R.S. (Super Computer Animal Racing Simulation) – Also on PC and Playstation, S.C.A.R.S. is essentially a hybrid kart racer and futuristic racing game. The game’s set in the future, and looks like a futuristic racing game, but the heavy weapons focus is more like a kart racer than most futuristic racing games. The game was supposed to have elements of both, and it does. The mix works — S.C.A.R.S. is a good game. The game has good graphics and sound; they’re not the best on the N64, but they’re more tha ngood enough, and it’s a better looking game than a whole lot of N64 racing games for sure. As the full title suggets, the cars all are designed to sort of look like specific animals. The plot here is that the cars are being controlled by supercomputers in the future which entertain themselves by racing against eachother in animal-shaped “cars” in digital environments, so basically you’re playing a videogame in a videogame. Heh… why not. The game’s got a solid amount of content, and is a pretty fun game. S.C.A.R.S. is pretty good, overall. Of course the game can be frustrating sometimes, when you get blown up and lose a race you were going to win, but that’s weapon-based racing… hopefully you’ll have better luck next time. Four player, controller pak saving (32 pages).

Scooby-Doo: Classic Creep Capers – Scooby-Doo: Classic Creep Capers is an N64-exclusive graphic adventure game. Yes, it’s an adventure game. There are a few other Scooby-Doo graphic adventures, including the Genesis game and the GBC game, and this is the other one I know of. In the game, you control Scooby and Shaggy, and have to solve some of the gang’s most classic monster mysteries, as the title suggests. At each site, you explore around looking for clues and items, get help from Fred, Daphne, and Velma in their usual areas of expertise, solve puzzles (mostly involving items), and eventually unmask the crook. Yeah, it’s a classic adventure game. The graphics are only okay, but each location does look like the place it’s supposed to, and it was cool to see these classic Scooby-Doo mysteries turn into a game. It’s not the longest or most challenging adventure game, which is understandable given the audience it’s probably aimed at, but it’s a good game, and anyone who likes console adventure games, or Scooby-Doo, should give it a try. The game will put up some challenge, at times, too; it’s not all easy. It is a pretty simple adventure game overall, but I always have liked the show, so I had some fun with this game anyway. One player, controller pak saving (3 pages).

SD Hiryu no Ken Densetsu (J) [SD Flying Dragon Legend] – SD Hiryu no Ken is Flying Dragon’s sequel. This game is another Japan-only game, and it’s got a big language barrier, because there is absolutely no English text in the game anywhere; it’s 100% Japanese, with some Arabic numerals for numbers. Fortunately there is a guide for the game on GameFAQs. Use it! Otherwise figuring out what to do in the menus will be quite tricky. The game is fun enough to perhaps make it worth the effort, though, though it is unfortunately very easy. As the name suggests, though, this time there is only one gameplay mode, the cute-looking “SD” (super-deformed) mode from the first game; the “Virtual Hiryu” mode, with more realistic, Virtua Fighter-esque, graphics, is gone. In the first game, SD mode had 3d-dodge buttons, while Virtual mode did not, as in VF 1 or 2. This time, you can choose whether you want to be able to enable the 3d-dodge buttons or not. The feature is disabled by default, but I much prefer it on, and that’s how I’ve mostly played the game. SD Hiryu has slightly better graphics and a better framerate than the first game, as well. For the most part it looks similar, but it runs a bit better, which is great; Flying Dragon does have some framerate issues. This game is not as smooth and well-playing as the best 5th gen 3d fighting games, but it is an improvement over the first game, which is good. The game plays alright, though even in “Hard” AI opponents are easy to beat, and in “Normal” I found myself winning almost every single round even on my first time playing the game. As far as modes go, there is a story mode which has you play as the series’ main character guy only. The story is all in Japanese of course, and there isn’t voice acting, but you can at least do the fights and maybe figure a few things out by what’s going on. The GameFAQs guide gives you some story details as well. There is also a tournament mode where you fight the usual eight or so enemies, versus mode, options, training mode, and the like. As in the SD mode in the previous game, you can buy items with the money you win in the various modes. This adds an “RPG” element to the game, as you try to get the better items. Of course, all item descriptions are netirely in Japanese, but the FAQ does have an item list with descriptions, which is nice. The other main unlockable are alternate tournaments for tournament mode. In addition to the basic one, there are seven more unlockable themed tournaments you can get if you do specific things and have certain items. Not bad. There are more characters to play as in this game than the last one as well, and the Virtual-only characters have been brought over into this game, in new superdeformed forms of course. Overall, SD Hiryu no Ken is an okay to good game. It’s slightly better than the first Flying Dragon overall, thanks to the improved framerate most notably. If you like Flying Dragon, definitely check this game out. However, it is easy, and do use that FAQ if you can’t read Japanese. Two player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving.

Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers – Shadowgate 64 is another adventure game, but this one is first-person. The idea of a 3d, first-person graphic adventure is not a common one, but Shadowgate 64 tries it. This game is somewhat controversial among Shadowgate fans, as some like it, but many others definitely do not. I think that it’s a very good, under-rated game. I will admit that the graphics aren’t the best — there’s a lot of fog, for one. I know that some of it’s done to increase the sense of atmosphere, but it IS quite foggy. The art and level design is good, though. But really, the most important thing to realize about Shadowgate 64 is that that this is not a shooter, and that you won’t be killing anything with weapons. Instead, you explore a castle and solve puzzles. Accept that, and it all falls into place. The game’s a definite challenge at times, with some pretty tricky puzzles. Shadowgate 64 has a fantastic sense of atmosphere, as well; the castle can be a creepy place. There aren’t as many ways to die in this game as there are in the original Shadowgate, but there are a decent number, and most players will probably find many of them. Yes, make sure to save. The story of the game is that you play as a halfling who, after a carriage wreck, has ended up in the creepy and dangerous Castle Shadowgate. You have to explore through the place and uncover its mysteries. The plot’s not amazing, but it’s good enough. The castle is of course the real star, though, and I think they did pretty well with it. One player, controller pak saving (30 pages per file).

Shadow Man – Also on PC, Playstation, and Dreamcast, Shadow Man was clearly a massive undertaking. This game is another impressive N64 game from Acclaim, that’s for sure. The game has voiced dialog, a large world, good graphics (with a high res mode), a dark, serious story, and more. Yes, this is a quite mature game, that’s for sure. Shadow Man is based on the comic book of the same name, and stars a black guy in Louisiana who uses the power of a special mask to travel between the land of the living and the land of the dead, with some voodoo powers. The voice actors fit perfectly with the characters, and the story and characters are far more interesting than you might expect; this game’s good. I would recommend using either the paper map that came with the game, or an online map, though — there isn’t a good ingame map, and the world is huge and confusing. You will get lost unless you use one, and the box did come with a map in it. As for the gameplay, it’s part 3d platformer, part 3d action-adventure game. There’s exploration through two different worlds, puzzles to solve, platforms to jump, enemies to fight, story sequences to listen to, and more. This is a big game, and it’ll take some time to get used to and play, but it’s worth it if you take the time. Versus the other versions, the N64 version doesn’t have graphics quite as good as the PC or Dreamcast, and does have too-large save files, but it does have no load times, which is great in a game like this, and really helps make it more fun. One player, controller pak saving (73 pages per file). Note that compared to the size of the cards, these files are much larger than the PSX or DC versions’ save files, for some reason or other. Bad programming? Also, the game lets you choose which file on the card to load, even though the files are too large to fit more than one on a card… Expansion Pak enhanced.

Snowboard Kids 2 – Snowboard Kids 2 is Atlus’s second of the Snowboard Kids games, and like the first, it’s basically a kart racer on snow. Yeah, Snowboard Kids doesn’t play like a traditional snowboarding game at all, but instead is essentially a kart racing game in terms of gameplay. There are fun, crazy courses, a bunch of different weapons to use, a cast of silly, superdeformed (but human) characters, and more. The track designs in this game are pretty good. The graphics are solid too; some tracks look pretty cool, and there’s nice variety. Do quickly learn where the lift is at the bottom of each hill, though — you finish each lap by going into the lift gate to be brought back to the top, and the bottom may be wide, but the gate is small. Aim right for it! This is a very good, recommended game. Years later Atlus made a third Snowboard Kids game, for the DS, and I do like it, but this game’s probably a little better overall, and of course the splitscreen multiplayer is great. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. (Note that Snowboard Kids 1 requires a controller pak to save, and uses 100+ pages of one for its file, too. The first game also has an awful, Japan-only PS1 port, but the second is N64 only.)

