With Mario Karo 64 and F-Zero X now on Nintendo Switch, via Online + Expansion Pass, these are the N64 games we’d like to see join them.
Nintendo Online Membership has been giving us some NES and SNES classics for a while now, but the second recent level: the ‘Expansion Pack’: It has also opened the Mega Drive and N64 titles.
Initially let down by the imperfect emulation (who knew so many people cared so much about Zelda fogging?!), a recent update has made the service much more authentic and also improved input latency.
And what does better input latency mean? Racing games are much more likely to perform well on the service. We already have good versions of Mario Kart 64 and F-Zero X, but what other titles in the old N64 library would be ready to convert to the service?
Well, with no goggles of nostalgia clouding my vision (I was, after all, a Sega kid), here’s a list of titles still worth playing today.
wave race 64
Wave Race 64 is still a beautiful example of a blue sky game. Every new generation of consoles has a game that shows off its water effects, but Wave Race 64’s are so good they weren’t even bettered by its Gamecube sequel.
You really get immersed in this water as your Jet Ski navigates huge and dynamic waves. The pre-race presentation of a calm day and incidental flourishes like dolphins leaping through the water add to the allure as Wave Race 64 stands the test of time better than many 3D games of the same era.
That said, the frame rate isn’t that great and the blurriness of the visuals might put off modern gamers today, but both of these could be easily fixed on an emulated Switch port. Since the franchise is wholly owned by Nintendo, there’s a good chance this will show up at some point in the not-too-distant future.
G II end
The original Extreme G offered something of a two-wheel version of Wipeout, but it’s pretty basic by today’s standards. However, its first sequel clearly laid the groundwork for our favorite in the series, namely the PS2-era Xtreme G III.
Xtreme G II on N64 has a lot going for it with bold visuals, an exciting track layout with loops, jump ramps, banking and forks in the road, combined with a healthy dose of speed. The lighting still looks good as you progress through the low-poly environments, but more importantly the density of the game remains today.
There’s always something to do, and it’s the twitch reaction center, which would benefit from the Switch’s tighter controls compared to the N64’s rather loose analog stick. Again, smoothing out the graphical edges of this one on Switch would be very welcome, but either way, it would fit nicely on console in handheld play.
Ridge Racer 64
The fact that the Ridge Racer series hasn’t had a proper entry for a decade at this point is one of gaming’s most heinous crimes. But the existing catalog is divided into two distinct game types: the original versions that favored racing lines and backbends, and the drift/boost focused RR6/7 and handheld versions.
The N64 version represents one of the most ingenious realizations of the original game, complete with that classic seaside route through the tunnel from the arcade game, over the… well, the crest, and out along the coast.
Things soon veer away from the expected basic arcade conversion, with new, much faster cars and some really fun tracks with some pretty silly jumps at times. The emulated versions look great, which bodes well for this…provided Namco is happy to accept the license, of course. We live in hope.
exciting bike 64
This one is often overlooked when discussing N64 gaming, but it’s aging nicely. Where modern motocross games have hugely unforgiving physics, this game prefers gameplay, making it much more fun for a novice, though there are still plenty of falls to endure if you’re not careful.
Also, despite its diminutive polygon count, the game still looks good thanks to a smooth frame rate and the fact that stadium bleachers never disappear, instead limiting the pull of the closest stage. It’s a clever trick, leaving the screen always filled with smoothly scaled polygonal 3D.
The track’s design soon grows out of the confines of the stadium and embraces outdoor and industrial settings as well, with concrete pipes to duck down and steel beams to climb. It’s commendably complex and still rooted in that beautiful ‘solid’ feel that N64 games often have.
Cruis’n USA and its aftermath
The Switch received an unexpectedly awesome sequel to Cruis’n last year with Cruisn’ Blast, but if you look back at the series with its three N64 installments, you can see the DNA of the recent game definitely present in Cruis’n Exotica.
With faster action than most N64 titles, but still nicely solid 3D and decent draw distance, it’s one of the arcade racing games you’ll find without the word ‘Sega’ written on it. But is Exotica the one we’d want on Switch Online?
Probably yes, as it has more than the original Nintendo/Midway coin machine conversion. But with that said, it was Cruisn’ USA that first came to the Wii Virtual Console, and in terms of the company’s history, it was that game that took on the likes of Daytona USA in arcades in the early days. from the 90s, so I’ll probably watch it first. Let’s cross our fingers that all three make it at some point, as they all have merit.
eruption on highway 64
Another series that really needs a new entry, Road Rash managed to go fully 3D after its 16-bit heyday and did so on N64.
Looking at it now, this game really does a lot of things well. It still has rolling hills and wide roads, and maneuvering around your rivals before hitting them in the face with a piece of pipe is arguably more manageable than in Mega Drive, even if the riders don’t visibly react as you’d expect. to the rather extreme assault.
It would be awesome if a new generation of gamers were introduced to Road Rash via Switch, even if Road Rash II was a better way to do it.
drivers world championship
The N64 doesn’t have many serious racers in its library, especially few that have dared to challenge Sony’s Gran Turismo at its own game.
But this one had an impressively decent backstab. In fact, smooth and solid graphics coupled with an expansive career mode, using some 10 locations across various layouts, means there’s a lot more to this one than you might expect.
Given an HD facelift via Switch Emulation, this would still be a perfectly serviceable portable racer, certainly better than a lot of the scum in the eShop right now. Their cars are also unlicensed, which would certainly work in their favor in terms of securing a 2022 relaunch.
It came out late in the life of the N64 though, so whether it has enough fans or garnered enough attention to justify the effort is another question, but I’d still like to play it on Switch.
One of the best Dreamcast launch games also got a decent conversion to N64. The speedboat gameplay is super fun, with limited time turbo boost trucks scattered around the tracks.
There are some massive jumps, a kind of ‘jump’ move that lets you get out of the water momentarily to get into shortcuts, and a wry sense of humour.
The last level is a corker, but the entire game is packed with classic, non-stop arcade action from Midway that deserves another chance to shine, especially since its gameplay remains as fresh today as ever.
Micro Machines 64 Turbo
And finally, how about some lovely Micro Machines action? Based on Micro Machines V3 on PlayStation, this N64 ‘Turbo’ version fixes the biggest flaw in Sony’s offering by smoothing out the frame rate considerably.
The result is a fun, fast-moving racer, although it could use a map of the track, as the zoomed-in action makes it quite difficult to see the upcoming corners.
Still, multiplayer action would be a perfect fit on the Switch, especially since eight-player pad sharing could theoretically be done with eight JoyCons (still recognized as four shared controllers), and some less blurry visuals would be a bonus.
Micro Machines just hasn’t been done right for a long time, but this is one of the best versions.
You may be wondering why Diddy Kong Racing is not on this list. Well, that’s because we’re giving that game its own lookback article, so instead of reading about it twice, you can just do Diddy justice by reading it this time next week.
In the meantime, let us know what you think would be worth bringing to the service in the comments below.