To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Nintendo 64, we put together a list of our twenty favorite games on the platform. This list was designed to give us the opportunity to curate our memories of the N64 library, and to combine our stories together.

We individually created our own lists that consisted of our twenty personal favorite games, then shared them with one another. Each game on our own lists was given a number from 1-20 based on where it ranked on our list. We tallied up the scores of these games until we had a brand new list of games, the one that you see before you.

We will be posting the next game in the countdown each weekday throughout September until we reach number one, so be sure to check back and count down with us. Let us know what your favorite N64 games are in the comments section below the article, and what you think about ours.

20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1

20. NBA Hangtime

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I was an athletic kid. I benchwarmed just about every recreational sport I’ve tried to participate in. Turns out I got more play time at a park with friends than with the teams I was on. That being said, video games did not take a back seat with all this. Video games were the driver and sports were the passenger. Just “hanging” out and having a good “time.” A… hang… time…?

(Joe: That’s not what hangtime means.)

(Marc: Don’t take this away from me.)

NBA Hangtime could not have happened at a better time in my life. It was one of the few games I could play with my brothers and not kill each other. From the announcer to the custom characters, and to the silly movements of gameplay; even nine-year-old me knew a great and comedic game when I saw one. This is a prime example of how sports games need to be. To not take themselves too seriously and to be a game that’s easy to play yet difficult to master. I would know. I was the goaltending champ of ’97. MVP (Most Violating Player)

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19. Paper Mario

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I remember Paper Mario was the first game that my brother beat on his own. He was always player two, and never got to save the day. With a video game history trapped playing as Tails, he was eager to have his time in the spotlight. He asked for Paper Mario one year as a gift, and along with it he received the guide. I remember trying to look at the guide and it upsetting Shawn. There was no way I was to interfere with his success, and I found myself for the first time having to play a game form his point of view.

It was an early example of empathy that I learned, forced into his position for a change. It was insightful and I appreciated Paper Mario better after having to earn it, in a way. It’s a game that I’ll always associate with Shawn first, and everything else second.

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18. Mario Party 3

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Mario Party 3 takes me back to the days when my brother, cousins and I would gather around this massive TV just to get pissed at each other. It was one of the games that would make us stop fighting for about 30 minutes or so until one of us got jealous, and then the fury was released. I still remember the cavern board: Creepy Cavern. I’m not sure why I loved it. But maybe it was reminiscent of the Horror Land board (which Joe thinks is superior but he’s dumb and knows nothing).

“Aces High” was probably one of my favorite mini-games. Truth be told, the log-splitting mini-game “Log Jam” caused the most fights. Whoever was on the same team usually ended up punching each other because the teammate would fuck it all up. This game brings back the feelings of sitting cross-legged on a soft, high-pile rug; drinking soda and eating snacks until our eyes were too heavy to keep open. That’s what I miss most. A game so fun and social that sleep was told to fuck off. Anyway, Mario Party 3 is superior to Mario Party 2. And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.

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17. Duke Nukem 64

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 So this is another one of those games I’d take from my brother and get lost in. I remember he got this huge strategy guide with it too that I was overwhelmed with at first, but loved looking at the maps. They were gigantic.

Duke Nukem 64 opened my mind more to exploring in games and this game is full of secrets as a reward. My favorites are the dead character cameos from popular films like Indiana Jones, Terminator, Escape From New York, Silence of the Lambs, and Star Wars. I was so obsessed with this game that I couldn’t stop drawing Duke when I was at school and eventually learned how to play the main theme on my guitar. Testosterone aside, this is a dumb fun cool game not meant to be taken seriously.

If I was to describe this game with only one word, it’d be Hollywood.

Returning to this game after seeing They Live was interesting. Duke was Rowdy Roddy Piper in so many ways except for the mullet (unfortunately so). In fact, I kind of wish we could get a proper game based on They Live but that played like Duke Nukem; One that let us take the glasses off to see the world, but put them on to see the nightmares that truly walk among us. You could really play with morality if you wanted to. Are we killing the threat or are we just mad?

I don’t know, but I’m all out of bubblegum…

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16. Perfect Dark

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Laptop Gun; elevator. These are the first images I see when I remember Perfect Dark.

