30 Most Underrated N64 Games Everyone Should Try

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The Nintendo 64 was the first console I ever owned.

I got it with Super Mario 64, and it introduced me to the magical world of gaming. To this day, it holds a pivotal place in my heart.

A lot of what made the N64 so iconic (other than its funny controller) was the vast array of incredible games that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

Sure, the PlayStation has more games. But did it have Mario Kart? Super Smash Bros.? What about TLoZ: Ocarina of Time?

And even aside from the biggest hits, there’s a lot more to the N64’s library than hyper-famous titles like GoldenEye and Banjo-Kazooie.

In this ranking I want to share all the best unknown N64 games that really don’t get enough love.

30. S.C.A.R.S. (1998)

S.C.A.R.S. video game screenshot

The first in our list is a game that shined bright, but ultimately didn’t leave such a lasting impression.

Developed by Vivid Image, Super Computer Animal Racing Simulator (S.C.A.R.S.) is a challenging racing game with an eclectic art-style that brings together a futuristic aesthetic, deadly weaponry and cartoonish characters.

It received massive praise for its excellent graphics, but a general lack of polish beyond the visuals made it fade into obscurity pretty fast.

 

29. Forsaken 64 (1998)

Forsaken 64 N64 screenshot

Everyone talks about Quake and GoldenEye as the quintessential multiplayer FPS of the Nintendo 64.

But many other games were vying for the title, such as Forsaken 64.

Iguana Entertainment UK developed it with a definite focus on multiplayer.

The single-player campaign is long and robust enough to justify playing it, but the satisfying shooting and varied multiplayer game modes such as Capture The Flag and Free For All were the real selling point.

It may lack any semblance of originality and innovation. But Forsaken 64 is a polished shooter that you’d have fun playing with friends even now.

 

28. Aero Fighters Assault (1997)

Aero Fighters Assault gameplay

Paradigm Entertainment is better known for their work on Pilotwings 64.

But they were pretty active during the N64’s lifespan.

Aero Fighters Assault was the first and last 3D game in the franchise. It’s a flight simulator with a focus on combat, following four rogue pilots on their struggle against the evil organization Phutta Morgana.

While the single-player campaign was OK, the multiplayer was a much better use of your time.

You still have to get through the campaign to unlock most planes, though!

 

27. Diddy Kong Racing (1997)

Diddy Kong Racing screenshot

It’s fair to argue that Diddy Kong Racing isn’t exactly underrated, hence its low place on this list.

Still, it always lived in the shadow of Mario Kart 64. And only recently have fans started talking about their love for this quirky racer.

It’s one of Rare’s many great releases for the N64, featuring over 20 racing tracks, lots of colorful characters, and three kinds of vehicles to blaze your way through the races.

How they managed to keep planes, hovercraft, and cars balanced is beyond me.

Not only are its graphics superb, but the music by veteran Donkey Kong Country composer David Wise is terrific. Add to that a robust campaign with an actual story, and you’ll see why this game deserves more credit.

 

26. Mace: The Dark Age (1997)

Mace: The Dark Age gameplay

I’ve never truly understood how such a flashy, great-looking, and hyperviolent game has slipped under the radar for so long.

Initially released by Atari for arcades and then ported by Midway to the N64, Mace brings weapon-based fighting action similar to Soul Edge, but much more violent and visually appealing.

Other than the detailed textures and smooth animations, the game shines for having an easy-to-pick-up combat system that allows you to side-step on the 3D environments, which few fighters did at the time.

 

25. LEGO Racers (1999)

LEGO Racers 1999 gameplay

Nowadays gamers know LEGO for their fantastic adaptations of intellectual properties like Star Wars.

And, more recently, The Incredibles.

Still, they dabbled in many genres before finding their current niche.

One of their most successful experiments was LEGO Racers by High Voltage Software, which offers players a unique racing experience through locales based on many LEGO building sets.

It also lets players create their own custom karts by building them out of LEGO blocks in-game, which was unlike anything seen before.

 

24. Tetrisphere (1997)

Tetrisphere game screenshot

The N64 is known for harboring many experimental titles, as companies struggled to make use of its 64bit power and 3D capabilities.

One interesting example is H2O Entertainment’s Tetrisphere.

Where The New Tetris and some other licensed releases let players enjoy the classic block-dropping gameplay, this gem makes you drop the blocks on a three-dimensional sphere, trying to reach its core.

It’s bizarre, and it’ll give you a headache after a couple of hours.

But it’s Tetris like you’ve never seen before (or after) and it’s definitely worth a try if you get the chance.

 

23. Destruction Derby 64 (1999)

Destruction Derby 64 screenshot

There were many racing games on the N64.

