Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Overall: Zelda: Ocarina of Time at Amazon
"The highest rated game of all time on Metacritic."
Best First Person Shooter: Perfect Dark at Amazon
"Takes the features of GoldenEye 007 and upgrades them."
Best Racing: Mario Kart 64 at Amazon
"The granddaddy of all kart racing games."
Best for Star Wars Fans: Shadows of the Empire at Amazon
"Play as Dash Rendar who helps out Luke Skywalker to rescue Princess Leia from an evil prince."
Best for Fighting: Super Smash Bros. at Amazon
"Features 12 playable characters from popular Nintendo franchises such as Donkey Kong, Pokemon, Metroid & Star Fox."
Best for Parties: Mario Party 2 at Amazon
"A board game style multiplayer game that is packed with 65 different mini-games."
Best for Flying: Star Fox 64 at Amazon
"Includes a multiplayer mode with split-screen viewing."
Best Underrated: Road Rash 64 at Amazon
"A racing game with a unique twist resulting in both hilarious rampage and intense battles."
Courtesy of Amazon
This is it, not just the best game for the N64, but the highest rated game of all time on Metacritic, the legendary The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The coming of age game brought gamers a wonderful orchestrated score, a set of diverse and unforgettable characters, beautiful cinematic presentations, a huge open world meant to be explored and varied and immersive gameplay.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is an action-adventure video game with role-playing and puzzle elements where players play as Link in a large fantasyland called Hyrule. They are sent out on a quest to stop an evil king from obtaining the Triforce, a relic that grants wishes. Ocarina of Time introduced to the N64 a target lock-on system with context-sensitive controls that paved the way for future 3D adventure games. Players will be deeply immersed in the game’s exciting story as they ride horses, shoot arrows, travel through time by playing twelve melodies on an ocarina, collect various items so they can progress through levels and battle against foes both small and massive. It’s not just a game, but an experience.
Sure, GoldenEye 007 should easily take this spot, but Perfect Dark — made by the same developers — takes the features of GoldenEye 007 and upgrades them with new weapons, more beautiful graphics and intense multiplayer action. Perfect Dark gives gamers 41 different weapons that all feature a secondary firing mode, customizable multiplayer modes with huge replay value and some of the best graphics and animations available for the N64.
The year is 2021, and you are Joanna Dark, a secret agent sent on uncovering a clandestine interstellar war involving an Earth research center with gray aliens and an evil defense contractor who works with reptile-like extraterrestrials who disguise themselves as humans. Perfect Dark isn’t just a large and immersive single player mode but features tons of multiplayer modes such as deathmatch and king of the hill with 30 challenges and up to three other human players, including eight AI-controlled bots who can be adjusted with different settings. No other game on the N64 allows you to mind control your enemies via projectile injection, fire menacing heat-seeking rockets at enemies and set up a laptop gun to be used as a sentry turret — all things possible in Perfect Dark.
The granddaddy of all kart racing games, Mario Kart 64 is the best for racing on the N64 and can be played via a single player grand prix or time trial mode along with multiplayer modes for versus or battles. Its also the second best party game on the list, perfect for anyone who has company over and wants to engage in some epic and addictive racing or battling.
In Mario Kart 64 players control one of eight Mario characters, including Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach on different race tracks that vary in size, shape and theme. Each track has special boxes in different areas that contain items that can help impede other racers and give players an advantage in getting ahead, like using a mushroom to boost or placing bananas in the road for other players to slip on. Up to three other players can go head-to-head with you in multiplayer modes, including a battle mode where the objective is to be the last person standing in an arena where items are aplenty but everyone only has three lives in the form of balloons.
What other game out there is based on a book? Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire is one part third-person shooter, one part racer and another part space flight battles. Players will get to experience everything from the Battle of Hoth while they feel the thrill as they rope around AT-ATs with a tow cable using their fullest concentration to battling against Boba Fett with a jetpack on.
With an accompanying score by John Williams, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire has players play as Dash Rendar who helps out Luke Skywalker to rescue Princess Leia from an evil Prince named Xizor — the story takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire has you traversing the planet of Hoth, using your blaster pistol to shoot out enemy stormtroopers and droids. Other levels include a high-speed chase sequence where you race and cause crashes to an alien gang, while bigger missions have you piloting your spaceship and going against aggressive tie fighters and Xizor’s army.
At one point in time, many grade-schoolers fantasized about a fighting game where their favorite video game characters like Mario and Pikachu would duke it out, and then Nintendo answered their prayers with Super Smash Bros. Super Smash Bros. changes up the dynamic of a typical fighting game by increasing opponents’ damage percentage and attempting to knock them off the stage.
Super Smash Bros. features 12 playable characters (four of which, are unlockable) from popular Nintendo franchises such as Donkey Kong, Pokemon, Metroid and Star Fox. The game’s main single-player mode pits players against computer-controlled opponents with options to control difficulty level and the number of lives. Multiplayer mode allows for up to four players and can be customized with different rules (a certain number of lives, time limits, variations of items and free-for-all or team battles).
By far the best Mario Party for N64 and party game ever (next to Mario Kart 64) is Mario Party 2, a game that can end friendships. Mario Party 2 is a board game style multiplayer game that is packed with 65 different mini-games that players can compete with or work together in.
Mario Party 2 lets players choose one of six characters, including Mario, Yoshi and Donkey Kong to play on one of six themed board game levels where the objective is to collect as many stars as possible before turns run out. Players first start by taking turns to see who goes first, then roll a dice to travel on a map that’s loaded with different spaces that have different effects such as losing coins, engaging in a battle or getting an item. Players can choose to play alone or with up to three other players where anything can happen, including stealing stars by hiring a ghost, engaging in forced cooperation or having Bowser steal your coins.
Star Fox 64 changed the way we play games by being one of the first to popularize rumble controls with the N64’s Rumble Pak. The on-rails space flight adventure game pays attention to detail as you witness its smooth animation, detailed visuals, fun voice acting and the feel of your thrusters as you fight off an evil monkey from taking over the Lylat galaxy in the best flying game for the N64.
With a ragtag team of mercenaries, including a falcon, frog and rabbit, Star Fox 64 has players play as Fox McCloud, who is offered a contract to defend the galaxy while traveling to multiple planets in a spaceship, submarine and tank. The game allows you to choose multiple gameplay paths depending on how well you do during each mission, whether it’s finding out secret areas, rescuing your team members or shooting down multiple fighters. Star Fox 64 includes a multiplayer mode with split-screen viewing where they can battle, as well as a point match mode and a time trial to see who can destroy the most enemy fighters.
You don’t see it as often, but Road Rash 64 is a racing game with a unique twist resulting in both hilarious rampage and intense battles. It’s a biker racing game where players race on highways and in towns while smacking each other with bats, hammers, chains and other weapons — fun for the whole family.
Though it may have crude graphics and gameplay, Road Rash 64 has an incredibly smooth frame rate that can take in the scenery with up to 10 or more bikers on screen. The single-player mode has you competing against other bikers in road races as you collect money to upgrade your bike and join biker gangs who will protect you in races, though you can always betray them. Multiplayer mode offers a ton of options including deathmatch rounds, tag, pedestrian hunting and lap races. Do you have what it takes to outrun the law and their tasers and battle the meanest bikers around?