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Best of the Best: The Great N64 Debate

By Tim Schuldt
September 17, 2018

It’s no surprise that when all the dust has settled, the two N64 games that continue to make it to the top of the list are Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. Sure, there were a lot of other great N64 games…Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye, 1080 Snowboarding, Star Fox 64, Super Smash Bros. I could go on, as could the rest of us with our childhood favorites. But which of these two is the best of the best? Our friends over at NormalBoots break it down for us.

One of the first arguments that’s made is which did more to transport their respective franchise into the 3-D space that the N64 created? A very strong argument for Mario is made, due to the creators almost reinventing the franchise in Mario 64. For OoT, while it introduced new features (hookshot, hover boots, horse riding, swimming, etc.), it still very much feels like a Zelda game in its puzzles and adventures…especially due to what Nintendo did with establishing the Zelda adventure in Link to the Past on SNES.

Their next point is in terms of replay ability. With Mario 64, the group points out that you always know where you are and what you have to do. Once you hear those notes play once you jump into the paintings, you instantly remember what you have to do, where you have to go, where the red coins are…it’s like riding a bike. With Ocarina of Time, I don’t know about you, but I never remember anything about the Water Temple ever. It feels like I have to beat it for the first time every time.

In terms of the game rewarding the player, there is such a build up with Ocarina of Time in order to beat each dungeon and complete each side quest, you literally sigh in relief when somethings gets completed. With Mario 64, there is not that stressful build up to getting a star or beating Bowser. There is so much flexibility in between all of those parts that the game almost doesn’t allow you to stress over the completion because there is so much flexibility on where to go and when. OoT is much more structured and linear in terms of what you have to do and where you have to go, but also so much more satisfying when you do get that new item or beat that dungeon boss.

In the end, we will all draw our own conclusions on what we feel makes a game the “best”. That’s the beauty of both of these games…is that it allows the player the freedom to choose what kind of adventure they want to go on. Check out the video below or on YouTube here to see how these guys voted and to see if you agree with their assessment.