Released in 1996, the Nintendo 64 was the natural successor to the SNES. It did compete with Sony’s PlayStation and Sega’s Saturn as a fifth-generation video game console. While the Nintendo 64’s sales lagged behind PlayStation’s, it’s one of the most recognized consoles and widely acclaimed by critics. IGN called it the ninth greatest console ever, while Time gave it the title ‘Machine of the Year’ in the year of its launch. Whilst having a smaller game library than its competitors, this didn’t hinder the success of the Nintendo 64, as the developers focused on quality over quantity. Many groundbreaking titles were released for the console, including some of the best Nintendo 64 RPGs.
Named after its 64-bit CPU, the Nintendo 64 was responsible for many Nintendo fans’ first foray into the world of 3D gaming and continues to be a favorite. Nintendo 64 had some amazing titles, including action-adventure, RPGs, and platformer genres. But with that said, some titles are bridging the gap between action and RPG, which stood the test of time. Below we highlight some of these games.
Custom Robo V2
Much like the first game, ‘amazon link=”B01J4JY17A” title=”Custom Robo V2’s”] storyline is pretty simple. It follows a young boy who receives his first robot. The gameplay involves using mini-robots to fight other people’s robots, and that’s pretty much it!
Several modes were available. In single-player, the goal is to battle robots, acquire new parts and items along the way, and battle in tournaments. 1vs1 and 2vs2 battles are also present, where the player can fight against a single friend or in teams of two. Robots fight each other in a 3D-rendered arena in real-time, where robots can perform a primary or secondary attack, use a melee attack, jump and even dash through the air. The objective is to reduce the opponent’s hit points to zero. In overworld exploration, the goal is to collect robot parts and advance the storyline.
Overall, Custom Robo V2 didn’t break any ground on the Nintendo 64, having a simplistic playstyle and narrative. However, it was a hit with some gamers and was even re-released this year on the Nintendo Switch online library. If you’re looking for some of the best Nintendo 64 RPGs, you should give this one a go.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
While technically an action RPG like, was a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Released a couple of months after the finale of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask follows the same incarnation of Link. He ends up in Termina, where the giant and mysterious moon threatens to crash into the land in three days.
The gameplay brought exciting innovations over the prequel, mainly in the passing of time and a repeating 3-day cycle. Melodies learned during the game’s progress are useful in altering and reversing the flow of time back to the beginning. Along with this, Link can wear various masks to transform temporarily into different races. Each comes with its own skills, usually used for battle, movement or solving puzzles. The game also made of the Nintendo 64’s Expansion Pak, providing extra memory for enhanced graphics. The RPG elements in Ocarina of Time were largely retained for the sequel.
Even though it only sold half the copies of its predecessor, Majora’s Mask significantly impacted critics and the gaming community. Many felt it outperformed Ocarina of Time with its gameplay, graphics and elaborate, relatively darker storyline. Commonly called one of the greatest games of all time, this game is a non-negotiable when thinking about the best Nintendo 64 RPGs.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
, the game that kicked off 3D Zelda for home consoles, is timeless. Set in the familiar world of Hyrule, Link must journey through many lands and dungeons. The goal is to defeat the evil Ganondorf, who threatens to conquer the world by obtaining the three pieces of the legendary Triforce. To do this, Link battles many monsters learn new skills and travels through time with the help of his Ocarina.
As an action game, Ocarina of Time is influenced by many RPG elements. For example, the world contains many expansive environments. Weapons and armor are upgradeable with the health meter. The character can acquire new abilities by collecting items and completing side quests. Link can even make friends with Epona, a horse, allowing faster travel between locales. Puzzles feature prominently. Inside dungeons are generally solved by moving blocks, pressing switches and playing songs on the Ocarina.
Ocarina of Time won several awards, receiving perfect scores from most publications, and it’s easy to understand why. Revolutionary for its time in terms of visuals, gameplay and soundtrack, Ocarina is an actual classic game in every sense. As far as the best Nintendo 64 RPGs go, Ocarina of Time is a nice addition to your RPG collection.
