Super Smash Bros. - As I wrote about in Part One, the N64 was the go-to system for me and my friends at the time. There were typically seven of us so we'd sit down with a four-player game like GoldenEye 007 or Super Smash Bros. and compete. Four of us would play while the other three would sit around watching and at the end of a match, the winner would get to stay on and the other three would switch out with the spectators. If you were really good at something, you could wrack up the streaks and just keep going. My best shots at these kinds of winning streaks were typically games like Wrestlemania 2000 or that horrible South Park game.
But even if I wasn't the dominant player, Super Smash Bros. lands on this list because it provided endless hours of fun and was the only game that ever really properly dethroned GoldenEye 007 as our go-to sleepover game. The idea of pitting iconic Nintendo characters against each other was insanely enjoyable, even back then with the limited 12-character roster (back when even Luigi was one of the characters you had to unlock). Pikachu or Kirby were my mains and to this day, I have never been able to successfully PK Thunder myself a double jump with Ness in any version of the game.
NFL Blitz - When we didn't have the full cohort of friends, NFL Blitz was a great one-on-one option. Now I've never followed football all too closely (growing up in the 90s with the Cardinals as your home team will do that to you, even if they've been relatively good in recent years), but I enjoyed playing it, especially with the super-arcadey Blitz series. You'll probably never find me getting into Madden but if a new version of NFL Blitz game out and I could just go crazy with big head and turbo cheats again, I'd consider it.
Snowboard Kids - So if you haven't realized by now, I would classify myself as having very "mainstream" tastes for the most part. Between the "popular" games and the "super niche" games on a given platform, I probably played more of the former. But occasionally random niche games will completely win me over and looking through my collection, Snowboard Kids fits that bill nicely. Someone simplistic compared to other games in the genre like 1080° Snowboarding or the SSX games, Snowboard Kids (and Snowboard Kids 2) had a place in the Starkey household because of its cast of colorful, cartoony characters. I could sit down with my father or my sister and race down the slopes, down weird little tricks the whole way down, even though I've never once been skiing or snowboarding in real life. Yay video games!
Paper Mario - As I finished up this list, I started comparing my collection with the wider list of other N64 games and came to the realization that this system, probably more than any other, was the one where my family really saved money renting games from places like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. Paper Mario was one such game. I don't actually own a copy of it but I have many memories of playing it thanks to the Blockbuster down the street from my parents' house.
The spiritual successor of one of my favorite Super Nintendo games, Paper Mario took some the RPG elements of Super Mario RPG, even as it went in a wildly different direction with the art-style. And that decision does a great job giving it an almost timeless look. Much like my favorite games of the SNES/2D-era, the Paper Mario games all feel like they age far better than their 3D contemporaries.
- Diddy Kong Racing: Because I played that, but never any of the Banjo Kazooie or Conker games.
- Beetle Adventure Racing: Because it was a game specifically designed around racing VW Bugs.
- Perfect Dark: Because I know critically it is a better designed game than GoldenEye 007 but I didn't have enough distinct memories of the game to warrant it getting it's own entry.