The NES and SNES Classic mini consoles were a huge hit with casual gamers and collectors alike. Though not the first of their kind, their success spawned numerous other mini consoles from other developers, such as the PlayStation and Genesis/Mega Drive Classics, all with mixed results. For years, fans have been clamoring for Nintendo to once again dive into its past and deliver a new Classic console, with the Nintendo 64 being the most likely subject.
Nintendo has been mum on the topic for a while now, but every time the Japanese gaming company announces a big show, speculation begins to swirl that the N64 Classic will make an appearance. As unlikely as it is, with a new Digital Direct set to premiere tomorrow, I’ve set about constructing my list of what I’d want to see on the system.
Before I begin, I want to outline my goal for this list. It’s not to just include the best games, but to construct a library that is comprehensive, believable, and fun. Classic consoles should have a diverse lineup so that it can appeal to gamers of all types: those that grew up with the system, those that have never played, those that want a casual experience, those that want something more hardcore, you get the idea. One of the core attributes of the N64 was the inclusion of four controller ports, allowing four players to play together in many of the console’s titles. Thus, I’ll be putting greater emphasis on this feature when selecting games. Lastly, there are many games that just are not feasible to be on the N64 mini, namely those that are licensed or from certain third-party developers. Rareware is most noteworthy, as they provided a huge bulk of spectacular games for the console, but alas they are now owned by Microsoft, and I just cannot see most of their games coming to Nintendo’s mini system.
Also note that this can certainly pertain to any N64 games that could make their way to Switch Online, although I believe that the online service has a greater chance of containing third party titles such as Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, Buck Bumble, and the like.
Below I have broken various games into three categories: first-party Nintendo, Rareware titles, and third-party games. I have written a short description for each game and my personal opinion of how likely it is to make its way to the system. If you want to see my final list of 25 games on the Nintendo 64 Classic mini console, you can find that near the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
- Super Mario 64 (Guaranteed)
This is one of the most iconic games of all time and probably the first thing you associate with the Nintendo 64. The game revolutionized how 3D games were made, and while it certainly has aged, it’s still heaps of fun to this very day. No N64 library is complete without Super Mario 64.
- Mario Kart 64 (Guaranteed)
We’ve come a long way from Mario Kart 64, but it’s undoubtedly one of the console’s most popular games. Nostalgic fans would be lining up to buy a console based on this title alone, and the four player functionality seals the deal.
- Mario Party (Very Likely)
The Mario Party series of games presents some of the most fun four friends can have on a Nintendo console. The mix of cooperation versus competition that is present throughout each round of this board game adventure is hard to rival. I’ve marked this one as “Very Likely” simply because either of its two sequels could steal its spot, but I would bet my bottom dollar that at least one of these three games will land on the Classic. Fingers crossed for all three.
- Mario Golf (Very Likely)
Sports games were some of the most popular titles on the N64 right alongside racing titles. Unfortunately, so many of those are licensed, and it would be a nightmare to work out a contract to get them onto the system. That’s where the Mario sports titles come in. Developed by Camelot, Mario Golf was extremely well received and has seen numerous sequels on other consoles. However, there’s no beating the original.
- Mario Tennis (Likely)
Like Mario Golf, Mario Tennis offered a more casual alternative to the more abundant simulated sports titles and was a blast to play at the time. It was never as popular as its golf counterpart, but the game should almost warrant inclusion based on its introduction of Waluigi alone (also the return of Daisy from Super Mario Land).
- Dr. Mario 64 (Likely)
Everyone loves a good puzzler, and Dr. Mario 64 is one of the best out there. The game included the classic type of game we all know and love, as well as a fun Story Mode in which the titular Dr. Mario joins forces with Wario to battle enemies in which to retrieve the coveted Megavitamins, stolen by Mad Scienstein and Rudy the Clown.
- Paper Mario (Guaranteed)
The RPG genre was mostly absent on the N64, with most developers opting for either the PlayStation or the handheld Game Boy for their RPG creations. Thus, Paper Mario fills a gap that’s sorely needed on the Classic. The game offers a more casual role-playing experience compared to the likes of Final Fantasy to be sure, but it’s still tremendous fun with incredible writing.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Guaranteed)
Like Super Mario 64, this Zelda title is a no brainer for the Classic. Still highly regarded as one of, if not THE greatest game ever created, Ocarina of Time offers an unforgettable adventure that spawns across seven years. There’s no way this isn’t on there.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Very Likely)
While Nintendo could release the Classic without including Majora’s Mask, I wouldn’t want them to. The direct sequel to Ocarina of Time is one of the most unique games in the franchise, having the hero Link relive the same three days in order to prevent the destruction of the world. It’s shorter than its predecessor, but its darker themes and peculiar sense of character make it a standout that fans still cherish today.