Space Invaders – Also on Playstation and PC, this Activision Space Invaders remake is a good game. While it’s made by Activision and not Taito, the game’s clearly Space Invaders, and has some elements you’ll also find in newer Taito Space Invaders games like Revolution or Extreme. For instance, one of the key new mechanics in this game is one where if you kill several enemies of the same type in a row, you get a powerup. You’ll find that exact same system in both of those newer Space Invaders games, and it’s a good one in all of them. The 2.5d graphics are unique to this game, but Activision did a pretty good job with this one. It plays like Space Invaders should, and is quite fun. The N64 version’s basically the same as the others, so don’t expect major changes. Like all of the late ’90s classic remakes, this Space I don’t have the other one, Invaders game does eventually end, so you can actually win this time. I like that a lot, I much prefer being able to beat games. On any platform though, it’s a good game. Also, it’s great that this game was released on the N64 — most of the other 5th gen classic remakes are from Hasbro, though, who sadly only minimally supported the N64, only releasing Glover and Monopoly. Of the classic remakes during that era, only the two Activision ones (Asteroids Hyper 64 is the other) and one Namco one (Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness) came to this system. Two player multiplayer, controller pak (2 pages) to save. The game supports cards in any controller port, but only will read the first port with a card in it when you turn the system on during play — so have your card with the save file in the lowest-numbered controller with a controller pak in it when you turn the system on.

Space Station Silicon Valley – First for the N64, there’s also a worse, Europe-only Playstation version. This game was one of DMA Design’s two N64 games, along with Body Harvest. Neither one looks as good as the average N64 game did by the time of their releases in 1998, but both are pretty good games well worth playing. This one is a 3d platformer with some somewhat unique game design. SSSV has a silly, entertaining story with an amusing intro cutscene. The idea here is that you’re on a spaceship full of robotic animals, and control a small computer chip which can take over and control any of the animals. Each one has different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, so you use each as they are needed, and then switch to another one when it dies or when you want to use something else. The different creatures are fun to play as, and the game’s good. The game has a good number of puzzles, too, as you often have to figure out what to do next, what animal to use, where, and how. You can also go around as the chip itself, but don’t do that for long… it dies easily. Oh, due to a bug, the game is impossible to complete 100%. Oops. It’s still a good game overall, worth a try. One player, on-cart saving. Note that some people have problems with this game with an Expansion Pak in your system, though I haven’t had any myself.

Star Fox 64 – Star Fox 64 is the N64’s premiere rail shooter, and also one of Nintendo of Japan’s few attempts at the genre. Fortunately, they did the genre right. No, it would be better to say that they just about mastered it. Star Fox 64 is one of the all-time greatest rail shooters. It was brilliant back in 1997, and it still is. The game has it all — good gameplay, graphics, sound, controls, and everything else. It’s the total package. As the space mercenary Fox McCloud, you need to lead your group of humanoid animals to save the day from the evil Andross. Fully voiced and complete with an epic soundtrack, the game has a suitably space-epic feel that adds to the presentation. First, the controls are pretty much perfect. They got them right, and htey’re quite a bit better than the original SNES Star Fox, too (having a targeting cursor all the time makes a huge difference, for one thing!). The game’s a traditional-style arcade game, so there’s no saving a game in progress, or unlimited continues — you’ll need to play all seven or so missions through. I think this works well enough, and the game’s not too long to play through in one sitting. As for difficulty, the game is challenging, but doable; it’s hard, but not so hard that having to start over if you fail makes you want to quit. Instead, it just makes you want to try again, and get it right this time. The game does save things like scores and stuff you’ve unlocked. The game has two main modes. The first are standard rail-shooter levels, on railed paths. The second are free-flight arenas, where you have full control of your movements as you fight a boss or dogfight in a limited space. The mixture of styles works well, and both types hold up. Also, the game has branching paths, so that your path through the game depends on your play. Play better, and figure out how to get “Mission Accomplished” intead of “Mission Complete” on each mission, and you’ll be rewarded with the option of turning to the harder level path. There are two different final missions, depending on which path you take to it, and two endings. I love this dynamic branching system, it works very well and is a real advance over the preset paths of the original Star Fox. Also adding to the replay value of this otherwise short game is that if you get enough kills in each mission you’ll earn a medal on the mission. Get all the medals to unlock a harder mode and some extra stuff in multiplayer, and get THOSE medals for the final unlockables, if you can! As for flaws, the graphics are fine for 1997, but the system would do better later. However, the good art design still holds up very well. Also, I never liked this game’s multiplayer battle mode much at all; it’s as much frustrating as it is fun, and overall I’d rather play other games instead of this. Finally, you do need a fair amount of time to play each game, given that there is no saving your progress. But apart from that, Star Fox 64 is truly exceptional, and is right up there with Sega’s best rail shooters (and the Sin & Punishment games) at the peak of the genre. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Starshot: Space Circus Fever – This is an N64 and PC only 3d platformer. The game is generally disliked, with mediocre to poor reviews, but while I would agree that the game clearly has some design and budget problems, Starshot is also a pretty original, unique game. You simply don’t see things like Starshot anymore, unfortunately. Anyone who likes interesting, unique 5th gen 3d platformers like Rocket or Glover should definitely give Starshot a try. The game’s definitely on the short side, but it’s interesting enough while it lasts to make it worth a play. In Starshot, you play as a member of a futuristic space circus who has to, of course, save the day. You’ll be given a series of missions, across several different planets (with each planet serving as a stage), as you attempt to save the circus and stop the people trying to put you out of business. You don’t just run and jump in this game, missions are more varied than that. The graphics and sound here are average, but decent; they’re good enough, but won’t really impress either. At least the art design’s somewhat interesting. Level designs in Starshot are pretty good. They’re large and spread out, with plenty of floating platforms, tricky jumps, and areas to explore. Levels are big (for the time) and not entirely linear, so on occasion it can be a little hard figuring out where to go next, but it’s not too bad; just explore around, and you’ll figure it out. I think that Starshot’s flaws, like the short length, minor bugs (a few times I had to restart levels because of bugs. Kind of annoying.), occasionally annoying platforming, and sometimes confusing objectives caused many people to write this game off, but I found myself liking this quite a bit. It’s flawed, sure, but it’s interesting and unique, and I like the character, gameplay, and level designs. Starshot’s a better game than its mediocre reviews or forgotten reputation would suggest. One player, on-cart saving.

Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth – One of the only traditonal scrolling shmups on the N64, Star Soldier Vanishing Earth may not have a lot of competition in its field, but even so, it is a pretty good game. A sequel to the classic NES and TG16 Star Soldier games, Vanishing Earth is the final Star Soldier game with a full single player game. The game has a main arcade/story mode, Two and Five minute modes (commonly seen features in Hudson shmups), and some hidden stuff to find too. The game’s a 2.5d shmup with average at best graphics (as in most all of Hudson’s titles), but good gameplay. The voice acting’s cheesy electronic-computer-voice stuff, and can be amusing. As for the gameplay, each level is solidly long and varied. There are three hidden levels to find, too, scattered through the game, if you can figure out how to alter your route to end up at them. The game’s mostly a conventional shmup, though you don’t have multiple weapons here — you choose one of three ships at the start, and each has one weapon. One ship has a laser, another a spread shot, etc. The three have different speeds, too. The game’s fun to play. The gameplay’s a bit more original than the presentation is, though, and has two original gameplay twists that make Vanishing Earth feel unlike most other shmups. First, the game has a timer-based combo system. That is, as long as you keep shooting enemies before the bar empties, your combo will increase. Once you fail to hit anything for a second, you’ll get the bonus and it resets. You don’t have much time to keep the combo going, so high combo scores will need practice and memorization. It’s a pretty cool system, and definitely adds something to the game. Second, the game has a deflection system called Rolling. There are two options here — either you can bounce back bullets for a moment automatically, when you press a button (but there’s a delay, so you can only use this once every few seconds), or you can set a mode where you activate the Rolling shield by quickly turning from right to left (that is, the shield activates when you switch direction while moving). This one has no delay, but will take more practice to get good with. I also find it easier to use with the analog stick than the d-pad, so I usually play this game with the stick, because I prefer the second Rolling option. Oh, you have two different super-shot variants, too, one that shoots forward, and another that shoots everything on screen. Use each as appropriate. Overall, Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth is a good game. Sure, it’s not the best shmup ever, but it is a good game. Hudson was known for consistently making good shmups, and this one is no exception. One player, on-cart saving.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – Shadows of the Empire was an early N64 game, and was one that Nintendo hyped up before the system’s release. It was also on PC, but not other consoles. Shadows of the Empire has several different gameplay styles, from level to level, but it’s essentially one half third person shooter, one half miscelaneous vehicular stages. The vehicular stages include one where you fly a snowspeeder on Hoth, which helped inspire the better Rogue Squadron series, one where you drive through Tatooine on a speeder bike, and some rail-shooter or cockpit-gunner style levels. The vehicular levels are all at least moderately fun, and sometimes are pretty good, but the third person shooter side of the game struggles more. SotE simply is a very early game, and it shows. The controls aren’t very good, first — this is far from Turok’s level of great controls, that’s for sure, and there’s not much that can be done to improve them. The graphics are repetitive, too — most of that first snow base level looks pretty similar. Sure, I’m not a FPS/TPS fan, but I like some of these games for sure… this isn’t one of the better ones. I like it because it’s Star Wars, and for the vehicular stages, but this is the weakest of the N64 Star Wars games for sure (It’s still better than several of the PS1 ones, though!). One player, on-cart saving.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was Factor 5’s first Nintendo-platform game since 1995’s Super Turrican 2 on the SNES, and it’s a great one. Also on PC, Rogue Squadron was a big hit when it released in late 1998, and it’s easy to see why. First, the game has pretty good graphics which are even better with an Expansion Pak in. The game looks great. Second, the gameplay is great as well. Rogue Squadron is an arcadey flight combat game, and you fly vehicles throughout. Don’t expect PC Star Wars sim controls here — this is pure arcade handling as you fly around and blast the enemies. Expect challenge, but not complex controls, as always with Factor 5’s flight action games. I like Star Wars sims a lot, even more than I do Rogue Squadron, but still, it’s a good formula that worked well. The story’s pretty simplistic too, basic Star Wars stuff that takes you through some of Luke Skywalker’s missions with Rogue Squadron during the war against the Empire, but it’s good enough to do; this kind of game doesn’t need much plot. What plot there is fully voiced with high quality voice acting, as always with Factor 5’s N64 games. Every mission in the game is well designed, challenging, and fun, with plenty of replay value as you go back and try to get better medals. You will only get a medal once you meet the requirements in every category, so while the main game isn’t too long, trying to get all of the medals as high as you can, and unlocking the hidden levels that will result once you get bronze, silver, or gold medals on all the levels, is quite a steep challenge. Rogue Squadron does have better graphics on the PC than it does here on N64, and also is graphically exceeded by its quasi-sequel Battle for Naboo, but even so, it’s still a pretty good game, and certainly highly recommended. One player, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced. This was one of the first wave of Expansion Pak enhanced titles to release in late 1998, along with NFL QB Club ’99, Top Gear Overdrive, and Turok 2.

Star Wars: Episode I Racer – Also on PC and Dreamcast, Episode I Racer is probably the most popular and successful game based on the Episode I universe (unless Lego Star Wars beat it out, that is). The game deserves its success, but there are a few issues holding it back from being quite as great as it could have been, and sometimes is. But first, the good. Episode I Racer may not look quite as good as the PC or DC versions, but it’s an absolutely beautiful game, particularly with an expansion pak — this game really is a visual stunner. Some tracks, such as the oens going through an asteroid, complete with zero-g segments, are particularly impressive. There aren’t too many N64 racing games that look much better than this. In addition, the gameplay is well thought out, challenging, and technical. You have good, somewhat realistic control over your pod, and will gain altitude off jumps, need to manage the heat on both engines, and more. There’s even a dual-controller mode where you control one engine with each analog stick, if you want to control it tank-style. Pretty cool. The game’s also solidly long, with plenty of races to try to win, a lot of different podracers to choose from and unlock, and many upgrade parts to buy for your pods. You win money by winning races, and can upgrade pods with those proceeds. All of the racers from the film are here and more, and there are 24-25 tracks, too! And they’re not short, either — Episode I Racer tracks are often as long as several minutes long per lap, in fact, so races often will take a while. That leads to the negatives of the game, however. First and foremost, Episode I Racer is a very hard game. The game is unforgiving, cruel, and brutally tough, with unfair AI that will leave you behind with no hope of catching up if you mess up at all, by later points in the game. With races this long, that’s a lot of chances to mess up, and yes, in many cases one single mistake can doom the entire race. There are no blue shells here to get you out of trouble. I’ve never managed to get past the middle of the third circuit; Grabvine Gateway is my nemesis, or something. This makes the game quite frustrating. Even worse is the second track of the fourth circuit, Abyss… that track is simply insane. The first turn is a twin-layer track. If you fall, or are pushed, off, in this part, on any of the three laps, that’s it — you’re on a much longer course, and have no chance of finishing above 9th or 10th (because there are two or three computers who always hang around you, no matter where you are; I did mention that the AI’s cheating stuff, didn’t I?). Yeah, it’s frustrating to say the least. It’s also kind of too bad that the game is just two player only, not four. Still, this game is probably worth playing despite the occasionally questionable track designs, the AI, and the sometimes too-long laps in some tracks. Ep. I Racer has both good and bad elements, and I both love its good elements, and hate its bad ones. Overall it is a pretty good, and impressive, game, but I do have some qualifications on that. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced.

Star Wars: Battle for Naboo – Also on PC. Battle for Naboo is Factor 5’s second and last Star Wars flight combat game on the N64, and essentially is the second “Rogue Squadron” game. The game was popular but not quite as successful as the first Rogue Squadron, but Factor 5 showed off all of their ability in N64 graphics and sound here. Indeed, this game makes the first Rogue Squadron look kind of ugly in comparison — the texture work’s among the system’s best, and there’s even more voice acting too. There are even hidden developer commentary tracks on each level, unlockable with a cheatcode! Impressive stuff for sure. The gameplay’s just as good, or better, than the first Rogue Squadron’s is, as well. Once again you fly around in Star Wars vehicles, blowing up enemies and protecting convoys, but this time, in addition to the Episode I setting, you also have a lot of ground missions, where you’re controlling hover-tanks and the like. Some people don’t like these ground vehicle missions, but I think they’re plenty fun, and don’t mind them at all. The game’s similar in length to the first Rogue Squadron, and has just as much replay value as well, as you attempt to get better medals in the missions in order to unlock the hidden levels. As always, beating the game once may not take very long, but mastering the missions and getting good medals will be a serious task. Perhaps because it’s an Episode I game, doesn’t say “Rogue Squadron” in the name, and came out in late 2000 the game was overlooked by some people, but BfN is one worth going back to! Even better than the first Rogue Squadron game, BfN is perhaps the N64’s best flight combat game. One player, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced.

