If you're one of those lucky gamers out there that happened to find an NES or SNES Classic, well you're probably indulging yourself in some of the greatest games Nintendo has ever created. Combined with the NES Classic you've got yourself two systems that have amazing libraries of games that are worth playing again and again. Personally what I love about these two classic systems is that they give modern gamers a way to go back and play some of notoriously good titles on current televisions and hardware, and while doing so presenting the past of Nintendo’s history of why they’re a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry. Utilizing period accurate controllers and giving you very accurate emulations, there is really no better place to go when seeking out retro Nintendo gameplay.
But why stop at the SNES? Ladies and Gentleman, let’s talk about the potential of an Nintendo 64 Classic.
Now I'm pretty sure you're probably wondering what the Nintendo 64 Classic would look like. To start off, we at Rerez think that the N64 classic is going to be roughly the same size as the other Classic consoles. Again, like the NES and SNES Classic, we assume that the console will feature a closed, faux cartridge slot. As far as any major deviations from the N64’s original design, we DID see some minor changes on the NES and SNES Classic consoles, specifically because of the new components in their backsides. So, we think it’s safe to say that the chunky power brick pushed into the back of the real deal Nintendo 64 will likely be left out of it’s Classic re-design. This keeps things nice and smooth for USB power and HDMI cable slots. Sorry, No more big ol’ chunky 64 butt.
We assume that, like the other Classics, the N64 is going to feature the original console’s color scheme: that wonderful sheer black with touches of grey. It’ll also dawn that colorful glossy N64 emblem on the front, just like on the original unit. Oh and hey, if Nintendo’s feeling like delivering a little more fan service they’ll do the right things and add in a little expansion port area that you can lift. We need to see our tiny, fake, expanded memory cartridge! But we won’t hold our breath on that one.
But that's enough about aesthetics, let's talk about what’s inside of this sucker! We think internally, just like the NES and SNES Classic, the N64 won’t deviate much from the other Classic consoles. The Nintendo 64 Classic will likely use the same internal board, however with expanded memory to cater to the larger games of the N64 library. Also, a faster processor or graphics chip is likely required for a little extra kick to run those titles at the standard 720P Classic Series resolution.
Now, we’ve tackled what’s powering our old 64 favorites on modern televisions, but what about how we control these games? Well, one of the things that always made the Nintendo 64 so special was its use of 4 controller inputs. We believe the N64 classic must have 4 ports. The system will use the same Wii connectors from previous classic systems. There are plenty of N64 games that we are going to talk about that really do make use of those 4 ports so we think it's very important to have those at the front hidden underneath another series staple, the console face flap.
But while we're on the topic of controllers what are you getting in the box? Well here’s where it gets interesting…maybe a little pricy? We think there's only gonna be one controller included with the system. Why? Because the Nintendo 64 controllers are pretty big and far more complex than the original NES and Super Nintendo controllers. We also don't think that Nintendo is likely to copy and paste their old controller guts, exactly. This is a chance to improve them. We think that the analog joystick will be a mixture of modern joystick designs to keep costs down and durability high. Remember, there were undeniably issues with those old controller sticks.
While the Nintendo 64 controller does have an expansion port on the back of it we don't think that Nintendo is going to have an actual working expansion port on the back of the Classic version of the controller. Much like the back of the Classic console, we believe that they're going to minimize the area making it look like a memory card has been placed in keeping it nice and flush. But if there’s a fake memory card in place, where will the N64’s iconic rumble pack go? The rumble will be inside the Classic’s controller, say goodbye to the clunkiness of the original pack. Keeping it all inside the controller is more durable and likely cheaper to produce.
Unfortunately with the design of these controllers and the higher complexity of their build, we believe that they’re going to be more expensive than SNES or NES controllers. The controller that's included with the console is going to be the same, classic grey tri-handle that you remember, but here’s where things get interesting. We think that when you do decide to go out and buy extra controllers, you’ll be met with something pretty cool and collectible — multiple color options! We could even see those really cool transparent colors that Nintendo used to sell all the way back in the 90s!
