For a console with only 388 games in its library, you’d think it’d be difficult for any N64 title to slip under the radar.
Yet, like any other mainstream system, the N64 has a number of hidden gems. Games which, for various reasons, didn’t capture the attention of N64 owners back in the day – but deserved at least a bit more love than they got.
So if you want to branch out and try something a little different, check out our list of the 20 most underrated N64 games below.
20. Pilotwings 64
Pilotwings 64 is a well-known game that reviewed well at release. So why on earth does it feature in our list of the most underrated N64 games?
Well, it’s mainly because Pilotwings 64 was immediately overshadowed by Super Mario 64 at launch.
Sure, Pilotwings 64 still sold over 1 million copies. But nowadays it doesn’t get anywhere near the same nostalgia treatment as other N64 games that sold similar numbers.
It’s a shame, because Pilotwings 64 is a great amateur flight simulator.
While basic by today’s standards, the game’s large environments sport a lot of charming detail. In fact, one of the islands is a scaled-down recreation of the USA – very cool!
It’s also great fun. The missions are challenging and varied, and the game makes the most of the N64 controller, giving you very precise control.
How does it play today? Check out our Pilotwings 64 review.
19. Destruction Derby 64
When reminiscing about Destruction Derby, most people rightly think about the PlayStation games.
Nevertheless, Destruction Derby 64 is still a decent version. It also has more tracks and cars than the original game.
As a single-player experience, Destruction Derby 64 isn’t especially exciting. The multiplayer is where the real fun is at.
Entering the arena with your mates and smashing into each other is immensely satisfying. And there are bomb tag and capture the flag game modes too, adding a nice bit of variety to mix.
18. Gauntlet Legends
Besides being one of the most underrated N64 games, Gauntlet Legends is also one of the best N64 multiplayer games.
It’s one of the few N64 games to offer campaign coop for up to four players (although you’ll need an Expansion Pak for three or more).
What makes Gauntlet Legends so enjoyable is its simple, yet addictive gameplay. It’s incredibly easy to pick up and hack ‘n’ slash your way through hordes of enemies.
But being able to level up and upgrade your character’s stats is what keeps you coming back for more. It’s surprisingly deep for a ported arcade game and very much worth your time.
17. Magical Tetris Challenge
Magical Tetris Challenge deserves more praise. That’s because it takes the classic Tetris formula and ramps things up a notch.
In this Disney-themed version, you play against either another player or the computer.
Racking up line combos sends magical pentomino blocks and larger to your opponent. This makes it possible to clear five lines at once (which is called a Pentris).
As a result, matches are almost always chaotic and intense.
To top it all off, the game sports a gorgeous 2D-cartoon art style – something you sadly don’t see often enough on the N64.
16. Hydro Thunder
Wave Race 64 is the undisputed champion of water-based racing games. But Hydro Thunder is still a great alternative.
Racing in futuristic speedboats, you zip around creatively-themed courses filled with shortcuts.
These hidden routes usually have boost power-ups that are invaluable for shaving seconds off your time and overtaking opponents.
And unlike Wave Race 64, Hydro Thunder supports multiplayer for up to four people. However, you’ll need the Expansion Pak for three to four player races.
15. Snowboard Kids
Snowboard Kids lives in the shadows of Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing. And undeservedly so – it belongs up there with the best N64 kart-racing games.
Why? Because Snowboard Kids feature excellent course designs, a novel item system and even the ability to perform tricks.
You can hold a projectile weapon alongside another item that’s either defensive or boosting in some way. It makes for a more tactical experience.
Performing tricks not only looks cool, but also tops up your cash. You can then use this to get items.
Snowboaed Kids a little light when it comes to the number of courses and characters. But it does have full 3D graphics and a four-player mode.
14. Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo
Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo was the last Star Wars game for the N64. It released in late 2000 (early 2001 in PAL territories), and this clearly hindered the game’s chances of sales success.
Battle for Naboo is a spiritual successor to Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. In addition to featuring technical improvements (such as greater draw distance), there are also many cool gameplay enhancements.
For example, you get to use a mixture of land, sea and air vehicles throughout the game. What’s more, you can even switch between them during some missions, and it can change how things plays out.
It’s not the longest game, but it’s a real blast from start to finish. Find out more with our Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo review.
13. Forsaken 64
Forsaken 64 is the only first-person shooter on N64 to offer six degrees of freedom. It may be a clone of PC game Descent, but it’s good in its own right and performs solidly on a technical level.
In Forsaken 64, you zip around complex labyrinths in a small, heavily armoured craft gunning down drones and facing off against other pilots.
