So you can scratch that role-playing itch
The Nintendo 64 had a limited but powerful library of historic games, but it isn’t known for its RPG collection. If you’re looking for turn-based games, the options will be few and far between—but if you want to sink your teeth into some of the best action RPGs of all time, you’re in luck.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, across all genres. You take on the role of Link, the Hero of Time, and face off against one of the greatest threats the Kingdom of Hyrule has ever seen. As an action RPG, the player explores dungeons, solves puzzles, and defeats bosses in real time.
You do not level up in the conventional sense, but Link grows stronger by finding heart containers to increase his maximum health and items that allow him to access new areas and obtain stronger abilities.
Quest 64 is one of those Nintendo 64 RPG games that many people have heard of, but not as many have played. It also wins an award for having the most generic name for a protagonist. You play as Brian, an apprentice mage in a fictional version of Ireland. You set off in search of your father, who has gone on his own journey to find a powerful magic book.
Quest 64’s gameplay is more traditional. Combat is turn-based rather than real-time, but it lacks an experience-based leveling system. Instead, stats increase depending on how you fight. If you take a lot of damage, your defense will increase. If you focus on a specific type of spell, it will grow stronger.
There’s also no money system. Instead of worrying about keeping track of your cash, every item is found as a combat reward, in a chest, or simply given to the player by an NPC. While Quest 64 doesn’t have anything resembling a good story, the gameplay is definitely worth checking out.
If you want a Nintendo 64 RPG game that feels traditional in nearly every aspect but features your favorite characters from the Mario franchise, Paper Mario is the way to go. This turn-based game set the stage for every Paper Mario title to follow, and features the same charming storylines you know and love from Mario games.
The game centers, of course, on defeating Bowser. The shelled villain has forced Princess Peach’s castle to rise into the sky and imprisoned her there. The only way to reach him is to progress through the world and defeat Bowser’s minions that guard the Star Spirits.
While Mario does grow stronger throughout the game, progression in the game often requires Mario to have a specific partner. Like most RPGs, combat is turn-based, but you can influence the strength of a move by performing a specific button input or timing the press just right.
If you’ve never played a Paper Mario game before, the original is one of the best in the series. Now is a great time to check it out, especially with a new one rumored to be on the way for the Nintendo Switch.
Ogre Battle 64: Person Of Lordly Caliber
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber has a long name, but is a cult favorite on the Nintendo 64. Rather than an action or traditional RPG, Ogre Battle 64 is a tactical RTS, or real-time strategy game. It’s not a genre combination often seen today.
You take on the role of Magnus Gallant, the commander of the Blue Knights. Civil war has erupted, and Magnus joins a revolutionary force to liberate his country. The story isn’t much to write home about, but the draw of the game isn’t the story—it’s the gameplay.
Battalions contain up to 50 members and are broken down into smaller groups called “units,” each composed of five units. One of these five units is named the leader. When battle breaks out, the view switches to an isometric perspective. Battles play out in a modified version of real-time.
Multiple units take their actions at a time. Battle ends when every member of one unit has fallen, whether your own unit or the enemy’s. The main character is also part of the battle, and if he dies, a game over screen appears.
Ogre Battle 64 has different classes that characters fall into. Characters can be switched from one class to another, with each class having different statistics that add another level of strategy to each battle.
There are a limited number of Nintendo 64 RPG games, although an argument can be made that other games also fit the bill. For example, many people say Harvest Moon 64 is a role-playing game. Either way, if you’re looking for a few fantastic RPGs to scratch the itch on a console that wasn’t heavily focused on them, try any of these four titles.
What is your favorite RPG on the N64? Let us know in the comments below.