So, with the massive success of the NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic Edition, and the very likely possibility that the upcoming Nintendo Switch Online service will not have games past the SNES for a while, there’s been a lot of talk about Nintendo possibly releasing a Nintendo 64 Classic Edition and what games would be on it. Thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with a possible games list.
First off, some conditions. I believe the system will come with two controllers, using the same technology as the NES and SNES Classic controllers, with multiple colors available for extra controllers. I believe the system will only include 20 games like the SNES Classic and retail for between $80-$100 in the US. The one thing I’m unsure about is rumble. If the system does retail for $100, I do think rumble will be included, but if it retails for $80, the controllers will not have rumble, despite this being the system that populated the technology. I also think the control stick will be changed to be similar to modern analog sticks rather than the easily-beaten up originals.
Next, no games that require an extra license. That means no NFL Blitz, no Goldeneye 007, no Beetle Adventure Racing, no Tony Hawk: Pro Skater, and especially no wrestling games of any kind. Sorry, I’m just being realistic.
Another thing on this list is the lack of M-Rated games. That means no Mortal Kombat Trilogy or Mortal Kombat 4 nor does it mean any of the Turok games. While Nintendo is more willing to embrace mature themes now, the Classic systems have shown that they want to keep things relatively family-friendly.
Finally, no Rare games either. That means no Killer Instinct Gold, no Conker’s Bad Fur Day, no Diddy Kong Racing, no Perfect Dark, and especially no Banjo-Kazooie. I know for a lot of people this is a deal-breaker, but I can’t see Nintendo being willing to pay the extra money for Banjo, though if they produce a LOT, they could use Banjo as a marketing tool since it’s doubtful Banjo will ever be on the Switch. Also, Diddy Kong Racing will never show up thanks to Conker being in the game.
So, let’s get started with the 20 games I think will be on the N64 Classic Edition!
1. Super Mario 64
This is one of the biggest “No duh” entries on the list. You’re not going to have a lineup of spotlight Nintendo 64 games without arguably its most famous game ever. This genre-changing game is still quite fun, and though the polygon models have NOT aged well, I think a lot of people will still have a lot of fun with the game. There is a reason why people still consider this to be one of the greatest Mario games in the franchise’s history.
2. Mario Kart 64
Aside from Goldeneye 007, Mario Kart 64 is quite possibly the most popular multiplayer title on the system and what justified the system having four controller ports. While it hasn’t aged like a fine win, there are still a lot of people who would adore going back and playing one of their favorite multiplayer games and you can still have a ton of fun with this classic. I do expect there to be a lot of hardcore gamers who will struggle with the mechanics after being used to Mario Kart 8's control scheme.
3. Mario Party 2
For most people, the N64 Mario Party trilogy is the best in the franchise, so it’s only natural that it would be represented here. The minigame selection is great, the boards are imaginative, and the game overall has that special unique charm to it. Folks are still playing this game even today, and for good reason. I chose the second game because it was ported to the Wii U Virtual Console instead of 3 and it is often considered the best of the trilogy. Honestly, if it allowed multiple items like 3, I honestly think it would be a no-brainer. Plus, the cosplay outfits are pretty fun to see.
4. Mario Tennis
The Mario Sports titles are always a big hit, with the N64 originals still among the most beloved in the franchise. Mario Tennis Aces proved that fans still want a good tennis game, so why not bring back the semi-original (as the actual original was for the Virtual Boy) game? The controls are still tight and like a lot of the system’s best games, work very well in multiplayer. Plus, it was the debut of fan-favorite Waluigi.
5. Mario Golf
Pretty much copy everything from the Tennis entry, except for Waluigi being playable, and apply it to this game. The golf mechanics still hold up and the game, much like proper golf, can be very calming. It’s not quite as beloved as the Game Boy Color or GameCube versions, but I think it still holds up pretty well. And it’s interesting to see the Mario cast interact with regular humans, which is rare in this franchise.
6. Paper Mario
The Nintendo 64 had a dearth of titles in many genres, but none were more pronounced than RPGs. There was Quest 64, which was crap; Ogre Battle 64, which was a good strategy title; and this game, the only good traditional turn-based RPG on the system. While nowhere near as good as its GameCube sequel, this game holds up very well and one of the few single-player Nintendo 64 games that is still a lot of fun to play.
7. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
Much like Super Mario 64, you’re not gonna have an N64 Classic without this game. This game was so influential on the franchise and gaming at large that it’s still being copied and modeled after to this day. The story and characters are still fun to watch, the combat still works despite its simplicity, and the dungeons are still a blast to play through. While I would personally throw in the Master Quest version of the game, I doubt Nintendo would actually allow that version of the game to be included.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
While not quite as universally beloved as its prequel by the general masses, this is another game that will always be included in a list of top N64 games. Functioning very different from its predecessor, Majora’s Mask relies on transforming Link into different forms to solve puzzles and clear dungeons, while the time limit offers interesting strategy that has not really been replicated in any other Zelda title. Add in a number of memorable characters and a very dark atmosphere, and it’s obvious why a lot of hardcore Zelda fans prefer this to Ocarina.
9. StarFox 64
This game launched the Rumble Pak, and to this day is one of the best uses of the feature. In fact, this is the main reason I would consider including the technology in the Classic Edition controllers. Even though rumble has been refined in later years, it just doesn’t feel right to play this space shooter without rumble. The game itself, though short, is still a lot of fun. Flying through the levels, blasting as many enemies as possible, is always great, while the branching levels ensure you don’t necessarily have to go down the same path every time. The extensive voice acting, which was unprecedented at the time, especially on the N64, is also extremely charming and memetic. It even has a decently fun multiplayer mode.