My brother and I would set up a match with nothing but Meatsims, and we’d run around with Remote Mines and Laptop Guns, trapping one another for hours. This was Goldeneye but better, because the weapons felt more advanced, there were aliens, and you played as this cool lady instead of boring old James Bond.

Being able to revisit our favorite maps from Goldeneye with new characters and modes, and of course the new weapons in Perfect Dark consumed days of our time. For what I feel like was a year of my life, we spent it playing Perfect Dark every day.

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15. Rampage World Tour

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For starters, I’m a huge tokusatsu fan. For those who might not know, that basically means I love Japanese movies/shows that involve kaijus (Gojira/Godzilla), super heroes (Super Sentai/Power Rangers), and giant robots (Mobile Suit Gundam). When I was over a friend’s house, I was looking through his collection of N64 games. Rampage World Tour immediately stuck out to me, begging to be played.

I was either Lizzie or Ralph. I wasn’t that big of a fan of George because I didn’t find King Kong to be as interesting as Godzilla or a giant blue wolf man. The claymation-like aesthetics felt so appropriate due to older kaiju/monster movies being filmed with stop-motion animation while blending nicely with it’s arcade style gameplay. The point of the game was very easy to understand: Destroy. Everything.

R.I.P. Midway.

Seeing this box art again after so many years triggers flashes of Blockbuster Video from my memory. I recall my brother and I running our fingers across the shelves down each aisle of the rental store, examining the games until we found one that we would take home for the weekend.

We spent more money on renting it than had we just bought it from the start, but when it’s not your money, you don’t think about these things. We very quickly locked in our favorite characters and spent what felt like forever just punching buildings and killing everything that approached us. Rampage showed your chosen character shrink back down to human size when enough damage had been received, and it gave us a weird sci-fi backstory about experiments gone wrong.

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14. Mario Kart 64

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Choosing the Sega Genesis over the Super NES meant that I didn’t play a lot of the 16-bit classics fully until my adult years. I missed out on Super Metroid and A Link to the Past, and only played some of Super Mario World at a friend’s, where it felt like this weird other universe that I was peering into and wasn’t meant to be a part of (that’s for a different cover story…).

One game from the SNES that I don’t feel cheated by having not played was Super Mario Kart. Some will swear by that game, calling it the best in the Mario Kart franchise. Some are very wrong.

Mario Kart 64, to date, is (probably) my favorite in the franchise. All games in the series use this game as the base to build upon and everything can be drawn back to this game. As the first 3D entry in the series, it set the standard for what would come and its Battle mode still cannot be topped. Local multiplayer was maybe not born with this game but it was certainly driven by Mario Kart 64. Without the simplicity in concept that Mario Kart 64 had and the easy-to-understand controls, despite an otherwise odd controller, the game allowed a group of friends or family to hang out and race. Even Burger King had a setup inside of a fake treehouse.

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13. Resident Evil 2

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This may be lower on our overall list of favorites, but it’s my personal #2 (because I can’t tie 1st place) favorite N64 game of all time.

Resident Evil 2 is not only my first(and favorite) RE, but my first horror game I’ve ever played as well as my gateway to the survival horror genre. I’ve beaten this game through and through when it first came out. Completed both Leon & Claire’s campaigns and then some. I was obsessed…and too young to being playing a game that’s rated M. I was 11 years old. The game was meant for my oldest brother, but like all little brothers, we take what isn’t ours.

There is one moment that will forever stick out to me. My first jump scare.

The date: Sometime around Christmas of ’99

The time: Around 8pm-10pm?

The place: My mom’s house

Both myself and my brother are hanging out in the living room. He’s sitting on the couch talking on the phone with a friend while I’m sitting in front of the TV, about halfway through the game I believe. It was shortly before or after meeting up with Claire in the S.T.A.R.S. Office. I’m walking around the hallways trying to figure out where to go next. The soundtrack provided an eerie yet soothing ambiance as I traversed the abandoned Raccoon City Police Department. The fixed camera angles constantly changing as I switch rooms. I start to back track and all of a sudden the music stops. I’m thrown off and a bit confused as to why that happened. I feel a sense of uneasiness so I decide to equip my newly found grenade launcher. I slowly walk by a couple of boarded up windows. They looked rendered with the background so I thought I’d be safe there.

THINK AGAIN YOU ELEVEN YEAR OLD LITTLE TURD!

