The Nintendo 64’s library of games was always bemoaned for being tiny. However, many gamers in the late 1990s and early 2000s still would not have had the money or time to really experience all the excellent games the console did have despite its relatively small number. Classic games such as Super Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario Kart 64 were in most people’s collection, of course, but casual N64 gamers might not know of all the excellent alternatives to commonly owned classic games that are out there. Below, Steven Smith (aka @N64Memories on Twitter) suggests 20 alternative N64 games you might want to try instead of your usual go-to games…
Mario Kart 64/Diddy Kong Racing South Park Rally
Mario Kart 64 and, some might say, Diddy Kong Racing are the kings of the kart genre. However, South Park Rally is certainly worth playing if you need to refresh your racing fix because it not only taps into what makes the aforementioned games great, but adds in a classic dose of South Park humour as well as unique challenges not found elsewhere. Trying to collect and hold onto an antidote that will cure you of Mad Cow’s Disease is a unique way of using the karting skills honed in Mario Kart 64. It is a well-crafted game, bundles of fun and different enough not to just be a clone.
GoldenEye 007 The World is not Enough
A lot of what made Rare’s GoldenEye 007 the seminal console first-person shooter is shamelessly plagiarised here in TWINE, but ultimately that’s not a problem. This is because the developers, Eurocom, have reused these features exceptionally well to create another immersive Bond adventure that is just as exciting as GoldenEye 007. In fact, there are a few aspects of TWINE that are better than GoldenEye, which I outlined here in an article on my blog. With this article, I wasn’t saying it is the better game but that it has taken the successful GoldenEye 007 formula and added good gameplay elements to it. Definitely worth playing if you haven’t already.
International Superstar Soccer/FIFA Michael Owen’s World League Soccer 2000
Released in the USA as Mia Hamm Soccer 64, this soccer sim is definitely on a par with the N64 FIFA games and just shy of the brilliance of Konami’s ISS series. The British-based developers used varied camera angles, tight responsive controls and a range of player moves to try to offer an alternative to the dominance of EA and Konami. It sold fairly well but was unfairly overlooked because of the likes of FIFA and now is the time to tell people to give it another chance!
Wave Race 64 Hydro Thunder
Surprisingly, the success of Wave Race 64 early on in the N64’s life didn’t cause of flood (pun intended) of replica games onto the system. Maybe developers knew they couldn’t match its success, who knows. However, Midway’s release is a viable alternative as it is a great conversion of the arcade game. The graphics are gorgeous, the tracks are numerous and varied enough to repeatedly enjoy, and it handles responsively too. Although it isn’t a Wave Race 64 beater, it is similar and it is very accomplished. There’s no harm in putting down Wave Race for a little while if you haven’t tried this yet.
Yoshi’s Story Mischief Makers
2D gaming was going out of fashion in the late 1990s and it took something extra special on a 3D console to get gamers to take notice. Although not as deep as Yoshi’s Island on the Super NES, Yoshi’s Story was a popular 2D platformer on the N64 and clearly had a sprinkle of that Nintendo magic that got people fawning over it. A few other alternative 2D platformers exist to Yoshi’s Story but none as exciting as Mischief Makers. You are Marina, a robot out to save her creator who has been kidnapped. Levels are unique because you SHAKE SHAKE your way up, down and through the semi-2D levels. The story line is bonkers but the levels and worlds that occupy the game are lovely and it gets pretty darn challenging towards the end. To extend longevity, each level can be completed in a time frame to earn awards and there are plenty of secrets to uncover. With 2D back in fashion, there’s no better time to rediscover this one.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M
From the same development company came an alternative first-person shooter in a similar vein to the Turok sequel. However, Turok 2 was a hugely popular game and Armorines also had GoldenEye 007 to contend with. This means it was overlooked by many casual N64 gamers and shooter enthusiasts. This is a shame because Armorines is a nifty little shooter: swapping dinosaurs for bugs as well as prehistoric settings for futuristic ones. It plays and handles exactly the same as the Turok series and anyone who is a fan of Turok would adore this as well.
Resident Evil 2 Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
Resident Evil 2 was the ultimate survival horror game for the N64 and PlayStation. However, a decent alternative is the second N64 Castlevania game (the game the first release was meant to be). It is survival horror of the more action variety as you battle giant skeletons, werewolves and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. The levels are vast, the puzzles are solveable but not too easy and there’s plenty to unlock. It’s not as tight a game as Resident Evil 2 but seeing as RE2 was quite a short experience, it’s probably time to think about alternatives and Legacy of Darkness is worth a go.
F-Zero X San Francisco Rush 2049
Lots of futuristic racers exist on the N64 but this is the most worthy alternative that many have probably missed out on. The third N64 instalment of the Rush series is great because it gives you lush futuristic cityscapes with maximum speed and adrenaline-filled racing. The challengers in a race are hard to beat and there are secret passages packed into every track to take advantage of in order to win. F-Zero X is king but here is your prince.
Banjo Kazooie Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Although not a Banjo Kazooie beater, Rayman 2 is a solid platformer that owes a lot to Rare’s great game. It shares similar types of non-playable characters who speak oddly, focus on collectables, great variety in locations, puzzle solving and cut-scenes. It never reaches the heights of Banjo Kazooie’s quality because of its linear nature and lack of save points. However, for those who like the Banjo type of platformer, then this is definitely an option.
