The Best N64 Fighting Games

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The Nintendo 64, released in 1996, was Nintendo’s first venture into the world of polygonal, 3D graphics. Players had seen nothing like it before, with significantly better processing power than the PlayStation which came out the year before. Gamers could now explore the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, and many more in full 3D, each showing off new, fleshed out environments that immersed players in the new dimension. Some of the most iconic games and franchises were released on the N64 including Banjo-Kazooie, Super Smash Bros., and Animal Crossing in Japan. The N64 was truly revolutionary in the gaming industry, with its flagship titles still getting remasters today.

Fighting games have been at the core of the gaming world since the golden age of the arcade. Players are constantly trying to show off their skills in one on one combat with awesome characters, cool arenas, and impossible combos. With the jump to 3D, developers needed to devise a way to transfer the beloved 2D fighting genre into a 3D world while still retaining the excitement previous titles had. The Nintendo 64 showcased just that, with great leaps into the world of 3D fighting games with landmark titles like Killer Instinct Gold, Super Smash Bros., and Clayfighter. Many of the titles on the N64 have continued today as some of the best in the genre.

Super Smash Bros.

It would be insane if we did not start off this list with one of the most influential and exciting fighting series to date. Super Smash Bros. was one of the first of its kind. Up to four players can fight on a stage in which they can use items or parts of the stage to launch enemies off-screen to their doom. Players will use special moves to build up power in order to throw their foes further off the stage.

There are twelve iconic Nintendo characters to choose from across nine stages located throughout the world of Nintendo. This title has created a long-running series of games with a dedicated fanbase.

Killer Instinct Gold

Based on the arcade classic Killer Instinct 2, Killer Instinct Gold brings Rare’s arcade fighting action to the N64 with plenty of carnage for everyone. This title plays more like standard one on one fighters in which players will fight in a 2D plane, facing each other.

There are eleven weird and wonderful characters to choose from, each with their own special combos and moves. The stages are also just as strange, letting players fight anywhere from the jungle to a spaceship. This title is an awesome arcade-style fighter and will have players sucked into its weirdness and fun.

Flying Dragon

Flying Dragon is the N64’s perfect combination of a fighting game and an RPG. Some players may recognize this series from the NES days as this title is a continuation of the original 8-bit game. There are two different modes that players will be able to experience.

The SD mode contains a lot of the RPG elements, with players able to take their character from fight to fight, gaining experience and getting stronger along the way. There are also items that the player can acquire in this mode, supplying their character with better equipment and weaponry. A sequel for this title released a year later, updating some of the mechanics in this title.

Rakuga Kids

This title is one of the best 2D fighters on the N64. With mechanics similar to that of Street Fighter, this quirky title is a blast to play and has an awesome art style. The characters in this game look like something a child would draw with crayons, but stylized well enough to make the game look clean and quirky.

There are seven unique characters to choose from, all of which have their own special moves and “Magic”, this game’s version of super combos. While this title is one of Konami’s lesser known games, it is definitely a must-play for hardcore and casual gamers alike.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy

One of the best Mortal Kombat games out there, Mortal Kombat Trilogy is an update to the classic Mortal Kombat 3 with updated stages and characters from the previous two entries. The original gameplay elements that made fans fall in love with this brutal series have been kept the same, with some new additions to refresh the franchise.

There are 32 recognizable characters available to play as from the start, with even more characters available as unlockables. A new feature in this game is the Aggressor Gauge, which fills as attacks are launched. Once full, special attacks will do more damage and change the course of the battle. Mortal Kombat Trilogy could not be recommended enough.

Fighter’s Destiny

Fighter’s Destiny is the N64’s Virtua Fighter, but with enough elements to make this game stand on its own. This title has been praised as one of the best fighting games on the system, so much so that it received a sequel in 2000.

One feature that makes this game stand apart from other fighting games of the era is its point system. By knocking an opponent out or pulling off various specials, the player will receive points in order to win. There are also five different modes to play through, each offering different ways to play and characters to unlock. This an awesome title for N64 players looking for a good fighting game to sink a lot of time into.

Clayfighter 63⅓

This is another one of the few N64 exclusive 2D fighters. Some players may recognize this series from the days of the SNES. Clayfighter is known for its fantastic claymation to animate its fighters beautifully.

This title started as a parody of Street Fighter, and has kept many of those elements in this entry. The arenas are beautiful as well, each one containing multiple rooms in which players can bust through and continue the fight in another part of the stage. The combo system is a parody of Killer Instinct, each combo poking fun at the game. This is an awesome and unique title that is a must-play for N64 fans.

  • Updated September 3, 2020