*CRASH*

FOUR ZOMBIE ARMS BURST THROUGH THE WINDOW GRABBING AS I’M SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS!

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

I WASTE MY ENTIRE AMMUNITION OF GRENADES ON THIS WINDOW!

*BOOM* *BOOM* *BOOM* *BOOM* (etc)

I’M CURSING LIKE A SAILOR UNTIL I’M OUT OF AMMO!

*panting*

I calm down and begin to breathe. My brother is in tears from laughing so hard and he’s explaining to his friend what just happened. I’m in shock for a good five minutes or so. Realized my actions were premature for I need any ammo I can find. It sticks with me to this day because this moment left an impact. I was genuinely scared at first, but I loved it. It wasn’t the creepiest moment in that game either, but it’s one that left an impression. One that I’ll never forget.

Never was there a game prior to RE2 that had effected me in such a way. Never was there a game prior that could invoke feelings of fear, excitement, and serenity.(that save room music) Never was there game in the Resident Evil franchise that has been more memorable and arguably better than Resident Evil 2.

Never was there a game prior that was more life changing than Resident Evil 2.

“Enter the Survival Horror.”

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12. NFL Blitz

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If NBA Jam entered the third dimension and became a football game, then we’d have an elevator pitch for NFL Blitz.

As someone who was never great at sports and for whom sports grew less and less interesting as I grew older and older, I’m surprised at how badly I yearn for an over-the-top, arcade sports game. NFL Blitz is a football game that allows the player to play football as if with superpowered players. A Hail Mary pass stretches the length of the field and you build up a meter that gives you a chance to move even faster. The hits you land against your opponent are more intense than humanly possible but really just made the game stupid fun.

I wish more companies would make the likes of NBA Jam or even NBA Street, and I’d probably pay more attention to football if I had a Blitz-styled game to look forward to once a year.

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11. Donald Duck: Goin’ Quackers

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Donald Duck Goin’ Quackers is a game that will forever be cemented in my memory. My cousins Josh, Luke and I would always play together. We were raised on Disney so it was appropriate that this game would be part of our library.

I remember one level where Donald had to run away from a bear. There was also a thing that would happen where Donald would get incredibly angry and become damn near invincible. At least I think that’s what would happen. I don’t remember too many specifics but I remember always slamming that cartridge into the 64 and playing, taking turns between the three of us. We were the youngest and the game was deemed childish by our older brothers so we got to play in peace. Goin’ Quackers brings me back to a time when my family could actually calmly sit together and not have insults fly. I miss it. I’m sure if I played it now I would be disgusted and walk away forever.

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10. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon

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 Man, first Resident Evil 2 and now my personal all time favorite N64 game: Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. Gone so soon. They grow up so fast. *sniffle*

(Technically, these two games are tied at #1 for me because RE2 taps more into my more serious side of gaming while Goemon is more in tune with my more playful/old fashioned fun side. Goemon wins #1 for this list for actually having a slightly bigger impact on me as a kid.)

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this game up. The box art appealed to me and I believe it was on sale possibly? Perhaps the word “ninja” probably caught my attention.

I’ve always had a passion for eastern cultures as a kid. Granted it was a bit skewed and I was completely ignorant to most of it back then, but it plays a big part in my life even to this day. This game is no exception to that yet it had more to offer too. The game starts with a theme song that’s sung in Japanese with English subtitles. Think Dragon Ball Z’s Japanese opening song, “Cha-La Head-Che-La”. I remember thinking I was playing an imported game for a moment.

Then we get to the colorful cast of characters. You have your main hero, Goemon, who’s based on the semi-legendary outlaw hero (Ishikawa Goemon) who shares a similarity with Robin Hood of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Goemon’s joined by Ebisumaru, Yae, and Sasuke. You’re able to switch between all four characters at any time, each with their own play style and special abilities. Oh, and there’s even boss fights where you’re in a giant scary ass happy ass robot on roller skates. It’s awesome.

This game really did hit all the sweet spots for me. It had the right balance of art style,  an amazing soundtrack that gets stuck in your head, fluid controls & combat along with a fine tuned genre mix of platforming and action. I almost forgot to mention the writing. It’s mostly humorous and doesn’t take itself seriously. The game even features a laugh track. It was like playing an after school cartoon show full of adventure and excitement. It was wacky and unconventional yet somewhat traditional. I just simply love everything about this game…that I never completed O___O;;; let me explain..