10. Donkey Kong 64
The sole Rareware game that will make it onto this list, this is also one of the more controversial platformers out there. It’s often considered the genre killer for collectathon platformers, and the accusation is not unwarranted. You have five characters to play as and every one has their own set of collectibles to grab, which gets exhausting after a while. Still, the Donkey Kong brand is a strong brand and the game does have a large fanbase. The only issue is that a lot of the games relied on the original N64's hardware and programmed itself to react to frequent slowdown, meaning the better emulation today actually hinders some of the minigames by making them too fast. It would likely require a brand new emulation rather than porting over the Wii/Wii U’s version.
11. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
While it plays a lot differently than the other games in the series, Kirby 64 is still beloved by a lot of people. It has a unique gimmick where you can swallow two different powers and combine them into new attacks, such as combining Spark and Cutter to create a lightsaber. It’s also one of the few games that relies on the D-Pad rather than the analog stick. The slow gameplay and extreme cuteness might turn off some, especially those more used to the faster and darker more modern titles or Super Star, but it’s still a worthy addition to the lineup.
12. Super Smash Bros.
This is the first game in one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises. Of course it would be on this list. Its small budget shows, with its barebones character models (Yoshi in particular looks really bad) and lack of modes, characters, and stages, as well as extras, but it’s still a lot of fun to play. The excellent sound design and cartoony physics help give this game a lot of charm and makes for an excellent party game. Plus, without Mortal Kombat Trilogy or Killer Instinct Gold to put on the system, this is the only fighter that could be on the list.
13. F-Zero X
While the franchise has been dormant for a long time, it’s still beloved, and a lot of that love came from the series’ first sequel. Heavily expanding the roster, upping the speed, and giving some great track design, it’s easily to see why fans fell in love with this futuristic racer. There was a track editor for the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD, but I doubt that will be brought over and integrated, even though it would likely be relatively easy to do for Nintendo.
14. 1080° Snowboarding
The Nintendo 64 had a lot of racing games to choose from, but at least they offered some variety. While this game only featured a 2-player mode, it’s still a lot of fun to pull off tricks and stunts, especially since any of the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater games are ineligible for this list. While not one of Nintendo’s strongest franchises (I think there was one sequel on the Wii and that’s it), it was still a fan favorite.
15. Wave Race 64
One of the earliest games for the system, this game showed off the early potential for multiplayer race mayhem that wasn’t kart-based. Moreover, its water physics were hailed as some of the best ever made at the time and ya know what? It still holds up. Obviously, the water still looks blocky, but with the realistic bouncing and water spray, it still looks extremely wet and even playing it today, I half-expect my TV to spray water jets into my face whenever I land harshly in the water.
16. Pokémon Puzzle League
Nintendo’s obviously going to get some representation here from one of their biggest franchises. While most people would prefer the Stadium games, I doubt Nintendo will include a wireless option to allow it to connect to the 3DS Virtual Console Gen 1/2 ports, which means most of the point of those games are lost. Instead, they’ll bring over this game, which has a few advantages. It brings over a Panel de Pon game, which is great since Tetris Attack will never get re-released, as well as give this system something other than adventure and racing games. I doubt they’ll bring over Dr. Mario 64 since it’s not well known and the original was on the NES Classic, and I would be shocked if The Tetris Company would allow any of the Tetris games to be on the system.
17. Pokémon Snap
The other eligible Pokémon game on this list. Fans have been demanding a sequel to this, and it’s easy to see why. Taking pictures of the Pokémon is rather relaxing and using your various tools to open up new photo opportunities is quite rewarding to see. While the game can be beaten in a matter of hours, even one if you play effectively, there’s a lot of replay value with trying to get better pictures in your album. Plus, it’s just fun to fire up the game and spend a few minutes snapping your camera.
18. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
There aren’t a lot of third party adventure games of note, but Goemon is one of the rare good ones. It plays a similarly to Ocarina of Time, despite coming out sooner, offers a lot of places to explore, and features a lot of style to pull people in. Plus, it has giant robot battles, which are always fun to play in. I know a lot of people prefer its sequel, Goemon’s Great Adventure, but Mystical Ninja is more well known and beloved.
19. Bomberman 64
Some people would prefer Bomberman Hero or Bomberman 64: Second Attack, and honestly I don’t really care which of the three Bomberman titles is chosen. I just chose the original because it was on the Wii U Virtual Console. Either way, all three Bomberman games are great and expand upon the formula, while the multiplayer mode is classic Bomberman and makes up for the franchise’s no-show on the SNES Classic.
20. Mischief Makers
I fully admit that this is just selfishness on my part. This is an underrated gem of a game and, unfortunately, has never been re-released on a digital platform, meaning a lot of people have never played this fun sidescroller. Even back in the day it was mostly ignored since sprite-based sidescrollers were usually shunned in favor of 3D polygonal open world games. My only qualm is that I don’t know it’s actually able to be ported over to this system. Even barring any technical issues, I don’t know if SquareEnix still owns the license or if Treasure, the original developers, own the license. Regardless, if this game CAN go onto the system, it should. It needs more exposure.
Now, there are a lot of games fans will complain are missing. Yoshi’s Story is probably the top option. In reality, it probably will be included in this game over Mischief Makers or Bomberman, but I personally think it’s the weakest Nintendo platformer, so it got cut off my list. Excitebike 64 is another great mutliplayer candidate, but with all the racing games already on the system, Excitebike got cut as it’s the least visually interesting. If Bomberman and Mischief Makers do not make the final list, I can see those two games being on there instead. There are other racing games like Cruisin’ World or San Francisco Rush, as well as action games like BattleTanx, but I think Nintendo will prioritize their own games and have minimal third party support here, especially since there’s a LOT of racing games already on the system.
What do you think? Any other games you think has a shot of being on an N64 Classic?