Best N64 Game From Every Year Of Its Lifecylce


  • Nintendo 64 was a 3D gaming pioneer with iconic platformers still beloved today.
  • The N64 had a short lifecycle but quality titles every year.
  • Legendary N64 games like
    Super Mario 64
    Ocarina of Time
    defined gaming evolution.

The transition to 3D was a key moment in the video game industry, and Nintendo threw its hat in the ring with its now iconic console, the Nintendo 64. Over the next few years, this revolutionary system would end up being the home of several of the most influential video games of all time.


8 Best 3D Nintendo 64 Platformers, Ranked

The Nintendo 64 was a pioneer of 3D gaming, and many of the console’s classic platforming games are still a joy to play today.

To the surprise of most Nintendo fans, the Nintendo 64’s life was relatively short, since the company arrived late to the 3D scene in 1996, and the console was later discontinued in 2002 when everyone had already moved on to the next generation. Nevertheless, every single one of those 6 years was filled to the brim with quality titles that left a huge impression on everyone who enjoyed them.

7 Super Mario 64 (1996)

A Launch Title That Changed Gaming Forever

Mario exploring Bob-Omb Battlefield.

Super Mario 64

September 26, 1996


3D Platformer

Because of its late release, Nintendo had the difficult task of impressing players in a market where fully 3D consoles, like the PlayStation, were already available. It’s because of this that the Nintendo 64 had one of the best launch titles ever, with the absolute classic that is Super Mario 64. Nintendo was aware that they could never go wrong with Mario.

Super Mario 64 was not just positively received because of its beloved protagonist but also because it’s an amazing game that displayed the true evolution of the franchise as it jumped to the 3D world. It used every element of the Nintendo 64, from its powerful hardware to its innovative control, to give players a true glimpse of what gaming was going to look like from that point on. Not to mention, it featured colorful worlds with wacky characters and beautiful music.

6 Star Fox 64 (1997)

3D Graphics Somehow Got Better

The first level of Star Fox 64.

Star Fox 64

June 30, 1997

Nintendo EAD

Rail Shooter

By its second year, the Nintendo 64’s catalog was getting better, with a lot of solid first and third-party releases. But there’s one game that immediately caught the public’s attention in 1997, and it was Star Fox 64. After all, this was the anticipated sequel to Star Fox, a 3D Super Nintendo game that had impacted the entire industry a few years before. How could Fox McCloud & his friends evolve on the Nintendo 64?

This ended up being one of the best sequels ever made. The graphics in Star Fox were impressive, but lacked a lot of detail. On the other hand, Star Fox 64 finally felt like a true adventure through space, with detailed models and environments. The gameplay also got a major upgrade, with more bosses, vehicles and more dynamic combat. This is a game so good that it was never really surpassed by anything else in the franchise that came out after it.

5 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

The N64’s Big System Seller

Link exploring Hyrule Field.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

November 21, 1998


1998 was one of the best years for the console, with amazing releases like Banjo-Kazooie or F-Zero X. But none of those games could reach the level of importance that the first 3D Legend of Zelda title had in the industry. After all, Mario had a smooth transition to 3D, so everybody was eager to see what was going to happen with Link and Princess Zelda.


5 Best Boss Fights On The Nintendo 64

The N64 witnessed a lot of memorable boss fights throughout its tenure.

As everybody knows now, the result was Ocarina of Time, which is still considered one of the best video games ever made. The advanced 3D graphics let Nintendo developers tell a more complex & emotional story with memorable characters, and it led them to create big dungeons with creative level design and epic boss battles. To top it all off, its Z-targeting mechanic ended up influencing all future 3D action games in subsequent years. Because of all of this and more, Ocarina of Time definitely deserves its prestigious reputation.

4 Donkey Kong 64 (1999)

The Biggest 3D Collectathon Yet

Donkey Kong, Diddy, Tiny, Lanky and Chunky perform the DK Rap.

Donkey Kong 64

November 24, 1999


3D collectathon platformers thrived on the Nintendo 64, with games like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie and many more. Some of these iconic titles were developed by Rare, who in 1999 came back to the beloved Donkey Kong franchise and developed one of the biggest and most complex platformers ever made.

The scope of Donkey Kong 64 is extremely impressive for the Nintendo 64, as this game has so much content in one package. There are so many playable characters, levels, bosses, and items to collect that it has hundreds of hours of play guaranteed. All of it was constructed with Rare’s signature style, with beautiful environments, catchy music, quirky characters, and a fun sense of humor.

3 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)

A Dark Adventure That Kept The N64 Relevant

Deku Link explores Clock Town.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

October 26, 2000

Nintendo EAD

By the turn of the millennium, most people were already focused on the new generation of consoles, like the Sega Dreamcast or the PlayStation 2. But the Nintendo 64 had a few aces up its sleeve, and one of the most important ones was its brand-new entry in the Legend of Zelda franchise. But this one was extremely different from Ocarina of Time.

Despite the fact that Majora’s Mask recycles a lot of assets from its predecessor, it builds an entirely different story and setting in a clever way. This time around, Link has to stop Skull Kid from ending the world by making the moon fall on the land of Termina. This means that this is a dark narrative with many emotional beats and mature moments for this franchise. It also has a three-day cycle mechanic that, while confusing at first, ends up feeling really refreshing, and it made this game feel like nothing that came before or after. The Nintendo 64 managed to release not one but two legendary Legend of Zelda games close to each other.

2 Paper Mario (2001)

The Next Step In Mario RPGs

Mario and Peach face Bowser at the beggining of the game.

Paper Mario

February 5, 2001

Even though Nintendo was ready to make the jump to the next generation, with the GameCube releasing in late 2001, they still released some incredible games on Nintendo 64 during 2001, with one of the best ones being Paper Mario. This was fairly significant because this was Mario’s anticipated return to the role-playing genre since the release of Super Mario RPG a few years prior.


8 Ambitious But Flawed Nintendo 64 Games That Need Modern Remakes

These Nintendo 64 games were certainly ambitious and deserve modern remakes.

This time around, Nintendo didn’t join forces with Square Enix but instead handed the keys to Intelligent Systems, who created something truly special with the IP. With its unique and charming paper aesthetic, its simple yet accessible RPG mechanics, and its huge cast of likable characters, Paper Mario is an unforgettable adventure that would end up creating a new subseries of beloved role-playing games starring an adorable paper version of Mario.

1 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (2002)

Going Out With A (Multiplatform) Bang

Playing through the first level as Tony Hawk himself.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Nintendo 64 Release Date: August 20, 2002

As expected, the Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2002, as most players had already moved to the GameCube. But one of the biggest surprises of the year was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, a solid game that, despite the fact that it was released on multiple platforms (including the GameCube itself), was graced with a Nintendo 64 release as well.

Luckily for Nintendo 64 users, this was a really fun sports title. As the third entry in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, it introduced a slew of new mechanics that refined the formula, and it featured a good number of new skateboarders and levels. This was the very last game released on the console, and while it may not have been the most impressive one of the bunch, it was better than some of the final games on other Nintendo systems.


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