So when I first had the game, I wasn’t mentally prepared to stay dedicated to it. I was obsessed with other games at the time and I even sold the cartridge to a friend. After a day or two, I felt pretty bad about doing that since my parents got me that game and I didn’t realize until then how much Goemon meant to me. Luckily, I was able to get it back and give the game another chance, but I still didn’t get to finish it because other games on this list took my by surprise. It’s okay though, as far the Nintendo 64 goes, Goemon will always be my homeboy. Not even Link can hold a candle to him.

Please don’t tell Link.

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9. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

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My first exposure to The Legend of Zelda was at my friend Donny’s house. I spent a lot of time watching him play single player games and I just sort of absorbed what he was playing. Sometimes, I’d become intrigued enough to want a copy for myself.

Majora’s Mask’s predecessor was one such game, immediately captivating me and requiring that I get my hands on Ocarina of Time as soon as possible. Having loved it for its own merit, it held a special place for me as one of the first games I can remember completing.

When The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask released, it was one that I was eager to play but I resigned myself to vicarious enjoyment sitting in Donny’s basement and occasionally trying on a mask or two. Something about its weirdness always pushed me away and it wasn’t until much later that I would truly appreciate the game in a real way.

My memories of it are filled with a constant fear that our own moon would soon come crashing down and that the only way I could stop it was to order an ocarina from the back of Nintendo Power.

This was the first Zelda game I had ever completed and helped concrete my passion for the series. I had that gold cartridge and strategy guide too (Official Nintendo Player’s Guide. Not that PRIMA crap)

I remember that sense of dread hovering over me the entire time playing until I got the Zora mask and just started playing guitar and throwing my sick arm-boomerangs. I enjoyed most of the characters and side quests in this game more than the main dungeons. The one thing I really like about this game is the Fierce Deity’s Mask. Collecting all of the other masks and giving them to the moon children just to get this mask was worth it …sort of. Playing as an adult badass Link with this twisted looking blade that shot beams (A 3D Zelda with shooting sword beams!) fighting this grotesque thing that is Majora’s Wrath was fun, but lackluster. Talk about overpowered. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a blast, but..c’mon…some challenge at least?

I always wanted an adult Link with the Master Sword and Fierce Deity’s Mask fighting Ganon who’d be wearing Majora’s Mask. I use to dream of this fight for years. Just imagine how amazing that would be for a second. Yeah.

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8. Pokémon Stadium

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 I sort of remember the marketing for this game and I was hyped for days and days. Being able to transfer my pokémon from my Red version to Stadium, seeing them go from 2D to 3D was phenomenal to me at the time. However, one obstacle stood between the game and I: Money. I can’t remember how much the game was, but I do know it was expensive for a 6th grader like myself.

Then one morning at my bus stop, a kid notices something down by the curb. It was a folded up one hundred dollar bill. Inside my mind I was freaking out. I had to have this game and nothing was gonna stop me from trying. I stooped low, but not too low. My friend and I actually convinced him it was a fake and the kid let me keep it. My heart was racing with excitement and guilt, but more so excitement. Some how, kids at my school were finding out that I had this hundred dollar bill. I even had classmates walk up to me at my locker claiming it was theirs and they dropped it. So I’d quiz them and they all failed of course. I couldn’t wait for this day to end so I could go home. I ran into my house and demanded my mom to take me to Toys “R” Us to reserve my copy. The moment that blue and yellow ticket was in my hand, I felt the biggest wave of relief go right through me.

I finally get the game, and man, that intro. That hub world. Them mini games. That ability to play Red version in color on my 64 like it’s a Super Game Boy. I think I may have played the mini-games more than anything. Creating the Transfer Pak was such an ingenious thing for Nintendo to do. Truly a staple idea that has evolved with them throughout the generations. Kudos Nintendo. Can’t wait for NX.

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7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

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I’ve written about my love for the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series before, but this game is where it began; the N64 version specifically.

When compared to its PlayStation counterpart, it struggles to keep up. The controls were better on Sony’s hardware and the soundtrack played full songs instead of looping clips on a per level basis. Yet for me, that is the charm of this version of the game. The guitar riff of “Police Truck” by Dead Kennedy’s will always flash images of Downhill Jam for me, and it wasn’t until I was in my teens and buying CDs that I even knew the song had lyrics.