There’s a decent selection of futuristic weapons, all of which look fantastic thanks to the game’s impressive lighting effects.
Up to four players can also play, making it a nice alternative to more popular choices such as GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark.
12. Chameleon Twist
We can’t help but think Chameleon Twist should’ve been a Yoshi game.
After all, its tongue-based gameplay is certainly a lot more inventive than Yoshi’s Story.
In this cutesy 3D platformer, you work your way through obstacles, chasms and puzzles using your extra long tongue. You control it using the analog stick, which gives you very precise control.
Play the Japanese version if you can – it features different level layouts and more content. You can also play the multiplayer mode with bots, which for some reason is absent from the international release.
On a system with lots of puzzle games, Wetrix stands out for being the most innovative by far.
Imagine Tetris, but instead of dropping blocks to clear lines, you’re terraforming a plot of land to create lakes of water.
You then evaporate the water with meteorites to score points and keep the water level manageable.
We know what you’re thinking: it sounds ridiculous. And it is. But it really works as a concept.
What’s more, it’s pretty darn challenging. But once you learn the ropes, it quickly becomes addictive.
Also, Wetrix has some of the nicest looking water effects on the N64.
10. Beetle Adventure Racing
Beetle Adventure Racing received good reviews upon release. And given a sequel was at one point in the works, it must have sold a decent number of copies.
So why’s it in our list? Because we don’t think Beetle Adventure Racing is remembered as fondly as it should be.
For starters, it has fantastic track designs that feature multiple routes – many of which are hidden.
One minute, you’re jumping off a bridge into a cave with a UFO, the next you’re swerving to avoid dinosaurs in the jungle.
It’s also got a fun battle multiplayer mode for up to four players, making it a great alternative to Mario Kart 64.
9. Body Harvest
If you’ve read our Body Harvest review then you’re probably wondering why it’s on our list of the most underrated N64 games.
Body Harvest is undoubtedly flawed, but it’s also one of the N64’s most ambitious games.
Sporting large open-world environments and many playable vehicles, the game is in fact a spiritual predecessor to Grand Theft Auto III.
The core premise of the game is to stop extraterrestrial bugs from devouring humankind.
At times it’s desperately frantic, although there’s plenty of downtime in between to explore and solve light puzzles.
Body Harvest looked garish even back in 1998. But it makes up for its lack of visual charm with some really great pop culture and historical references.
8. BattleTanx: Global Assault
BattleTanx: Global Assault has so much going for it: destructible environments, coop campaign and an extensive multiplayer offering.
In fact, the multiplayer is so good that BattleTanx: Global Assault also features in our list of the best N64 multiplayer games.
Set in the aftermath of a global disaster, BattleTanx: Global Assault is an edgy vehicular combat game featuring a wealth of playable tanks.
The Tank Wars multiplayer mode gives each player a team of AI tanks, resulting in one of the craziest deathmatch experiences on N64.
BattleTanx: Global Assault also runs very smoothly, despite all the on-screen chaos at times.
7. Quake II
It was hard for many N64 first-person shooters to stand out against GoldenEye 007 and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. And Quake II was no exception.
Nevertheless, it’s worth giving a go if you haven’t already. The single-player campaign is an atmospheric run ‘n’ gun through alien strongholds filled with all kinds of deadly creatures.
The multiplayer is an absolute blast too.
Sure, the generic-looking arenas don’t excite like GoldenEye 007’s Facility or Bunker maps. But the gameplay is fast paced and the extravagant range of weapons make for some exciting encounters.
Quake II’s technical performance is really smooth in single player. And dare we say the multiplayer is also a lot smoother than GoldenEye 007, making Quake II a more playable choice today.
6. Mischief Makers
Developed by Treasure, Mischief Makers received a lukewarm response from critics when it released in 1997. N64 owners weren’t impressed either and, as a result, this quirky 2D platformer went largely unnoticed.
Now Mischief Makers is not the perfect game. The controls are frustrating at times, and it isn’t always clear what to do.
But these are minor gripes in the grand scheme of things.
The first thing you notice when looking at this game is the visuals. They’re so vibrantly colourful and bursting with charm.
More importantly, Mischief Makers features some really novel gameplay ideas that still hold up even today. It’s impressive given how saturated the 2D platforming genre is – and already was two decades ago.
You play as Marina, a robotic woman with a penchant for grabbing, throwing and shaking things.
These abilities are crucial for getting through the game, and you use them in really fun ways. One minute you’re using a machine gun as if the game were a shoot ’em up, the next you’re controlling a giant humanoid made out of blocks.
Unless 2D games really aren’t your thing, then you need to at least give Mischief Makers a go. Even now there’s really nothing else quite like it.
