The console war between SEGA and Nintendo was a tightly fought contest during the 90s. While SEGA took the early lead with the SEGA Genesis (or Mega Drive as we call it in the southern hemisphere), Nintendo quickly made up the ground with the Super NES. Both companies sold millions of copies of each console throughout the decade, but it was the release of the Nintendo 64 that saw Nintendo claim the title as the most popular console designer.
Named after the 64-bit processor powering the console, the 64 was the first Nintendo console to feature true 3D graphics and quickly became one of the most recognizable consoles of all time, helped by its tremendous selection of Nintendo-exclusive titles. Games such as GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64, and Star Fox 64 are not only classic titles but helped launch the console to the masses and contributed to its early success.
Of course, with any big release such as the Nintendo 64, there's a heap of games released that fail to live up to the expectations of critics and fans. Unfortunately, there were more bad games than good, with the likes of Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Carmageddon 64, and Superman 64 just four horrible games that somehow saw the light of day.
With old school consoles back in vogue many people are dusting off their 64's and getting back into gaming, so to make sure you are playing the best games and not the duds, here are the 20 worst 64 games along with 10 worth your time.
30 Worst: Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire
There was a lot of hype behind this game when it was first touted as one of the major titles for the Nintendo 64. As is the case with many games on this list, Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire failed to live up to expectations, with LucasArts delivering another sub-standard Star Wars title bogged down by pathetic graphics, dodgy controls, and bad gameplay.
It must be said the first level where you control a snowspeeder during the invasion of Hoth is super fun and replicated the film very well, but after that, it's a hodgepodge of unappealing levels and poor third person gameplay. You're better off giving Star Wars: Rogue Squadron a play.
29 Worst: Golden Nugget 64
Gambling games have always mystified me. Why would you sit at home and play poker or the slots on a console when you can visit a real-life casino where you have the chance of actually winning money?
My thoughts aside, the 64's attempt at capturing the feel of Vegas, Golden Nugget 64, is a rather boring title with a repetitive soundtrack that will soon have you tearing your hair out. While you do get to choose from a variety of different casino favorites, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, and Texas hold 'em, Golden Nugget 64 doesn't offer any of the thrills of real-life gambling and will quickly have you turning your 64 off.
28 Best: The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
It might not be the best Zelda ever released (that award goes to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild), but it's certainly the greatest Zelda release on the Nintendo 64.
The fifth game in the ongoing franchise is the first to introduce 3D graphics, something the 64 does spectacularly well.
Along with the awesome visuals, the gameplay is tight, the music solid, and the storyline well written and engaging. It remains one of the greatest games ever to feature on the 64 and still holds up today against most RPGs.
27 Worst: Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker
For some reason, the majority of Batman games never capture the spirit of the caped crusader, which is exactly the case with Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker.
Based on the animated television series of the same name, this side-scrolling beat 'em up allows players to alternate between four different Batman suits, each with its own unique abilities. While this is a great point of difference, the actual game itself is let down by run-of-the-mill visuals (Batman looks like a block of pixels at times) and some crumby dialogue.
26 Worst: Castlevania 64
Konami's attempt at bringing the Castlevania franchise to the 64 turned out to be more of a failure than a success. The first 3D game in the series, Castlevania 64 allows you to choose between Carrie Fernandez with her magical powers or Reinhardt Schneider with his whip skills as you go about trying to stop Dracula raising hell.
You can have a bit of fun with this one thanks to the great graphics and challenging end of level bosses, but the control system and wonky camera angles will soon leave you frustrated and throwing your controller at the wall.
25 Best: Perfect Dark
After the tremendous success of the first person shooter GoldenEye 007, developer Rare created the extraordinary shooter Perfect Dark. Built around the same game mechanics as GoldenEye, Perfect Dark uses an upgraded game engine enabling slicker graphics, Dolby surround sound, and greater multiplayer options.
At the time of its release, it was one of the most sophisticated games ever released on the 64.
