So, if you haven’t rated your favourite N64 games, feel free to exert your influence and potentially switch up the order of the games below. You can also check out our reader-ranked list of all the N64 games available on Nintendo Switch Online, too. Enjoy!
The Nintendo 64 is a console which tends to divide gamers. Launching back in 1996 (or 1997 in PAL regions) as the gaming industry’s bread-and-butter switched from sprites to polygons, the console represents — from a certain perspective — the first time Nintendo really dropped the ball. Tired of the platform holder’s licencing terms, many developers jumped ship to Sony’s PlayStation, attracted by fairer deals and cheaper disc-based media. In the meantime, Nintendo doubled down on an esoteric piece of hardware with confusing, kiddy-coloured controllers that were arguably out of step with gaming’s maturing audience.
On the other hand, for many gamers the N64 evokes some of our very warmest, strongest gaming memories. It was while brandishing this console’s three-pronged pad that many of us took our first steps into a three-dimensional Mushroom Kingdom or Hyrule, and the unrivalled excitement of 4-player split-screen Mario Kart or GoldenEye sticks in our mind like few other multiplayer experiences.
Thanks to the User Ratings submitted by readers, we present to you the top 50 N64 games ever. There’s no doubt that we’ve got a fine selection of 64-bit lovelies below, but remember, this list is not set in stone. The ranking will continue to evolve automatically according to user scores submitted to the Nintendo Life game database, so don’t worry if you missed out on ‘voting’ — you can still do so by simply scrolling down and rating them now!
And should the fancy take you, you can do the same for each of Nintendo’s consoles with our top 50 best games lists, including NES, SNES, Game Boy, GBC, GBA, Nintendo DS, 3DS, GameCube, Wii, Wii U and more.
If there’s a game bubbling under the top 50 that you’d like to rate, feel free to find it using the search tool below and give it a score out of 10. Otherwise, plug in your Rumble / Controller / Transfer / Expansion Paks and get ready for the best N64 games of all time…
Note. In order for games to become eligible, they need a minimum of 50 User Ratings in total.
A follow-up to Racdym’s cult classic, Snowboard Kids 2 predictably picks up where the previous Mario-Kart-esque downhill cartoon racer left off. With loveable characters, plenty of colour and the kind of multiplayer fun that struck a chord with those who played it, this really should have got more mainstream attention.
Not that fans in the EU had much choice — Australia was the only PAL region where the sequel saw a release. Consequently, SBK 2 is one of the most expensive PAL N64 games on the retro market these days.
Konami’s Major A studio took the solid foundation of ISS 64 and built upon it with some wonderful additions including an optional top-to-bottom view and the appearance of the referee on the pitch. That might sound like a tiny and almost insignificant detail, but having the ref onscreen blew our minds back in 1998. A beautiful game, indeed.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
As a quintessential PlayStation franchise, seeing Ridge Racer on N64 gave us a similar sensation as playing WipeOut on Nintendo’s console — it was very welcome, but it still felt weird. While Ridge Racer 64 features tracks from previous games in Namco’s racer series, it was actually developed by Nintendo Software Entertainment and later ported to DS as — wait for it — Ridge Racer DS. You’re better off sticking with the 64-bit original, though.
Blast Corps involves clearing a path for a slow-moving truck carrying a malfunctioning nuclear missile to a safe detonation zone – a zone which is blocked by buildings and other structures ripe for destruction. As with many 64-bit titles, its early polygonal visuals are arguably looking a little dogged these days, but don’t let its looks put you off. This incredibly silly concept makes for one of most fun games on the N64.
Publisher: LucasArts / Developer: LucasArts
Though this couldn’t rival F-Zero X in pure performance terms, it was still a very impressive racer which had a progression system with purchasable pod enhancements. Based on the best bit of The Phantom Menace (apart from the Darth Maul bits and all the soundtrack), it had a special two-pad mode similar to GoldenEye which enabled some twin-stick precision that more-closely mirrored the controls of the onscreen pods. Watto’s banter and post-race rendition of the Cantina theme is also excellent. It’s now available on Switch, too.
A brilliant rendition of the most popular team sport in the world, ISS 64 had depth, beauty, accessibility and gloriously entertaining commentary to boot. Not ‘good’ commentary, per se, but entertaining nonetheless. The FIFA games might be maintaining possession these days, but back in the ’90s it was Konami who was really on the ball.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: HAL Laboratory
In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, HAL Laboratory managed to keep the core structure many knew and loved about the Kirby series while glossing it up with a shiny coat of polygonal paint for the new console generation.
Kirby’s 64-bit foray into the third dimension (well, kinda — it’s 2.5D, or on-rails 3D, if you prefer) stands out as one of the more unique entries in the series, feeling somewhat fresh in comparison to the many, many 2D Kirby platformers and still pleasurable to play to this day.
Publisher: Electronic Arts / Developer: Paradigm Entertainment
Most people who played Beetle Adventure Racing! back in the day probably went in with low expectations, but coming from Paradigm Entertainment — a studio that worked with Nintendo on Pilotwings 64 and also made the excellent F-1 World Grand Prix games on the system — it’s a fun, beautifully constructed little racer that’s well worth revisiting.
An Atlus-published Mario Kart-alike which subs out karts for ‘boards, Racdym’s underappreciated Snowboard Kids is the secret best multiplayer racer on the system. It added goofier characters, extra tension and comedy to the familiar formula — the end of a run usually produces hilarious pile-ups as you scramble for the ski lift and the next ‘lap’. With subtle stick controls and great music, it’s a real gem and it gets extra respect points for not swapping out ‘Kids’ for ‘Kidz‘. Classy.