10 Best Nintendo 64 Platformers

As gaming transitioned from 2D to 3D, the Nintendo 64 was at the forefront of revolutionary new platforming titles. But the best platforming games on the N64 weren't just good because they were new and different at the time, they simply were (and still are) quality titles.

The best Nintendo 64 platformers come from a wide range of well-known properties too. Of course, there are quintessential N64 games like Super Mario 64 – but franchises like Banjo-Kazooie, Kirby, and Rayman thrived on the console as well. When it comes to great platformers, look no further because the N64 truly has it all.

The 10 Best Nintendo 64 Platformers:

1. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64
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Description: “Mario is super in a whole new way! Combining the finest 3-D graphics ever developed for a video game and an explosive soundtrack, Super Mario 64 becomes a new standard for video games. It's packed with bruising battles, daunting obstacle courses, and underwater adventures. Retrieve the Power Stars from their hidden locations and confront your arch-nemesis – Bowser, King of the Koopas!”

What The Critics Say: “Complete in every way, and the challenging experience of working toward each new level is far greater than the game's minimal flaws. Nintendo's craftsmanship and zeal for creating fantastically enjoyable games has never shown through more than in Super Mario 64.” – IGN

2. Banjo-Kazooie

Image Credit: Nintendo.

Description: “Trouble is brewing on Spiral Mountain! Gruntilda the witch, wildly jealous of Tooty the Honey Bear's good looks; is determined to steal them for herself! But even as she whisks the helpless youngster off to her tower, Tooty's big brother Banjo and his loud-mouthed partner Kazooie are hot on the trail to rescue her… Aided by the mystical shaman Mumbo Jumbo, Banjo and Kazooie must tackle gloomy swamps, scorching deserts, towering mountain ranges and spooky haunted houses on their way to the final confrontation at the summit of Gruntilda's Lair.”

What The Critics Say: “The finest, most polished, most complex and satisfying action-adventure videogame I've ever played… It blew me away because I was still swept up by its fairy tale-light, Disney-esque, bogusness, in spite of all my resistance.” – Electric Playground

3. Conker's Bad Fur Day

Conker's Bad Fur Day
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Description: “The day after his 21st birthday bash, Conker's sporting the worst hangover ever, and he just can't seem to find his way home. Prepare to stagger through randy, raunchy, raucous scenarios crammed full of bad manners, twisted humor, and graphic bodily functions. Unless you're a fan of violence, foul language, and racy innuendo, you'd best steer clear of this one.”

What The Critics Say: “It's a brilliantly bizarre, insanely fun 3D-platformer extraordinaire, and a wonderfully ironic swan song for the N64.” – GamePro

4. Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Rayman 2: The Great Escape
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Description: “Enter a massive 3-D action-adventure of amazing beauty and challenge. The pirate terror has enslaved the world and only Rayman's speed, agility, and magical powers can save all. Race and battle across 45 intricately designed areas – rainforests, jungles, narrow canyon passes, even into the mighty pirate ship itself.”

What The Critics Say: “This game plays as good as it looks. Rayman himself responds perfectly to the analog stick and it doesn’t take very long before controlling him becomes second nature, leaving you to focus your attention on the awe-inspiring graphics and infinitely interesting environments.” – Nintendojo

5. Donkey Kong 64

Donkey Kong 64
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Description: “K. Rool has kidnapped the Kongs! Can Donkey Kong rescue his friends, reclaim the Golden Bananas and save his homeland from certain doom? Take out some Kremlings with Chunky's Pineapple Launcher or Lanky's Trombone. Float through the air using Tiny's Ponytail Twirl. Even rocket to the sky with Diddy's Jetbarrel!”

What The Critics Say: “It's DK64‘s length that really sets it apart from any other competition in the genre. This is Rare's War and Peace, it's that simple.” – IGN

6. Banjo-Tooie

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Description: “Two years after Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo and the gang are playing cards when an earthquake happens. Eagerly Mumbo goes out to investigate. He sees two hideous witches reviving Grunty. Mumbo goes back to investigate. Grunty shoots a laser beam at Banjo's house. Mumbo warns everyone but Bottles doesn't believe him. Grunty blows up Banjo's house with Bottles inside and sets off to get her body back. Motivated by revenge Banjo sets out to stop Grunty and revive Bottles.”

What The Critics Say: “Not only do the controls harbor the utmost precision, but the camera has been refined as well.” – Gaming Age

7. Castlevania

Castlevania 64
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Description: “Take control of Reinhardt Schneider, a whip-toting Vampire Killer who has waited his whole life to meet his destiny, or Carrie Fernandez, a young girl with a strong magical presence who is mysteriously drawn to Dracula's evil Castlevania. It is their duty to seek out Castlevania and put an end to its residents' plans. What is your destiny?”

What The Critics Say: “A gorgeous rendition of the old Castlevania tale. Castlevania’s a 3D platform spectacle that definitely warrants a good look from N64 owners everywhere–you won’t find better hauntings than this one.” – GamePro

8. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
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Description: “Dart past enemies, soar the skies and swim the depths of the ocean as Kirby takes on Dark Matter in an all-new adventure. Inhale, exhale and swallow your enemies, then copy and combine their abilities and use them as your own! Team up with familiar friends and foes – like Waddle Dee and King Dedede – as you travel through dreamy worlds in search of the lost Crystal Shards.”

What The Critics Say: “A short but sweet platformer that, unlike Kirby, definitely does not suck.” – Electronic Gaming Monthly [Jan 2004, p.189]

9. Space Station Silicon Valley

Space Station Silicon Valley
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Description: “Silicon Valley was intended to be the most technologically advanced amusement park civilization has ever known. Shortly after take-off, it disappeared. Now, in the year 3000, it's back and on a collision course with Earth! It's up to you to conquer the 30 levels in four incredibly lavish environments, take control of the totally original, wacky and – at times – life-threatening characters and unlock the mysteries of the Valley. It's all great fun but remember, the fate of the world is in your hands!”

What The Critics Say: “This game is an absolute gem that truly emphasizes old-school gameplay mechanics in a stylized 3D world – all with a wicked sense of humor and loads of animals to kill.” – IGN

10. Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine

Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine
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Description: “Grab your whip and fedora and join Indy in a globe-spanning race to unearth the mysterious “Infernal Machine.” Survive the challenges of unusual beasts, half the Red Army, and more (including – oh no – snakes!). Puzzle your way through 17 chapters of an action-packed story. Travel the world to exotic locales, from the ruins of Babylon to Egyptian deserts.”

What The Critics Say: “The ‘Tomb Raider' that Nintendo 64 owners never got. It's a complex, sometimes downright difficult puzzle-filled action-adventure with beautiful visuals and a fun storyline.” – IGN

Honorable Mentions

Those are our picks for the “must-have” platforming games on the N64, but there are still plenty of recommended picks worth picking up.

These are just a handful of quality recommendations – if interested, click the links to see pricing at eBay: