Yesterday, Nintendo made an announcement many were expecting – that they will be continuing their “Nintendo Classic Mini” line of shrunken down retro offerings with a micro-console based on their iconic Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Amidst the hype of being able to play Star Fox 2 for the first time ever, many have also speculated about the future of this line – whether it will extend to the company’s 64-bit console.
Unfortunately, a lot of the N64 Mini related speculation I’ve seen has largely started and ended with lamenting the presumed absence of titles developed by Rare Ltd., who were formerly pretty buddy-buddy with Nintendo, but are now a first-party developer for competitor Microsoft. This is of course understandable, as they produced some of the N64’s most noteworthy titles like Banjo-Kazooie and GoldenEye 007, but could the absence of Rare spell doom and gloom for an N64 Mini? Definitely not – and here’s a list of titles a potential system could have:
The Big Guns:
Nintendo are in the fortunate position of easily having the most prolific intellectual property library of any developer and two of their most well-known had N64 entries considered some of the greatest games of all time: Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Those two would no doubt lead the PR campaign for a hypothetical N64 Mini, but they aren’t the only heavy hitters the console had (yes, even when excluding sequel Majora’s Mask – although I hope an N64 Mini won’t!).
Speaking of heavy-hitters, the system saw the beginning of beloved fighting franchise Super Smash Bros. (which I have fond memories of opening on my 8th birthday – I’m 25 now). Developed by HAL Laboratory, who also worked on Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the game was great to play with friends – as were Mario Golf, Mario Kart 64, Mario Tennis and Mario Party (1-4, although 2 is my personal fave). For those looking for a more engrossing experience, you could witness the tale of Paper Mario or listen to Yoshi’s Story. Given its recent Wii U Virtual Console release, perhaps we could even see the return of Donkey Kong 64 (although Diddy Kong Racing might still be a pipe dream).
Deeper Into Nintendo’s Library
Beyond their biggest brands, the N64 is also home to celebrated entries in some of Nintendo’s other franchises – some of which haven’t seen a new game in a generation or two. The most notable of these being the glorious F-Zero X, while others have seen recent revivals like Pilotwings 64 or renewed public interest, including Star Fox 64. Others, like Excitebike 64 and Sin & Punishment have received subtle nods of late, so could also make the cut. Perhaps even a quick check-up with Dr. Mario 64 could be on the cards?
The bigger question, would be Pokémon. While there would certainly be demand for Pokémon Stadium or its sequel, the hardware will likely be unable to communicate with the Game Boy games’ recent 3DS ports, removing their purpose for existing (aside from those rad mini-games). A safer option would be the beloved Pokémon Snap, although Nintendo could always throw in Pokémon Puzzle League to sweeten us up a bit.
With both the NES and SNES Mini systems, Nintendo have successfully negotiated for the inclusion of key third-party franchises including Capcom’s Street Fighter and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy, but this is an area where the Big N may admittedly hit a wall.
At the time, Square and others had jumped ship to Sony’s PlayStation, although notable publishers did remain. A large number of the N64’s third-party games however, are licensed properties such as Star Wars: Rogue Squadron or from companies who later faced complicated futures, including my beloved Chameleon Twist. It’s not all doom and gloom however.
Natsume recently made a great effort in re-releasing Harvest Moon 64 on the Wii U Virtual Console, marking its first release in Europe, so we may see it crop up again here. Ubisoft could also revive a once age-old universal law that every console must have a Rayman 2: The Great Escape port and Konami could deliver with Bomberman 64 (or maybe even Castlevania, which is yet to receive a Virtual Console release). Capcom have been a strong supporter of Nintendo’s other micro consoles, so perhaps Mega Man 64 could also make a surprise appearance?
Counting the titles indicated in bold, that brings us to 25 possible games that may be included – higher than that of the SNES Mini. Although it’s possible that with the increased size of games and the need to keep these plug-in-and-play devices cost effective, we may get a smaller number (Say, 10-15?). Regardless of the final count however, one thing is clear: an N64 Mini could still be a great micro-console even without Rare’s games (although Nintendo and Microsoft – a deal would be super awesome).
What Nintendo 64 games would you like to see on a potential micro-system?