Despite being released (in the US) over seventeen years ago, The Nintendo 64 remains a veritable gold-mine of entertainment. The games I (read: my parents) bought fifteen years ago are still amazingly fun, and if you haven’t picked up that horribly awkward controller in a while, I encourage you to do so. In ascending order, here are my top four suggestions for what games you need to play to keep your mind off the fact that any NEW game you want to play will cost half of your paycheck this month (you didn’t need groceries anyway, right?):
4. Mario Party
Do you have friends? Want to change that? Play this game.
The series continues into the new generation of consoles, of course. This is not surprising, considering the immense popularity of the first few installments. I personally prefer the first three games; after that, the charm tends to wear off. Also, consider buying a cushion for your palm. That infamous joystick on the controller will be getting quite a work out, and you will be getting a brand-new deformed mass of muscle where your hand used to be.
3. Mario Kart 64
Here’s another really fun game that can make you and friends stop talking to one another for a while. It’s been done over and over again since, each new installment adding new items, hazards, and gimmicks to keep you coming back for more racing nonsense. In fact, this is the only racing game that I can stand to play, despite the rage that it invariably produces. And let’s not forget this particular little gem:
Don’t forget to try that awesome jump on Rainbow Road, either.
2. Ogre Battle 64
At this point, I assume you have no friends left, so we’ll move on to my personal favorite type of game: 1-player games!
This game is a great amount of fun, not least of which because it’s part of a series of games in which I have never dabbled beyond this particular installment. Character customizations, a storyline, fun (if dated) visual effects, tactics – the game has everything you need to waste a solid 60+ hours of your life trying to save a non-existent country from a non-existent threat while you eat Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew. Get it, if you don’t have it.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Oh come on, like you weren’t expecting to see this game at the top of the list. This game is amazingly enjoyable, and its successor, Majora’s Mask, is still equally fun. This game showed us what the 3D modeling of future consoles would be capable of doing while managing to have an immense amount of replay potential. It was on the slightly pixelated field of Hyrule that I – and you, most likely – got really good at aiming at stuff that could fly and move around with surprising agility, even if we did have to rely on that z-targeting mechanic that always felt a little like cheating. And trust me, I know that I’m not the only one who loves this game; have you seen some of the amazing fan art being generated right now about a game that came out over a decade ago?
If your N64 is stuffed away somewhere, go get it out. If you sold yours and traded up, give Nintendo even more of your money by downloading some of these games onto your console. You’ll be glad you did.