The Nintendo 64 is a timeless console with a library of legendarily great (and sometimes woefully exclusive) titles, boasting some of the greatest games to ever hit the industry. The nostalgia factor for '90s kids is almost impenetrably thick here, to say the very least of it. But with such an incredible lineup, how do you pick out favorites? How does one truly discern the best of the best? Well, by utilizing the magic of the internet, of course. Ideally by directing your browser towards Metacritic.
But why go through all of that nonsense when we're here to do it for you? Plus you get all of that amazing, Game Rant style commentary and (extraordinarily) witty banter that you just won't find anywhere else. Now that we've established why you need to stick around, dig out your rose-tinted glasses, strap in, scroll down, and join us as we check out the ten best games to have ever come out on Nintendo's glorious GOAT, the Nintendo 64.
10 Mario Tennis (91/100)
Mario Tennis might seem like the most unlikely entry on this list. It's tennis, after all. But as any Nintendo fan is well aware, practically anything Mario touches is gold. Well, everything that's outside the purview of Hotel Mario, at least. There are limits.
Featuring simplistic control scheme with a low bar for entry and a surprisingly high skill ceiling, Mario Tennis casts a wide net in terms of appeal. It featured an unprecedented amount of interactivity with its Gameboy counterpart, with players able to unlock characters and courts utilizing the Nintendo 64's underutilized Transfer Pak. And it's still going strong today, with Mario Tennis Aces having arrived on the Nintendo Switch in 2018.
9 Conker's Bad Fur Day (92/100)
The Nintendo 64 isn't particularly well known for titles geared towards a mature audience, but there is at least one such title that really pulled off filling that niche in a big way. And that title is none other than the classic Conker's Bad Fur Day.
Think South Park meets Banjo-Kazooie, and you'll wind up somewhere in the neighborhood of Conker's Bad Fur Day. Guiding the alcohol-addled squirrel Conker through his sort-of valiant crusade to rescue his girlfriend is made infinitely riotous by his foul mouthed commentary.
8 Wave Race 64 (92/100)
Nintendo has always had a good relationship with racing games and pilot simulators, which is well evidenced by the timeless quality of titles like Mario Kart or Pilotwings. Wave Race 64 hits a happy medium between the two, taking the race out onto the water and putting players into the seat of a Jet Ski.
Being one of the first titles available on the platform, Wave Race 64 made good use of the Nintendo 64's new hardware and was an absolute hit. It featured a limited, but great set of single player modes, but as any Nintendo 64 aficionado will testify, the real fun is in the multiplayer mode.
7 Banjo-Kazooie (92/100)
Rare is to the N64 as Bungie is to the Xbox, a definitive developer that is directly responsible for a significant chunk of the platform's success. Although Rare had already been hard at work cranking out the hits, Banjo-Kazooie was easily a landmark title in its impressive roster.
Although the general "feel" of this platformer definitely echoes the earlier success of Super Mario 64, its vibrant new setting and colorful cast of characters earned a place in the heart of every gamer that had the good fortune of playing it.
6 Paper Mario (93/100)
Role-playing games are few and far between in Mario's expansive catalog of titles, but you can rest assured that whenever he does make a foray into the genre, it's going to be an absolute hit. Such was the case with the cult classic Super Mario RPG on the SNES, and spiritual successor Paper Mario kept the standard beautifully.
The game's 2D, paper cut-out aesthetic is surprisingly charming considering the Nintendo 64's drive towards testing the limits of its then-new 3D capabilities. And its RPG mechanics, though simplistic, were incredibly solid, and easy enough for newcomers to the genre to learn and appreciate without much issue.
5 Super Mario 64 (94/100)
Beyond being one of the best games on the console, Super Mario 64 is often hailed as one of the greatest video games of all time. As a launch title for the Nintendo 64, it was absolutely perfect, showcasing the hardware's new capabilities while keeping the experience grounded in the familiar territory and aesthetic design of the Mario universe.
Needless to say, Super Mario 64 received rave reviews, sweeping practically every mainstream source of video game criticism with near perfect scores. Everything from the graphical performance to the refreshingly open game world was praised to no end, and deservedly so.
4 The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (95/100)
Despite reusing assets from the preceding Ocarina of Time and essentially running on the same engine, Majora's Mask was still a bold departure from its outrageously successful predecessor. This game swaps the familiar territory of Hyrule for the new locale of Termina, a doomed world that Link must rescue within the constraints of a hard, though malleable time limit.
Despite the risky design direction, Majora's Mask definitely didn't suffer a terrible fate. The new, time-limited gameplay direction was praised as "inventive," and utilizing the N64's Expansion Pak allowed for minor graphical tweaks that improved the experience without rendering it unrecognizable.
3 GoldenEye 007 (96/100)
Although video games licensed from film properties have a pretty spotty track record, GoldenEye defies the standard as an important hallmark of the Nintendo 64 catalog, simultaneously securing a tangible foothold for FPS titles in the console market and completely revitalizing the concept of local multiplayer.
GoldenEye was the original split screen frag fest, putting opponents precariously within arm's reach of one another as they proceeded to engage in virtual combat long before Halo was even a whisper within Bungie's hallowed halls. The single player campaign was fun, sure, but any GoldenEye veteran is well aware of the fact that the multiplayer is what set it thoroughly apart from other titles at the time.
2 Perfect Dark (97/100)
Speaking of GoldenEye, it's time to talk about Perfect Dark. Produced by the same developer and running on the same engine, it might seem disparaging to say that Perfect Dark is essentially a bigger, better, and much improved version of GoldenEye. But in no way should that be considered a bad thing.
The multiplayer component was greatly expanded in comparison to its predecessor, so Rare had obviously taken notes concerning where the true appeal was. The N64 Expansion Pak was required to access the campaign and some of the multiplayer features, but was entirely worth the investment for that alone.
1 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (99/100)
Yes, Ocarina of Time is the best reviewed Nintendo 64 title of all time. And that should surprise absolutely no one that made this game an integral part of their childhood, or even their adulthood. Ocarina of Time's appeal knows no bounds, and was an absolute technical marvel at the time of its 1998 release.
For it being Link's first foray into the 3D world, they really and truly knocked it out of the park. Riding Epona across Hyrule Field looked and felt absolutely marvelous, the new lock-on system was intuitive and easy to get used to, and the plot was easily one of the best-executed in the series. Ocarina of Time easily earned every beaming review and accolade it received, and then some.