The N64 may have gone the way of the dodo, but its spirit can still be found in these 2017 games.
To be more specific, it’s that the 3D platforming genre – pioneered by Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie in the late ‘90s – that’s making a comeback. It was incredibly popular back then, garnering the sort of attention that is now typically reserved for first-person shooter games. In fact, Steve Mayles, Character Artist on Yooka-Laylee and of former Rare fame, recently stated in an interview that part of the reason why he thinks 3D platformers died off was because there were simply too many of them.
Roughly 20 years later, people are clearly ready to explore the genre once again. Nostalgia is undoubtedly fueling this, but the fact that there’s now a huge indie game scene and the option to crowdfund projects also means that it’s viable for development studios to invest their time and effort into such games.
We’ve compiled a list of a few new and upcoming N64-inspired games you may want to check out this year. Is there one in particular you’re really looking forward to playing? If so, let us know on Twitter.
A Hat in Time
Indie developer Gears for Breakfast received nearly 10 times more funding than it originally requested when it kickstarted its upcoming 3D platformer, A Hat in Time, back in May 2013.
Pitched as a 3D collectathon platformer that draws inspiration directly from Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, A Hat in Time puts you in control of Hat Kid, a girl who wears a magical hat that can be upgraded with badges to help her defeat enemies. The aim of the game is to collect hourglass-shaped fuel for her spaceship, while ensuring the evil Mustache Girl doesn’t get her grubby mitts on any.
The game sports a visual resemblance to The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and will include five game worlds to explore (with more coming after release in the form of free DLC). There’s even split-screen and local co-op play.
A specific release date has not yet been announced, but we should hopefully see A Hat in Time launch this year. The game is currently only planned to come to PC. A beta release is currently available, but you’ll need to pre-order the game to play it.
- Find out more on A Hat in Time’s official website
Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap
At first glance, Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap looks to offer the most authentic N64-esque experience as a result of its accurate low-poly look and feel.
Developed by Marcus Horn and his indie studio SIACTRO, the game is actually a sequel to Kiwi 64: a simple, one-level tribute to Banjo-Kazooie. This mini-game was warmly received by a lot of people, which spurred on Marcus to make a bigger version of a game that captures the same essence of the N64 games he enjoyed as child.
Macbat 64’s biggest influence is Conker’s Bad Fur Day, although not because of its offensive or scatological humour. Rather, it’s the way in which the eponymous hero encounters different, often weird scenarios. There’s even a kart-racing section!
Macbat 64 also has a much lower asking price than other games in our list – you’ve also got to bear in mind it’s developed by a much smaller team. It’s available on PC and you can purchase it from Steam now.
Yooka-Laylee isn’t just inspired by old-school N64 3D platformers: it’s made the very people who created Banjo-Kazooie. The project went up on Kickstarter on 1 May 2015, and within only 40 minutes it had reached its initial funding goal of £175,000. It then went on to attract over £2 million in pledges.
You only have to take one look at Yooka-Laylee to see that it is clearly a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. The starring characters, Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat, work in tandem together much like the classic bear and bird did. They must work together to travel through various worlds, collecting a ton of items along the way in a bid to defeat the evil Capital B. The game also features music by legendary Rare composers Grant Kirkhope (Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye 007) and David Wise (Diddy Kong Racing).
Due to release in April 2017, the game is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It was originally planned to release on Wii U, but got cancelled. A Nintendo Switch version is in the works, but specific release details have not yet been announced.
- Check out the Yooka-Laylee game page on Playtonic Games’ website.
Is there a modern N64-inspired game we’ve missed?
If so, let us know on Twitter.