In Gauntlet: Legends, you fight through various kingdoms to recover the Runestones and gain entrance to the desecrated temple. Gameplay mostly centers around exploring linear levels within each kingdom, battling enemies in hack-and-slash style while leveling up and collecting Runestones.
You can choose one out of four characters at the start of the game, each with greater strength in a particular attribute than the others (strength, speed, armor and magic). These attributes grow through leveling, but also by purchasing items with gold. Using magic potions, you can deal damage to enemies. There are alo powerful Turbo attacks that slowly recharge with time, unique to each character.
Although the game received fairly average reviews, it has a cult following. It was even ported to 3 other game systems (the PlayStation, Dreamcast and GameCube), each with its own expansions and refinements. The game promises hours of rather addictive multiplayer fun, which is the mode where it shines. Even though the gameplay and story are pretty simple, Gauntlet is easily one of the best Nintendo 64 RPGs to play with your friends.
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
With quite a strange title, the 2000 release of Ogre Battle 64 Person of Lordly Caliber marked the third entry to the Ogre series. The game follows Magnus Gallant, an Ischka Military Academy graduate who joins the revolution as civil war kicks off in Alba, a southern region of Palatinus. As one of the Blue Knights, Magnus faces enemies of grander and grander scales as the story progresses, from puppets to holy knights and even the evil forces of the Netherworld.
As a real-time RPG strategy, Ogre Battle 64 allows the player to control up to 50 troops, split off into separate battalions. Each group has a leader, contains 5 members, and commences battle with opposing forces once two units meet on the map. The battlefield has an isometric view, and attacks occur in semi-real-time instead of turn-based, like many tactical RPGs. The class system is also a notable inclusion, where units can change class and experience changes to their attributes, possible attack abilities and choice of equipment.
As the Nintendo 64 wasn’t designed for tactical RPGs, Ogre Battle 64 didn’t sell spectacularly and was nominated for GameSpot’s Best Game No One Played award. Despite this, it also won the ‘Best Strategy Game’ award and was named the 11th best game made on a Nintendo system by Nintendo Power. If you’re a long-time fan of the Ogre series, the Nintendo 64 or tactical RPGs in general, Ogre Battle 64 is a memorable play and among the best Nintendo 64 RPGs.
Harvest Moon 64
It is the third game in the Harvest Moon series. Released in 1999. doesn’t feature much of a story, as the gameplay focuses on building and maintaining the farm left to the player by their grandfather.
The player can participate in many farm-related activities, like planting, growing and harvesting plants and raising chickens and cows. A player can harvest wild-growing plants across four seasons throughout the game. There’s a local town where players can interact with NPCs and participate in side quests such as racing horses, collecting recipes, and photography. They can even interact with and potentially marry 1 out of the five romantic prospects in the game.
Besides the glitchy visuals and monotonous soundtrack, the oddly addicting and compelling gameplay leads to hours of fun and a different experience than the typical RPG. Fans of the genre will want to check this title out as it sets itself apart from the other best Nintendo 64 RPGs.
Paper Mario follows the traditional Mario story of rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser. However, this time with the aid of the seven Star Spirits. The game includes typical RPG mechanics and a unique paper version of Mario.
The game features 2D character designs within a 3D-rendered environment. Gameplay involves exploring the overworld coupled with turn-based battles. Accurately timing the button press can improve the attack’s power in a battle. You can unlock special moves by consuming Flower Points (FP), the game’s answer to the magic or mana points (MP) common to RPGs.
You can get Star Energy during the game and use it to power a different kind of move. Mario can acquire badges, which yield special bonuses. The player progresses the story by interacting with NPCs and defeating certain enemies and even controls Peach for some points of the game, mainly in a stealth-based capacity rather than a turn-based RPG style.
As the sixth-highest-ranked Nintendo 64 game on Metacritic, Paper Mario significantly impacted the Mario series and the RPG genre. While not making as much use of the paper design as its sequel would, Paper Mario did receive praise for its character design, storyline and dynamic and strategic battle system. Grab a copy if you’re looking for the best Nintendo 64 RPGs in the market.
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