Super Mario 64 – Super Mario 64 is one of the most imporatant, and best, games of its generation. A true revelation when it released in 1996, Nintendo has made some more great 3d Mario games in more recent years, most notably the Super Mario Galaxy series, but despite that, Super Mario 64 is still a great game, and one of the great 3d platformers. For a long time this was my favorite 3d platformer ever. It may still be, but I do have to admit that Mario Galaxy’s tough competition… I’m not sure which one I like more overall, honestly. Also, while Mario 64 looked absolutely amazing in 1996, and still does hold up well visually, in some ways the game does show its age, for the platform. For instance, something like DK64 has polygonal trees, not sprite-based ones like Mario 64. The game has larger levels, too, as do many later N64 3d platformers (much less newer ones). Even so, don’t under-estimate Mario 64 — the game’s still absolutely brilliant, and a surprisingly solid challenge as well. Mario 64 set many 3d platformer standards, including in game design (such as the star-collecting concept), level design (such as having larger, open level, instead of linear paths), and more, and the game’s still incredibly fun to play throughout. Like most 3d platformers that generation enemies are less common than they were in 2d games in the genre, but while that is kind of too bad, Mario 64 tries to make up for that with great level designs and lots to do, and it succeeds. As with all Mario 3d platformers, and unlike many others, Mario 64 has strict missions — once you go into a stage, you’ve got one specific task to do in order to get that star. You can’t just wander around and get the stars in any order, as you could in, say, a Rare 3d platformer. This focuses you, and I think works well. And as I said, the game is a good challenge, too. All of the 3d Mario games have a solid challenge level to them, but it started off here for sure. With some work it’s not too hard to beat the final boss, but if you want every star, expect to spend quite a bit of time with this one. I never actually did that, I must admit, I’ve never gotten all of them… oh well. Overall though, it’s kind of hard to judge Mario 64 objectively, for me; this game is one that completely blew my mind when I first heard of, and played, it in 1995-1996. Whomp’s Fortress was the first level of the game I ever played, in a store demo, and it’s probably still my favorite. However, while when I finally got my N64 and this game in 1999 I could tell that it’d aged a bit compared to how amazing I’d thought it was a few years earlier (I definitely liked OoT more than Mario 64, and I got both with the system), it’s hard to forget that first impression… and it really is an exceptional game, too; it’s not just nostalgia, it’s still one of the best in the genre. One player, on-cart saving.

Super Smash Bros. – Super Smash Bros. was Nintendo’s first fighting game using its mascot characters, and spawned an ongoing, very successful series, too. Well, the series got off to a great start: SSB is an outstanding 2.5d fighting game. The main problem it has is that compared to SSB Melee, it’s clearly dated and much slower paced… not everyone will want to go back to this, after playing the newer ones. The character selection is also a lot more limited than in either of the later games, too. Still, even if it’s somewhat dated in comparison to its sequels, the first SSB is not without merit. Taken on its own, it’s an outstanding game, with fantastic gameplay, a clever concept, and brilliant design. The idea of making a fighting game that is both accessible to anyone, and also deep for those that wish to spend the time to learn it, was a good idea, and they really pulled it off. Concepts like only reducing enemy lives by ring-outing them, instead of just by draining a health bar, and in not having traditional special moves to memorize, but instead moves that just involve a single direction and button press, give the game unique, fun, and yet deep gameplay. For there is depth here, both in learning the moves, and in learning to use Smashes effectively, and in learning the shield as well. But how much worth playing is this compared to Melee or Brawl? I do think that it’s fun to return to once in a while, because of the very different pacing, but yes, the sequels are overall better games. Even so, this first one’s great too. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Supercross 2000 (EA Sports) – Note – there is a PSX game with this same name, but the two are different games, and this one got better reviews. Anyway, Supercross 2000 from EA Sports is the N64’s most realistic motorcycle racing game. It’s a supercross game, as the name suggests, so expect to drive around large dirt arenas. The game’s okay, but I find the graphics and gameplay both fairly bland. I much prefer a more “fun” experience, to this more realistic one, and like open-course designs a lot more than motocross or supercross arenas, so I’d rank Excitebike 64 and Top Gear Hyper-Bike well above this game. Still, it is an okay to good game and as good a supercross game as you’ll find on a 5th gen system, I think. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (6 pages for the setup file, 23 pages per season).

Tarzan (Disney’s) – Playstation port. This N64 version loses the video clips from the movie, as you’d expect, but otherwise it’s a quite good game. This is a solid, fun 2.5d platformer, with good level designs and plenty of fun. The difficulty level’s probably on the low side, but it’s a good game. This game’s not as well known as it should be; it’s one of the N64’s relatively few sidescrollers, and it’s a solid, fun one. One player, controller pak saving (2 pages).

Tetrisphere – Tetrisphere started out as an Atari Jaguar game, but Nintendo saw the project and decided to buy the rights as an N64 exclusive, and then pasted the Tetris name onto it in order to sell more copies, I assume. Well, I think it worked, because Tetrisphere’s one of the N64’s more popular puzzle games. It deserves to be, as this is a great game. Tetrisphere isn’t much at all like Tetris, but it is original and really fun. In Tetrisphere, your goal is to break through a “sphere” made of blocks in order to reveal the core inside. You play by spinning around the sphere and dropping blocks, which will be destroyed when they’re touching enough of the same shape. Yeah, not much like Tetris at all. What it is, however, is frenetic, sometimes crazy fun. Tetrisphere’s a very good game. The game has a solid number of modes and options, too, so it’ll last a decently long time. (Oh, I put “sphere” in quotes because it’s far from clear the thing’s actually a sphere… it could be something else, just distorted to look like one thanks to the camera.) Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Tigger’s Honey Hunt – Tigger’s Honey Hunt is a 2.5d platformer, and while it is quite easy, it’s actually kind of fun. As the name suggests, in this game you play Tigger, the tiger from Winnie the Pooh. While most Winnie the Pooh games are basic educational games for little kids, though, this one is a real platformer, and yes, it’s alright. The main game is, that is; the minigames are unfortunately horrible. Yeah, do NOT play this for multiplayer. In the main game, Tigger’s Honey Hunt has you bouncing through a somewhat short quest as you, as Tigger, have to find Pooh’s honey (sorry, hunney), since, as always, he messed up and spilled Pooh’s honey. Your goal in each level is collecting enough of the honey to unlock the next stage. Tigger can jump, but also can bounce high on his coil tail. You’ll have to explore each level reasonably well in order to get everything, though this is at its core a linear platformer. There are only nine levels, though, so this is a short game. Still, there’s a little replay value if you don’t manage to find all of the honey on the first try; this generally isn’t that hard, but for the target audience here it’s probably perfect. You also do get a few more abilities during the game that will have you going back to the earlier levels if you want to get all the honey. But even for adults, even if the game is far too short and easy, I found it a fun game. Tigger’s Honey Hunt has decent to good graphics, too. You can tell that this is a multiplatform title and that it doesn’t really push the N64, but still, it looks good. I like the graphics, you couldn’t do 5th gen 3d Pooh characters much better than this. There aren’t many 2d or 2.5d platformers on the N64, so it’s great that this one was released. Unfortunately, the sound is weak. There is no voice acting in the cutscenes, so children will have to be able to read for this one (or have someone read it for them). On PS1 there are voices, but they didn’t want to pay for a larger cartridge to fit them in this release, I presume. Too bad. Also the game is only a few hours long, with somewhat limited replay value. And last, those minigames really are bad. There are only three of them, and they are Simon Says, Rock Paper Scissors, and a really tedious “watch sticks float down a river” game. That’s it — pretty bad! Still, overall, Tigger’s Honey Hunt is a fun little game. If it’s cheap, it’s worth checking out, I think. It won’t take long to play through, and it’s a simple, fun game while it lasts. Four player multiplayer (minigames only; main game is single player only), on-cart saving. Also on PS1.

Tonic Trouble – Also on PC, Tonic Trouble was delayed a bit too long to be popular. That is, the game was originally supposed to come out first, but instead released after Rayman 2. The two games are similar, both 3d platformers with linear-path stage designs and limbless heroes, but Rayman 2 is quite simply the better game. Of course, Rayman 2 is also one of the greatest 3d platformers ever, so being worse than Rayman 2 isn’t TOO much of an insult. And indeed, Tonic Trouble is a good, fun game. The game’s got some definite similarities to Rayman 2, but it’s its own game too, with its own style and gameplay. In the game you play as a robot who needs to recover the parts to his ship, which were lost on the Earth. Unfortunately, it won’t be so simple… you’ll face plenty of opposition as you try to collect them all. The level designss are solid, with a good amount of variety and challenges for your robot to face. I think this game would have been fairly successful had it released before Rayman 2, instead of after it. One player, controller pak saving (15 pages).

