Nintendo has revolutionized modern gaming in many ways, and this world would be very different without them. They began in fall 1889, founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi, originally a card company. As time went by, they evolved into a game company that has made a market value of over $85 billion! The American part of the company also owns the Seattle Mariners MLB team (imagine that), but that’s not the point. Nintendo has become gradually better with every new console releases, evolving from giant cartridges to comfortably small discs, and their skills in the industry have made them a three-time gaming generation winner by sales standings. One of their unsuccessful years was the fifth generation, which they lost to the PlayStation. However, the Nintendo 64 was still a 3D trailblazer for tons of series, and I’m here to count down the top ten creamiest creams of the crop.

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#10. Pokemon Stadium (2000)

When Nintendo started the Pokemon saga with Red and Blue in 1998, they became established as heroes in the industry of RPGs. By the time they released Gold and Silver they also experimented with the Nintendo 64’s 3D specialties. The game was intended to be for the Nintendo 64DD, but transferred into cartridge format when the add-on became a commercial letdown. There is no linear plot to the game–you must win Cups and complete the Gym Leader Castle to progress in the game. The game also made good use of the console’s Transfer Pak to transfer Pokemon from past titles.

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#9. Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001)

Few gamers remember Conker’s Pocket Tales, which was a Game Boy Color exclusive that starred a lighthearted red squirrel named Conker that would appeal to young audiences. This family-friendly rodent went through one of gaming history’s most shocking transformations into a greedy guzzler. After a night of binge drinking, he is attempting to return home to his girlfriend while avoiding the Panther King, who wants Conker as a replacement for his missing table leg. The game was controversial for its language and inappropriate humor, but eventually gained a cult following despite being a commercial disappointment at the end of the console’s life cycle. But never will I forget hearing that giant pile of crap sing opera.

Black and white images of a man pointing a gun at the viewer, a woman and an antenna are seen at the top of the image, while at the bottom a man runs from an explosion and a helicopter flies. In the foreground is the title "GoldenEye 007", on the bottom left corner the Rare logo, and on the right side game specifications.

#8. GoldenEye 007 (1997)

GoldenEye is known for probably nothing but being the first Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, maybe being a great financial success, getting nominated for a couple BAFTAs. But it was the game made for it that not only made it ten times more popular, but made the Nintendo 64 a real force to be reckoned with. In the game you played as Bond and tried to stop this bad guy from using a satellite weapon against London to cause a worldwide financial meltdown. But no one really cared about the campaign, did they? All that mattered was the multiplayer. The game allowed one to three of your buddies to play with you in different types of deathmatch games, and I can tell you’re already remembering the memories of you mercilessly murdering your friend with the Golden Gun. Let’s face it, nothing beat the Golden Gun.

#7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999)

Tony Hawk is known for many things: he did the first successful 900, he founded the Boom Boom Huck Jam exhibition/tour, he started a foundation to build skate parks in underprivileged areas, but everything really changed when Pro Skater first came out. This showed that Hawk wasn’t really playing around, and it’s still to this day one of the most influential skateboarding games in existence. You could skate and trick like nobody’s business and collect letters to make the word “SKATE” all while in an ambience of punk music. I also loved playing as Kareem Campbell; why, I think it was the hoodie. I was the best at Kareem, and I played no one but Kareem (ok, maybe Reynolds).

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#6. Star Fox 64 (1997)

Star Fox began as a Super Nintendo exclusive in 1993, which spawned a sequel (also for the SNES) that could practically taste completion before being left in the dust as Shigeru Miyamoto decided to experiment with the Nintendo 64. The game turned into a 3D rail shooter starring Fox McCloud, leader of the Star Fox team, as he and his crew (Peppy Hare, Falco Lombardi, and Slippy Toad) embark on intergalactic adventures to destroy a disembodied ape head named Andross. The game was famous for popularizing the Rumble Pak, a removable add-on that provided lifelike vibrations to the controller. It also spawned some of gaming history’s most classic phrases, such as “Do a barrel roll!” and “Can’t let you do that, Star Fox!”

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#5. Mario Kart 64 (1997)

Mario and his friends first got into racing with Super Mario Kart, which is credited as a pioneer of the kart racing subgenre and helping Mario branch out its gaming styles to establish it as the most bestselling game franchise in history. When new opportunity formed in the shape of the Nintendo 64, Mario Kart went in full-force. Not only was 3D CG graphics one of the big differences (allowing changes in elevation and such), but its multiplayer allowed up to four racers at a time. There were also four different modes to play in: grand prix (compete against the CPU for different cups), time trial (race a track and try to set a record), versus (race against your friend or friends), and battle (kickin’ it old school with balloons). It was the first N64 game I ever played, and it’s still among the best I’ve ever played. Never will I forget traveling down Rainbow Road.

