The Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack is here, bringing with it a fine selection of Nintendo 64 and Sega Mega Drive games — and despite some initial raging from the inevitable people who whinge and complain at everything Nintendo does, people seem to have settled down into just enjoying these excellent titles.
But this is the perpetual motion engine that is the games industry, so we are all contractually obliged to think about What’s Next at all times rather than simply living in the moment. So with that in mind, we thought we’d ponder a selection of Nintendo 64 games that deserve to be brought back via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.
As always, too, we’d love to hear what you think — if you have some top picks from your Nintendo 64 glory days, feel free to share ’em in the comments, or if you have more to say, why not write us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page?
Let’s get to it.
Probably my personal favourite Nintendo 64 game of all time, Rare’s Blast Corps is a wonderful blend of puzzle game, racing game, Pac-Man and Rampage. You’re tasked with clearing a path for a truck carrying unstable nuclear missiles, and in order to achieve that goal you’ll need to make use of a variety of different vehicles ranging from a simple bulldozer to a leaping giant robot that stomps on buildings from above, crushing them into oblivion.
Your task in each level isn’t over once you get the carrier to safety, though; there’s a bunch of little lights to find and illuminate, there are buildings outside the critical path to crush, and there are plenty of secrets to find. And once you think you’ve beaten the main game, things start to get quite literally out of this world.
Truly a magnificent game. I hope Nintendo and Rare (now owned by Microsoft) are able to come to some sort of arrangement that will allow us to play this one again. There have been occasions where Nintendo and Microsoft have been relatively cosy, so it’s not out of the question.
I’m surprised this wasn’t in the initial wave of games on the Nintendo 64 app, since it’s an extremely fondly regarded game from the Nintendo 64’s launch lineup — and a first-party Nintendo game, to boot.
For the unfamiliar, Pilotwings is a series about the joy of flying. It’s completely non-violent — unless you count a few occasions when you blast targets with rockets — and incredibly relaxing to play. Pilotwings 64 offers the opportunity to fly a hang-glider, jetpack and gyrocopter around what constituted lovingly detailed environments in 1996, and plenty of challenges to take on. Or you can just enjoy some free flight at your leisure.
Pilotwings 64 is a delightfully relaxing game most of the time — though it does combine this with some absolutely infuriating challenges that will keep you coming back for more. It also features some of the most horrendous character design you’ll ever see in a Nintendo game — but thankfully you don’t spend all that much time looking at your actual character.
Wave Race 64
This jetski racing game was very well received at the time of its original release thanks to its impressive undulating water, though a lot of people forgot about it as more complex racing games came along. It’s still a supremely enjoyable arcade racer, though, and definitely deserves to put in an appearance on the Nintendo Switch Online’s Nintendo 64 app.
Wave Race 64 was a relatively early example of what fully three-dimensional racing games could offer over and above the classic “vanishing point” racers of yore; in particular, it featured plenty of alternative routes and shortcuts to explore, with success on the higher difficulty levels dependent on you getting a bit creative with the routes you’d take around the courses!
Wave Race as a franchise has laid dormant since the GameCube days — perhaps a rerelease of the classic Nintendo 64 version will renew interest in the franchise and get us a new one? We can but hope. And if that doesn’t happen, we’d still have the good old classic version to enjoy anyway.
Despite the name, Tetrisphere has very little to do with Tetris other than featuring some of the same shaped pieces. Instead, this is a game about matching pieces on a spherical-shaped object in order to break through to its core. There are a variety of different ways to play, each with their own distinct takes on the basic rules and set of levels to clear, and the whole thing is monstrously moreish once you get your head around the concept.
Tetrisphere actually began life as a project for Atari’s doomed Jaguar console, but after seeing it at the 1995 Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo promptly whipped the rights out from under Atari’s nose and promised that it would release for Nintendo 64 in late 1996. Unfortunately, developer H2O Entertainment wasn’t quite ready for this, so they enlisted the help of both Nintendo and Tetris’ original creator Alexey Pajitnov to get the project done on time.
Considering its troubled development cycle, the brilliant game that Tetrisphere ended up becoming is all the more remarkable. Couple its enjoyable, compelling gameplay with an excellent electronic soundtrack from Neil Voss — one of the most legendary on the Nintendo 64 — and you have a game that deserves to be enjoyed by a new generation of fans.
The game that taught a whole generation of gamers what “60fps” meant — thanks a lot, Nintendo, now we have to deal with these insufferably tedious individuals in user reviews until the end of time. F-Zero X is one of the most impressively speedy games on the Nintendo 64 — and one of the most playable, enjoyable racers.
Much like its predecessor on the Super NES, F-Zero X doesn’t overcomplicate things with weapons, upgrades and special techniques; it’s simple, pure, futuristic rollercoaster racing that demands skill, good reactions and the patience to learn its tracks. And when you think you’ve mastered the game, there’s the “X” Cup to enjoy, which randomly generates courses for you, making for potentially limitless fun — particularly when it makes a course with a corner so sharp all 29 computer-controlled racers go flying off the track immediately, leaving you to win unopposed.
It also has an absolutely rockin’ soundtrack, reimagining many of the classic music tracks from the Super NES original with howling guitars and thrashing drum beats.
There’s plenty more we could choose from, of course — but these are just five that spring immediately to mind when I think of classic Nintendo 64 titles. What would be your top picks for inclusion on the service? Let us know down in the comments — or pen us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page!
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