The Nintendo 64 was a system that had many blockbuster hits that everyone and their grandma has played. Few gamers playing since the days of the N64 have not experienced Mario 64, Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, or Super Smash Bros. However, there were many gems on this system that got terribly overlooked. Games that tried something incredibly fresh or had brilliant game design. For lack of marketing or simply due to having to compete with more recognizable franchises, these games did NOT get the appreciation they so deserved.

If I was ever skeptical of a game, this was IT! I loved tetris on GameBoy, but 3D? That just sounds idiotic. Well, it's really not. This game's got more strategy than your brain can handle! It's not about falling blocks, it's about... well, I don't even know how to explain it! It definitely takes a while to understand the nuances, but once you do, you will be HOOKED. Nearly my favorite multiplayer puzzle game of all time [that honor goes to Chu Chu Rocket]. This game has an incredible amount of variety within its different modes. The puzzle mode will blow your mind!

Another game I was skeptical of. A game built to advertise Beetles? Give me a break. Oh, but wait, this game actually rocks so who cares! There are sadly only 6 levels, but they are BIG levels. Not only are they long, but there are shortcuts to explore all OVER the place. And there is actually incentive to explore b/c there are items hidden all over each level. Racing isn't that hard, but racing while collecting all 100 items in each level takes some true skill! Additionally, each level has 3 super-hidden secret boxes that I *dare* you to find without a walkthrough! This game is as much about exploration as racing, so it's good that the levels are each VERY interesting and detailed.

Destruction is muy bueno! This game is fun as it is hard. Amongst those who know about this game, obtaining all platinums is still considered one of the surest marks of a hardcore gamer. It is not a challenge for the faint of heart! I myself have only gotten about 3/4 of them after yrs of trying. This game has a lot of variety. There are races, there is Pac-Man [sorta], and of course there is a LOT of blowing stuff up with a wide range of vehicles [including giant industrial robots]. The game ends with a trip to outer space, where you get the excitement of blowing up buildings in a low-gravity environment. Truly something unlike any other game I've played. This one will last you a LONG time.

Oh, it's not Goldeneye 2? Not made by Rareware? Must suck, yes? NO! Sure, it's quite different from GE in some ways. The enemies have a tendency to be more stationary rather than running around. Also, the weapons and level layout have a very different feel, but in many ways it's for the better! The levels are far more detailed and unique than those in GE. Also, the storyline is worked into the game [via cutscenes] much better than the text in the GE briefings. The multiplayer has FAR more options than GE; you just need the skill to unlock them through aiming for fast times in the solo missions. Unlocking everything is actually much more challenging than it was in GE and very rewarding. Playing the Castle level with sticky grenades has provided me better memories than any other FPS multiplayer.

Made by the creators of the GTA series, this game shares many of its concepts, only in a much goofier and zany setting. You play as a computer chip landed in an outer space robot animal zoo. You take over the MANY enemies and use their unique abilities to solve puzzles and kill other robotic animals so that you can possess their bodies. The Scottish humor is brilliant. The goofy organ-elevator music is goofy yet insanely fun. This is certainly the quirkiest game on this top 10 list and one that should NOT be missed!

This is especially hard to rank. I clearly recognize the flaws that turned many people off--clunky controls & occasionally dull graphics. However, those who can get past these faults will fall in love with this game. It plays almost like a very mature Zelda game, except w/ the focus being on dungeon-style action, puzzles, & exploration. There's not much character interaction at all. The game is incredibly massive, easily the biggest adventure game I've ever played [we're talking 70+ hrs without a walkthrough]. The Shadowman universe just keeps going and going. There is backtracking which will annoy/confuse some, but just stick with it! The way new areas open up as you obtain new weapons and items is very enjoyable. Once you start memorizing the layout of the world, you feel truly immersed in it and it's an incredible feeling.

This is probably my favorite 3D platformer of all time! It's easier and shorter than Mario 64, yes, but IMO, it is actually more entertaining. There is an incredible amount of variety in the action, puzzles, and levels. Every time I finish the game I feel like starting it over. The levels get downright zany, especially later on. Sticking sheep to walls, riding a magic carpet, riding a floating motorcycle, building & riding your own rollercoaster... this game has it all. Don't let it's kiddy looks put you off, this game is just pure unadulterated fun filled with a LOT of fresh ideas & surprises. Each level is unique so that you never get bored. You almost never do the same thing twice. It's amazing that one game can have so many unique ideas and still be coherent!

Though better known than probably any other game on this list, this game still is terribly underplayed, even if the name is reasonably well known. As many others, I myself did not like this game from playing a store demo. Once you get into it and give it a chance, though, you realize that this is one of the most amazing games ever made. The graphics are diverse & crisp, the action is intense [particularly boss fights], and the soundtrack is epic--my favorite video game music of all time in fact. Much like other games on this list, this is one that a short 15 minutes with the game does not do it justice. For those willing to invest the time, this is a truly brilliant game.

Some say it's a knock off of MGS or Syphon Filter and while it shares similarities [in a good way] to both, this truly is its own game. The controls take some getting used to, which turned a lot of people off. Once you master them, however, you realize how well set up the controls truly are. Not only are the unique moves very fun to pull off, but the storyline is truly gripping--more so than any N64 game I've played. The storyline is CONTINUOUSLY developed throughout the game, unlike most 64 games that simply have an intro & an end. There are some incredible plot twists and you become very attached to the characters. The 3 endings are each VERY worth obtaining [especially the "bad" ending, actyally] due to the new plot details you discover in each.

This game is truly amazing. Also from the creators of the GTA series, this game shares many features in common. Massive worlds to journey accross and a plethora of varied vehicles to do so in. Unlike GTA, however, Body Harvest adds the excitement of fighting overwhelming alien forces. Not only that, but it takes place at multiple times in history, meaning the vehicles in each timeline are uniquely suited to that time period. The controls are admitted clunky and the graphics less than detailed but considering how truly gargantuan the levels are and how big an area is displayed at once [and on the 64!] the graphical shortcomings can easily be excused. The deep gaming experience that awaits those who give this gem a chance is wonderful! Just be warned--it's not for the faint of heart. This game is hard as nails, especially on Hero Mode.

There are many other underrated games on 64 that easily could have been on the list as well. Some have been more neglected than others, but none of them has gotten the attention they truly deserved. 2 of these are Rareware titles, yet somehow they didn't get attention quite like most Rare games got. So many gamers complain about a lack of fresh ideas in gaming today. Yet when something different has been tried in the past or when new mascots are created, people cling to Link, Mario, and Cloud. Here is hoping that gamers will begin to recognize that companies will not be daring enough to try out new ideas in the future if we're not daring enough to try out the new experiences they are currently creating.

List by sketchturner41 (02/17/2006)

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