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (Guaranteed)
Kirby has become one of Nintendo’s most beloved mascots, and while Kirby 64 wasn’t groundbreaking, it’s an experience that fits right at home with the Classic, with casual gameplay of Kirby games provides fun for all ages.
- Super Smash Bros. (Guaranteed)
Super Smash Bros. has become synonymous with Nintendo for many people. The unique fighting game casts up to four players as renown Nintendo characters while they duke it out on suspended platforms, aiming to knock each other off with powerful smash attacks. Though the original game is a much lighter experience than its sequels, it still provides a rip-roaring good time, and the nostalgia linked to it alone would help the Classic sell millions.
- Star Fox 64 (Guaranteed)
Whereas Super Mario 64 wished to show gamers what kind of spectacular gameplay the console could provide, Star Fox 64 was a showcase of graphics. The original Star Fox on the SNES is noteworthy for its use of polygons, which looked incredible on the 16-bit machine. Now with much more power, Star Fox 64 was essentially a remake of the older title but with more splendid graphics and gameplay. The Classic would be amiss without this space shooter.
- Yoshi’s Story (Guaranteed)
Personally, I don’t love Yoshi’s Story, but this platformer is still held in high regard by many. Unlike most other games of the period, this adventure returned to the 2D gameplay that gamers were familiar with, but with impressive 3D models. It’s much easier than other games in the series though, which is a turnoff for many, but its inclusion on the Classic would provide a game that more casual and inexperienced players will certainly love.
- Sin and Punishment (Very Likely)
Sin and Punishment was a rail shooter that was only released in Japan on the N64, but saw a re-release on the Wii Virtual Console years later in the west. So why did I mark this as “Very Likely?” Much like Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic, Nintendo needs to offer something most gamers haven’t seen, and Sin and Punishment may be the perfect way to offer something new on the Classic.
- Pokémon Snap (Likely)
Pokemania quickly swept over the world when the original titles released on the Game Boy, and to take advantage of this, Nintendo released this spin-off title on the 64. Focusing on taking pictures of the beloved pocket monsters as opposed to battling them, it still maintained that sense of adventure and collecting that the originals had. If there is a Pokemon game on the N64 Classic, I think it will be this one, which I’ll explain further in my next entry.
- Pokémon Stadium (Doubtful)
Pokémon Stadium was much more similar to the classic Game Boy games, if only because the combat gameplay was present. Still, Stadium rids the player of exploration, which is so important to the franchise. Even more importantly, the game heavily relied on players importing Pokémon that they have caught and trained on their Game Boy games via an added accessory. Without the ability to connect to Pokémon Red or Blue, Pokémon Stadium loses a lot of its charm. So much so that I’d rather not see it ported to the system.
- Wave Race 64 (Likely)
The Mario series of sports games weren’t the only ones Nintendo made. Wave Race 64 put players on jetskis in a race that showcased the console’s impressive graphics and physics engines. Though not as remarkable today, I think anyone would enjoy going head-to-head with a few laps in the turbulent waters.
- Pilotwings 64 (Likely)
A sequel to a lesser known SNES game, Pilot Wings 64 let players take a variety of aerial vehicles such as planes, helicopters, and even jetpacks, and allowed them to take to the skies. There are races, time trials, and even challenges like parachuting onto a bullseye, all of which offer loads of entertainment. Players may find the most fun though in exploring the large (for the time) open world island, ripe with items to collect and sights to witness.
- 1080° Snowboarding (Likely)
Extreme sports were all the rage in the late 90s/early-2000s, and 1080° Snowboarding was Nintendo’s way of answering the thrill seeker’s call. Players compete in races on over eight tracks, rushing downhill on a snowy mountain and performing tricks for boosts of speed. The game was a big hit, although the snowboarding craze has since dwindled from its late 90’s peak.
- Donkey Kong 64 (Guaranteed)
In some ways, this game would be tricky. It was developed by Rareware, after all, and it does include a mini-game where you play one of Rare’s classic titles, Jetpack (which is necessary in order to obtain 100%). Nintendo showed us that this could be worked around however with the port of the game in the Wii U. There would have to be some modifications made, but Donkey Kong 64 is all but a shoe in to be on the N64 Classic.
- Banjo-Kazooie (Likely)
Super Mario 64 may have helped establish platforming in a 3D environment, but Banjo-Kazooie developed it even further. One of the most beloved games of all time, I would bet Nintendo would go far out of their way to include this remarkable title on the system. The sequel I’m more hesitant on, as it’s just not as well loved as the original. Considering gamers on Xbox still have easy access to Banjo-Tooie, I’d be content with just the original making its way onto the Classic console. It’s been proven that Nintendo and Microsoft are willing to work together, with Banjo-Kazooie even making it into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, so this is certainly possible.