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 – A port of the Playstation version of this multiplatform title, Tony Hawk 3 released nine months after the previous N64 release and is the system’s last game. However, that doesn’t make it one of its best; this is a pretty straight Playstation port, much like the first two N64 Tony Hawk games. It does have voiced rock music for a soundtrack, like only a handful of other N64 games, but yeah, this is a port for sure. The graphics are average at best, and the gameplay’s standard original Tony Hawk stuff — you have a couple of minutes in each stage to do as many tricks as you can. I may love Rush 2049’s stunt mode, but I never got into these skateboarding games when I was younger, so I’m not very good at them at all. As a result, I can’t really get far into these games… Two player, controller pak saving (24 pages per player file, 96 pages per replay). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Top Gear Rally – Top Gear Rally was the first N64 Top Gear game, and it’s probably the most popular one, too. I think that all four games deserve to be pretty popular, because they’re all great games that are among teh N64’s best racing games, but with this first release, teh series certainly was off to a great start. Top Gear Rally is from Boss Games, and it was their first of four N64 racing games. The game’s a lap-based rally racing game. There are about six tracks, and you go through them in many seasons as you progress through the main championship mode. The game gives you a new set of three or so cars each season, each with better stats until you get the best ones late in the game. The game has pretty good graphics, good track designs, and very well thought out controls and handling. The game’s not a sim, and is a fast-paced, fun driving game, but it’s not entirely arcadey either; Boss Games liked having at least somewhat realistic controls in most of their games, and this one does have that. This is one of the generation’s better rally-car games. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (The required notes are 1 pages for Options and 2 pages for the Season file. Other optional notes will fill up a card with things such as custom car painting skins. Yes, you can entirely customize your car’s entire skin, if you want to dedicate a memory card to the design.).

Top Gear Overdrive – From Snowblind Studios, Top Gear Overdrive wasn’t as successful or high-prominence as its predecessor, but it’s also a very good game. This is a quite different kind of game from Rally, though. First, you are driving normal cars, on pavement mostly, not rally cars on dirt. The game’s very fast too, with a quick pace and classic Top Gear gameplay. Indeed, of the four N64 Top Gear games, this one is the most like the great SNES games. It is clearly its own thing, but Snowblind took inspiration from those classics, and it worked out very well. The game looks great, too, particularly in the expansion pak required full screen high res mode. Beautiful graphics. All six or so tracks are well designed and have shortcuts. This game has rock music with vocals, too, a rarity in 1998 for this system. The game’s only real downside is that it’s not very long; this game doesn’t have a campaign that’ll last nearly as long as Rally does. Indeed, the game’s over all too soon… but while it lasts it’s great fun. It’s a classic driving game, and it’s a good one. Overdrive is something of a hidden gem, and is one of the best of the N64 Top Gear games. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced.

Top Gear Rally 2 – The third Top Gear Rally game is from yet another developer; this time it’s from Saffire. Saffire set out to make a rally sim here, and they succeeded. Top Gear Rally 2 is a much more realistic simulation of rally driving than the first Top Gear Rally was. It’s got long, one-way courses, instead of lap tracks like Rally 1; it’s got more realistic handling and car customization options (including parts to buy and such, too); and it’s got some car damage and repair systems, too. Your car really can break and become barely functional, so watch out for rocks! The game controls well, and it’s pretty fun to play. The tracks are interesting, and feel like they’re all pieced together from a bunch of different parts, so every track in each environment is different, but they share many chunks, just in different orders. Obviously that system was done in order to give the game more variety of courses without individually desigining dozens of tracks, and it does work reasonably well, even if it means slightly repetitious graphics. This system is very much like the one used in Cruis’n World and Exotica in their lap, and extended, versions of the tracks. Oh, this game has license tests of a sort, too. Fortunately, they’re not TOO hard and frustrating, and only some are required; the rest are there for if you want to challenge yourself. The game has pretty good graphics as well; it’s definitely a nice looking game for its generation. Overall, a good game worth playing. It’s different from the first Top Gear Rally game, and it’s probably not quite as good on the whole, but even so it is a good game in its own right. Four player multiplayer. controller pak saving (6 pages). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Top Gear Hyper-Bike – Snowblind’s second Top Gear game, Hyper-Bike was somewhat rushed, and had some features cut during development. Originally the game was supposed to have four player support and on-cart saving, but sadly both were axed. Kemco apparently wanted to get the game out as early in 2000 as they could, unfortunately — the first three N64 Top Gear games released late in their years, but Hyper-Bike was a spring title. Even so, despite the cuts, Snowblind did manage to put together a pretty good game here. I came into this game with the lowest expectations I had for any of the four N64 Top Gear games, because of its not quite as good reviews, but this game surprised me — it’s actually a lot of fun! Top Gear Hyper-Bike is a fun motorcycle racing game, where you drive through outdoor environments, and not traditional, less interesting in my opinion, motocross or supercross courses. The game has good graphics, and good, long track designs as well. There’s also a stunt system, as you’d expect, and in some modes you do get points for stunts. The tracks have plenty of shortcuts, some with jumps on them, so you can get some air and try some tricks. Hyper-Bike isn’t quite as good, or as varied, as Excitebike 64, certainly, but it is a pretty good game even so, and is worth playing for sure. Play Excitebike 64 first, but don’t pass on at least trying this one. Two player, controller pak saving (35 pages). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Tsumi to Batsu: Hoshi no Keishousha – Sin and Punishment [Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Earth] (J) – Sin and Punishment is surely the best-known and most popular N64 game that was not released outside of Japan. The game is a rail shooter (of sorts) by Treasure, and it’s a quite good game as well. The game even is fully voice acted in English. The anime-esque story is confusing, and the ending in this N64 version has some text-only Japanese in it, but still, it IS mostly in English. However, some idiots at Nintendo decided that they wouldn’t release the game outside of Japan, despite how badly me and so many other people wanted the game, and that was that. This was the N64 import game I really wanted, but could not have gotten, or afforded, back then; I wouldn’t even have a credit/debit card until the mid ’00s, never mind a way to import games from Japan. So yeah, Nintendo was stupid. I ended up looking up how to play N64 games emulated just to play this game, but always wanted to own the real thing too. Even after I got a Wii, and picked up the US Wii Virtual Console release of the game, I still wanted the actual cartridge. Well, I finally got it, complete in box. It cost about $40 shipped, but that’s what it costs now. I do think that VC release cut the price of the game in half, though, which is good; it used to cost even more. It’s easy to see why when you play the game, though. Sin & Punishment is not a perfect game, though, Most importantly, it’s way too short — there are only three levels, each made up of three stages. That’s not many, and not all of the levels are equally great, either. However, when it’s good it’s very, very good, and that makes up for the flaws. The game also keeps me coming back to try to get better scores. This is a Treasure game, and it’s got some depth to it to make players want to keep playing it, try harder difficulty levels, and get better scores. That’s good, when a game is as short as this one is. Still, the game needed more stages. Only nine, and one of the last ones is a random side-scrolling stage which isn’t quite as great as the rail-shooter levels are? Plus the last stage is just the final boss fight, no more. It’s a long boss fight, but still, all in all the games’ length is disappointing. As for modes, the game has a main story mode (with saving), difficulty selection, some minor hidden options to unlock depending on which difficulty level you beat the game on, a training mode to help you through the controls, and high-score tables for each stage and difficulty. There is multiplayer, if someone hits start on controller two, but it just lets controller two control the cursor and fire, nothing more. Pretty disappointing.

Sin and Punishment is a rail shooter, but it is not a conventional one. Instead of flying a spaceship forward, Star Fox style, instead this is more like Jet Force Gemini bossfights, or perhaps Wild Guns and such on the SNES — you move a character on a 2d plane in front and can run or jump to avoid projectiles, while also moving a cursor around the screen to shoot at enemies. This game isn’t a static-screen game, though; instead, you’re usually moving forward. Sometimes the screen will stick for a while while you fight some tougher enemy, or a boss of course, but usually you’re moving forward, either on the ground somewhere or on some flying platform. So, it is indeed a rail shooter. You use the analog stick to aim, and the C-buttons to move. R jumps, and A switches between lock-on fire (with lower damage) or aimed fire (with higher damage). The controls take getting used to — learning how to use R with the C-buttons and analog stick all at the same time isn’t easy. I honestly find the controls even harder to use on the Gamecube controller (with the Wii VC release), though. X or Y to move left and right, plus R to jump? Argh! Not comfortable. And I like the C-stick even less. So, even though the controls are kind of odd, I do think that the N64 version has the better control setup. It’s easier to use the C-buttons plus R than the various GC or CC options. And yes, jumping is very important. Once you get used to it, the controls do work well, and the gameplay is somewhat unique and plays great. Indeed, the great gameplay is why this game is so good, despite the various issues the game has. As for graphics and sound, the graphics are good, but not really great. This game looks good, but the N64 can do better. Some stages, most notably 2-2, the flying battle against an enemy fleet, look great, but others are less impressive. I’d have liked to see more stages like 2-2. Still, overall the graphics are decently good. The art design is great, as well. I like the box-art quite a bit. Enemy and boss designs also are often pretty good. The music is reasonably good, and it’s cool that the voice acting is in English. You probably won’t remember the music after playing, though.