So much of this era in games is defined by the attitude of the 1990s and this game is the middle finger of that hand. After years of Sega and Nintendo screaming at one another via campaigns like “Play It Loud!” and flashy terms like “Blast Processing,” the extreme era shaved its head and turned up the volume with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

So here I am
doing everything I can
holding on to what I am
pretending I’m a superman

I’m trying to keep
the ground on my feet
it seems the world’s
falling down around me

The nights are all long
I’m singing this song
to try and make the answers
more than maybe

And I’m so confused
about what to do
sometimes I want
to throw it all away

So here I am
growing older all the time
looking older all the time
feeling younger in my mind

And here I am
doing everything I can
holding on to what I am
pretending I’m a superman

I’m trying to sleep
I lost count of the sheep
my mind is racing faster
every minute

What could I do more
yeah I’m really not sure
I know I’m running circles
but I can’t quit

And I’m so confused
about what to do
sometimes I want
to throw it all away

Controlling everything in site
I’m feeling weak
I don’t feel right
you’re telling me
I have to change
telling me to act my age
but if all that I can do
is just sit and watch time go
then I’ll have to say good-bye
life’s too short to watch it fly
to watch it fly

So here I am
growing older all the time
looking older all the time
feeling younger in my mind

And here I am
doing everything I can
holding on to what I am
pretending I’m a superman

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6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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This is the first game I can recall finishing from beginning to end. Everything I had played before was always something that had no end, like Tetris; or I would only replay the beginning stages or first half of the game, like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Sonic the Hedgehog 2. To me, at that age I never thought about game story or ending. Not at least in the linear way that it was presented in Ocarina of Time.

I was absolutely terrified of Ganondorf as he leapt from the paintings in the opening temple. In fact, I took my cartridge to my friend’s house so that he could show me how to do it on a different save because I didn’t want to face it alone. Once I saw how it was done, I braved the rest of the game knowing I would be okay.

It was very easy to fall in love with this game. You really wanted to collect every item, every suit, and chase down every last Big Poe. Every new temple was another chance to find a new favorite area in the game, each one taking you through a different element.

I think my favorite part of this game was the time travel. Not for the game mechanic or even the major story arc, but specifically for stuff like returning to the town just outside of Hyrule Castle. There was a sense of despair that was natural, and potentially being felt by me for the very first time in my life. I was experiencing this feeling before withstanding any real-life death or trauma. It may have been the tipping point, eventually pushing me to run to my mom crying at 2 AM one night explaining how I didn’t want to die one day.

Here. We. Go.

I had no idea what kind of game I was looking at when I saw it. I remember my cousin owning the game without the box. It didn’t stand out to me at first so I’d continue to look through his collection to play something. I also vaguely remember a commercial for OoT. In retrospect, it’s the same song that was used in Nintendo’s E3 2004 announcement of Twilight Princess. Which is “Riddle of Steel/Riders of Doom” by Basil Poledouris (from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack)

On one of many trips to Best Buy, my brother was buying Duke Nukem 64 (well would you look at that!) and I was gazing upon the original action figures of OoT (singles and 3-packs) as well as the original figures for Final Fantasy VII. If only I knew then they’d be relics worth having. I was more into FFVII at the time so I kinda ignored OoT for a little bit. Yet there it was, waiting for me.

By the time I finally get around to playing it, I dove in. I soaked in everything that was the Kokiri Forest. I don’t know if this is narcissism or stroking my ego in someway, but I would try to insert/reflect myself to anything if it seemed possible. Being a blonde-hair/ blue eyed boy such as myself, I immediately was able to connect with the young Link. I’d pretend that I was him whenever I wasn’t playing. When I’d visit my grandmother, I’d play with this cologne bottle that was shaped like a dagger. That was my Kokiri Sword. Her house was Link’s tree house. My childhood crush was my Zelda. It was bad. I was already heavy into King Arthur and anything with swords. That goes double for my Lego sets. I was also (still am) obsessed with castles. Ocarina of Time felt like the game that was meant for me. Something I thought not many people knew about at the time.