- Diddy Kong Racing (Likely)
This is another tricky one. Diddy Kong is obviously owned by Nintendo; however, the roster does include notable Rareware characters such as Conker and Banjo. Nintendo would need to work out a deal, or somehow edit them out of the game. While Mario Kart 64 fills the kart racing slot in the library, many (including myself) still prefer this outing, especially because of its robust Adventure Mode. It may be a difficult hurdle for Nintendo to overcome, but the N64 Classic would be all the better for it.
- Perfect Dark (Likely)
While Microsoft owns the rights to Perfect Dark, just like all other Rareware properties, Perfect Dark was an extremely important piece of the N64 library. The graphics were stellar, the FPS gameplay was solid, and multiplayer offered some of the most intense shooting to be seen on home consoles. Perfect Dark can provide something great for more mature gamers to play, as well as highlight the rise in popularity of first-person shooters during the time period.
- Goldeneye 007 (Longshot)
Perfect Dark may be better in most every way, but Goldeneye 007 still owns a massive piece of our nostalgic hearts. The game revolutionized FPS games on home consoles and was one of the most played titles on the N64. Still, it would be a nightmare to work out a deal to get it onto the system. Nintendo and Rareware share ownership of the game, while the James Bond license itself has a history of being tremendously difficult to retain. Unfortunately, I don’t see a way Nintendo could get this going without spending more money than it’s actually worth.
- Jet Force Gemini (Doubtful)
One of Rare’s less successful titles on the N64, Jet Force Gemini casts gamers as three members of a space faring special forces team that is waging war against an extraterrestrial insect army. The third-person shooting gameplay was intense, as was the surprising amount of gore that’s shown when mowing down your foes. While the N64 Classic could use more mature games, Jet Force Gemini just doesn’t have the same nostalgic quality that most other Rareware games do, and thus I just don’t see it coming to the mini system.
- Conker’s Bad Fur Day (Longshot)
Conker’s Bad Fur Day has an infamous reputation for being one of the most mature titles of its day. The cartoon platformer is rife with adult humor, swearing, gore, and plenty more that makes it worthy of that M rating seen so rarely on the console. For that reason alone, I don’t see Nintendo going out of their way to include it, as that would mean the N64 Classic itself would have an M rating. Taking into consideration also that Microsoft firmly owns the Conker brand, and this classic is likely to be left behind.
- Killer Instinct Gold (Longshot)
Killer Instinct is the one Rareware franchise that Microsoft seems to have most invested interest in, which is a bummer considering Gold was a phenomenal fighting game on the N64. I would suspect Microsoft would ask for a pretty penny for this game to make it onto the Classic, thus it’s just another longshot title for the system.
Third Party Standouts
- Snowboard Kids (1 or 2) (Likely)
Snowboard Kids is what happens when you look at 1080 Snowboarding and decide to add a big dash of Mario Kart to it. It’s much easier to pick-up-and-play than the aforementioned game and is still exciting to play today. The second game is undoubtedly better than the original, but I’d be happy with either one on the Classic.
- Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber (Likely)
As stated before, the N64 had very few RPGs. Ogre Battle 64 could help bring some diversity to the Classic with a thrilling strategy RPG title that also just happens to be one of the console’s best looking games. The game has seen re-release on the Wii U, so it’s not completely forgotten, which definitely helps its chances.
- Mischief Makers (Doubtful)
Mischief Makers was an often overlooked game when it released that has since gained a cult following. The stylish side-scrolling platformer has a lot to offer, from pleasing visuals to intense difficulty, and would be a welcome addition to the console. Unfortunately, developer Treasure hasn’t released a game since 2014, and the low sales of Mischief Makers makes it hard to justify occupying a spot on the limited Classic roster.
- Rocket: Robot on Wheels (Doubtful)
Similar to the above title, Rocket: Robot on Wheels saw a resurgence in popularity years after its release, with many regarding it as the N64’s best platformer. That may be going a bit far, but I still think its brilliantly made. That should come as no surprise, really, considering it was developed by Sucker Punch, who famously went on to create Sly Cooper, inFamous, and the Ghost of Tsushima series of games. Therein lies the problem, as Sucker Punch is now a subsidiary of Sony, and it’s unlikely that Rocket will find its way onto the Classic console for that very reason.
- Rayman 2: The Great Escape (Likely)
Rayman has become one of platforming’s most loved characters, and while most of the games have been outstanding sidescrollers, Rayman 2 provides one of the best 3D platforming adventures to be found. This game saw many different releases, with the N64 being the first to come out. While the Windows, PS2, and DS versions have many notable improvements to the classic game, the N64 Classic would surely benefit from a bit of Rayman love on its side.
