The Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack launched recently, not without its share of critics. Despite some emulation flaws and an inability to change button mapping in the app, however, it has nevertheless been rather fun to revisit some familiar (and less familiar) Nintendo 64 gems on the Switch. Of course we always want more.
Beyond the initial offering, Nintendo has also confirmed an upcoming batch that will arrive in the coming months, but we feel a lot of really good and interesting games are still absent. It’s worth also noting that we’ve put some Rare games on this list. Now, remember, Banjo-Kazooie is coming to the service (the IP featured in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate of course), so beyond one obvious example in our list, it is entirely possible that Microsoft and Nintendo could come to a deal for other classic Rare games. Are they longshots? Yes, but we’re holding out hope.
There are other games we’ve chosen because they were rare or Japan-only back in the day, and we’ve seen in the NES and SNES apps that Nintendo occasionally adds some relatively obscure games. There are a few obvious ones too, which are surely on Nintendo’s to-do list.
We’ve added a poll at the end, too — let us know which games you’d like to see. So, let’s get to it.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
A game which teaches the rewards of dedication and perseverance. Winning the race might look like the point of the game, but the real goal is there in the title — pulling a 1080°. It took some of us years, but we kept at it and – boom – finally, we nailed it. The speed and precision match up with beautiful visuals for the time, with sunlight glistening off the piste and snow spraying up behind your board. It had framerate stutters, but its subtle controls enable you to sharpen up shallow turns and gracefully arc across the course, giving a nice taste of the feeling you get from the real life sport.
When you’re not falling on your arse, that is.
This game involves clearing a path for a slow-moving truck carrying a malfunctioning nuclear missile to a safe detonation zone – a zone which is blocked by buildings and other structures ripe for destruction. As with many 64-bit titles, its early polygonal visuals are arguably looking a little dogged these days, but don’t let its looks put you off. This incredibly silly concept made for one of most fun games on the N64.
The first of our hopeful Rare entries, Conker’s Bad Fur Day stood out proudly from the pack of cutesy platformers back then as a fouled-mouthed, blood-filled, scatological comedy. We’re still a little blindsided that a Nintendo second party put out a game full of swears, to be honest — even the Xbox remake bleeped most of them out. Conker was a technological triumph for the ageing 64-bit system when it launched in 2001, and while the movie parodies are very much of their time and the humour won’t hit the spot with everyone, we’d love to revisit it.
Diddy Kong Racing did for Mario Kart 64 pretty much what Banjo-Kazooie would soon do for Super Mario 64; namely, take the template put down by Nintendo and expand on it with colour and creativity to produce far more than a mere homage. DKR expanded the single-player into an adventure and the addition of planes and hovercraft required much larger, more complex circuits to race around. The game also provided the console debuts of Banjo and Conker. What more do you want, jam on it?
Its localised name is Animal Forest, though you probably know the IP better from its GameCube successor Animal Crossing. Yep, Japan had an exclusive version of the first game that made its debut on N64, just months before it would then emerge on the shiny new GameCube. It’s worth being clear that this one would be highly unlikely due to the extensive localisation required, but as an intriguing arrival and an insight into franchise history it would be a lovely addition. Heck, even if it’s exclusive to the Japanese version of the app we’d happily play it that way.
There are some who blame the collapse of the collectathon 3D platforming craze on Donkey Kong 64, and while it’s hard to argue that Rare perhaps went a little too far with the huge number of inconsequential collectable doohickeys, it’s a game which turns everything up to eleven and there’s something admirable about its unapologetic ‘more is more’ approach. With five playable Kongs (you know them well), huge worlds and an abundance of mini-games (including emulated versions of the original arcade Donkey Kong and Rare’s Jetpac), DK64 was one hell of a value proposition back in 1999 and we think it probably deserves re-evaluation after 20 years of bashing. C’mon Cranky, take it to the fridge.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Left Field Productions
Canadian developer Left Field Productions, the team behind the fondly-remembered NBA Courtside games, was responsible for this brilliant entry in Nintendo’s motocross series. Shifting the gameplay from side-on to behind-the-rider 3D, it melded the careful pitch and throttle control of the original game with the subtle mechanics of N64 stablemates Wave Race 64 and 1080° Snowboarding to produce something just as deep, rewarding and addictive as those racers.
The best movie tie-in ever made? Not only was Rare’s game hugely influential on the console FPS genre, but it also gave N64 owners a proper ‘adult’ experience to sink their teeth into. At a time when PlayStation was too cool for school, GoldenEye 007 provided some real ammo in the console wars, and its 4-player deathmatches — remarkably, a last-minute addition before the game went gold — led to some of the best multiplayer memories we have, for any system. You Only Live Twice>Bunker>Power Weapons? How about Licence to Kill>Facility>Pistols? We’re easy, but whatever you do, make sure you’ve got ‘Sight ON Auto-Aim OFF’.
Just imagine the buzz of this arriving and supporting online play, but let’s also be real — it’s the longest of longshots.
Konami’s Major A studio took the solid foundation of ISS 64 and built upon it with some wonderful additions including an optional top-to-bottom view and the appearance of the referee on the pitch. That might sound like a tiny and almost insignificant detail, but having the ref onscreen blew our minds back in 1998. And look, we know that licensing issues make this extremely unlikely, but we don’t care – we want it.
An underrated entry in the Rareware library, Jet Force Gemini coupled cute design with chunky, gungy third-person blasting in a world-hopping quest to defeat insectoid overlord Mizar. Juno, Vela and trusty good boy Lupus’ adventure is not without flaws, but JFG is a surprising deep and satisfying one that’s worth investigating if you’re a Rare fan looking for gems that passed you by around the turn of the millennium.