But few were as exciting and viscerally satisfying as Destruction Derby 64.

Developed by Looking Glass Studios, this game gives you the unique opportunity of destroying cars left and right, including your own.

It features a realistic car damage system that will slowly cripple your car according to how it’s damaged, all while looking incredible.

There’s also a racing mode for when you just want to burn some rubber, but an all-out 4-player split-screen deathmatch is generally the way to go.

 

22. Hybrid Heaven (1999)

Hybrid Heaven game screenshot

Nowadays, Konami seems to be a massive corporate monster with no driving principle other than making money.

Still, legends tell of a time where they made good, innovative games.

One of them was Hybrid Heaven.

This is an experimental action-adventure/RPG mash-up that tried introducing a mix of turn-based combat and real-time action as its core gameplay feature.

According to critics at the time, the experiment wasn’t entirely unsuccessful, but it wasn’t all that exciting either.

With time, the game faded into obscurity, but the same concept was later revisited and polished by games like Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter and Resonance of Fate.

 

21. Ridge Racer 64 (2000)

Ridge Racer 64 gameplay

The first time I came across Ridge Racer 64, it was mostly due to my wandering pre-teen eyes spotting the sexy lady on the game’s cover while walking through Blockbuster.

I’ve never been so thankful for my basic male instincts.

This game is incredible, and easily one of the best racers on the system.

The heavy emphasis on drifting and high speeds was exhilarating, and it contributed to shaping my love for games like NFS and Burnout in the future.

It features tracks from the original Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution, while also adding some new ones exclusive to the N64 game.

 

20. Road Rash 64 (1999)

Road Rash 64 game screenshot

Another underrated (or rather, unknown) racer is Road Rash 64.

This offers one of the few bike racing experiences on the console and spices it up with lots of violence.

Developed by Pacific Coast Power and Light, the game can be described as Biker Gang Member Simulator 1999, as it’s all about driving your bike and hitting people with bats and other weaponry whenever they challenge your asphalt superiority.

One of the game’s most memorable aspects was the head-banging soundtrack, which included iconic songs like Sugar Ray’s “Mean Machine”.

 

19. Chameleon Twist (1997)

Chameleon Twist game screenshot

Some games are so daring and experimental that they deserve credit regardless of their actual quality. Such is the case of Japan System Supply’s Chameleon Twist.

The game garnered a cult following for its unique approach & design.

It follows an anthropomorphic chameleon as he uses his tongue to make his way around several challenging tongue-platforming levels. Cool, right?

Despite the bad reviews, the game went on to receive a sequel, much to fans’ joy.

Other than the single-player levels, the Battle Royal multiplayer mode is also a blast.

 

18. Vigilante 8 (1999)

Vigilante 8 - N64 gameplay

If you liked Interstate ’76 on the PC, chances are you’d love the N64 spin-off by the name of Vigilante 8.

Developed by Luxoflux, this intense vehicle combat simulator was good enough to challenge Twisted Metal 2’s dominion over the genre.

Among its best features were the interactive stages, which included dynamic events like ballistic missiles being fired from Area 51.

Mines, auto-cannons, mortars, rockets… The game put all the destructive power you could think of at your fingertips. It was exhilarating and addictive despite the forgettable story and uninteresting characters.

 

17. Pilotwings 64 (1996)

Pilotwings 64 - N64 game screenshot

Developed by Paradigm Simulation in close contact with Nintendo, Pilotwings 64 was one of the Nintendo 64’s launch titles.

It was meant to show both customers and developers the possibilities of the new hardware.

While the game was appreciated by those who got to play it, this flight simulator wasn’t exciting enough to compete with its fellow launch title Super Mario 64.

Slowly, it disappeared from shelves and was forgotten.

Still, going through the many flight challenges and trying out side-activities like skydiving in Pilotwings 64’s vast 3D landscapes was an exhilarating and memorable experience.

Nowadays there’s no lack of nostalgic love for the game in online forums and gaming blogs across the web.

 

16. Body Harvest (1998)

Body Harvest game screenshot

Violent games have never been the focus of the more family-oriented Nintendo.

This led them to throw away lots of opportunities throughout the years.

A prime example is the action-adventure/TPS Body Harvest, a planned launch title they dropped late into its development cycle.

Luckily for consumers, developer DMA Design went on to partner with Midway Games, and the game was finally published.

It follows a time-traveling supersoldier trying to stop aliens from “harvesting” human bodies throughout history and in the far-future of 2016. This framework let developers create many varied scenarios, which are one of its best features.

