The Nintendo 64’s generation was the first time that actual 3D graphics were available on consoles. The leap to the third dimension opened many opportunities for developers to experiment and provided new freedom for players to move around and have fun.
While games have certainly come a long way since, in graphics and gameplay, many pieces from the time still hold up today. Whether they were ahead of their time or just have not aged, the N64’s era is host to a slew of great games that are still worth playing today. Here are five of them.
Five Nintendo 64 classics from the dawn of 3D: Zelda, Star Fox, and more
1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Some games have been hailed as revolutionary to the point of being in the running for some of the greatest games of all time. One of them is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Zelda franchise’s first foray into 3D and still the favorite of many fans, this game took the world of action-adventure games by storm with its dynamic combat and (at the time) revolutionary graphics.
While it doesn’t look all that great anymore, and the Nintendo 64’s three-pronged controller is janky at best, the level design and overall gameplay still hold up for fans of open-world and hack-n’-slash games.
2) Star Fox 64
Despite its latest outing on the Wii U being less than stellar, this older entry on the Nintendo 64 is still a cult classic among many fans. Star Fox 64 is one of the best rail shooters out there. The polygonal 3D graphics paired with exceptional scripted camera work make the game look like an animated movie.
Even though rail shooters are seen by many as a dying genre, and Star Fox itself is a dormant franchise, many games in the genre are worth a visit – Star Fox 64 is no exception, despite its age.
3) Conker’s Bad Fur Day
While the game is infamous for its not-so-subtle adult humor, there’s a lot more to it than that. The level design and esthetic complement each other perfectly, as do the crass jokes, blending into a perfect action platformer package on the Nintendo 64 that few games could rival. However, it is not for the faint of heart.
Flaunting graphics that few other Nintendo 64 games could match, voice-acted characters, and accurate lip sync, Conker’s Bad Fur Day has probably aged the best as a game, even if its writing has aged the worst.
From back when Konami used to make games and not pachinko machines (although that might change soon), Castlevania as a franchise has a long and storied past. Although it is best known for its 2D side-scrollers like Symphony of the Night, during the 3D craze of the Nintendo 64, Castlevania’s developers didn’t hesitate to dip their toes into the pool.
While the camera work is not the best and the graphics are at par with the average game for that time, the world of the castle is still as expertly crafted as ever, and the music maintains its caliber as well. Even though this hasn’t aged too well, it’s still worth a shot.
5) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Once the foundation of Ocarina of Time was laid down on the console, Nintendo didn’t want to just throw it away. Thus, Majora’s Mask was born. Reusing the OoT codebase and assets, they redid the formula into a race against time to stop the moon from crashing into the planet.
Featuring far darker themes and more horror-like imagery, Majora’s Mask is a dark horse of the Zelda franchise – while still being a phenomenal game. Although knowing what to do without a guide can be a bit finicky (this is where it shows its age), once the time loop gets going, it doesn’t stop.