In 2016 the NES Classic hit store shelves. A minute later they were all sold out. It was a huge success, which would have been even bigger if Nintendo understood the meaning of ‘supply and demand’.
Then last year it was the turn of the SNES Classic. Supply was a little better, but still hardly filled the shelves. I actually managed to get one of these and it’s a neat little thing that fits nice and snug on my desk.
So if it follows the pattern then this year could see the release of an N64 classic. But would that replicate the same success? While the original NES and SNES consoles were huge hits, the N64 was where the once dominant Nintendo looked shaky. The Playstation had arrived and made video games ‘cool’, whereas Nintendo were seen as for the kids. This was something I strongly disagreed with as I was still a bit of a Nintendo fanboy at this point. While all my friends were enjoying their Metal Gears and Medal of Honor (it was a big deal back then, honestly) I was more than content with my limited, yet fantastic line up of Nintendo classics.
Some of those classics though would not be available for the miniaturised N64. I’m of course talking about Rare’s output. Looking at their N64 releases, only Donkey Kong 64 would be likely to appear. The rest would be a legal nightmare that wouldn’t be worth the effort. And trust me, I played Perfect Dark when it was re-released on Xbox360. I’m not itching to revisit that game anytime soon.
What I would like with a theoretical N64 Classic would be for Nintendo to embrace more of their obscure, lesser-selling titles for the system. While obviously you will have your Marios and Zeldas, how about mixing it up a bit with a Rocket: Robot on Wheels (one of the best unknown platformers I’ll have you know). And considering we finally got Starfox 2 decades later, how about games that never released on these shores? Maybe a Dr Mario 64 or Sin and Punishment (though the latter did eventually get released through the Virtual Console).
Looking at a Wikipedia list of releases for the system (388 games in total), once you remove the licensed stuff and Rare titles, there’s a still good chunk of games to choose from. It’s hardly the barren wasteland that some people say. Let’s have a quick rundown and try and pick, say, 20 games that would make the N64 Classic.
- Mario 64
- Paper Mario
- Mario Kart 64
- Mario Golf
- Mario Tennis
- Mario Party
Yes, that’s a lot of Mario. And not all of them are good (sorry, Mario Party), but when you have this many games starring Mario, you may as well throw them all on.
- Pilotwings 64
I remember this being such a pleasant experience back in the day.
- Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Of course these two will be on it.
- Donkey Kong 64
Not one of Rare’s best (maybe their worst on N64?) but it’s Donkey Kong and the Rare games that are available for use are limited.
- Castlevania 64
Okay, I know this one isn’t liked, but it’s from a prominent franchise so it would likely feature. And now that Konami don’t care about video games they’ll want to profit as heavily as possible from their back catalogue.
- Sin and Punishment
- Mega Man 64
A couple of games that never made it to Europe on the N64. Mega Man 64 is just a port of Mega Man Legends from what I hear. I’ve always been interested in trying it out although it looks rather ugly these days.
- Harvest Moon 64
Farming games are hot right now as Stardew Valley shows.
- Rocket: Robot on Wheels
The secret best platform game on N64.
- Mystical Ninja Starring Goeman
From what I remember this is a weird Japanese adventure game? A game on this list mainly because I’d love to try it.
- Mischief Makers
A beloved platform game from Treasure.
- Fighter’s Destiny
Because the N64 didn’t have that many good fighting games and this seems to be the highest rated one.
- F-Zero X
Where is my new F-Zero game, Nintendo!?!?
- Resident Evil 2
The fact that they managed to get this working on a cartridge is a minor miracle. All FMV is sort of intact, albeit in very fuzzy form.
This is not a perfect list, and I’m sure there are some games people would remove and swap, but I tried to get a good range of titles from most genres. Whether I would buy one though I’m still unsure. While I was there day one for the SNES Classic, early 2D games age far better than early 3D games. This goes for Playstation as well. While Sony’s console had the jaggy edges, the N64 was a blurry, foggy mess. Good at the time, difficult to look at these days.
All we can do now is wait. The N64 Classic could be an inevitability, or maybe they are having too much success with the Switch that they will put their classic range on hold. Only time will tell.