Though I loved this game heavily and though there’s nothing really like it, I had a problem I couldn’t fix back then. Time and time again I would play this game up until you’re an adult at the Forest Temple. I could never finish it. I’d get stuck and sometimes freaked out by the Wallmaster’s shadow. I’d get frustrated to the point of turning off the game and not playing it for a long time. I did this a couple times before playing (and completing) Majora’s Mask. I even had the issue with the Game Cube rerelease with Master Quest if you preordered Wind Waker and still had that same issue. Though this time around, I think it was me being less interested and motivated to play.

Sad to say, I didn’t give the game a fair chance until the 3DS version came out and I owed it to myself to officially complete this game. Not only did I complete OoT, I went the distance and finished Master Quest (which I hold highly as the definitive way to play OoT). It’s like I had to be an adult like Link to finish the game I started as a kid.

Even though I have my disagreements with this game, I must give credit where credit is due: The Legend of Zelda series did not only leave an enormous impact in the video game industry, it left an everlasting bond with me that has vastly shaped my life and who I am today. Thank you Ocarina of Time.

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5. Pokémon Snap

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I had my fun with this one. Especially with the Pokémon Snap station at Blockbuster. I collected all of those cards and spent more time printing photos than playing the game. I was even printing photos from Pokémon Stadium. Sucks the images were super tiny and didn’t stick too well on my bedroom door or on my binder full of Pokémon cards. Nintendo sure loved the idea of taking photos and printing them. Even on the Game Boy with the Game Boy Camera and printer. The Game Boy Camera even had sprites of Pokémon you could place on your photos. This was months before Red and Blue version reached the states so that’s technically Pokémon’s first debut in the US. Professor Oak describes my moments with this game overall with one simple word:

“WONDERFUL!”

My most vivid memory of this game is the trips to Blockbuster to use the station. My brother and I went what felt like every day just to collect all of the Pokémon Snap cards.

Of all of the facets of video games that will die with their respective times, stuff like this integration into Blockbuster is especially sad to see lost in time. Obviously, we don’t have much of a need for something like this kiosk, nor Blockbuster really. Yet the idea of it is still so clever and something absolutely essential to my experience with this era in gaming.

As far as the game goes, Pokémon Snap was pretty straightforward. A game that moved the player around on rails and let you click a button to take a picture of Pokémon, catching them all in a different way this time around. From what I remember of it, we ran through its content rather quickly and played it a few times back to back to get those extra few rare monsters that we missed the first time around.

I’ve talked a lot about Pokémon Snap. It will always be my favorite game for the Nintendo 64. It’s just about the only game that really matters. It’s such an easy game. Which most definitely isn’t a bad thing. Taking roughly 30 minutes to beat, Pokémon Snap does leave me wanting more. However, my memories take me back to sitting on my bed with a green controller in my hand trying to get as many photos of my amazing friends as possible (60 photos) I would constantly play this game. I’d sit cross-legged on my bed until both of my legs fell asleep. I love taking pictures of Squirtle. When they would all swim in front of your cart and you could throw shit at them, that had to be my favorite part. Not because it hurt them, but it made me remember trying to get a pet’s attention and having to throw something at them. All the little Easter eggs and tricks that you could trigger made the game even better. Every single person on this earth should play Pokémon Snap.

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4. Conker’s Bad Fur Day

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The N64 was nothing to me if not a multiplayer machine. No console before or after this would put me in a room for as long of a time to play with other people like this one.

While Conker’s Bad Fur Day was a thrust into maturity for me at the time, one that I wrote about recently, the single player was where I spent the least amount of time with the game.

My most vivid memories of the game were playing the multiplayer with my brother. It was Tediz vs Squirrels over and over again in, what I remember to be, some really inventive deathmatch gameplay. We helped build it up too, as we would often add our own meta game to what was already at play.

For us, it was important that our team won, but only when we hit our own goals. For example, you really only won when you didn’t die by the hand of your brother once for the game. Or you only won if you used a specific weapon. We would set these random qualifiers with no other precedent other than “I shouted this thing before you shouted your thing” and somehow that became the rules for that match. It was also really cool for a twelve year-old to watch a teddy bear fall apart and all of the stuffing spill out in place of blood and guts.

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3. Super Mario 64

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We wouldn’t have the N64 as we know it if it weren’t for Super Mario 64. We wouldn’t have video games as we know them if it weren’t for Super Mario 64.