 

15. Snowboard Kids (1998)

Snowboard Kids 1998 gameplay

Racdym’s Snowboard Kids is what happens when you mix the lighthearted action of Mario Kart 64, with the intense downhill racing of 1080° Snowboarding.

Featuring nine main courses to race through and six colorful playable characters, Snowboard Kids was perfect for a family-friendly gaming session.

It shines for its fun power-ups and how balanced it feels despite having such varied characters.

Also a genuinely fun snowboarding title. A breath of fresh air among many “meh” snowboarding games over the years.

The cartoonish graphics, colorful presentation, and memorable soundtrack have made this game into a precious memory for anyone who had it.

It’s the ideal snowboard racer for those who don’t care about snowboarding as a sport.

 

14. BattleTanx: Global Assault (1999)

BattleTanx: Global Assault gameplay

Gaming is a perfect outlet for all our pent-up destructive desires, and few games give you such devastating possibilities as BattleTanx: Global Assault.

Developed by the 3DO Company, this action-shooter puts the player in command of powerful futuristic tanks in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by militarized gangs.

If that’s not metal enough for you, consider the main antagonist calls herself the “Queenlord”, because “Queen” wasn’t hardcore enough.

It received great reviews praising both its visuals and fun gameplay, as well as the great variety of multiplayer maps based on real landmarks like the White House or the Eiffel Tower.

If you enjoy mass destruction, this game is a must.

 

13. Hydro Thunder (2000)

Hydro Thunder game screenshot

Made by Midway Games for arcades, then ported by Eurocom to home consoles, the iconic arcade racer Hydro Thunder is one of the most adrenaline-pumping experiences on the system.

The futuristic boats are some of the coolest vehicles I’ve ever seen, and every single stage in this game is filled to the brim with shortcuts, big air time, and challenging hazards that make every race interesting.

Hydro Thunder as a franchise is far from underrated, but this N64 release didn’t get the praise it deserved, and we don’t talk about it often enough.

 

12. Beetle Adventure Racing (1999)

Beetle Adventure Racing screenshot

Whenever I tell someone about Beetle Adventure Racing, they think I’m imagining things or remembering incorrectly.

A racer focused only on the Volkswagen New Beetle? That’s absurd!

Yes, it’s absurd.

But also one of the very best racers on the N64 thanks to beautiful racing tracks full of shortcuts and collectibles, responsive controls, and a groovy soundtrack.

This all made playing the game a relaxing experience, despite the high speeds.

If you’re Australian, you may know this game as HSV Adventure Racing, which replaces all the Beetles for the Australian-made HSV Clubsport.

Truly a beloved piece of gaming history.

 

11. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (2000)

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine gameplay

While licensed games are known for being questionable cash-grabs, Indiana Jones has been notoriously exempt from the rule, and LucasArts’ Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine is one of the very best games in the genre.

Set in 1947 directly after Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix, the game follows the titular adventure-archaeologist as he races to find a mythological power source of Sumerian origin before the Soviets do.

Much like Tomb Raider, the gameplay focuses on solving puzzles, light platforming, and fending-off enemies with firearms and Indiana’s trusty whip.

It’s also available on PC, but the N64 version has better graphics.

 

10. Harvest Moon 64 (1999)

Harvest Moon 64 screenshot on horse with greenhouse

Harvest Moon is one of the most underrated series ever, but not because the franchise is unsuccessful.

It’s because we never really discuss how brilliant it is to make farming so damn fun.

Stardew Valley changed all this in recent years, but back in the early 2000s, almost nobody heard of Harvest Moon except die-hard fans.

Victor Interactive Software’s Harvest Moon 64 is arguably one of the most unique iterations, and quite frankly it may be the absolute best Harvest Moon game from the early years.

It introduced 3D graphics, fleshed-out the relationship-building part of the farmer’s life, and made the experience feel like a frantic race against time – which is what re-building a farm must feel like.

If you’re tired of your job and want a quick rural getaway, Small Village Community Simulator 1999 has you covered.

Just be warned, finding a physical copy might be damn pricey.

 

9. 1080° Snowboarding (1998)

1080° Snowboarding screenshot

Some games are so damn good that anything short of making them Game of the Year is underrating them. Such is the case of Nintendo’s 1080° Snowboarding.

It was one of the first sports games I ever tried, and it’s also about the only one I’d play for fun.

It’s fast-paced, challenging, and exciting to race either the CPU, your friends in split-screen, or just beating your own best times shreddin’ downhill.

Shigeru Miyamoto did wonders as the game’s producer, giving it a very laid-back but true-to-the-sport personality, and the Tommy Hilfiger product placement is the perfect surreal souvenir from the 90s.