Returning to the story, in Sin and Punishment you play as two teenage resistance fighters, Saki (a boy) and Airan (a girl). They are led by Achi, a girl with mysterious powers and an unknown agenda. Monsters called “Ruffians” are attacking the Earth, and yet again things are not looking good for Japan. The resistance is fighting Ruffians, while other enemy forces are using Ruffian powers instead. They are a private military corporation here to crush resistance, I believe; I’m not entirely sure. At the beginning of the game, their troops wipe out some other resistance bases, leaving only the three characters to continue their fight. Achi has her own secrets, which you learn later in the game, but the story isn’t really the main draw here; it’s okay, if you like dark anime-esque plots, and when you when you can actually figure out what’s going on, but it’s not great. It would be nice if it made more sense without having to go read online about what was happening, though. Ah well. You play the first and third levels as Saki, and only the second as Airan. No, you cannot choose who you play as, it’s all preset according to the story. That’s too bad; the sequel (Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for Wii) lets you choose either of that games’ two characters during the game. Better. That game has a LOT more content than this one, too, and probably is the better game overall. Still, the first Sin & Punishment is a great game. The game has some flaws, most importantly the short length but also the learning curve on the controls, the lack of good multiplayer, no character selection allowed, etc., but the action is fast and furious, the game design somewhat original, and the game fun and high quality overall. This is a good game, and I don’t regret getting the N64 version. I’ve always wanted it, and now I finally have it. The game definitely is not perfect, but it is good. Two player multiplayer (limited), on-cart saving.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter – Also on PC. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was one of the more successful third party N64 games early in its life. The game’s a very high quality, innovative (for consoles, particularly) first person shooter. Turok set the standard in N64 FPSes in many respects, the first being controls. The game uses the analog stick for aiming, and the C-buttons for moving. This system works fantastically well, and in my opinion is one of the best FPS control schemes. I think digital movement works really well, myself, and it’s easy to get used to moving with the left side and moving with the right. Beyond the controls, Turok also had good graphics. The game does have a relatively close draw distance with a lot of fog, as with many games at that point in time on any console, but you can see far enough to see enemies coming at you, and the game has good visuals with huge, detailed levels, lots of dinosaurs and humans to kill, and a lot of different weapons to use too. The game’s a challenge, and the save points are pretty far apart, and you do have limited lives, but it’s a pretty good game. The challenge serves more to make you want to keep trying, instead of to just give up. The levels are mostly set in the jungle or in caves, but there’s enough variety that the game keeps looking interesting. There are jumping puzzles in this game, too — get used to jumping in first person, you’re going to need to be good at it. Failure is punished harshly in this game. It’s not too bad, but it does take some getting used to. Turok was quite a game in 1997, and while it has many sequels, and FPSes have changed a lot since then, the game’s still a great game. One player, controller pak saving (16 pages).

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil – Also on PC. Turok 2 was highly anticipated at the time, and it’s a huge, epic game that goes beyond the scope of the first game. Turok 2 has better graphics, more content, more variety, futuristic and alien settings, a four player multiplayer mode, and more. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a better game than the first one. Turok 2 has a few issues that hold it back. This is a very, very good game, but it does have flaws. So, the game has huge, huge levels, with somewhat less fog than the first game, too. This is good. The weapons are even crazier too, and some are fairly gory (Cerebral Bore…). However, the game still has save-point-only saving, and limited lives, so it’s a very steep challenge. The save points are far apart, and the sheer number of enemies, puzzles, areas to explore, and jumping puzzles in between one and the next makes the game probably too hard for me. Essentially, in this category, the game’s high points are also its weak points, depending on who you ask. The huge, expansive levels heavy on exploration are great… but it can be frustrating if you don’t know where to go next or how to solve the puzzles in the area, or if you’re very low on health and have far too far to go to get more, or to find the next checkpoint. Turok 2 is not forgiving. I like the exploration and puzzle elements of the game for sure, but wish it had a more forgiving save system, essentially. In addition, while the graphics are fantastic, particularly in high res mode, the framerate does suffer. Turok 2 in high res doesn’t have that good of a framerate. You do get used to it, but it is an issue. Also, many people disliked that the game changed from a “fighting dinosaurs in the jungle” theme to fighting cyber-dinos in futuristic bases; the setting’s not quite as original. Still, despite the problems, Turok 2 is a great game… just be prepared for a challenge. Oh, and you’ll need a lot of controller pak space for this one, too. As for the multiplayer, it’s okay to good, but not the game’s high point, the single player is. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (90 pages!!! What in the world, Acclaim… There is NO excuse for this!). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Turok: Rage Wars – Turok: Rage Wars is Acclaim’s attempt at an answer to games like Quake III and Unreal Tournament. Like those PC games, Rage Wars is an arena combat only multiplayer-focused game. The single player game is a tournament mode, where you play through a succession of arenas with your chosen character. Many characters have somewhat different paths, so while each character’s game isn’t too long, the game encourages replay in order to see everything. There’s a decent amount of single player content here, I think. The levels are solidly designed multiplayer FPS stages, as well. This is the best N64 Turok game for multiplayer play, so if you want to play some multiplayer Turok, or a good multiplayer-focused N64 FPS, get Rage Wars. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (7 pages). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion – Turok 3, from fall 2000, was Acclaim’s last N64 game. Well, they went out with a bang — Turok 3 is a fantastic game, easily one of the best in the franchise. First, the graphics are great, of course, and probably with a bit better framerate in high res mode than you’ll find in Turok 2, too. Indeed, when designing this game, Acclaim was apparently listening to complaints like the ones I had above about Turok 2, because this game gets rid of almost all of the worst elements of that game (setting excepted; this one’s mostly in a slightly futuristic city). It’s also clear that the designers had been playing Half-Life, because that game’s influence shows strongly here. Turok 3 is an FPS of course, but the game’s more linear than Turok 2 for sure. Instead of Turok 2’s huge, expansive levels and endless expanses between save points (and remember those limited lives!), Turok 3 has a stage-based design, where you can save at any point, and if you die, or load, will start from the beginning of the stage. The stages are reasonable lengths each, so you won’t have to replay too much if you lose. Stages are large, and often open, enough to have a good amount of exploration, and there are still puzzles and some jumping, but this is a different game from Turoks 1 or 2. That’s both good and bad, really; on the one hand, it’s a great game, but on the other, it is fairly different from the original. Taking it on its own though, this is a quite good Half Life-inspired FPS, that keeps you moving through a story through many different areas. The game has some cool level designs and set-pieces along the way, too. From skyscapers to sewers to subway trains, there’s a lot of variety here, and it’s fun to go through. There’s plenty of good stuff here to find. There is some exploration as well, in many of the stages, so you’re not just running through cooridors like you would in a modern FPS. Also, you start each stage with the health and ammo you started it with, you don’t get reset. It works well. This game has two playable characters, too, each with an ability the other doesn’t — the female character is larger and stronger, while the male character (a younger boy) can fit into small spaces. This time, you need to get revenge for your father’s death and save the world at the same time. It has another okay multiplayer mode too. Any N64 FPS fan should definitely play Turok 3. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (16 pages per save file). Expansion Pak enhanced.

Twisted Edge Extreme Snowboarding – Boss Games’ attempt at a snowboarding game unfortunately didn’t work out quite as well as their three N64 racing games all did. This isn’t actually a bad game, but it’s just not as good as other snowboarding games on the system like 1080 or Big Mountain, either. Boss was trying to make a fairly realistic snowboarding game here, and it is for its time, but it isn’t that fun. The graphics are decently good, and there’s a fair amount of content here, but it’s just not compelling enough to get me to come back and keep playing. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (5 pages for main game file, 75 pages per ghost if you wish to save one.).

