I’ll openly admit, I’m a pretty large dork (and damned proud of it.) Not in the sense that I do differential equations for fun, but I most certainly have a strong affinity for sci-fi movies and fantasy based novels filled with sword wielding protagonists. Perhaps most the most defining characteristic of my dork-iness is my still strong dedication to dominating at the realm of video games. Dating all the way back to my childhood where I was speed running through Sonic: The Hedgehog like a proverbial Usain Bolt to the current generation where my massive Halo kill count is a metaphorical badge of honor on which I build a large portion of my self-esteem, this most certainly is a realm that I have a great deal of experience with. However, to this day, there has never been a console that I enjoyed more than that of the Nintendo 64. This 64 bit, cartridge based system with seemingly unwieldy controllers that looked like deformed sting rays with more buttons than a switchboard panel at NASA, boasted some of the finest digital entertainment creations in mankind. I’m here to give the Top 5 the system had to offer, and since I consider myself an expert in this my field, my opinion should be taken 100 % as fact.
5.) Banjo Kazooie
Though it might be bordering on sacrilege of sorts against Nintendo to leave off Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie was the superior platformer. A goofy, lovable bear paired with a snarky, smart-mouth bird companion on an adventure to knock off an evil witch? Sign me up. This game gave you awesome abilities (shooting eggs out of Kazooie’s mouth, turning into different animals courtesy of a voo-doo witch doctor) hysterical dialog between various animals and collectible pieces, and an undeniable charm so poignant it could have been transformed into a children’s story book. The synthesis of everything lovable with a technically great game was all a little kid wanted and more.
4.) Mario Kart 64
A prominent gaming website had a critic state that “this game is likely to disappoint you within a week,” solidly demonstrating an important fact about game critics: being an arrogant and overly critical ass hat is required for the job, but you must have a complete lack of understanding about what is “fun.” Nothing was a greater joy than to tear around the worlds of Mario land at breakneck speed with your favorite character on an unstable go kart. Throw in a simple but effective arsenal of items to slow down your opponents, and you have captured lightning in a bottle, as illustrated by the 9 million units it sold. Sometimes, simplicity truly yields the greatest results. Throw in the fact that multi-player with your friends was one of the most enjoyable competitive experiences possible that endures TO THIS DAY. Hell, undergrads have even invented “Beerio Kart” as another excellent drinking game due to the enjoyment this game has bestowed upon those who played it.
3.) Super Smash Brothers
The crown jewel of all fighting games proved that you don’t need 47 button long move combo’s or dazzling special effects anytime you barely touch someone to be completely and utterly awesome. Throw Nintendo’s most prominent characters into themed fighting arenas and beat the shit out each other until you are launched from the arena with the last man standing crowned as the victor. Add three friends of yours into the mix and you have, even to this day, one of the best multi-player experiences available. This was a game where thumb dexterity and mastery of your favorite character were the difference between achieving a victorious swell of pride or a broken controller because you just whipped it off the wall because you made one false move in Sudden Death and got smashed (hah, see what I did there? Laugh at the funny pun….please) into oblivion. As it also makes for yet another enjoyable drinking game, its spot on this list is more than justified.
2.) Golden Eye
Little did we know that the archetype for almost EVERY first person shooter created since 1998 would be based on this gem featuring the world’s most debonair/badass spy. I think that’s a fairly good indicator that a game had significant influence. Additionally, the game itself was absolutely incredible, as it was hands down the best console based first person shooter when it came out. Literally, from the moment you were dropped into the Facility with that suspense laced music in the background, grabbed a Klobb off the dead guard you just sniped from the ventilation shaft, and mowed down evil Soviet communist bastards with a maelstrom of bullets, you just knew you were in for an absolute treat of a game. Throw in multiple game modes, a riveting plot for a shooting game, and chaotic multiplayer, and you have an elite game for Nintendo 64, as well as one of the most influential pieces of gaming software ever seen.
1.) Ocarina of Time
(From this point forward, prepare for gushing, excessive hyperbole. I just can’t help myself). This isn’t just the best Nintendo 64 game of all time; this is the pinnacle, the apex, of every game ever. It transformed the land of Hyrule from a top down, two dimensional segment of map chunks in previous renditions to a fully realized, immersive world that you couldn’t help but get drawn into. You were bestowed an arsenal of weapons, tools, and spells that would give even J.R Tolkien an erection. Bows, slingshots, hammers, even mouse like mobile bombs for gods sake. Every person and atmosphere just exuded substance, with a driving storyline that made you truly feel like an epic hero against an all encompassing evil. The icing on the cake? Just when you think the game is over after finishing the initial three dungeons, YOU TRAVERSE THROUGH TIME AND TURN INTO AN OLDER, COMPLETELY BADASS ELVEN WARRIOR!! From it’s execution in terms of gameplay and evolution into a three dimensional masterpiece in all aspects, this is as perfect a game as you’ll ever see.