- Resident Evil 2 (Doubtful)
Resident Evil was one of the most popular franchises in the late nineties, and it was a series that was firmly associated with PlayStation for a long while. When Resident Evil 2 made the jump to the N64, it amazed players with how a two-disc PlayStation game could be made to fit on one N64 cartridge with all of the high quality FMVs intact. Resident Evil 2 on N64 was a technical marvel. Sadly, that’s about all it is, as most all versions are superior to this one, and gamers have plenty of ways to still enjoy this classic horror experience.
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1, 2, or 3) (Very Likely)
The Tony Hawk franchise was tremendously popular, with the trilogy of games all ranking among the top selling titles on ever system they were on. At one time, I would have said this was highly unlikely to come to the Classic, what with real-world athletes and licensed music being highlights of the game, but both Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 being remastered recently, I think seeing this on the Classic is almost a given.
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Doubtful)
Anyone that grew up watching Star Wars wanted to live in that world, be it as a trained Jedi or a masterful pilot. Shadows of the Empire was one of the first to really nail this, presenting an original tale that felt like a movie George Lucas forgot to release. It’s unlikely that many of the Star Wars games would see release on the Classic, what with Disney having a firm grasp on the franchise, but if there is anyway for Nintendo to negotiate a deal to bring Star Wars to the mini N64, Shadows of the Empire is the game for it.
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (Doubtful)
Whereas Shadows of the Empire cast players as space smuggler Dash Rendar, Rogue Squadron put players in the cockpit of their very own X-Wing (and Y-wing. And tie fighter. And more). Again, Rogue Squadron felt like you were playing a scene ripped right from the movies, and I don’t think I’d be the only one who would be thrilled to see it grace the Classic console.
- Castlevania (Doubtful)
Often referred to as Castlevania 64, this game saw the franchise ditch the side scrolling gameplay that had defined the series, and instead become a mix of 3D platformer and survival-horror. While the developers nailed the gothic, foreboding mood of Dracula’s world, most everything else with the game was a mess, with a horrific camera and clumsy controls. Although a noteworthy franchise, both this and its sequel are better off forgotten when it comes to the N64 Classic.
- Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Likely)
Before Goldeneye 007, there was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. While not quite as revolutionary, Turok proved that FPS games could work on the N64, having players take down vicious dinosaurs and evil gunmen alike. Many of the Turok games have been remastered in recent years, so that’s a good sign that there’s still interest in bringing the original to the Classic.
- Cruis’n USA (Likely)
As stated previously, the racing genre was extremely plentiful on the N64. While there are dozens to choose from, I think sticking to one of the first games to release on the system is a good choice, especially since its still one of the best of its kind. Cruisin’ USA is an arcade port that has players travel all across the United States, weaving in-and-out of traffic in a high stakes race. It’s a perfect alternative to Mario Kart 64 while still maintaining that quintessential Nintendo style.
- WWF No mercy (Longshot)
This is almost guaranteed NOT to be on the Classic, but I have to write about it. Wrestling was at an all-time high in the late nineties, with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin ranking among the most popular figures in the world. The N64 saw plenty of incredible wrestling games, starting with WCW vs. NWO: World Tour, and cumulating with the tremendous WWF No Mercy. Again, licensing would make this a real headache for re-release, as so many of these wrestlers have moved on to other companies, retired, or even passed on, but for many there hasn’t been a better wrestling game released since this one from 2000.
With everything I’ve said above taken into consideration, here is my definitive list of the games that I think would make the best possible collection for the Nintendo 64 Classic mini console. It’s not perfect, and there are some exclusions that were hard to make, but I think this library of 25 games would make most any gamer satisfied to say the least.
- Super Mario 64
- Mario Kart 64
- Mario Party
- Mario Golf
- Dr. Mario 64
- Paper Mario
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Super Smash Bros.
- Star Fox 64
- Yoshi’s Story
- Sin and Punishment
- Pokémon Snap
- Donkey Kong 64
- Diddy Kong Racing
- Perfect Dark
- Snowboard Kids 2
- Ogre Battle 64
- Rayman 2: The Great Escape
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
- Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
- Cruis’n USA
Don’t agree? I’m sure there are at least a few modifications you would make. So, tell me your own list, and let me know just how wrong I am in the comments below!
Josh Cornett is a lifelong gamer who enjoys games across all platforms and genres. He has gone by the alias of “Block” ever since college, when he was nicknamed “Blockbuster” for his extensive video game and movie collection. Currently, he reviews a wide variety of games on his Youtube channel, and talks about all things gaming related on his Twitter and Facebook pages.