| So, I got this e-mail from a reader asking what N64 games are good, if any, and I know he's expecting me to totally bash the system, especially after my last column on Nintendo. Well, mister man, I actually love my N64- I just don't like the way Nintendo has handled the console. One of the reasons I think the console died (horrendous game delays nonwithstanding) was that a lot of people don't like Mario games, and think all Nintendo makes are games for kids, but nothing could be further from the truth. With a few exceptions, I'm focusing on games that a lot of you folks probably passed over simply because they either didn't look good on the back of the box (I'll never understand that one), or you'd already traded your N64 for a Playstation. Anyway, here's a list of games that I can safely say you'll enjoy, especially if you're willing to try something new (which should the whole point of buying a game system anyway):
RPGs- yes, they exist for the system. There aren't very many, but here's what's good, besides the two Zelda games:
Shadowgate 64- Kemco's underrated gem is a throwback to not only the original NES classic, but a few older PC games as well. There's no swordplay or tons of magic spells to memorize- you're simply trying to solve a number of mysteries and stay alive.
Hybrid Heaven- Surprisingly, wrestling fans, action fans, AND RPG players ignored this one when it came out, probably because of the wildly mixed reviews and slow pace of the initial sections of the game. But, once you get the timing of the battles down, and hit the first of many cool story twists, you'll be hooked. That, and the fact that you can play an arena battle game with two players adds some great replay value.
Ogre Battle 64- almost totally ignored and soon to be one of those "hard to find" titles, just like the SNES version, this is a really well thought out, deeply involving epic that will eat your time. You have to be in the mod to camp out in front of your tee vee for hours at a time, to get the most out of this one, but if you're a fan of the OB series, you'll be highly satisfied.
Adult Action- no, I don't mean porno, silly. I mean those games that are rated T or M (but all the kids end up playing anyway):
Shadowman- the first Tomb Raider style action game on the system, if you think about it. A lot of people hated the pacing and dark content here, but the game is still pretty amazing if you're willing to forgive its little quirks.
Winback- Koei's take on the Syphon Filter/Metal Gear games, but with a lot more crates. It's more of a thinking man's action game with a fun multiplayer feature. The same game, with some enhancements is coming soon to the PS2, if you're a fanů
Rainbow Six- anyone thinking they were buying the second coming of Goldeneye was probably disappointed by all the strategy needed to complete this one, but as a two-player co-op game, it's hard to beat as a rainy day time muncher!
Quake/Quake II- I really hate the reviews that constantly compare console ports of PC games to the originals and find them lacking somewhat. Did you ever stop to think that the games were probably made for people who've never played the PC versions, don't own a PC, and want to know just what all the fuss is about? Anyway, both versions of Quake are pretty amazing on their own merits, so stop yer whining, punk.
Body Harvest- a severely underrated and overlooked game, even Nintendo passed on publishing this innovative title. The funny thing is, with about 6 to 8 months of work, this could have been a new Metroid game. The premise is pretty close, and the play mechanics were really original. A combination of fast paced action and driving, with dozens of vehicles to travel around in. There are also some RPG elements as well, and the game is also quite long and well worth tracking down.
Resident Evil 2- if anything, worth a purchase simply because it's a really super technological achievement. Angel Studios managed to squeeze all the voice and cinemas from 2 CDs into a N64 cartridge. That and the fact that the game is actually a bit easier than the Playstation version makes it a welcome addition to your N64 library (and this from a guy who doesn't even like the RE games that much!).
Family- besides the usual slew of Mario and Pokemon titles, here are a couple of games that are just as good, or better, in a few cases:
Goemon's Great Adventure- the perfect example of a fun family game- it's two-player simultaneous, the kids will enjoy it, and the jokes they won't get, the parents will be laughing at. Too bad Konami sort let it slide into stores unannouncedů
Rocket, Robot on Wheels- a really great action platformer that also languished on store shelves, this game featured some great play mechanics and a sequel-worthy adventure. You'll find this one cheap, but it's worth its weight in gold if you track it down.
Space Station Silicon Valley- a really fantastic game idea, and once you get over the oddball graphics and seemingly simple gameplay, you'll find a subversive little piece of entertainment from the geniuses at DMA design. They also did Body Harvest, another under appreciated classic.
Tonic Trouble- Before Rayman 2, Ubi Soft tried out a variation of the game engine with this interesting platformer. It's got the same feel as Rayman 2, and Ed is cut from the same cloth as Ray, and the game is another excellent example of how to make a solid, engaging game for all ages.
Mischief Makers- Treasure's first of three N64 games is an odd bird- a bit too tough for young kids, and too cute-looking for dyed in the wool action fans. Still, it's one of those games that all Treasure fans will absolutely adore, especially if you're looking for something different- really different. It plays like an old school NES game, full of fun and bosses, and like any Treasure game, you won't see a sequel anytime soon, as Treasure doesn't make sequels.
Racing- yes, there are way too many games in this category, but here's a few you might have missed:
Penny Racers- a.k.a. Choro Q 64! Takara's great super-deformed race car game comes to the N64, and promptly gets ignored like a fly at a trash dump. Pity, because it's one of the most fun racing games you'll ever play. Too bad U.S. gamer didn't get the cool Omake toy car that came with the Japanese version, but the game is fun enough that you won't miss it at all.
Beetle Adventure Racing- another game with odd cars, this is a great racer from Electronic Arts that plays like, well, like a Nintendo game should. Loads of tracks, hidden shortcuts and cars, plus an excellent 4-player battle mode make it a keeper, even if you hate the new Beetle.
V-Rally '99- the closest thing you'll ever get to Colin Macrae on your N64, but it's still nowhere near as fun. Even still, there's enough here to keep you playing for a while, if you're into off road racing.
Micro Machines- even though it's just a better looking version of the old NES classic, you'd be hard pressed to find a better multi-player party game. Especially since 8 players can go at it- expect to get an elbow in the ribs once or twice, though; you have to play 2 players on either side of each N64 controller!
There are a couple of other games, including a slew of imports, but I'll let you kind folks out there go through the above, and hopefully, you'll find something out there you like! Next, I'll do a column on Dreamcast games, for those of you thinking of picking up a system (at a hundred bucks, it's the best bargain in gaming!).