With a high concept plot, smart dialogue, and an amazing soundtrack, Perfect Dark is like a playable movie and remains a 64 classic.
24 Worst: War Gods
Midway Games led the way for fighters in the 90s and War Gods is another ridiculous fighting game with over the top characters and bloody finishing moves. Players take control of one of ten fighters battling to become the most powerful warrior in the world.
While the arcade version is fun, the 64 port is weighed down by poor character designs and a sense of "been there, done that." Like many Midway games of the 90s, War Gods is very similar to Mortal Kombat in terms of gameplay and graphics, but without the gloss.
23 Worst: Hexen
Hexen, or Hexen: Beyond Heretic as it is officially known, is a horror-themed shooter developed by Raven Software and published by the legendary id Software. Unlike other id games such as Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake, Hexen possesses none of the spark or excitement we've come to expect from the established company.
While the story is interesting and the opportunity to choose from different types of character classes adds something to the game, it can't make up for the slow frame rate and poor controls. Forget this and grab Doom 64 if you want a decent shooter.
22 Best: Wave Racer 64
A game where you race jet skis might not sound that enticing, but Wave Racer 64 is anything but boring. Not only does the game replicate water courses exceptionally well but the gameplay is wonderful, with the jet skis reacting like they would in real life as you navigate the various courses in the game.
The multiplay mode is great and allows you to compete against a friend while the 80s-esque soundtrack somehow suits the game. Although not a standard racing title, Wave Racer 64 is exceptional fun and regarded as one of the better offerings on the 64.
21 Worst: Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt
Rugrats was one of my favorite shows growing up so expectations were high as a kid when this game was released. All my hopes and dreams were shattered when I eventually got around to playing this terrible cash-in.
I was hoping for a platform or puzzle game and got rewarded with an interactive board game that lacks all the charm of the show.
Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt is neither challenging nor entertaining and will quickly have you turning it off in favor of watching the television series it's based upon.
20 Worst: WCW Nitro
Wrestling games were big business during the 90s. With both the WWF (now WWE) and WCW battling it out for the ratings crown, both companies did all they could to get ahead, including releasing multiple games each year.
First released on the PlayStation before being ported to the 64, WCW Nitro is one of the worst games of that time period. The major problem with the game concerns the fact that there's no new features or wrestlers, making WCW Nitro a complete rip-off of the PlayStation version, but with worse graphics and gameplay. This one is an absolute stinker and a sad addition to the long list of wrestling games on the market.
19 Best: Star Fox 64
A reboot of the original Nintendo classic, the 64 version of Star Fox 64 is one of the best racing/shooter hybrids the console ever released. Along with having a great multiplayer mode, fantastic graphics, and voice over work, Star Fox 64 is best known for being the first game to support the Rumble Pak.
For those too young to know, the Rumble Pak could be plugged into the controller and created feedback, meaning the controller would shake and vibrate as you played. This great initiative added an extra dynamic to playing Star Fox 64 and helped the game sell over four million copies.
18 Worst: Earthworm Jim 3D
The very first Earthworm Jim game received mixed reviews from critics but I for one think it's a well-executed platformer with some hilarious humor. The same can't be said for the 64 version, the third installment in the series and quite possibly the worst.
Inspired by similar side-scrolling adventure games like Donkey Kong 64, there's nothing thrilling or exciting about Earthworm Jim 3D. It's a tedious and uninspiring game that offers nothing you haven't seen before, with even the humor a letdown.
17 Worst: Carmageddon 64
The original PC version of Carmageddon received mixed reviews when first released - mainly due to the controversial nature of the violence seen in the game – but was a cult hit amongst fans. Considering its success amongst gamers it was obvious the game would get a release on consoles and the 64 version is, unfortunately, one of the worst conversions.
While it plays similar to the PC version the graphics are some of the worst you'll ever see, with developers Titus removing the pedestrians and replacing them with zombies to appease the censors, totally changing the direction of the game.
