While the N64 never had a great line-up of conventional racers, two less traditional racing games stand out. Waverace was one of the best titles in the N64 launch line-up, wowing gamers with its real-time sea dynamics, gorgeous island, river and lake courses and superb handling. Then the same team came up with 1080 Snowboarding - the first snowboarding game to really capture the look and feel of the sport. While the graphics have dated a little, it's still well worth a download on the Wii Virtual Console, while the Gamecube sequel, 1080 Avalance, is also well worth a look.
Super Smash Bros.
When Nintendo announced it was putting its beloved heroes in a fighting game, nobody sensible expected a Tekken-style brawl. Instead, HAL Laboratory delivered a knockabout scrap over nine large arenas packed with platforms, power-ups and pitfalls, around which twelve classic Nintendo characters could battle it out in furious four-player bouts. Hugely addictive and more sophisticated than it's often given credit for, Super Smash Bros. has spawned a GameCube sequel and an eagerly awaited Wii follow-up. However, it has yet to appear on the Wii Virtual Console.
For its N64 sequel to the SNES classic Pilotwings, Nintendo worked with a US simulation specialist, Paradigm, to create a free-roaming flight game that stands as one of the most relaxing games ever created. Sure, you could spend your time completing missions, hitting targets with missiles from your gyrocopter or riding thermal currents dangling from a hang glider, but there was just as much fun to be had simply exploring the game's four locations, checking out little details like Mario's head in a replication of Mount Rushmore or the whales that swim around Everfrost Island. Pilotwings has yet to make it to the Wii Virtual Console in Europe, and why Nintendo has yet to announce a Wii sequel is anyone's guess.
Coming in at the end of the N64's short lifespan, Paper Mario never received the success or the respect that it deserved. The game's quirky combination of 3D backgrounds and flat, 2D sprites still looks cool today, while the RPG gameplay and turn-based battles are made more interesting by a bizarre plot and a weird theatrical framework. Luckily, the concept was given another chance to shine on the GameCube (with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door) and the Wii (with Super Paper Mario), while the original has become one of the most successful downloads on the Wii Virtual Console. Well worth a try.