Debuting at launch with the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 set the precedent for platformers in the third dimension. It was the first game to do it in a way that felt right, which came as a result of the design of the controller and of course its producer and directors, Shigeru Miyamoto alongside Yoshiaki Koizumi and Takashi Tezuka.

There’s been a long-running trope that the N64 controller was designed specifically for this game. It isn’t entirely accurate, as Nintendo as stated, however specific pieces of the hardware were dictated by the developers behind the game. The analog stick in particular is something that the hardware would require in order to control Mario in the way he was intended to be controlled.

There are so many things about this game that changed the course of video games moving forward. When we thought about what the N64 meant after twenty years, we named our cover story “Influence,” which was largely looking at Super Mario 64 as the staple of the legacy that the console leaves behind.

I think my favorite moment in the entire game, besides the snowy levels, is when you look into the sun for the first time. It’s a hidden surprise that catches you off guard when you first realize what is happening. Additionally, Koji Kondo’s music is iconic as ever, leaving the most vivid of memories etched into my head. Seeing certain images from the game invokes waves of sound bouncing between my ears and I can always hear the little subtleties of his sound floating around.

I fell in love with Super Mario 64 instantly. Seeing all the advertisement previews that feature a new 3D debut of Mario. It was a major leap from SNES to N64 and it blew. My. Mind. Hype was through the roof. Buying cereal with the art on it (Boo on the cover of Rice Krispies) as well as having the Winged Mario plushie from 7-11. He went with me to and from school.

Hearing Mario talk for the first time put a smile on my face as I stretch his face. Everything felt magical. The music, the sound effects, visuals. Introducing Lakitu as your cameraman rather than a villain was creative. Everything about this game is creative and full of imagination & wonder. I’d spend time just exploring outside of the castle while the birds would chirp. Getting a feel of the controls without worrying about enemies or time running out. Discovery was the theme here and I was blown away by how you’re able to approach almost everything from multiple angles. This is the Legend of Zelda of Mario games. To a point of course.

My fondest memory isn’t exactly within the game, but how it influenced me heavily to create a home movie. I remember asking for a pair of overalls for Christmas just so I could dress up like Mario. I built a castle of cardboard boxes and used markers to draw the bricks. I asked my mom to be the princess so she wore her pink bathrobe since that was the closest thing to Peach’s dress. My brother Ryan wanted to be Bowser so he placed a clothing hamper on his back to use as Bowser’s shell. I made my dad or my other brother take the camera and film my “play”. I was narrating, directing, and acting. It was crap, but its so sentimental as it was one of my earliest experiences with filming and it’s all thanks to Super Mario 64.

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2. Super Smash Bros.

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Super Smash Bros. continues to be a dominant part of Nintendo’s appeal and attraction to the masses, and it all began with this game. I think that the game is so successful and so well-received because of how approachable it is. Every time a new title is announced, we all lament the tiniest of details or character exclusions (and sometimes inclusions), but there really is always something for everyone in the game.

The original game came to me by way of a childhood friend, Donny, who had everything. My brother and I went to Donny’s to hang out and he presented us with the box for Super Smash Bros. We looked over it for a while, studying the images on the back of the box for a while and asking random questions about what we expected to play, unsure of what the game really was.

The magic of playing the game was that immediately, we understood it. We picked our respective favorite characters and they were brought to life atop the walls of Hyrule Castle. Without much trouble, we figured out easily how to move and use our character’s special moves. By the time we were being picked up later that evening, we found ourselves harassing our mom to race us to Target and procure a copy of our own. I remember doing just that and spending the rest of the night playing the game until we could no longer stay awake.

For me, Super Smash Bros. is particularly special because it celebrates Nintendo. The first game was my introduction to new characters that would later become the protagonists of my favorite games. Without Super Smash Bros., I’d have never known about EarthBound, and likely neither would a majority of people. Until she was zapped and the screen paused just right, I never knew Samus was a girl and that she was the star of some of the greatest games ever made. Apart from even the roster, the inclusion of specific items in the game as well as locations dictated that the player quickly learn a lot more about Nintendo’s history than they had before. It was the best way to bring everything together in one package and make you want to see everything that it had hidden inside.

 Imagine me and you.
I do.
I think about you day and night.
It’s only right.
To think about the one you- want to be the ever loving polygonal crap out of because Super Smash Bros. is where it’s at baby!