 

8. Gauntlet Legends (2000)

Gauntlet Legends gameplay

One of the most unusual games in the N64’s roster has to be Midway Games’ Gauntlet Legends, bringing the hack-and-slash looting frenzy from Atari’s Gauntlet arcade machines to everyone’s living room.

Nowadays I can just boot up Diablo III and sit down to mindlessly mow down hordes of ghouls with my peeps over a couple of beers.

But back in the day, options were limited.

And 4-player ultra-violent gameplay like this was remarkable.

If you have the N64’s expansion pak, you’ll also be greeted by upgraded visuals and better performance.

 

7. Rush 2049 (2000)

Rush 2049 game screenshot

San Francisco Rush was one of the most popular racing games in the Nintendo 64, thanks to its colorful landscapes, cool cars, and excellent course design.

Well, “popular” but certainly underrated.

Ported from Atari’s arcades by Midway Games, Rush 2049 was the last installment of the franchise to reach the Big N’s machine.

It brought gamers better graphics, even more insane racing tracks, and a tremendous futuristic drum and bass soundtrack to go with it.

Regrettably, it didn’t get half as much attention as its predecessors, despite being just as good.

 

6. Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo (2000)

Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo screenshot

Everyone loves to talk about how much fun they had playing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron on the N64, but most forget there was an improved successor that expanded upon it in many ways.

Developed by Factor 5 and LucasArts, Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo brought the same intense airborne combat but added the possibility of fighting on both land and water. The vehicle variety is stunning in comparison to its predecessor.

Why it isn’t as popular is a mystery. But mixed reviews may have something to do with it.

Regardless, it’s a must-play for the Star Wars fan.

 

5. Blast Corps (1997)

Blast Corps gameplay

The puzzle genre isn’t generally known for its fast-paced action.

But there are many outliers, and Rare’s Blast Corps on the N64 is one of the most unusual.

There’s a runaway nuclear missile carrier truck on the loose, and it’s your job to decimate anything in its way to keep it from crashing and triggering a nuclear explosion.

To do this, you can access several vehicles, which all help you deal with different hazards.

What made the game so intense from start to finish is that the truck never stops moving, acting as a sort of stressful timer that forces you to think and act fast.

It’s a wonderfully presented original concept, and one of my favorite N64 titles.

 

4. Mischief Makers (1997)

Mischief Makers gameplay

Back in the day, games with an anime aesthetic weren’t a dime a dozen like today.

So a game about a robot maid with eyes occupying 80% of her face was a real joy for Western anime fans.

In the case of Treasure’s Mischief Makers, the aesthetic came coupled with excellent gameplay and a bit of an absurd storyline.

You play as Marina, the aforementioned robot maid, who marches against the emperor of Planet Clancer and his evil army in a bid to save her kidnapped creator. To do this, she can grab, throw, and shake items.

It’s a bit on the short side. But this side-scroller is a truly underrated gem. Shake, shake!

 

3. Jet Force Gemini (1999)

Jet Force Gemini screenshot

One of Rare’s most ambitious creations for the N64 was Jet Force Gemini, a third-person shooter with fast-paced, precise gameplay that has you shooting hordes of enemies and dodging bullets in a way reminiscent of classic top-down shoot-em-ups.

While the 4-player modes were solid, I’d say this game shines for the campaign, which puts you in the shoes of a member of the Galactic Law Enforcement Team as they try to stop the insectoid alien Mizar from conquering the galaxy and enslaving the Tribal race.

Each world in the galaxy is pretty big, and you’re free to explore them in a non-linear fashion, which was unusual for shooters at the time.

 

2. Goemon’s Great Adventure (1999)

Goemon’s Great Adventure gameplay

I seem to be the only one in my group of acquaintances who ever had the pleasure of playing Goemon’s Great Adventure, and I’m sorry for everyone who didn’t.

Made back when Konami was known for its great games instead of its scandals, this unique title is full of surreal humor and an unapologetic Japanese aesthetic that makes its locales, enemies, and themes feel exotic and unique.

It’s probably the best side-scrolling platformer on the system. And it even supports 4-player co-op which is an absolute blast.

 

1. Space Station Silicon Valley (1998)

Space Station Silicon Valley game screenshot

If we’re talking about weird, exotic, unique games that didn’t get the appreciation they deserved back when they were released… we have to talk about Space Station Silicon Valley.

Developed by DMA Design, this title might be the single most bizarre game on the system.

You play as Evo, a walking microchip running around a Space Station and taking control of half-robot animals.

Regrettably the game is impossible to clear to 100% completion due to a bug.

But that doesn’t take away from the overall experience which is original, a bit absurd, and incredibly memorable.

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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.