Image of various Nintendo characters fighting: Mario rushing at Pikachu, Fox punching Samus, Link holding his shield and Kirby waving at the player, with a bomb next to him.

#4. Super Smash Bros. (1999)

Take all of your favorite Nintendo heroes and put them together in a take-no-prisoners crossover beat em’ up, and that’s basically Super Smash Bros for you. The game starred Mario, Kirby, Fox, Pikachu, Link, and so many more famous characters. Every aspect of the game was a blast: you could slow down the speed of training, play bonus rounds that were impossible, or you could play a single-player campaign mode to face the Master Glove. You could also play campaign to unlock characters like Luigi and Jigglypuff. I essentially got good at Kirby, but I really started picking up combos for Mario. SSB was also famous for debuting the ever-so-notorious “Falcon Punch”, the unbeatable move. It also branched out into a series that included the GameCube’s most bestselling game, one of the best Wii games ever, and an upcoming something-something for the Wii U and 3DS.

Artwork of a horizontal rectangular box. Depicted is a flying cartoon man in blue overalls, a red shirt, and a red cap with white wings on the sides and the letter "M" on the front. He flies in front of a blue backdrop with clouds and a castle in the distance. The bottom portion reads "Super Mario 64" in red, blue, yellow, and green block letters.

#3. Super Mario 64 (1996)

Yeah, I really roasted this game, didn’t I? You’d expect me to put it at, like, #2. But I guess I didn’t enjoy it as much as many critics and gamers did. Anyway, this game alongside LoZ: Ocarina of Time basically paved the way into the 3D generation, and that’s one of the reasons why it is critically lauded even to this day. The game’s story is simple on the outside, but complex at the core: you play as Mario, and you must recover 120 Power Stars to stop Bowser, free Peach, and get a cake. This game had everything–helpful camera angles, stellar control schemes, and one of our generation’s greatest video game soundtracks.

Diddy Kong Racing

#2. Diddy Kong Racing (1997)

Picture this: it’s Christmas 1997. You find a gift under the yule tree that’s just for you, and you open it with trembling hands. You let out a squeal when you see what’s inside–a brand new copy of Diddy Kong Racing. You are among the hundreds of thousands of people that ordered the game a week or two before Christmas, and you have helped the game to setting a Guinness record for being the fastest-selling game of the time. Now let’s talk turkey: the game did have a story, but no one really paid attention to it. All you did was race levels and beat bosses of different “domains” to race Wizpig, the game’s final boss. There were also side missions such as racing levels while picking up silver coins, and another mode where you could race tracks backwards. If you weren’t up to the challenge, you could play tracks on your own or with up to three buddies. What puts DKR so high up on the list is that its bouncy soundtrack and unique racing environments just form an aura that attracts you to it. At least, that’s how I felt when I played it back in the day.

A sword and a shield - bearing both the three triangles of the Triforce and the bird-like Hyrule crest - stand behind the game's title.

#1. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

Guys…guys, I’m sorry. I wasted your time and ended up picking the same game as hundreds of other lists to be at the top spot. But this game just gave me a feeling few games ever give me: the feeling of euphoria. The feeling that makes me say, “This game is unlike the rest, this game is a real gem.” At first I was skeptical about the game, seeing all its perfect scores and its Guinness records. But when I visited my friend’s house and plugged it in, I was mesmerized by the environment. Opening chests with that grand jingle or smashing pots to collect rupees was just as amazing as people had described it. Of course, the game was accompanied by a revolutionary soundtrack that made everything all the better, and I have to end on this note: Ocarina of Time is, and will be, arguably the single greatest video game of our generation. I know, that sounded really corny.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS 

  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
  • Killer Instinct Gold (1996)
  • Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
  • Banjo Kazooie (1998)
  • Perfect Dark (2000)
  • Mario Golf (1999)
  • Mario Tennis (2000)
  • Resident Evil 2 (1999)
  • 1080° Snowboarding (1998)
  • Mortal Kombat 4 (1998)

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Well, that’s all for this month folks! Be sure to tune in next Friday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy,

~S~ 😎

Channel of the Week: This week’s honor goes to videogamedunkey, a one-man gaming channel full of hysterical play-throughs and hilarious reviews. The channel has been up since fall 2010 and has over 470,000 subs and 132.8 million hits! Check out some of his best videos and try not to laugh. (Warning: Some strong language throughout)

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