The Nintendo 64 is one of the greatest consoles of all time. While opinion is divided on its rather odd controller, it spawned some serious gaming classics to which gamers still return on a regular basis, as well as some interesting and underrated gems that many are still yet to discover. If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch Online membership and you’ve picked up the Expansion Pack add-on, then you can get access to some of these greats. Here are the 20 best N64 games on Nintendo Switch right now.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Obviously, the number one spot goes to what is still arguably Nintendo’s greatest and most expansive Zelda adventure, Ocarina of Time. Breath of the Wild might be bigger and Majora’s Mask might be weirder (more on which in a moment), but Ocarina of Time codified much of what we now know to be essential to Zelda’s DNA. It’s still well worth a revisit now thanks to its excellent difficulty curve and well-crafted puzzles.
2. Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was a launch title for the N64, and it’s hard to imagine coming home with a greater prize. Going out to buy a Nintendo 64 and returning with one of the greatest 3D platformers ever made must have felt like an absolute triumph. Super Mario 64 is showing some of its age today, but its tight controls, endless replayability, and excellent variety of challenges mean it’s still a contender.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
If Ocarina of Time is the popular one, then Majora’s Mask is the weird creative kid who sits at the back of the class and writes all the interesting short stories. Majora’s Mask offers a strange mix of classic Zelda adventuring and hopeless melancholy; it’s a weird, cynical adventure full of brain-melting time-loop puzzles and great self-contained dungeon design. Give it a look if you thought Ocarina of Time was too conventional.
4. Pokemon Snap
This is one of the greatest spinoff games of all time. It takes a simple concept – what if you were a Pokemon photographer rather than a trainer? – and creates an incredibly entertaining rail shooter based around this idea. You must take photos of Pokemon at opportune moments, looking for (or perhaps even creating) the perfect shot as the creatures frolic around various landscapes and interact with each other.
5. Paper Mario
The GameCube’s Thousand Year Door is a better game than the original Paper Mario; it’s more imaginative and funnier. Still, this followup to the SNES’ Super Mario RPG is excellent in its own right. Its papercraft graphics are a clever way to ensure that Paper Mario never really feels like it’s aged, while its sharp writing, clever characterisation, and array of locales to visit are fresh and funny even today.
In the 90s, Rare really could do no wrong. The studio pumped out classic after classic, one of which was this iconic mascot platformer starring everyone’s favourite bird and bear combo. Banjo-Kazooie is an altogether more involved affair than Super Mario 64; rather than tasking players with re-entering stages repeatedly to find new stars, it simply lets them loose to explore and find as many collectibles as they could in each level.
7. GoldenEye 007
Another of Rare’s classic 90s games is this influential first-person shooter. The campaign in GoldenEye 007 is enjoyable, taking you through a series of areas and setpieces from the 1995 movie, but it’s the multiplayer where Rare’s shooter really shines. The combinations of characters, areas, and game modes on offer are dizzying, so if you like the core shooting, you need never get tired of GoldenEye 007.
8. Star Fox 64
The Star Fox games are hugely entertaining rail shooters, and this N64 entry is no exception. As Fox, you must soar through a series of space-themed areas, blasting away at your enemies using intuitive analog-based targeting controls. It’s a very short game, but there’s plenty of replayability to be had here, so you likely won’t tire of Star Fox 64’s thrills for a good while.
9. Mario Kart 64
It looks positively primitive and simplistic next to its successors, but Mario Kart 64 was many people’s introduction to the iconic racing sub-franchise, and its frantic action still holds up today. The core idea of Mario Kart – arcade-style racing for everyone that feels somehow simultaneously uproariously unfair and incredibly fun – is very much intact in this early 3D instalment.
