Top 15 Best N64 ROM Hacks Worth Playing

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Nintendo’s revolutionary “Project Reality” changed the way we look at games. This 90s console gave us massively powerful 64-bit hardware and a robust first-party game development infrastructure.

This made sure only the best of the best got released for the console.

Despite the N64’s architecture being a tough cookie to crack, modders and fan game creators have been hard at work for years trying to get into their favorite games, to understand the genius behind them, and try their hand at improving them.

Here I’d like to share some of the most amazing results of their hard work. These incredible N64 ROM hacks are all available online, all free, and offer tons of new features for a fresh look at your favorite N64 titles.

 

15. JFG Trainer & Co-Op (Jet Force Gemini)

JFG Trainer & Co-Op ROM hack screenshot

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First up, we’re taking a look at a simple modification for one of the N64’s greatest underrated games, the pioneering third-person shooter Jet Force Gemini.

This ROM hack makes it easier to inject cheats into your game, the same way a Gameshark cartridge would.

Whether you want infinite ammo, re-instating cut content, or anything of the sort, this should be an invaluable tool.

This download comes pre-packed with a cheat allowing you to play Co-Op with two human characters, rather than one player controlling a flying drone.

 

14. Pokémon Stadium Kaizo (Pokémon Stadium)

Pokémon Stadium Kaizo ROM hack

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If it exists, there’s an ultra-hard Kaizo version of it somewhere.

And the iconic N64 Pokémon Stadium is no exception.

This hard mode of the beloved 3D Pokémon arena overhauls the game for a more challenging experience. I mean, real challenging.

It gives opponents a better AI, better Pokémon teams, and better movesets that will prove devastating.

To help you stand a chance, all rental Pokémon have also been considerably buffed.

And there’s a way to access each of the original 151 ‘mons – including legendaries.

 

13. Playable Patch (40 Winks)

Playable Patch ROM hack for 40 Winks

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Sometimes, games get canceled for no apparent reason.

One such example is 40 Winks, an improved N64 port of a PlayStation game starring Ruff and Tumble, two siblings who must fight to conquer their fears and save their dreams from the evil Nitekap.

It was canceled just days before release, despite the game being 100% done and perfectly playable.

Crazy, I know.

What this hack does is make any of the existing ROMs of the game playable, allowing hardcore gamers to finally enjoy this wonderful title.

 

12. CPUs Use Human Items (Mario Kart 64)

CPUs Use Human Items ROM hack for Mario Kart 64

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The CPU racers in Mario Kart 64 aren’t exactly hard to beat, once you’ve got acceptable driving skills. It’s also about picking the right character but that’s another story.

I initially thought I was a master driver, but I recently found out that they’re handicapped by faulty code.

Long story short, they can only use a handful of items, which excludes some of the most powerful ones.

This handy ROM hack restores the damaged code and enables CPUs to utilize previously human-only items such as shells, triple banana peels, and triple red shrooms for extra speed.

 

11. Amagami Mario Kart (Mario Kart 64)

Amagami Mario Kart ROM hack screenshot

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Now why stop at increasing the game’s difficulty by making CPUs better?

Instead of just that, let’s make everyone into a cute anime girl… yes, solid plan.

This incredibly particular ROM hack replaces every single character in the game with a girl from the Amagami SS anime, which is based on a PS2 dating simulator.

I loved the show to bits back when it was airing, so I can’t help but enjoy this absurd hack.

Just so you know, this mod includes some code from our previous entry too, therefore also fixing the limitations on CPU item usage. So it’s kind of a double whammy ROM hack.

 

10. Majora’s Mask REDUX (Majora’s Mask)

Majora’s Mask REDUX ROM hack

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask isn’t only one of the darkest entries in the long-lived franchise, but one of the most beloved.

And possibly the best game of its kind on the N64.

That said, age hasn’t been kind to the iconic game. It lacks a certain ease-of-use that game developers have been refining over the years.

This hack tries to make the game more palatable for us spoiled modern gamers with some QoL improvements such as mapping all main masks and the Ocarina to the D-Pad, freeing up the C-Pad for other needs.

It also lets Link push blocks faster, magic arrows can be cycled through while aiming, and so much more.

 

9. Ocarina of Time REDUX (Ocarina of Time)

Ocarina of Time REDUX ROM hack

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The same creator also brings us QoL improvements for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which also lacks many commodities. And perhaps even more than its sequel.

With this ROM hack, the D-Pad lets you access different boots rather than masks, but still provides the same benefit of freeing up your C-Pad.