When that commercial came on where the mascots (Mario, Yoshi, DK, and Pikachu) were all skipping together and then going to war, it was hilarious and exciting. Nintendo did it again! The game where it all started and got us hooked for years on end. What was once a simple, little, party game grew into becoming a hybrid competitive and casual game. I still play Smash to this day (mostly 3DS version to kill time). There was a year on The Free Cheese podcast where that’s all we played and it all started here.

I remember the intro to the game and how inaccurate Pikachu’s size was in comprison to both the pokéball and Ash’s foot that walked by. What pokéball is bigger than a foot? I’m almost certain it’s Ash that’s walking by. Fight me on this. I dare you.

Despite this, I couldn’t wait to play as Pikachu. That’s all I wanted. I wasn’t heavy into Zelda yet so I didn’t care much for Link, believe it or not. I also played as Mario and Fox a lot. Fox was probably my second choice. Like most of us, this game introduced me to Ness and Captain Falcon. I love the idea that they were toys in a kid’s bedroom because that’s what most of us did with our favorite action figures. We have our own little crossovers and act out all these grand battles. So I took Master Hand as the child intervening. It was deep for me. Like Toy Story deep.

For them to later turn into trophies followed by their amiibo counterparts is such a perfect idea that it came full circle officially. And to think this originally wasn’t going have Nintendo characters. That was a last minute idea and a great one at that. Before it was Final Destination with no items, it was Sector Z with Pokéballs only for me. Lets do this.

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1. Goldeneye 007

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 I’ve never seen a James Bond movie. I saw Pierce Brosnan in Mrs. Doubtfire, but I don’t think that counts. Yet somehow, I was obsessed with that property for at least an entire year of my life.

Thanks to Rare’s innovative title, I was not alone in my obsession that year, as Goldeneye 007 was likely featured on many a television screen across the globe. It was not the first first-person shooter, but it was the first that mattered in a big way. It was the one that set the precedent for all of our modern first-person shooters. It added a new dimension and a new layer where Doom and Quake hadn’t before it.

While its single-player campaign was impressive and certainly cinematic, the cartridge received the most usage in its multiplayer mode for me. If it had been a VHS tape, it would have been the part that played all funky now because of how frequently we’d revisit the same section. Yes, the Phoebe Cates of Goldeneye was running through the Facility or Complex stages tossing remote mines and listening to the sound of the Klobb unload its clip onto your opponent. It taught strategy and encouraged creativity at a young age for me, as we continued to invent new scenarios to play through and new reasons to continue playing this game.

It’s a game that cannot be successfully replicated today. It was part of the zeitgeist when it was released and it took advantage of the situation we were in. This was before we were playing games online, before we were all connected to everything, and before we had expensive computers attached to our hips. Goldeneye 007 was an experience that we can’t relive, but can remember fondly.

I honestly thought Super Smash Bros. was going to be our number one. I think at the end of day, GoldenEye deserves this spot.

If owned a 64 or knew someone who did, chances are you played this game or at the very least spectated it. I was terrible with single player. I always ended up picking the easiest mode for each mission because I didn’t know what to do or I’d die too fast too often. Half of the time I’d get lost. Take the snowy bunker level. I’d walk around that entire map for years not realizing where to go. Exploring every cabin I’d stumble upon. I wish I could’ve killed everyone with the watch laser. Hiding out in the vents in the men’s room of the facility was a favorite moment of mine. No man was safe from pinching a soviet turd.
But no one cares about the campaign. We care about the multiplayer. The Call of Duty before Call of Duty, the Halo before Halo, GoldenEye’s multiplayer was the first and most addictive moment in gaming I’ve witnessed at a young age. I loved using the cheats. All guns, all characters, golden gun, paintball mode, and my two top favorites: DK Mode with slappers only. Even in the campaign mode I enjoyed this. Just having big goofy headed players run around karate chopping the crap out of each other. Truly an amazing and hilarious moment for me and I’m not even really the competitive type.
That being said, I believe humor and competition is a healthy combination. I guarantee you won’t be as pissed off when you’re playing with that one person who plays as Oddjob when have some goofy modes enabled…unless they’re screen watching.

Posted by Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day. He has a disorder that causes him to believe that he is Batman and his favorite video game is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

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  1. […] of the Nintendo 64, we’re playing the best launch title ever and number 3 on our list of favorite N64 games: Super Mario […]

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