For all those currently trying to improve their skills in Overwatch, uncover all the secrets in Uncharted 4, or bash their friends in Street Fighter V, we owe Nintendo an enormous debt of gratitude. This company managed to save the video-game industry from death during the 90s and continued to innovate on how we interacted with this art form for decades afterwards. Although it only sits at position number 14 on the 15 best-selling consoles of all time list, the Nintendo 64 is one of their crowning and most influential achievements.
But while the N64 has a great many positive attributes, it would have been nothing without great games. And obviously it had truckloads of them. But there are a few that we'd like to highlight, just five little games that had a huge impact on the video game industry as a whole. So here are our..
5 games that revolutionized their genres on the Nintendo 64
1. 'Super Smash Bros.' (1999)
Has the fighting game genre ever been the same since we saw Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Mario, Pikachu, and so many other iconic characters hit the crap out of each other on epic stages?
Probably the single-greatest idea in the N64's history, Super Smash Bros. changed brawlers and started something that still resonates with gaming audiences today. Hell, Super Smash Bros. Wii U walked away with Fighting Game of the Year at the Game Awards in 2014! This is one of the defining achievements of the console, and even though my dog would likely slaughter me in this game, it's still a ridiculous amount of fun on the original console.
2. 'Super Mario 64' (1996)
The top-grossing game on the N64 system, Super Mario 64, saw Nintendo take a brave step with their most famous IP and shove the lovable little Italian plumber into a 3D world. From opening Princess Peach's letter to the climactic bout against Bowser, this super adventure quickly became the stuff of legends.
Nintendo's remarkable platforming level design transferred to a 3D space with apparent ease. In true N64 fashion, every single level in the game offered a new challenge that gamers simply weren't accustomed to — seriously, how hard was it to come to grips with the N64's controller design? Literally wrestling my own fingers.
It may seem easy to include Super Mario 64 on this list, but this truly is one title that lives up to its legacy.
3. 'GoldenEye: 007' (1997)
Has anyone attempted to play this game recently? After engaging with ever-improving first-person shooters over the years, Goldeneye: 007 feels like your brain is actively attacking your hands. However, its terribly-aged gameplay masks the impact this FPS had on the genre and console gaming as a whole. Four friends playing this at the same time was some of the most fun a gamer could have asked for in the 90s.
The level design, the weapons, the sound effects, the incredible multiplayer, the unlockables, the easter eggs, and its sick campaign all culminated in the Bond adventure of dreams! They sure don't make shooters like this anymore (though that's kind of a good thing in the controller department) and boy how I lament the passing of 4-player split-screen :(
4. 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time' (1998)
Does this need an introduction? It's Ocarina of Time, people! The game that redefined the action-adventure genre, the game that saw Zelda and Link challenge the conventions of game design, the title that proved video games could have compelling narratives.
For many, this was the first epic adventure that video games had offered. There was a massive world ahead, so much to explore, see, and be frustrated by (my god, those temples were hard). Extraordinarily, Ocarina of Time doesn't feel like it's aged; it's still this beautiful masterpiece that resonates with gamers of all ages. I personally prefer Majora's Mask, but that doesn't change the fact that Ocarina changed everything when it landed on the N64.
5. 'Mario Kart 64' (1996)
Is this still one of the greatest multiplayer games of all time? I mean, Mario Kart 8 is a beautifully refined video game that balances approachability and skill, but Mario Kart 64 offered a local multiplayer experience that nothing else could equal.
The fact that Nintendo continues to reuse so many of the N64 game's levels validates its superb track design. Not only was it tons of fun to play as some of Nintendo's most iconic characters, it was a pleasure to try and master every turn in this N64 classic. What beautiful days.