Now with all that taken into consideration we also want to talk about what the operating system might be like on the N64 Classic. The save state feature from the previous Classic consoles is most likely going to move forward and hopefully the rewind feature that was introduced in the SNES Classic also comes back to play again. Outside of that we think that the system is largely going to feel the same as the previous operating systems. But maybe just because it's a Nintendo 64 it’ll be a little bit more 3D this time around, with 3D carts or boxes when you select the games.
Now let's talk about the thing everyone wants to talk about when it comes to the N64 Classic. Let's discuss the games. The classics systems so far have had pretty decent libraries built into them. The NES had 30 and the SNES had 21 titles. We think Nintendo will probably go somewhere in the range of 25. The N64 after all hasn't seen many of its games released on other systems outside of the Virtual Console so it would be very important for them to include a couple of games that we think would be console sellers.
Without further ado, here's our list of 10 games that we pretty much guarantee will be included in this system.
1: Super Mario 64
Let's get this one out of the way. There is absolutely no possibility that this game is not included on the N64 Classic. Super Mario 64 is the definitive entry in 3D platforming games. Not including that in the Classic would be heresy. There's simply no way that we won’t be collecting stars and spinning Bowser off into oblivion on our Nintendo 64 Classics. Heck, for those unfamiliar with the system, Super Mario 64 is probably the first game you should play when you power on this Classic console. Like Super Mario World, and Super Mario Brothers before it, it is an essential game to experience. It will absolutely be included.
2: The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
Where do you go from Mario 64, one of the all-time greatest platformers? Hmmm, how about to one of the greatest action/adventure titles ever! The “Legend of Zelda” games have been a Nintendo staple since their inaugural release on the Famicom Disk System, way back in 1986. With Nintendo’s powerhouse system breaking into the realm of 3D , it was inevitable that we’d see an iconically dressed adventurer roaming Hyrule in all his polygonal glory. What DIDN’T we expect from a dimensionally fresh Zelda game? The beautifully delivered beginning of so many classic characters, melodies, and mechanics that would go on to wonderfully paint the Legend Zelda series for decades to come!
3: The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask
If Ocarina of Time was the solid 3D re-birth of a classic Nintendo franchise, The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask was surely it’s first steps into experimentation within its shiny new framework. Here, go on, adventure away! Keep the wonderful music, the multi-use items, the tense lock-on combat system… but... add in shades of darkness, time-management, and a cast that you can’t help but become completely absorbed in. What else can I say about Majora’s Mask? It’s Groundhog Day with fairies, swords, monsters, and one heck of a looming Macguffin.
4: Mario Kart 64
I was such a huge fan of Super Mario Kart on the SNES that when the series leapt to a new console generation, I just had to play it! And it was an unforgettable gaming experience. This game is still just as fun to play as it was way back when I first hopped into that cramped drivers seat. Unlike other N64 games that we're going to be talking about on this list, each character in Mario Kart 64 was a pre-rendered sprite asset. And while that might seem like a strange thing to do with a modern game today, back then it was a genius move. See you are most likely going to be looking at your character more than anything else while you were racing, so that character had to look higher in quality compared to everything else zooming by in the level. And, well, the sprites at the time carried more detail than the 3D models that ‘90s console titles offered. The end result is a smooth, quick-playing experience, where the Nintendo 64 is focused on rendering the levels and not the 3D models of the characters themselves. Only Nintendo could have come up with such an elegant and simple solution at a time when their cartridges simply didn't have as much space as many people would have probably liked them to have. Oh, and it also had, single-handedly, the best battle mode of any Mario kart game, until the latest version — Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
5: Super Smash Bros.
The Nintendo 64 wasn’t necessarily known as the launch pad for droves of new characters, the system did however give us an abundance of new ways to control the casts we loved. Super Smash Bros. took the traditional 2D fighting game formula of the early ‘90s, and successfully hurled it off-screen. Where other fighting games suffered growing pains, pondering movement in 3D space and maintaining samey life bar depleting goals, Super Smash Bros. was just....well, completely different. Players strategically zipped along colorful, cavernous screens, juggling opponents in a twisted game of king of the hill. Smash is now a genre in itself, and while other iterations may shine a little brighter in the EVO spotlight, the series pummeled it’s way out of the starting gates wonderfully on the Nintendo 64.