16 Best: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
I've mentioned in previous pieces that any video game that involves dinosaurs has me from the get-go, so it's no surprise I rate Turok: Dinosaur Hunter so high when it comes to classic Nintendo 64 games.
An adaptation of the successful comic book, the game plays as a first person shooter, with you taking control of the time-traveling Native American Turok as you try and find the eight pieces of the superweapon known as the Chronoscepter and stop the evil Campaigner. This game has everything, from an enthralling storyline to awesome graphics to enjoyable gameplay, and allows you to take on all manner of dinosaurs with a variety of interesting weapons.
15 Worst: Quest 64
Quest 64, or Holy Magic Century as it's known in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, is one of the first RPGs to be released on the Nintendo 64. Taking control of the rather boringly named Brian (apologies to anyone named Brian), you set off on a quest to find your missing father. There's something about missing amulets and learning magic but none of it really matters as Quest 64 is a poor release.
It's not just the name Brain that lets this game down, with the experience system taking some time to get used to and the lack of world to explore disappointing. This game can be completed super quick and certainly isn't a game for true RPG fans.
14 Worst: California Speed
A number of racing games were released during the Nintendo 64's life, with California Speed just one of many ported from an arcade game that fails to live up to the original. As the name suggests, the game takes place in California where you compete on a large range of tracks in a variety of different vehicles.
Sadly it's a fairly standard car game with nothing overly exciting or innovative in terms of gameplay. California Speed did receive modest reviews but is a rather bland and boring racer that's quickly forgettable.
13 Best: Blast Corps
A personal favorite of mine, Blast Corps was one of the first titles I played on the Nintendo 64. Tasked with stopping a runaway missile carrier, you must use various vehicles to destroy everything in the missile's path, leading to hours of mayhem and destruction.
There are 57 levels that get harder as you progress, and coupled with sensational graphics and sound, help make Blast Corps a super fun game. The only thing that could make this game any better would've been a multiplayer option.
12 Worst: Daikatana
After huge successes with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, well-known director and designer John Romero hooked up with new gaming company Ion Storm for the highly anticipated first-person shooter Daikatana.
With a story concerning the ultimate weapon, the world's destruction, and time travel, on paper, Daikatana should have been a raging success. Instead, gamers were left with a sub-par shooter with old graphics (the game's release was pushed back multiple times), a limited amount of saves, and some rather disappointing action.
The game flopped so bad it's considered one of the worst releases of all time, making it a worthy addition to this list.
11 Worst: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
The success of the Mortal Kombat franchise lead developers Midway Games to take characters from the series and put them in their own games. This didn't work out well at all, case in point Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero.
Taking control of the blue-clad ninja in a side-scrolling adventure sounds like a solid concept but the execution is terrible. It lacks originality or the intense fun of the Mortal Kombat series and is hampered by a terrible control system, glitchy graphics, and cut scenes featuring acting worse than a B grade movie.
10 Best: Super Mario 64
The first ever 3D Super Mario game also happens to be one of the best ever released on any console in Nintendo's history. While it follows the usual story of Mario trying to save Princess Peach from Bowser, the open world of Super Mario 64 is new and exciting and gives longtime fans an entirely different experience.
Super Mario 64 contains everything you want from a Mario game in a gorgeously created world that you can get lost in for hours.
The game won numerous awards and set the standard for Mario titles to come.
9 Worst: Blues Brothers 2000
Loosely based on the film of the same name, Blues Brothers 2000 was always going to struggle after a number of delays meant the game didn't see the light of day until two years after the film had been released.
Hampered by some bad level designs, sloppy controls, and hideously dated graphics, this game is an absolute mess. Similar to the film, it's a poor tribute to the original Blues Brothers film and another awful Nintendo 64 release.
8 Worst: South Park Rally
If you're looking for a fun and exciting racing game set in the South Park universe than you've come to the wrong place. South Park Rally is a horrible attempt at combing the racing genre with one of televisions greatest comedies.