The text speed is also faster, and the rupee indicator changes color depending on which wallet upgrade you own.

If you can get this running, there’s no reason ever to play the original game again.

 

8. Masked Quest (Majora’s Mask)

Masked Quest ROM hack for Majora’s Mask

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Many users have different concepts of what it means to improve a game.

Masked Quest for Majora’s Mask goes further than Majora’s Mask REDUX to freshen up the vanilla experience.

The creator calls this the “ultimate version” of Majora’s Mask, featuring improved dungeons, an overhauled hub town, and a generally more challenging experience.

All thanks to buffed enemies and even new foes originally cut from the game.

Of course, it doesn’t fail to include some QoL improvements too. Such as the ability to cycle through magic arrows while aiming and some changes copied from the game’s 3DS remake.

 

7. Super Mario: Star Road (SM64)

Super Mario: Star Road (SM64) ROM hack

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Super Mario 64 is one of the most popular games to hack.

And it has been at the forefront of ROM hack development for a very long time.

One of the first Super Mario 64 ROM hacks to become famous among Internet denizens was Super Mario: Star Road, which overhauls the game by adding new levels, new enemies, a revamped soundtrack, and an improved camera.

With 130 total stars to obtain over its renewed stages, this ROM hack should keep you busy for a long time.

 

6. F-Zero DXP (F-Zero X)

F-Zero DXP ROM hack for F-Zero X

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F-Zero is a pioneering and iconic series in the zero-g racing genre.

And the N64 release was one of the most exciting. Captain Falcon even made it into SSB!

This ROM hack brings us an opportunity to rediscover this fantastic racer by replacing every track with a new one made just for this release.

They’re varied, and the author did a great job of making them feel like vanilla tracks rather than something made by an amateur.

 

5. F-Zero X Climax (F-Zero X)

F-Zero X Climax ROM hack

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Another great ROM hack with a similar objective is F-Zero X Climax, which instead of adding all-new custom tracks, simply ports the stages from the Japan-only GBA title F-Zero Climax.

The creator made sure to tweak them enough so that they work in this engine, including the addition of many ramps and jump pads to give each run a little bit more verticality.

While not being custom-made for this engine makes these tracks feel a bit out of place at times, the expertise of the original GBA designers shines through regardless.

 

4. Zelda’s Birthday (Ocarina of Time)

Zelda’s Birthday ROM hack for Ocarina of Time

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We’ve covered several ROM hacks pertaining to the iconic Hero of Time and his adventures.

But none of them have deviated much from the original storyline.

Zelda’s Birthday offers users an entirely new experience, changing Link’s progression through the land, the dialogue, and overall objectives.

There are three wholly redesigned dungeons, side quests, and even multiple endings depending on how you play the game.

Something we don’t usually see in LoZ games.

 

3. Super Mario 64: The Missing Stars (SM64)

Super Mario 64: The Missing Stars ROM hack

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One more amazing SM64 hack is The Missing Stars, which adds a lot of new content & tweaks to the game’s base features for a more comfortable experience.

Among the new features are a day/night cycle that affects the levels you can access, updated bosses, entirely new enemies, and a remixed soundtrack, including new beats made custom for The Missing Stars.

The soundtrack is awesome.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can also play as Luigi, which doesn’t change game much. But it lets you manifest your love for the taller brother.

 

2. GoldenEye X (Perfect Dark)

GoldenEye X ROM hack for Perfect Dark

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At first I thought I was looking at an improvement for the iconic 007 GoldenEye.

And I was really confused realizing I needed a Perfect Dark ROM to make it work.

Instead of improving the base GoldenEye engine, this hack ports all GoldenEye multiplayer levels, weapons, and characters to the superior Perfect Dark engine – while also keeping the weapons and characters from PD for increased variety.

One of the most useful features is adding up to 8 bots to the multiplayer, which was impossible in the original GoldenEye.

This is one crazy hack you’re sure to enjoy.

 

1. Super Mario 64: Last Impact (SM64)

Super Mario 64: Last Impact ROM hack screenshot

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It isn’t the first time this release by Kaze Emanuar tops one of our ROM hack rankings.

We can’t get enough of this incredibly ambitious and creative overhaul of the classic SM64.

Last Impact does what you’d expect, and more.

It adds new levels, new challenges, and new bosses to beat – but it takes things to the next level by introducing new mechanics like the FLUDD from Super Mario Sunshine, and even a Yoshi you can ride.

It’s a technical marvel that’s full of custom assets. This sets it apart from the original game quite a bit, making it into a sort of spiritual successor or unofficial sequel. One you’d absolutely want to play.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.