6: Star Fox 64
Fox McCloud made his fitting follow-up on Nintendo’s extremely 3D capable system. Now, while this wasn't the true sequel that we were promised years ago on the SNES, the one which we finally got with the SNES Classic, Star Fox 64 was one of the very first sequels to a game for a Nintendo system that already started off as a polygonal 3D experience. While many other games on the Nintendo 64 were turned into 3D games, Star Fox really wasn't like that and that was really awesome. Gamers that loved the original Star Fox experience got to continue the sci-fi shooter fun with this 64-bit iteration of the series. It’s another game that holds up very well, and is unlike any other game on this list.
7: F-Zero X
The original F-Zero, on the Super Nintendo, was a very important launch title, due to its speedy gameplay and wonderful use of the system’s mode 7 tech. F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64 proudly pushed beyond the original racer’s rocket-paced lineage. While other racing titles, like Mario Kart 64 utilized a very family-friendly approach to competitive driving, F-Zero X was aiming at the burgeoning teenage market. This game was fast. Unapologetically fast. It didn’t pull its punches. One wrong move and you could be sailing off the track, and blasting debris out onto the land below… they call this “retiring”. With its super stable frame rate, it’s rocking soundtrack and a whopping 30 vehicles racing tracks at the same time, if you missed out on F-Zero X back in the day, you absolutely NEED to buckle up and feel the crushing G’s on the Classic!
8: Paper Mario
There’s always been a lot of love for Super Mario RPG. A sequel to the popular SNES title seemed like a no brainer. But the Nintendo 64 fostered a bizarre relationship with some third party companies, one of these being Super Mario RPG masters, Squaresoft. Decidedly going solo, folks at Nintendo wanted to make something that was kind of like an RPG but… kind of something different too. Enter Paper Mario! A game that first looked like Nintendo’s return to a traditional 2D Mario game, albeit with some 3D elements. But, nope, it certainly doesn't play like one. Paper Mario is a sort of 2.5D Nintendo diorama! The classic characters and moves that you expect from a Mario title were there, but with a light layer of RPG elements mixed in. Simplified turn-based combat, great writing and wonderfully creative visuals make Paper Mario a work of art. A Classic must have!
9: Pokemon Snap
Pokemon Snap may not be as fondly remembered as the series’ traditional monster collecting Game Boy iterations. But Pokemon Snap on the N64 was the very first time we got to see the series lovable cast of characters in polygonal form! And it was pretty cool! This was a really fun adventure that played a bit like an on-rails shooter mixed with a theme park ride. You could hurl items at Pokemon to get them to react for better pictures, and even open up new areas of the game to explore! Best of all, when we finally got our best pictures, we could take the cartridges to our local Blockbusters and print them out. Do people still print out pictures? Hey, Nintendo, I’ve got a horrible idea for a Classic peripheral. Okay, never mind. Just give us Snap!
10: Mario Party
While most gamers out there would probably prefer Mario Party 2, Mario Party 1 saw the franchise’s core concepts fully realized. This was the introductory game that set the stage for one of the longest lasting numbered franchises in Nintendo history. Chock full of wonderful mini games and… yeah, some pretty shady board game rules…I would argue that Mario Party was the primary candidate for many a destroyed Nintendo 64 controller. And we loved it for exactly what it was, ruined friendships and blistered palms included.
Like we said earlier, we think these 10 games are bound to be included in the Nintendo 64 Classic, because they really are THE games that defined the 64. But let's talk about our next top 10 list. These are games that are likely to be included but, we're a little less certain about.
11: Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64 is a contentious game. This was Rare at the tail end of its platforming collect-a-thon heyday. We love Donkey Kong 64 for its grand scope. We also appreciate its soundtrack… sometimes ironically. Critics may steam over the overdone collection mechanics and character backtracking that are essential to 100 per cent completing the game. But, Donkey Kong 64 is important. It’s the first time that we played as the Kong family in full 3D!