Although many of the show's characters appear, along with locations and landmarks from the show, the actual gameplay is terrible, with the vehicles having poor handling, the tracks not well thought out, and a multiplayer mode that offers nothing. The game is so bad even South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone put all the blame on publisher Acclaim Entertainment and distanced themselves from the title.
7 Best: Mario Kart 64
If South Park Rally is one of the worst racing games on the 64 then Mario Kart 64 is easily one of the best. Modeled after the original fast-paced racer, Mario Kart 64 takes things to the next level with better graphics, sound, and gameplay.
The use of 3D graphics allows for more intricate level designs and the ability for players to experience a more engaging racer. The multiplayer mode is still the best and there's nothing like grabbing four friends and battling it out on one of the 16 race courses.
6 Worst: G.A.S.P!! Fighters' NEXTream
Released in the States and Canada as Deadly Arts, G.A.S.P!! Fighters' NEXTream is another less than stellar fighting game released on the Nintendo 64. Unlike most fighters, Deadly Arts doesn't rely on intense visuals or bloody finishing moves, instead concentrating on fighters who use choke holds and submission to win matches.
This sounds great in theory but doesn't translate to the screen. Who wants to put their opponent to sleep when you can play similar fighting games with outlandish combos and finishers? This is an extremely basic fighter with no redeeming features. Pass.
5 Worst: Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue
Another television to game adaptation, Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue was released on four different consoles with each game slightly different. The 64 version is a standard platform beat 'em up with some fairly ancient looking graphics.
The controls are rather simple and the level designs lackluster. It's also a pretty easy game to clock and won't take you more than a few hours. Even the addition of cut scenes involving the actual actors from the show isn't enough to save this one.
4 Best: Donkey Kong 64
Another crown jewel in the Nintendo 64's array of exceptional releases, Donkey Kong 64 is a complete reinvention of the original 1981 title. Transformed into a side-scrolling platform with 3D gameplay, Donkey Kong 64 is an addictive adventure game.
Exploring multiple themed levels (Creepy Castle is a personal favorite) on a journey to rescue your stolen friends, Donkey Kong 64 features some intriguing puzzles and five playable characters, each with their own skills and abilities. Similar to Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64 breathed new life into an ailing franchise and helped Nintendo extend its dominance over its competitors.
3 Worst: Clayfighter 63 1/3
Meant as a parody of other fighting games on the market, Clayfighter 63 1/3 is the third game in the series and many believed it could be the best ahead of its release. Once people got the chance to play the game they quickly realized the joke was wearing thin, with Clayfighter 63 1/3 failing to capture the imagination of the first two titles.
Critics lambasted every element of the game from the graphics to the sound to the gameplay. It lacks humor and the characters featured aren't compelling in any way. The final kick to the backside is how easy the game is to finish, with only a few hours needed to complete this utter waste of game.
2 Worst: Superman 64
This game is an absolute mess. Due to a number of issues during development, this game was delayed by six months and when it finally got a release, was savaged by critics. There really isn't anything nice you can say about it.
Playing as Superman you must navigate a virtual world and save your friends from Lex Luthor. The world itself is woefully created, with Superman looking like a block man flying through poorly constructed polygons with weird looking antagonists. The controls for flying Superman are just plain bad, only adding to the poor performance of this game.
GameSpot reviewer Joe Fielder put it best when describing this game; "This is easily the worst game I've ever played." Enough said.
1 Best: GoldenEye 007
My favorite Nintendo 64 game of all time, GoldenEye 007 is not only a faithful adaptation of the Bond film of the same name but one of the best first-person shooters of all time.
While it's great to complete missions from the film in familiar locations and save the day as James Bond, GoldenEye is all about the multiplayer mode. Here you and three other friends can take each other on in a variety of different battle modes named after Bond films.
It's the most fun you can have at home and still stands up as a great first-person shooter today.