Vigilante 8 – A Playstation port, but it’s a good one (note the sequel’s also on Dreamcast, but not this one). Vigilante 8 is a vehicular combat game, where you drive around a somewhat arena-like stage blowing up other cars for fun. This means it has a heavy multiplayer focus, of course, but there is a decent single player campaign as well. The graphics are alright, but not great; the N64 can certainly do better. I never loved these car combat games, like Twisted Metal, Interstate ’66, etc., and this is no exception. I don’t know, somehow the theme just doesn’t grab me much at all. I like larger stages more than these glorified arenas, too. Still, for its genre, this is a fine game. I know there’s a sequel, but I haven’t played that one. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (1 page). Expansion Pak enhanced.

V-Rally Edition ’99 – V-Rally is a European rally racing game that started on the PS1. While the PS1 game had the Need for Speed license put on it in the US, it wasn’t originally a NFS game, and this N64 port doesn’t have the license either. V-Rally Edition ’99 is a late N64 port of the first V-Rally game. This port released not far off from when V-Rally 2, the much-improved sequel, released on PS1, but this has none of the second games’ features, sadly. Instead, players will have to make do with all of the signs of a shoddy port; this may have released long after the PS1 version, but it sure doesn’t look like the developers knew how to get much out of the system. V-Rally has some of the most “Playstation-like” graphics I’ve seen on the N64, with some pretty ugly polygon models and even attempts at PS1 pixelization; this game has some of the most pixelated N64 graphics I’ve ever seen, I don’t know how they managed to make it look so bad. Impressive work there, I guess. There is also heavy fogging, since apparently these poor graphics somehow were all they could manage. Really, this game looks bad visually. As for music, there is none during races, something “simmish” rally racers do sometimes, to their detriment. The menu music isn’t very good, but something would have been better than nothing, in-race. The gameplay is only slightly better. The game has 50 tracks, all one-way courses, just like the original had, but the gameplay is bland and unexciting, and as there are only seven actual environments for those tracks, the tracks blend together and feel similar. Great fun gameplay could make up for that, but this game doesn’t have that, for sure. This is a common problem in more “realistic” rally racing games, but it does get repetitive. Car controls and physics are even worse, unsurprisingly. At first you’ll skid on every turn, and the AI opponents are tough and those crash physics frustratingly floaty and definitely nothing approaching realistic. That’s okay, since I prefer arcade racing games to sims, so I probably like this game more than I would a hardcore sim on a subjective level, but objectively it’s no good, for sure. Try not to hit things or spin out on turns. It’s not easy to learn how to control the cars in this game well, and it’s absolutely not worth the effort either. If you want to play a great N64 rally racing game, play Rally Challenge 2000 or the two Top Gear Rally games; this one probably isn’t worth it. You can do worse, but you can also do a lot better. Test Drive V-Rally (aka V-Rally 2 in Europe; this is no more Test Drive game than it is NFS), the Dreamcast port of V-Rally 2, is much better, for example; play that one. This game, however, has awful graphics and plays poorly too. There are worse N64 racing games than this, and it’s arcadey enough that it can be okay once in a while, but there aren’t really any good reasons to get this game for people who aren’t trying to own every N64 racing game, as I am. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Also on PS1.

War Gods – War Gods is probably one of the worst N64 games I own. The game’s an early attempt at a 3d fighting game, and clearly looks like Midway trying out some of the tactics they’d use later on in MK4, just in something not with that license so people wouldn’t care quite as much if it wasn’t good. Well, this isn’t good. First, the characters are just awful. They’re a pitiful assortment of terribly designed characters. Like the 2d MK games this game uses live actors in costumes, but these costumes sure are silly, even by Midway standards. The gameplay’s no better than the costumes are, either. The game is 3d, so you can move around the arena, and it is pretty fast-paced too — this clearly was designed as 2d Mortal Kombat gone 3d. I was never more than a pretty casual Mortal Kombat fan, though, and prefer a somewhat slower paced fighting game, so I at least don’t think that makes it better. And this isn’t as good as 2d MK games, either, that’s for sure. It’s uglier, doesn’t play as well, and isn’t as fun. About the only thing this is good for is entertainment value; this can be amusingly bad in multiplayer mode, as you laugh at how ridiculous it is. Two players, no saving.

Wave Race 64 – Wave Race 64 is one of the N64’s early releases from Nintendo, and like some others like Mario 64, it stands out as one of the system’s best. There are a lot of racing games on the N64, and I don’t think Wave Race 64 is the system’s very best racing game, but it is an extremely, extremely good game, the best water racing game of its generation, and still one of the greats of the field. While the character models are only average, the environments are top class. Indeed, Wave Race 64 has beautiful environments to race through on your jetskis, and the waves, wave effects, and changing water (and in some tracks even water level) from lap to lap is extremely impressive for the time; indeed, even many much newer jetski games don’t compare in water effects or wave physics. Every track in this game is memorable and so well thought through compared to most other racing games of the time. The game’s music is good, fitting stuff as well, and each track has audio that fits its nature well. The game is somewhat short, but what it lacks in length it makes up for with great gameplay and fun. This is one you’ll return to, and is not just the generation’s best jetski racing game, it’s arguably the best one ever. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Can back up your save file to a controller pak.

Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey – Arcade port. This was one of the N64’s first sports games, and it got things off to a good start. As with all Midway sports games of the time, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey is a very arcadey game with almost no rules and constant action. The graphics are very rough early N64 stuff, but if you can ignore that and look at the gameplay, this game still shines. Indeed, this game is one of Midway’s best ever hockey games, as far as the gameplay is concerned. The hockey action is fast and furious, as your small teams skate back and forth on the ice and score goal after goal. You can beat the other players up too, of course, and it has a turbo meter as usual as well. I don’t like this game quite as much as my favorite Midway sports title, NBA Jam T.E., but it’s one of Midway’s better sports games for sure. Oh, and yes, it does have all the real teams and real players. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (7 pages).

Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey ’98 – Also on Playstation. Unfortunately, with this sequel, Midway decided to make things a bit more simmish. It was a bad decision, and the result is a weaker game than its predecessor; I’d recommend the first Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey to anyone who likes arcade-style sports games, but this one’s a much tougher sell. First and foremost, this sequel makes scoring goals much more difficult than it was in the first game. That means you’ll have to work a lot harder for your points, and winning games will be more challenging as well. It’s just not nearly as fun as the first game. I guess the graphics have been slightly improved, and the game does save a lot more stats than the first version (as you can tell from the increased file size), but Midway sports games are at their best when they’re arcadey fun, not when they’re arcade/sim hybrids like this one is. Stick with the first Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey game. Oh, there is a third Midway hockey game on the N64, Olympic Hockey ’98. Apparently it’s essentially this game, reskinned with the Olympic teams instead of the NHL, and with virtually no other changes. I don’t have it. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (61 pages).

WCW/NWO Revenge – I never liked wrestling at all, either on TV or in videogames, and only have this because I got it for free. I remember playing one N64 wrestling game once, one of the better ones like this one (I mean, better as in wrestling game fans like these Aki ones the best, not that I have an opinion on the matter), but I don’t know if it was this or another game. I guess it’s good for its genre, but I don’t want to play this kind of game. It’s just not fun. The closest I want to get to a wrestling game is probably King of the Monsters… Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Wetrix – Later had upgraded ports/sequels on Dreamcast and PS2, as Wetrix+ on DC and AquaAqua on PS2. They’re both just enhanced versions of this game, though. Wetrix is an intresting and original Tetris-inspired puzzle game. In the game, you have to keep water from leaking out of a board. You keep the water in by building walls out of Tetris-style blocks to form lakes. The challenge is to build up good lakes with the selection of wall pieces you’re given, as the water keeps coming down. It’s a fun, challenging puzzle game, and is well worth a try. Two player multiplayer, controller pak saving (5 pages).