12: Yoshi’s Story
Yoshi’s Story was considered the sequel to Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo. Despite the big push for 3D polygonal games in the latter half of the ‘90s, Yoshi’s Story made use of pre-rendered graphics to build its wonderful story book characters and worlds. It introduced a new fruit chomping, point collecting mechanic that wasn’t really used much in other Yoshi games. The game tends to get flack for its low difficulty, but in all honesty, it seemed to be shooting for a younger audience anyway. We feel that Yoshi’s Story should be included on the classic for its awesome presentation if nothing else… but, you know what? Say what you will about its level of challenge, it’s still a lot of fun to chew your way through this game!
13: Wave Race 64
Wave Race 64 might just seem like a basic jet ski racing game but there were some really cool ideas in this Game Boy follow-up! For one, Wave Race 64 showcased amazing water simulations. The waves actually played into how you raced each stage. Water ripples altered the course of your vehicle, changing the dynamics of every level you played. Every race felt different from water activity more-so than the actual layout of the courses. Combine those hectic waves with decent controls and swaying buoys that boost your speed, and you’ve got a cool racing experience very worthy of the Classic moniker.
14: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
There were several notable Star Wars games released on the Nintendo 64, but we really wanted to grab just one for the Classic that stood out beyond all the others. Honestly you can't get much better than Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Factor 5 did amazing things with this game, especially when paired with the N64’s ram expansion. They created gigantic levels with loads of detail and an arcady space combat experience that you couldn’t quite find in any other Star Wars game before it. You felt like you were actually piloting iconic Star Wars ships when you played Rogue Squadron. That, along with the iconic soundtrack, made us feel like we were part of the movies. Don’t get us wrong, we have a soft spot for “Shadows of the Empire”, its Hoth level was the seed that grew into Rogue Squadron. But there’s just no denying that Rogue Squadron had far more lasting appeal...and honestly, it’s probably the game that holds up the best today from the N64’s Star Wars releases. Pod Racer fans, be kind.
15: Diddy Kong Racing
Yes you obviously MUST have Mario Kart 64 on the Classic, but Diddy Kong Racing is kind of important to have too. It was doing kart racing differently! Not only could you race in go-karts, but you had hovercrafts and airplanes too! And what was crazy was that they all controlled pretty great. And while a straight-up racing game would have been good enough there was also a narrative that drove the game in the included adventure mode. Diddy Kong Racing may or may not surpass Mario Kart 64 in some people’s minds, but it's still a very worthy entry on this list.
16: Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Did you ever wonder what that d-pad was for on your Nintendo 64 controller? Well, wonder no more! Kirby 64: the Crystal Shards was just about the only game that made use of it without having any use for the joystick. Yeah, it was kind of odd. The game itself was pretty much a Kirby game. It sounded like Kirby, played like Kirby and it felt – well – like Kirby. Crystal Shards looked really nice for the system too, being a late release in the 64’s lifespan. Because there were so few great games on the 64 that relied solely on d-pad movement, we thought it'd be cool to include this game on the list.
17: Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
There weren’t a whole lot of role-playing games that graced the Nintendo 64. Even less titles with a real-time strategy twist. Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber is a brave mishmash of both. You control sections of your huge army as they crawl along maps and do battle with adversaries. Formations, equipment, strengths and weaknesses all have to be considered in order to be successful in war. Ogre Battle 64 is incredibly deep. It has a great storyline and countless hours of gameplay potential! It’s a unique title that would be a wonderful inclusion to the Nintendo 64 Classic.
18: Beetle Adventure Racing
Okay this’ll be a quick one. Pun intended, yo! I know that this game might seem like a straight-up, simple, cash grab or a throw-away title but listen very closely. Beetle Adventure Racing. Is. A SOLID. racing experience! Seriously. Between the very well-thought-out levels with multiple paths, the fun pick-ups and power-ups and spot-on framerate, this is a contender for one of the best racing game on the Nintendo 64!