10. F-Zero X
If, however, you’re looking for something a little more high-octane and a little less sedate than Mario Kart 64, allow us to recommend F-Zero X. This is a dizzyingly fast racer, complete with the edgy 90s attitude that sets it apart from its more kiddie-friendly cousins. Fun fact: this series is where Captain Falcon of Super Smash Bros fame originates from, so you have F-Zero to thank for him.
11. Mario Party
Some of Mario Party’s minigames are so infamous that they actually caused players to seek legal action against Nintendo, but even still, it’s a great relic of a bygone era. This was the ultimate in splitscreen fun; like Mario Kart 64, it’s devastatingly unfair, especially if a rival player happens to get a lucky roll and you don’t, but that doesn’t make it any less laugh-out-loud funny.
12. Mario Party 2
Naturally, the sequel to Mario Party was bigger, better, and stuffed with minigames to enjoy, although the fact that it’s marginally less influential places it just a little lower on this list. Mario Party 2 is still tremendously good fun to play with friends even today, and its simplicity means that it doesn’t feel anywhere near as aged as other, similar party games of its generation might.
13. Sin & Punishment
Lest anyone say the N64 was a console for kids, show them Sin & Punishment and bid them rethink their position. Sin & Punishment is a truly hardcore rail shooter with a brutal difficulty level and a decidedly dark and gritty air about it. Don’t get us wrong; it’s no Manhunt, but it still feels more grown-up and less child-friendly than many of the first-party Nintendo games released for the N64.
14. Yoshi’s Story
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is one of the most influential platformers ever created, and while the N64’s Yoshi’s Story is a little less exciting, it’s still adorable fun. The Yoshis are as irresistibly cute as ever, making their way through a retro-inspired platformer with a stronger emphasis on puzzling and high score achievement than the Super Mario series usually displays (hence the name change, we suppose).
15. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Much like Yoshi’s Story, Kirby 64 saw a beloved Nintendo mascot make the leap from 2D to 3D, although the gameplay for Kirby 64 was largely unaffected by this shift. It’s the same cutesy 2D platforming action you’ve enjoyed in previous Kirby games, and although it’s a touch on the easy side, the presentation and general strength of level design make this one well worth a look.
You may know this game as WinBack: Covert Operations, or perhaps Operation: WinBack, since the naming was a little strange from region to region. Either way, this is a third-person shooter with its sights aimed squarely at games like Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter. It’s a pretty solid (no pun intended) third-person stealth shooter with some fun, varied puzzles to keep you entertained.
17. Pilotwings 64
The SNES’ Pilotwings was an early experiment in a more relaxing genre for Nintendo, and Pilotwings 64 was a continuation of what that earlier experiment had tried. It’s a chill flight sim with three different disciplines on offer and a range of different challenges to attempt. Pilotwings 64 was intended as a graphical showcase for the N64, but it turned out to be a great game to throw on when you’re too tired for something more intense, too.
18. Mario Tennis
The Mario sports series has, according to some, fallen by the wayside in recent years, but Mario Tennis on the N64 is about as pure as they come. It’s a simple idea; Mario and his friends team up to take each other on at tennis, and what follows is an arcade-style (albeit surprisingly deep) tennis game. This one’s perhaps most notable for the first appearance of Waluigi, who would go on to become a Mario fan favourite.
19. Mario Golf
If you’ve always found golf games to be dry and uninvolving affairs, then perhaps it’s time you gave Mario Golf a try. Instead of the standard golf courses, you’ll be playing on rather adorable Mario-themed levels, and you’ll also have lots of different gameplay modes and minigames to try out. Somehow, though, this is still an extremely absorbing and enjoyable golf sim in its own right.
20. Wave Race 64
At the time, Wave Race 64 was effectively pitched as being a version of the F-Zero franchise, but with water replacing the futuristic zero-gravity tracks of the latter. In the end, Wave Race 64 turned out to be an enjoyable racer in its own right, even devoid of the slightly unfair comparison to Nintendo’s other “extreme” racing franchise. Give this one a look if you want some diverting, nostalgic fun.