The 20 most underrated N64 games

by Martin Watts, 11 March 2019

A selection of underrated N64 games in their boxes.

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.

Ibis banks right with the hang glider in Pilotwings 64

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.

Dark Cavern rocket belt mission from Pilotwings 64

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.

The skydiving mini-game above the clouds in Pilotwings 64

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.

Smashing through a car in Destruction Derby 64 - one of the most underrated N64 games.

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.

Destruction Derby 64's junkyard demolition mode

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).

Four-player coop game in Gauntlet Legends for the Nintendo 64.

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.

The character select screen in N64 game Gauntlet Legends

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.

Disney's Magical Tetris Challenge by Capcom - one of the N64s most underrated games.

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.

Goofy battles Minnie in a game of Magical Tetris Challenge on 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.

Ramming an opponent's boat in Hydro Thunder for the N64.

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.

Racing around the Greek Isles in Hydro Thunder for the Nintendo 64.

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.

Slash performs a special trick in Snowboard Kids, one of the most underrated N64 games.

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.

A four-player race in Snowboard Kids for the N64.

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.

Saving Palmer's squad in Star Wars Episode 1: Battle for Naboo for N64.

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.

Destroying an AAT using the Naboo starfighter in Star Wars Episode 1: Battle for Naboo (N64 version)

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.

Engaging in a battle against drones in Forsaken 64

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.

A four-player versus match in Forsaken 64 for the Nintendo 64.

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.

Using the tongue to cross a gap in Chameleon Twist - one of the most underrated N64 games.

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.

Performing a 360-degree tongue twirl to cross a chasm in Chameleon Twist for the N64

11. Wetrix

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.

Filling a lake with water in Wetrix for the N64

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.

Creating a lake of water in underrated N64 game Wetrix

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.

A meteorite explodes into the map in Wetrix for 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.

Beetle Adventure Racing - one of the most underrated N64 games.

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.

Inferno Isle track from Beetle Adventure Racing for the N64.

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.

A hidden UFO down a side route in Beetle Adventure Racing's Mount Mayhem track

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.

Adam Drake with bleeding arm after alien ambush aboard space station

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.

Gunning down aliens in the Humvee in Body Harvest's America stage (N64)

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.

Alien autopsy in Body Harvest for the N64.

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.

Repelling the enemy with the M1 Abrams tank in BattleTanx: Global Assault for N64.

Set in the aftermath of a global disaster, BattleTanx: Global Assault is an edgy vehicular combat game featuring a wealth of playable tanks.

The intro cinematic to BattleTanx: Global Assault for N64

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.

Blowing up a gas station with the MotoTank in BattleTanx: Global Assault for N64

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.

Title intro cinematic for Quake II - one of the most underrated N64 games.

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.

Blasting a Strogg with the auto shotgun in Quake II for the N64.

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.

Quake II split-screen multiplayer on the Nintendo 64.

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.

The first level of Mischief Makers - an underrated N64 game.

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.

Marina uses a machine gun in N64 game Mischief Makers

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.

Marina controls Blockman to battle the Emperor's forces in Mischief Makers for the N64.

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.

Gunning down a demon with the shotgun in Doom 64 for N64.

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.

Using the chaingun in Doom 64 - an underrated N64 game.

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.

The Absolution stage from Doom 64 for N64.

4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six

As the N64’s only tactical first-person shooter, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six delivers a lot.

AI operatives lead the way in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six for Nintendo 64

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.

The mission planning screen in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six on N64

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.

Gunning down a terrorist in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six for N64

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.

Playing Goemon's Great Adventure in two-player coop on the N64

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.

Goemon gets annoyed with a lazy Ebisumaru in Goemon's Great Adventure.

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.

Sasuke charges an enemy in Goemon's Great Adventure - one of the most underrated N64 games.

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.

Space Station Silicon Valley title screen - a seriously underappreciated N64 game.

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.

Playing as a robotic dog in Space Station Silicon Valley for the Nintendo 64.

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.

The DNA stats screen for the Fox in Space Station Silicon Valley

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.

Floating on the water as a sheep in Space Station Silicon Valley for the N64

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.

Deactivating the big machine as a mouse in Space Station Silicon Valley for N64

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.

Underrated N64 game Rocket: Robot on Wheels.

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).

Jumping across large flowers in Rocket: Robot on Wheels for the N64

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.

The Tic Tac Toe mini-game from Rocket: Robot on Wheels.

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.

The hub world from Rocket: Robot on Wheels for the Nintendo 64.

What do you think are the most underrated N64 games?

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