19: Bomberman 64
I’ve got many fond memories of renting Bomberman 64 and staying up all night playing multiplayer with friends. Back then, we were so used to playing Bomberman on the Super Nintendo and on the NES, we never imagined that Bomberman would play so differently in a 3D World! The way that Bomberman 64 treated the series’ staple mechanics was awesome! Using bombs, not only to vanquish enemies, but to traverse areas and solve puzzles was brilliant. For the first time it felt like we weren't playing just a simple Bomberman style game, but having a pretty huge adventure with one of our favorite TNT hurling characters!
20: 1080° Snowboarding
1080° Snowboarding probably doesn't sound like the kind of game you that would think would be included on this list but it is an original Nintendo title, believe it or not. 1080° Snowboarding was a well received title that still plays pretty fluidly today. Whether you’re racing down the slopes, scraping along asphalt or cracking some precise moves along the snow-covered half-pipe, it’s a whole lot of fun. 1080° Snowboarding arrived in 1998, just before the massive boom of extreme sports titles like the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. We can’t help but think 1080° was a bit of an inspiration for the totally extreme early 2000s.
So, here’s hoping that we see most of these games grace the Nintendo 64 Classic. Now, we’ve got five more titles to talk about. These are a little bit different. We both believe that the next five games should and could possibly be a part of the Nintendo 64 Classic... but the chances of them happening, well... that’s a little more up in the air.
Oh, and, just a little disclaimer, we love Rare games. Unfortunately, right now Rare is owned by Microsoft. Because of that, some of the games that they had originally produced for the Nintendo 64 have already been featured on Rare Replay for the Xbox One. Because Microsoft owns the rights to those games, we're likely not going to be seeing them on the Nintendo 64 Classic. We would love to see at least one first person shooter multiplayer game included on the N64 Classic, but we both agree that if you can’t get Perfect Dark you’ve gotta get GoldenEye. But, the N64 version of GoldenEye has been locked up in legal limbo for years!
So we're going to call these next five games our Dark Horse 5!
DARK HORSE NUMBER 1: Doom 64
This game is the PERFECT way to start our dark horse list. Upon release, it seemed like many people wrote off Doom 64, figuring it was yet another console port of the endlessly popular first person shooter, Doom 2. But that wasn’t the case at all. Believe it or not, Doom 64 was a wholly original and a superb entry in the franchise! This piece of the series was more or less a sequel to Doom 2 featuring all new levels, all new original graphics and, yeah this may sound crazy, a darker look than ever! It felt more akin to a Quake game, atmospherically. This game was, of course, adult-themed and pretty violent, so we're not too sure if Nintendo's ever going to want to include this in the 64 Classic, but we believe that it should be! It’s a fantastic game that was completely overlooked upon release and deserves an audience!
DARK HORSE NUMBER 2: Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine
You might think it's weird that we would be including Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine on this list. I mean this game was released on PC, so wouldn't that version be better? Well, maybe not! This version of the game, on the Nintendo 64, surpasses the PC release in many ways. It features real-time lighting, added musical sequences, additional graphics, better controls with lock on targeting, and a host of other enhancements that can only be found in this release. Another reason why we believe this should be included with the Nintendo 64 Classic is that this game was just incredibly hard to come by. It could only be found in some Blockbuster locations and at the official LucasArts Company Store. Come on Nintendo, pull some strings and get the rights to put it on the Classic.
DARK HORSE NUMBER 3: Rakuga Kids
Not familiar with Rakuga Kids? Are you from North America? That may be why. This looker was, unfortunately, only released in Japan and Europe. Like some other entries in our 64 Classic list, Rakuga Kids is a 2.5 D title. But, honestly, unlike anything else we’ve seen on the 64, the animations are just jaw-droppingly wonderful! We don't have any particular affection for this game as we haven’t played it all that much. But the idea that a game that looks and moves like this has been absent from North America seems like such a missed opportunity
DARK HORSE NUMBER 4: Mischief Makers
Oh, we like Treasure games. A lot. Mischief Makers is a game that’s very much worthy of its developer’s moniker. At first glance, you might assume that Mischief Makers is a simple 2.5D platformer. And while there’s plenty of platforming to be had, Mischief Makers quickly shows you that there’s a lot more going on under the hood. There are folks to talk to, action sequences to play out, and plenty of puzzles to solve. Mischief Makers was met with a mixed reception on release but has developed a cult following in the years since. There’s a reason why. The game is weird and wonderful! We, and more than a few others, would be VERY happy to see this title land on the 64 Classic.