5. Doom 64
Doom 64 is an excellent version of the classic first-person shooter.
Sadly, some critics couldn’t appreciate this in 1997, considering it outdated because it stuck too closely to the original game’s winning formula.
As we said in our Doom 64 review, this game is both intelligent and complex. It’s the perfect blend of fast-paced action, non-linear exploration and puzzle solving.
This version has 32 bespoke levels, and they’re a joy to play. The environments are varied, and will sometimes even transform as you progress.
One minute you’re cautiously creeping through claustrophobic corridors, the next you’re engaging in an all-out war against dozens of enemies.
It’s immensely atmospheric thanks to some great ambient sound and lighting effects.
And the decision to use 2D sprites instead of 3D models works massively in the game’s favour, enabling it to run at a consistent 30 frames per second.
4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
As the N64’s only tactical first-person shooter, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six delivers a lot.
It really deserved a lot more attention, hence why it ranks so highly in our list of the most underrated N64 games.
Rainbow Six strives for realism. It’s not about strafe running circles round your enemies. Instead, it’s a calculating game of preparation and precise aim.
You’re given a squad of three AI team mates who you can tell what to do by scripting their movements and actions before each mission. It’s surprisingly comprehensive and powerful for an N64 game.
Seeing your squad all burst into a room on your command and take down a group of guards is immensely satisfying.
Rainbow Six is fully playable in coop with another player, allowing for even more tactical gameplay.
3. Goemon’s Great Adventure
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon‘s sequel improves on the original’s shortcomings by completely shifting genres.
But despite being the better game, Goemon’s Great Adventure didn’t sell as well.
Similar to earlier games in the series, Goemon’s Great Adventure is primarily a side-scrolling platformer.
Set in Feudal Japan, the game draws heavily on Japanese folklore while throwing in anachronisms like bazookas and giant robots. It’s wacky, and often very humorous.
The game belongs in our list of the most underrated N64 games for a number of reasons.
It’s got lovely graphics, smooth performance and a sublime soundtrack that merges traditional Japanese instruments with modern sounds.
There’s also so much to do in Goemon’s Great Adventure.
In addition to leaping across chasms and fighting enemies, you travel to towns to purchase supplies and take on side quests. You even get to fight in first-person robot battles.
Best of all, it’s all playable in two-player coop, making Goemon’s Great Adventure a great game to play through with a friend.
2. Space Station Silicon Valley
Yet another DMA Design makes our list of underrated N64 games, and deservedly so.
Space Station Silicon Valley is a wonderfully creative 3D platformer that won over critics in 1998. Sadly, it sold poorly, which is a tragedy considering how good it is.
It’s got a few technical bugs – you can’t 100% complete the game and the NTSC version will crash frequently if you have an N64 Expansion Pak inserted.
Thankfully, these issues have now been patched – although you’ll need an EverDrive 64 to play the fixed version.
The game is set aboard a futuristic space station overrun with technologically enhanced animals.
You play as Evo, a robot who’s reduced to a mere microchip after crash landing on the station. By implanting yourself into deactivated animals, you can take control of them.
They each have different abilities, which you’ll need to complete missions. For example, you can become a mouse with wheels that can speed-boost off ramps or a turtle that’s also a tank.
Trying out all the animals is really fun. Also, working your way up the food chain to take control of the bigger, stronger creatures is an interesting challenge that often requires some forethought.
Space Station Silicon Valley is a unique game that every N64 owner should at least try. Even 20 years later, it’s still a novel experience – a testament to its clever design.
1. Rocket: Robot on Wheels
Rocket: Robot on Wheels tops our list and with good reason.
This inventive 3D platformer didn’t get anywhere near the same amount of attention from gamers as Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, but it definitely deserved to.
Sucker Punch Productions’ first ever game distinguishes itself from similar N64 games thanks to its superb physics engine.
You play as Rocket, a small robot who rolls around on one wheel a bit like a unicycle (contrary to the game’s title).
It’s up to you to stop Jojo, a wicked raccoon, from taking over your owner’s futuristic theme park and zoo.
Using Rocket’s tractor beam, you’re able to pick up and throw (and roll) items.
This is where the physics come in, as traversing many of the game’s environments and solving puzzles are based around things like friction and mass.
It’s immensely inventive, and working out what to do (and then successfully pulling it off) is often challenging, yet satisfying. The themed levels allow for some creative ideas, and the whole game feels like a massive playground.
Rocket: Robot on Wheels pushes the N64 with its physics and creative puzzles and challenges. In fact, it outshines the system’s best 3D platformers at times – so it’s definitely worth your time.