The 1990s were a golden era for videogames, transitioning from 16-bit 2D gaming into 3D. No other console encapsulated this trend quite like the Nintendo 64, with iconic games that became firm fan favourites. However, as we all know, the N64 wasn’t a particularly successful console. Because while rivals like Sony’s PlayStation and Sega Saturn turned to disc-based formats, Nintendo stuck with cartridges which were expensive to produce. This meant it attracted fewer third-party developers giving the N64 a smaller library of games.
On the other hand, the games that did arrive – mostly first-party Nintendo titles – were some of the best around. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time constantly topped ‘Best Games of All Time’ lists, and titles like GoldenEye 007 continue to entertain to this day. But when you compare N64 games to the numbers the Best Selling Xbox 360 Games managed to achieve they are leagues apart.
The 10 Best Selling N64 Games of All Time
- Super Mario 64
- Mario Kart 64
- GoldenEye 007
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Super Smash Bros
- Pokémon Stadium
- Donkey Kong 64
- Diddy Kong Racing
- Star Fox 64 (aka Lylat Wars)
10 Best Selling N64 Games: What Do They Mean to You?
Super Mario 64 – 11.91 Million Units Sold
Super Mario 64 was the videogame that put 3D gaming into the hands of 90s kids worldwide. Until the arrival of Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64 was the main reason to buy an N64 in the first place. Nintendo’s beloved character has graced numerous videogames, seen the Mushroom Kingdom turned into a real-life theme park and now finally had a successful film with Super Mario Bros. Movie. But when it came to innovation and showcasing what that N64 controller could do, Super Mario 64 was it.
Mario Kart 64 – 9.87 Million Units Sold
No surprise then that the second most popular videogame on the N64 was another Mario title, this time Mario Kart 64. The original Super Mario Kart for the SNES was huge and fans really wanted a sequel. And they got it, with Mario Kart 64 providing players with new gameplay options and better graphics. Adding 3D features such as elevation, the title introduced the mini-turbo boosts from drifting as well as a 4-player split screen mode.
GoldenEye 007 – 8.09 Million Units Sold
Back when British developer Rare made some of the best games for Nintendo consoles the studio came out with the officially licensed GoldenEye 007. While Doom was the flashpoint for first-person shooters, GoldenEye 007 became the FPS ever other developer aspired to emulate. Perfectly encapsulating the movie locations, the single-player campaign was a lot of fun. But the real joy – and longevity – came from the local multiplayer mode. The game was such a hit that it was recently remade for modern consoles, which you can read about in Chit Hot’s GoldenEye 007 review. And don’t miss our Complete GoldenEye 007 Walkthrough Guide if you get stuck.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – 7.6 Million Units Sold
All the above games are star attractions in their own right but The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is in a league of its own. This is kind of why it’s such a surprise the game only reached number four. Mario is Nintendo’s biggest character, however, The Legend of Zelda has to be the company’s most successful IP worldwide. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time pushed new boundaries in gameplay design, beautiful, engrossing and easily replayable, it is still highly regarded to this day. And the franchise is stronger than ever, just look at all the hype for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer.
Super Smash Bros – 5.55 Million Units Sold
There’s been racing, adventuring and shooting so now let’s have another genre; fighting. As the name clearly indicates, Super Smash Bros was a beat-em-up which mashed together all of Nintendo’s characters. In the same way, GoldenEye 007 and Mario Kart 64 made use of the four controller ports, Super Smash Bros was all about getting your friends together, picking your favourite character and seeing how long you could stay alive. Unlike brutal fighters of the era (Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct) Super Smash Bros was in keeping with Nintendo’s family-friendly focus. No one died, you just got knocked off the level to return moments later. It led to some fantastically hectic battles.
Pokémon Stadium – 5.46 Million Units Sold
No Nintendo console would be complete without a Pokémon game and the most successful on N64 was Pokémon Stadium. It was a 3D turn-based battling system using the 151 Pokémon from the Game Boy games. Pokémon Stadium‘s unique feature was the Transfer Pak accessory that came bundled with the game. This allowed players to insert Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, or Pokémon Yellow into their N64 to view, organize, store, trade, and battle their Pokémon.
Donkey Kong 64 – 5.27 Million Units Sold
Rare’s next instalment on this list – and not the last – is Donkey Kong 64. The studio had already been successful with its Donkey Kong Country games but Donkey Kong 64 – much like Super Mario 64 – when fully 3D with an open world to explore. Offering five playable characters, mini-games and a multiplayer mode it was well-received by critics and fans alike. Donkey Kong 64 was also one of the few games to use the N64’s Expansion PaK accessory, boosting the RAM for better graphics.
Diddy Kong Racing – 4.88 Million Units Sold
N64 owners looking for a rival to Mario Kart 64 had the option of Rare’s Diddy Kong Racing instead. Released in 1997 and themed around Diddy Kong and his friends, Diddy Kong Racing offered a feature Mario Kart 64 didn’t, different vehicles. Set on Timber’s Island with an actual storyline where Kong had to defeat intergalactic antagonist Wizpig through races, the game swapped between cars, hovercrafts and planes.
Star Fox 64 (aka Lylat Wars) – 4 Million Units Sold
The second instalment in the series, Star Fox 64 was an on-rail shooter where you played as Fox McCloud piloting a Arwing. Most of the game sees you fly through levels in a “Corridor Mode”, dodging obstacles and blasting enemies. However, during boss fights and multiplayer the game would switch to “All-Range Mode” giving players far greater freedom. Star Fox 64 also introduced a new vehicle, a tank, which players could switch to in certain scenarios. Not one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, even so, it’s nice to see Star Fox 64 make the best selling list.
Banjo-Kazooie – 3.65 Million Units Sold
Lastly, at number ten is another Rare game! Banjo-Kazooie was an original IP created by the studio, spawning several iterations for years to come. Released in 1998, Banjo-Kazooie is an open-world adventure featuring the bear Banjo and the bird Kazooie. Across nine worlds, the aim was to save Banjo’s kidnapped sister Tooty from the witch Gruntilda. Considered one of Rare’s best games, Banjo-Kazooie, like most titles on this list, was a must-have purchase for any N64 owner at the time.
So that completes our list of the best selling N64 games of all time. Which were your favourite titles? Let us know in the comments below! Or take a look at the Best Selling PlayStation 2 Games of all time.