Note: Staff writers Lucas Macce and Dominic Theodore contributed with help from writers from the Arm Chair Empire magazine.
Recovering stars from the castle, exploring the forests of Hyrule and destroying friendships over red shells —these are the images from the good old days of the Nintendo 64.
We miss spending every nice day inside, fighting over who got to be Bowser on “Mario Kart,” blowing into the console to make it work again, and convincing friends that swapping “Yoshi’s Story” for “Super Smash Bros” was totally a fair trade.
Reminisce with us as we throw it back to our early childhood and list the games that defined us as nerdy gamer fanboys and fangirls. Let’s get misty-eyed.
“Sarge’s Heroes 2” & “A Bug’s Life”| Maura McNamee
“Sarge’s Heroes 2”
The game plays a lot like “Call of Duty” except the characters are tiny, green plastic men (and only one woman who totally gets kidnapped, sigh) whose entire purpose is to fight the Tan Army, a fleet of bad guy soldiers scarily reminiscent of Nazis.
The multiplayer mode is a hell of a lot more fun than the campaign, because to a 7-year-old, how is shooting at your permanent player 2-buddy (i.e. my dad) not the most fun thing in the world?
Splitting screens and shooting each other on “Sarge’s Heroes 2” remains to this day a true test of trust between my dad and me. After choosing the arena in which to destroy the opposing plastic army guy (I always picked the creepy graveyard), players run around frantically searching for a better weapon to annihilate the enemy.
By better weapon, I mean the flamethrower. How to win the multiplayer mode: pick up the flamethrower, find Dad, burn his green guy and get grounded from ever using the fabulously effective weapon (“cheating,” he called it) ever again.
“A Bug’s Life”
“A Bug’s Life” was the very first Nintendo 64 game I ever owned and played, and I am sorry to say that I was never able to reach the end.
The Disney film-inspired game follows the same story, but during gameplay, Flik the ant has slightly better skills to help fight the grasshoppers: he can throw berries.
Certain enemies can only be destroyed by different colored berries, like blue ones, purple ones and impossible-to-find gold ones. Whenever Flik runs out of Cool Berries, he reverts to his default ones and reminds the player OVER AND OVER AGAIN that “These berries don’t work!”
Then he gets killed by a giant bee.
Needless to say, my young self always got Flik killed because of the ever-elusive berries, and many a summer day was spent agonizing over this and switching over to “Mario Kart” to take the frustration out on Princess Peach.
“Pokémon Stadium” & “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”| Lucas Macce
This game was a late night fix for my brother and me. We spent hours huddled in our grandparents’ basement, sparring against each other with different rosters. The game combines the perfect amount of multiplayer action and mini-game throw-ins.
The follows the basic Pokémon formula: various elemental types, 150 playable monsters, and four combat moves. The usual gaming experience features a fight against a friend with each player receiving six Pokémon. Along with the battle feature, players can take part in mini-games that are pretty ridiculous–and ridiculously fun (see here for yourself).
In the course of my youth, I saw many tears shed, controllers cracked, and curse words screamed as a result of very heated battles. Despite the tumultuous times, the game provided significant bonding between my childhood posse and me. Our combined love for Pokémon and competition created sentiment rivaled by few other childhood activities.
“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”
“Ocarina of Time” remains the posterchild of the N64 console. IGN’s list of Top 25 N64 games of all time ranks this title at #1, above giants such as Super Smash Bros., and Super Mario 64. The game revolves around protagonist Link attempting to stop the evil Ganandorf from ruling the world, as well as save the titular princess Zelda.
The gamer goes through a variety of landscapes fighting off creatures and solving puzzles. The story also advances through using the ocarina to play different melodies. Several tunes remain fond memories to many children and adults alike (Jazz trio BadBadNotGood covered three of the songs for their first album).
While I admittedly, ashamedly never finished the game’s campaign, I loved exploring the vast virtual landscape and humming along to the ocarina. Many of my winter afternoons were spent spamming the A button and having the time of my life doing so.
“NFL Blitz 2000” & “Paper Mario” | Dominic Theodore
“NFL Blitz 2000”
Out of all the video games I’ve played throughout my life, none have given me as much pure joy as “NFL Blitz 2000” for the Nintendo 64.
The excessive violence and trash talking in the game makes it much more fun to play than contemporaries like “Madden.” One of the best aspects of the game is that after tackling the opposing team, the player is given an extra five seconds or so to continue physically assaulting the down player by jumping in the air and landing on his face.
I have so many great memories of waking up on a Saturday and forgoing breakfast in order to assail various professional athletes until my eyes began to water from staring at the harsh screen. Even better were the days spent at friends’ houses playing the game for hours then going outside and attempting to recreate the very unsportsmanlike take on football.
Role playing adventure games have the tendency to absorb players into a virtual world from which return is doubtful. “Paper Mario” did this to me.
“Paper Mario” was full of intriguing characters and titillating adventures, and everything was inexplicably made to look like paper. It followed the general theme of most Mario games; Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach and Mario tries to save her. However, there was much more to the game, with elements of the Pokémon and Zelda games mixed in.
Every moment of my young life that wasn’t spent watching “Hey Arnold” or “Rocket Power” was spent exploring the Mushroom Kingdom collecting stars and defeating round, colorful enemies. I disappeared into the bizarre, beautiful world of “Paper Mario” for most of first and second grade, and I do not regret it in the least.
Do you miss your Nintendo 64 and all those friends you once had pre-Mario Party that one time? Leave us a nerdy comment and tweet us your fave games @Speakeasymag!