WipEout 64 – Wipeout 64, Psygnosis’ one and only N64 game, is an interesting game — I mean, this is an N64 game from a studio owned by Sony. Sony killed Psygnosis’ independence, and their N64, Saturn, and PC releases, shortly after this game was released, but at least they got this one out, and later two last PC games before the final end. Wipeout 64 is an outstanding, outstanding game, and one of the system’s best racing games as well. Based on the first two PS1 Wipeout games, Wipeout 64 mixes and matches elements from tracks from both previous games to create a new, better set of circuits. Indeed, these are the best designed tracks in the series that generation. The game system around them is perfected, as well. The game’s as technical and challenging as ever — using your hovercars, you need to race through futuristic courses, trying to master them and figure out the best way to get through each track. You have two airbrakes as always, for sharp turns. First, you have very good analog controls, better than the various analog options in the PS1 games. Annoyances from the first Wipeout game like the height ceiling (that reset you down to the track, causing you to lose a LOT of time, if you flew up too high) are of course gone. The circuit setup from the first two games, the cause of so much of the frustration, is gone too — this time you can save after every race, instead of having to play five or six or seven tracks with limited continues and no saving, as with both of the first two PS1 games. That works in Mario Kart, but Wipeout is harder than that. At least the third PS1 game did continue with this, but though it’s good, it made some other questionable decisions. It’s also far more difficult than this game. Now, Wipeout 64 is a pretty hard game. It’s a serious challenge for sure, and some parts of the game, the timetrial challenges particularly, are really hard. But… it’s not quite as brutal as Wipeout 3, and I think that’s a good thing. They got the difficulty balance just right, here. I do kind of wish it had some kind of circuit mode (with saving, preferably, like in Wipeout 3), and I also wish that there were some single player mode races that use the seventh, unlockable track; it’s quite odd that it’s unused outside of single race mode, once you unlock it. Apart from that though, this is a fantastic game. It’s also the one and only Wipeout game with a single-screen four player splitscreen mode. The three and four player modes do remove trackside graphics, so they are limited, but the two player game is great, with a full 16-car field. Cool. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (6 pages).

Worms Armageddon – Worms Armageddon is the only N64 Worms game, and it’s a somewhat rare game too. It’s unfortunate that this game is as expensive as it is, though, because as usual in the Worms series, Worms Armageddon is a great game. This game has most of the content from the original PC Worms Armageddon game, downsized to the N64. Obviously a gamepad doesn’t give you quite as good control as keyboard and mouse have, but actually it works pretty well, overall — the controls are pretty good, as good as they could be. The game’s fantastic fun in multiplayer too, of course. Naturally it’s missing the online play you’ll find on the PC, but if you have some people to play with, this game’s great. The single player mode’s good too of course, but Worms always shines in multiplayer. That classic Worms gameplay, of side-scrolling 2d turn-based strategy with cute worms blowing eachother up with various over-the-top weapons, is here strong. There wouldn’t be another 2d Worms game on a Nintendo home console until the Wii, but at least this one is great! Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate – Xena for the N64 is a somewhat beat ’em up-inspired 3d fighting game based on the popular Xena TV show. The show was initially a spinoff of Hercules, except with a female lead, and like Hercules it’s got very little to do with its supposed Greek/Roman-era setting, design-wise. Sorry, but as a history major, this stuff bugs me. But yes, as with Hercules, I barely ever watched this show, so I’m not really familiar with the source material outside of what I’ve heard about it. In the game you can play as eleven different characters from the series, including Xena, Gabrielle, and various others (no, not Hercules). This game is a full 3d fighting game, and you move around the arena with the stick (or dpad, but the stick probably gives better control). The four C buttons are your attacks, two punch/kick and two weapon attacks. Each character has a couple of baisc combos (two to four hits) and a few special moves, though not many. R and Z jump and crouch, which are useful since most distance attacks cannot hit crouching characters. Fire breath can, but not stuff like thrown weapons. You can also block while standing or moving backwards. A changes targets in multiplayer matches with three or four players. The game is simplistic, but winning in the later fights, or Hard difficulty, will require a bit of thought — enemies will block, and you’ll have to time your attacks well in order to get through the block. This can be frustrating at times, as the AI blocks constantly and then hits you the moment you try to attack sometimes, but I did get used to it after a little while. The game also has balance issues, and the moves and characters are not at all evenly balanced, unfortunately. It also can be difficult to tell exactly whether you can hit someone before you swing, because of the 3d arenas and how the characters are constantly circling around eachother, while the camera always stays in one static position in front of the arena. When the enemy is between you and the camera, it can get annoying. So yeah, the gameplay here is definitely nothing better than average, and probably is below average. Run around, whack at the enemy, try to time your hits right, hit the button a few times to do a short combo, rinse, and repeat. That’s about all there is to the game.

The graphics and sound are okay, though. The characters are okay looking and do look like the characters from the show, and the audio is alright. The arenas are bland looking, though; there aren’t any obstacles in them, and they aren’t very large either since each one has to fit on a single screen. However, yes, this game has four player matches! It’s pretty cool… except for the critical design flaw that the game only allows one AI opponent in any match, so it’s impossible to play with more than two characters on screen in single player. That’s very disappointing and is a real problem with the game. The game would be more fun with four-player single player matches. That is only one of the signs that this game was made on a tight budget. Another one is that after you win matches in the main tournament (“Quest”) mode, there isn’t any kind of victory screen, score screen, or anything. The announcer says that you win, and then it’s straight to the next match with no interruption. It’s kind of odd, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a fighting game quite like that. Also, in the tournament you fight all 11 characters, so it takes longer to get through than most fighting games, since in these games you usually only have 7 or 8 characters per tournament. Once you’re done, though, replay value isn’t that high, as far as the single player goes; this isn’t a fighting game many people will keep returning to on their own. At least each character does have a (very short) custom ending, so there is that at least. Other than Quest mode, your only other options are single match (vs. 1 CPU or up to three humans), training mode, and options. On normal the game isn’t that hard, but it’s not a complete pushover either, which is good. You also unlock the ability to play as the boss after beating the game once, and there are a bunch of entertaining cheat codes too, such as a big-head mode for instance. Overall though, Xena: The Talisman of Fate is a very mediocre game, and is below average overall. It’s somewhere between bad and mediocre, I think. It’s probably much more fun in multiplayer (with three or four people particularly!) than it is in single player, though, so keep that in mind. Four player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (1 block).

Yoshi’s Story – Yoshi’s story is a 2d platformer. The game’s super, ultra cute graphics and collection-themed gameplay have made this game controversial ever since its release — many people were expecting something like Yoshi’s Island, which this game simply is not. And yes, Yoshi’s Island is the better game. Even so, Yoshi’s Story isn’t actually a bad game. It has several things going for it, actually. First, the graphics are great. This game really shows off how beautiful you can make a 2d game look on the N64. The game really looks like a storybook come to life. People who dislike cute graphics will certainly hate this game, but I think it looks and plays great. The game has a pretty good variety of stages, too. The game is structured like a storybook, and you go through six pages (levels) from the beginning to end. That may sound short, and it is, but there are four different stages to choose from on each page, and they’re all entirely different, so there are actually 24 stages. In addition, you can’t just choose any at will, but some will be unlocked based on prior stage choices and your performance in the game. Also, while it may seem like you can’t save a game in progress, you actually can — if you turn off the system while playing, you’ll be given the choice to restart the level you are currently on. In addition to saving your progress for later, this is an invaluable feature for anyone wanting to collect everything in each stage but has messed up; you don’t need to restart the whole game, just the stage through a restart. That said though, the game’s almost exclusive focus on collecting is an issue for sure. Instead of trying to get to the end of the stage, your goal in each level is to collect 20 fruits. Once you have twenty, you’ll win and move on. You cannot die, either, not really. That doesn’t mean that the game is easy, though; many fruits are well hidden, particularly if you want to get the best path by getting 20 melons, and melons only, in each level. If you want all the melons, this game becomes a frustratingly hard game only fun if you use a walkthrough, I’d say — melons are often very well hidden, including in random places on the ground you’ll probably never guess. I at least don’t find trying for all the melons too fun. Overall though, the game’s okay. The graphics and gameplay are good, but the collecting focus is as much of a downside as it is a strength. One player, on-cart saving.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
This entry was posted in Classic Games, Game Opinion Summaries, Nintendo 64, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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