DARK HORSE NUMBER 5: Sin and Punishment
Speaking of under-experienced titles developed by Treasure, for a long time North American audiences were sadly deprived of Sin and Punishment. Its late release on the Nintendo 64 saw the game pulled from a release in PAL and North American regions. And boy, was that a shame. Sin and Punishment is one of the best action titles on the console. It’s an on-rails sci-fi shooter with fun, tactical, point earning mechanics. But, if it was never released outside of Japan, wouldn’t there be a lot of work translating for a Classic release in English? Nope! The game’s dialogue is all spoken in English. Also, Sin and Punishment has already seen a release on Virtual Console in English speaking territories, so even the menus have been officially translated at this point. No excuses, Nintendo!
Now that we’ve finished our towering list of possible Classic titles, we want to talk about a possible extra incentive to drum up hype and a little something unique to the Nintendo 64 Classic experience.
When we saw the announcement of the SNES Classic console many of us were overjoyed to see that the previously unreleased Star Fox 2 was included with the bundle. Now, with the possibility of a N64 Classic on the horizon, we started thinking about never before seen bonuses that could be included to spice up the system’s contents. We first started thinking about possibly getting content from the ill-fated add-on for the original N64, the Nintendo 64 DD (or, disc drive). The Disc Drive was only released in Japan. It gave the N64 additional perks with a new disc format. Now, there were a handful of games and programs released on the platform. But honestly, not a lot of the software enticed buyers. Doshin the Giant was an interesting game for the Disc Drive, but it was eventually ported to the GameCube in Europe, so we figured it wasn’t the shiny, new, content that the Classic deserved.
Actually, we thought that a better idea would be to include extra content, like the expansion kit for F-Zero X which gave players additional levels and vehicles via the Nintendo 64 DD format. With the Nintendo 64 Classic, we’re in a time in which we don't have to worry so much about hardware and space limitations while running games for a 64-bit console. We feel that Nintendo could easily put in those expansion tracks that we didn't get in the original game in North America. But, we wanted to go a step further and think of something else that could possibly be put on the system which would make it even more interesting. We want a Nintendo 64 Classic “Plus Mode”. The concept of Plus Mode is that new features could be added to pre-existing games for the Nintendo 64. So for instance, with Super Mario 64 we thought it'd be really cool for Nintendo to design additional features in the game like rumble pack support so that you could feel the shocks and bumps as Mario thumps on the ground and crushes goombas. But why stop there? Nintendo released Super Mario 64 DS which is a version of Super Mario 64 that could lend some of its tweeks to the original game. New textures, playable characters and character models. And, again, with games like Star Fox 64 they have access to newer models and textures from remakes like Star Fox 64 3DS. And the same with Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask 3DS. Heck, speaking of the Zelda games I would love to see Master Quest Editions put into the Nintendo 64 Classic so that we can play those games for the first time with an original Nintendo 64 style controller.
The Nintendo 64 was capable of great things but because of the use of a cartridge it was limited in the amount of space that the developers had access to. With a Nintendo 64 Classic, we could take original Nintendo 64 games, and with the press of a button, change and revitalize how we experience some of our favorite classic games.
There are many fans out there of the Nintendo 64 but unlike the NES and SNES the Nintendo 64 really wasn't nearly as popular as those systems. The NES had sold over 60 million units, the SNES, just under 50 million, and the N64? Well it sold somewhere in the range of 32 million. So with that in mind Nintendo has to pull out all the stops to make sure that people want the Nintendo 64 Classic.