WWF No Mercy Virtual Pro-Wrestling 2
The N64 is home to many a great wrestling game: mostly thanks to THQ/AKI Ace and, to a lesser extent, Acclaim. These mostly come with a WCW or a WWE licence but there was this Japanese-only release that rivals them all. VPW2 was also AKI Ace produced and featured the great grappling with no sluggishness or over-complicated bout types that come with American Sports Entertainment. This was fast-paced wrestling at its best and has the added bonus of some whacky Japanese commentary. If you have a NTSC-J N64 and love wrestling games then definitely play this as an alternative to WWF No Mercy.
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask Hybrid Heaven
Comparisons between these two games are numerous: action/adventure mixed with RPG, a more sinister storyline with darker environments to explore as well as a host of idiosyncratic characters to meet along the way. Konami’s Hybrid Heaven was a great attempt at producing something the N64 didn’t have at the time and while they are not all successful, it does well at gripping you from the outset with its curious main character and storyline. If you have exhausted Majora’s Mask on the N64 and 3DS then Hybrid Heaven is your next point of call.
Rogue Squadron Battle for Naboo
Battle for Naboo was the spiritual successor to the fantastic Rogue Squadron before Rogue Leader came along on the Nintendo GameCube. It has a lukewarm reputation because of the lacklustre film it is based on. However, if you can see past its Episode 1 links (like you can with Episode 1: Racer) then you will have an enjoyable Star Wars shooter on your hands. It not only sends you to the skies but has you grounded too in various machines doing battle. In addition, you are treated to a lush graphical upgrade as well as maintaining the medal challenges of Rogue Squadron. A worthwhile alternative.
Snowboard Kids Snowboard Kids 2
A little bit of a rarity this sequel but if you are a huge fan of the first and haven’t played the second then you must look this up. In terms of gameplay it is identical, but you have a whole new set of tracks, some new racers, improved graphics and even a little hub world to explore. Only for serious fans.
Perfect Dark Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion
The threequel starts off in a world not too dissimilar to that of Perfect Dark’s; the similarities in location, non-playable characters and futuristic weapons are too hard to ignore. Clearly, Iguana Entertainment saw how stupendous Perfect Dark was looking and went for it! Therefore, Turok 3 is a nice little alternative initially to sink your teeth into before you start to see its roots in the two prequels coming through. For me, it was the best of both and is certainly a game to find and play if you haven’t before.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Similarities between the two extend further than using a colon in their respective titles. In fact, I suspect the Hercules development team played Ocarina of Time throughout the game’s creation. By no means is Hercules a like-for-like game – both in terms of content and quality, because it is not. However, casual fans of both the TV series it is based upon and Ocarina of Time will enjoy sinking their gaming teeth into this one if you haven’t already. There are many locations to explore, fighting on your journey to be had, bosses to battle and items to collect. The RPG elements are by no means as in-depth as Ocarina of Time but they do exist and it has a Zelda-like feel to its graphics and music. Worth a sniff.
Super Mario 64 Rocket: Robot on Wheels
This was the best third-party platform game on the N64. The storyline is fun, engaging and unique – having to scupp
er the evil JoJo’s plans to ruin opening day for the theme park; the graphics are sublime, with a lovely frame rate and easy-to-use camera (essential for a 3D platformer); and it is mightily innovative because a lot of puzzle solving needs Rocket to apply the laws of physics. What makes it familiar to fans of Super Mario 64 is the fact that the worlds and puzzles do seem to take inspiration from the portly plumber’s adventure. But this is not a negative because it is highly enjoyable. Fans of Super Mario 64 that haven’t played this, must!
Jet Force Gemini Body Harvest
Both are third-person shooters involving bugs to blast. Jet Force Gemini has the unique Rare charm and sublime polish but Body Harvest, for me, is the more immerse game and certainly more challenging. Ignore the poorly-aged graphics because the game is full-to-the-brim with content – so many vehicles to drive, puzzles to solve, places to explore and bugs to squish. If you haven’t experienced it, please do so, but be prepared to sink many hours into Body Harvest. Great value for money right now.
Excitebike 64 Top Gear Hyperbike
If you’ve exhausted Excitebike 64 and love this type of racing game then Top Gear Hyperbike is the next best thing. More accessible then Excitebike was, Top Gear Hyperbike is an easy game to pick up and throw yourself into. The gameplay is solid, the graphics and frame rate are fine, and the races are as fast and furious as they would be in real life. This hasn’t got Excitebike’s depth but if you need some new tracks to race around then you should purchase this.
Super Smash Bros. Rakuga Kids
Despite the many beat ‘em ups on the N64, there’s no other alternative to Nintendo’s masterpiece than Rakuga Kids by Konami. It’s the only other dedicated game where cutsey characters can wage war on each other. The characters look like they’re right out of a Bust-a-Move game yet the amount of variety on offer, both game options and beat ‘em up moves, means this is nothing like one of those games! Where Super Smash Bros. has Star Fox’s pistol, this has water guns! Rakuga Kids did a great job back in the day of refreshing the genre and probably didn’t enjoy the success it deserved. If you’re a beat ‘em up fan, you have to find this!
Banjo Tooie Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Despite both games being developed by Rare and releasing very late in the N64’s lifespan, Banjo Tooie well out-sold Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Therefore, many gamers haven’t had the chance to really enjoy Conker’s eventual adventure for the Nintendo 64. This is made even more difficult because even a cartridge on its own is around $100/£80. Both are platformers and both are graphically gorgeous, otherwise they are quite dissimilar in tone and action. I consider Conker an alternative to Banjo Tooie because they both require an investment from the gamer to really maximise the satisfaction you will get from playing them. They are large, explorable worlds to immerse yourself in. Try finding a ROM if you cannot afford to invest in a Conker’s Bad Fur Day cart.
Steven Smith runs the #N64Memories Twitter feed, Facebook page and blog – www.n64memories.blogspot.com