The Nintendo 64 is one of the most influential video game consoles of all time, with a long list of classic games and immediately recognizable mascots. Originally released in 1996 (or 1997 if you’re from Europe or Australia), the Nintendo 64 had smash-hit games right from the jump. That trend continued throughout the console’s life-cycle, resulting in dozens of classics. In fact, many of the games that most players consider “the best of all time” released on Nintendo 64 first. Whether it’s the massively popular platformer Super Mario 64, the timeless tale of adventure that is The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, or the immensely competitive and enjoyable shooter Goldeneye: 007, there was no shortage of hits on Nintendo’s 64-bit system.
Despite how fantastic and truly imaginative those mentioned games are, there are an equal number of Nintendo 64 games that were foolishly overlooked. Whether due to mismanaged marketing or just bad luck, there are some exceptionally underrated Nintendo 64 games. Today, we’re taking a look at five incredibly underrated N64 games that deserve their time in the limelight. If you missed these N64 gems the first time around, we highly suggest digging them up and trying them now. Without any further ado, here are our picks for the top five underrated Nintendo 64 games!
The developer RARE gets a lot of love for their many N64 hits, including Goldeneye: 007, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and many more. Unfortunately, one of their most violent and interesting titles, Jet Force Gemini, rarely gets the love it deserves. In this third-person shooter, you play as three space-cops in a fierce war against a disgusting army of insect drones. Each character has unique powers that help you progress through levels, such as the lovable dog Lupus’ hover ability. Apart from its quirky cast and interesting puzzles, Jet Force Gemini stands out due to its inventive levels and exceptionally bloody gunplay. Since you’re shooting at insects and not humans, RARE got away with quite a bit of gore, including tons of rainbow-colored blood, exploding bodies, and plenty of dismemberment. Any fan of third-person shooters or sci-fi action games should check Jet Force Gemini out.
4. Space Station Silicon Valley
There are plenty of weird platforming puzzle games on the N64, but Space Station Silicon Valley still manages to feel exceptionally odd. Playing as a tiny microchip, you must explore the titular space station, possessing the animal-robot hybrids that live onboard. Each animal has a specific set of abilities, allowing you to solve the various puzzles scattered in each level. This is all done in order to prevent the space station from colliding with Earth, as it has been overtaken by a rogue artificial intelligence with nefarious plans. It’s just as weird as it sounds and the gameplay reflects that, making Space Station Silicon Valley and absolutely underrated Nintendo 64 game that everyone should try. Plus, it was made by a little company called DMA Design. You might know them better by their new name, Rockstar North, the creators of games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.
3. Buck Bumble
Buck Bumble is a quirky third-person shooter game where you play as a gun-toting, cybernetic bumblebee battling against an invading swarm of super-powered insects known as the Herd. Playing like a slightly-awkward Star Fox 64 with free-roam movement, you zoom around various garden-themed levels blasting down bugs. In addition to the nearly 20-level-long single-player campaign, there are competitive multiplayer modes as well. Predictably, you can face off against a pal in an aerial deathmatch known as “Buck Battle”, but I always preferred “Buzz Ball”, which was basically soccer with bees and guns. While the graphics and gameplay might not hold up as well as some other N64 classics, Buck Bumble is still pretty fun to play, thanks to its super weird story and short, easy-to-complete levels.
2. Mischief Makers
Developed by Treasure and released in 1997, Mischief Makers is a 2D, side-scrolling platformer that didn’t wasn’t received the best upon launch. Criticized for its “dated” gameplay and occasionally confusing objectives, the game never managed much success in the N64 market. That said, underneath the seemingly straightforward surface, Mischief Makers is a wildly inventive and colorful game with some truly remarkable mechanics. Most of the game revolves around the main character’s “shake” mechanic, which allows you to use items in a variety of ways. Some items help you solve puzzles, while others attack enemies. Through some exceptionally bright and joyful sequences of platforming fun, Mischief Makers stands as one of the Nintendo 64’s most refreshing side-scrolling games.
1. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
Although the Mystical Ninja series caught on in Japan, this expansive and imaginative adventure series never gained footing further West. That’s truly a shame, as the second Mystical Ninja game, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, is easily one of the best 3D adventure games on the entire system. In this wacky game, you play as the unlikely hero Goemon and his friends as they attempt to prevent an evil gang from overthrowing Japan and turning it into a musical theater. The admittedly wacky plot, characters, and dialogue are juxtaposed against the beautiful countryside and villages of rural Japan, which you must explore during your journey. Like The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is an unforgettable adventure with awesome boss fights, well-designed puzzle dungeons, and plenty of memorable side-quests and characters.