Super Nintendo vs Nintendo 64: Who has the Best RPG Games
With hits like Mario 64, Super Smash Bros, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the N64 was one of the most popular and successful consoles ever. But why didn’t we ever see Final Fantasy 64, Chrono Trigger 64, or even Earthbound 64? Where are all the N64 RPG games?
For that matter, when you compare RPGs from Super Nintendo vs Nintendo 64, it looks downright ridiculous. Case in point: SNES gave us two of the best RPGs ever made, Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, plus hundreds of other RPG hits.
In contrast, Nintendo 64 gave us the infamous RPG dud, Quest 64. That’s about it.
What happened? Who’s to blame?
Also, are there any Nintendo 64 RPGs worth playing? Find out below.
Nintendo 64: The Pinnacle of Nintendo
As far as console gaming history is concerned, the Nintendo 64 is significant for a lot of reasons. As mentioned, it was extremely popularwhen it was released. Nintendo produced a veritable torrent of hit N64 games to flood the gaming market.
To be clear, the console had some of the best first-party exclusive games of all time—many that still remain classics to this day. In case you’re unaware, "first-party" refers to games that are made by the same company that makes the console on which the games are played.
Nintendo 64: The Decline of Nintendo
But, unfortunately for Nintendo, it wasn’t enough. The problem was that they lost almost all of their third-party game developers to the PlayStation and other consoles.
These developers didn’t like the fact that the N64 uses cartridges instead of discs, which were the new standard format. Namely, the N64 cartridges have far less storage space than CD-ROMs.
Game developers were so limited by the cartridge format that they left Nintendo for consoles like PlayStation, which allowed them more freedom. Thus, the N64’s release also marked the moment when Nintendo started to lose its grip on the video game industry it once dominated.
The Glory Days of Nintendo RPGs (SNES)
Previously, the Nintendo Entertainment System and its successor, the Super Nintendo, essentially annihilated all competition. Though the Sega Genesis certainly put up a fight, it couldn't compete with the wide variety of first and third-party games that Nintendo made available to consumers.
More to the point, the Super Nintendo had established a long history of quality RPGs. This included some of the biggest games, such as the first few Final Fantasy games and the incredible classic Chrono Trigger. Other notable titles include hybrid RPGs like Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Earthbound.
Additionally, due to heavy third-party support, lesser-known SNES RPGs abound by the hundreds. This includes Secret of Evermore, Illusion of Gaia, Star Ocean, and Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen.
The Suddenly Enormous Competition
Although this genre has always been fairly popular with hardcore gamers, one title in particular caused it to explode during the mid-1990s. Released for the Sony PlayStation in 1997, Final Fantasy VII made the role-playing game genre popular with a more casual gaming audience as well.
Before this, most Japanese RPGs were deemed too obscure or complicated for North American audiences. Now, gamers in the United States were begging Japan for more RPGs.
All at once, the Sony PlayStation was overflowing with RPGs of varying qualities. And since compact discs held a dramatically larger amount of information than cartridges, the games could be much longer and more detailed.
Longer & More Complex Games
RPG games of this era took dozens of hours to complete, which made them an incredible value compared to the games of previous generations. Even a game as expansive as Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Nintendo NES can be beaten in only a few hours.
Final Fantasy VII, on the other hand, takes anywhere from 30 to 60 hours to complete. That’s only if you don't spend too much time on the dozens of side quests and mini-games that are included.
Another reason why these amazing games became so popular was that they told such deep and dramatic stories. Prior to this, gamers didn’t expect a lot of plots, nor did they receive it. Now, gamers looked forward to intricate character details and gripping storylines.
Where Are All the N64 RPG Games?
Meanwhile, at the very moment when gamers were desperately seeking their next RPG fix, they realized that Nintendo 64 was experiencing an RPG drought. It certainly didn't have any titles that matched the massive popularity and incredibly high quality of Square's Final Fantasy VII.
Now, you’d think that Nintendo would try to make up for the lack of third-party RPGs by making some of their own. But, strangely, they made almost no effort to do this at all. Instead, they doubled down on their efforts to produce loads of action/adventure games and, for some reason, racing games.
Don’t get us wrong, most of these games are excellent. Still, the list of N64 RPGs is so short it’s legitimately shocking.
There are literally only 3 true RPG games released on N64 in North America: Quest 64, Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage, and Paper Mario.
Aside from these, there are a few games that have RPG elements but don’t actually qualify as RPGs. These include Atari’s Gauntlet Legends, Shadowgate 64, and Konami’s Hybrid Heaven.
Are These N64 RPGs Any Good?
Of the 3 RPGs on N64, only one is worth playing. Namely, Paper Mario, the sequel to Super Mario RPG, is just as excellent as its SNES predecessor. The other two RPGs are generally considered slow, shallow, and boring.
What’s the Bottom Line?
While the N64 has won a lot of popularity contests, “Best Console For RPGs” is not one of them. Because of the physical and storage limitations of cartridges, Nintendo had to concede the RPG genre to Sony for an entire generation. Nor could the limited list of N64 RPG games live up to the expectations of long-time SNES RPG fans.
So, if you want to play the best RPGs ever made, check out our SNES and PlayStation games for sale. Or, forget RPGs and check out awesome N64 titles like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.