When we talk about retro role-playing games like Final Fantasy, Xenoblade, or Kingdom Hearts come to mind, which could only be found in the 90s mainly on the PlayStation.

That’s why you may have never related the classic Nintendo 64 with that genre of video games, because the truth is that they didn’t have a very wide catalog of RPGs, focusing much more on adventure and platform titles.

But the Nintendo 64 had some great RPGs that were lost over time due to the lack of similar titles on the console, and still have a community of fans today that grew up playing them.

While most players were exploring the Mushroom Kingdom or infiltrating enemy bases as Agent 007, there were a few who created their own story either as knights, mages, or a bit of everything, immersing themselves in incredible worlds full of fearsome monsters and fantastic characters with some of the best RPG games of all time. These are the

10 Best RPGs On The Nintendo 64

Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers (1999)

We start with a title that is not for everyone but fans of classic RPGs will enjoy it for more than a few hours.

Developed by Infinite Ventures and published by Kemco, Shadowgate 64 is the second chapter of this RPG series that started in 1987 on the NES and PC, in which it was a simple point-and-click adventure.

Shadowgate 64 Trials of the Four Tower

With the jump to 3D, Shadowgate 64 tells the story of Del, a halfling who begins the adventure locked in a prison full of intimidating enemies. Of course, your first mission is to escape from your confinement, but when you find out that you are in Shadowgate Castle, you must explore each of the 4 Towers and complete tasks that will lead you to become the unlikely hero of the world. 

Keeping the essence of the first game, the point of view is in first person, which reminds me of The Elder Scrolls saga.

The gameplay as such can become very slow, as the obstacles and puzzles in each room will make you think for a long time. The books you find along the way and the dialogs of the characters will gradually reveal the mystery of Shadowgate. 

Custom Robo V2 (2000)

I apologize in advance, but I couldn’t leave out this one just because it was exclusive to Japan, the breeding ground par excellence of RPGs. In fact, it is surprising that Nintendo did not release this game internationally, or at least in North America since its 1999 predecessor was a sales success in Japan.

Custom Robo V2

The plot places you in a world where Custom Robo combat tournaments are organized, robots that you can customize as you progress through the adventure.

There are a lot of parts and loot to collect, but it’s worth it to succeed in the incredible Robo battles in enclosed spaces, where dynamism and speed are mandatory skills. And to make things even better, you can play with up to 3 friends locally, facing their own Robo warriors by uploading them into your game. 

But it’s not all about fighting in this game, as you can explore an entire world in a Pokemon-style isometric format while meeting allies along the way who join your party.

Unfortunately, Custom Robo V2 doesn’t have a fan translation, so all the dialogue is in Japanese, but if you’re able to deal with that, you’ll find some highly entertaining battles that make it one of the best Action RPGs of the day.

Pokemon Stadium (2000)

This may not be exactly an RPG, but it has quite a few elements of that genre as this series has always had. Besides, who didn’t enjoy seeing the Pokemons in a 3D style for the first time? It took the level of battles to another level of epicness.

Pokémon Stadium

In this game, there are 4 cups to win and 80 battles to fight against trainers from the Kanto region and the Champions. Beyond that, there is no story as such, but it doesn’t need one either, since its main attraction is the battles.

Added to this, the game included the Transker Pak accessory, with which you could transfer all 151 Pokemons from Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. This was heaven for kids at the time, and it’s still an eye-catching feature today.

In Pokemon Stadium you get to fight with the Pokemon that cost you so much to capture in incredible battles in which their special moves and powers will leave you glimpsed.

But it also has its moments of relaxation in all the minigames featuring your favorite Pokemon or in the Pokemon Lab. In short, a title that successfully welcomed the leap to a 3D world as Super Mario 64 did in its time.

Gauntlet Legends (1999)

We return to the one most classic action RPGs with Gauntlet Legends, a title developed by Atari Games and Midway, originally released for arcade machines.

Gauntlet Legends RPG for N64

The port for the Nintendo console is an excellent Hack and Slash that is super fun to play with friends, but also knows how to hook you if you are a lone wolf.

The plot is set in a medieval world, where Garm, an evil wizard summoned a demon named Skorne using the powerful Runestones. Despite having freed him, Skorne sent Garm to the Underworld, and for fear of being imprisoned again, he separated the Runestones across the 4 realms. And that’s where the player comes in, whose mission is to travel to those realms to get the magic stones and banish Skorne to the place he should never have left.

With that premise, the game is very focused on dungeon exploration, where you face a variety of enemies, collect items, and advance to the next stage. In the adventure, your team is made up of several warriors of different classes, to which you can improve specific attributes when they level up.

With all this added to simple controls, high difficulty, and a lot of powerful items to get, Gauntlet Legends is an addictive Hack and Slash adventure.

Quest 64 (1998) 

Also called Holy Magic Century in Europe, this title is the perfect entry into the RPG genre for inexperienced players eager to become the heroes of their own story.

Quest 64 Game

Although in Quest 64, the hero is Brian, a young magician apprentice living in the magical Celtland, a kingdom inspired by Ireland.

Brian had a fairly normal life considering that he has magic in his vein, until one day, his father disappears from the monastery of wizards in search of the thief of the Eletale Book, a relic capable of creating infinite chaos in the wrong hands. This forces our little protagonist to mature before his time to embark on the search for his father and the mystical book to restore order in Celtland.

One of the most outstanding aspects of this title is its combat, which, in the style of Chrono Trigger, but much more direct and offers more possibilities than just waiting for the opponent to hit you on his turn. 

Mastery of Water, Earth, Air, and Fire is key if you want to successfully reach the end. Depending on which element you power up, you will create a different build for Brian, so choose wisely.

The colorful visual style and pleasant soundtrack give Quest 64 the final touch to be considered a great N64 RPG that adds new fans to the genre.

Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage (2001)

Your first impression of this THQ game will surely not be very good, because its graphics are far from attractive, but if you give it a chance, you will find an amazing fantasy adventure.

Aidyn Chronicles The First Mage

The story of Aidyn Chronicles places you in an imaginary world dominated by fantasy, dragons, and magic. In fact, magic is the primary element of that world, which can be invoked from the spiritual plane with the right training.

In this context, we meet Alaron, a squire of King Lloyd’s army who is seriously wounded after a Goblin attack. Although Alaron manages to save himself, the poison in his veins threatens to kill him for good, so he embarks on an adventure to find a cure.

Like any classic RPG, the exploration of the world and the division into two game modes is present. The battle system is turn-based, where you can use different magics, actions with the sword, or special moves to eliminate enemies.

In your adventure, you can be accompanied by many allies that you find along the way, which have their own skills and level system. In addition, the NPCs in the villages can also be of use to you. 

A great game that makes up for its poor graphics quality with a world full of secrets to discover and fantastic creatures to defeat. 

The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask (1998/2000)

We know, we know… Zelda games are not RPGs as such, they are in a kind of limbo between adventure and action. But come on, they take many elements from RPGs, like a huge arsenal of weapons that can be upgraded, many items to collect, and a main character that although you can’t customize him like in a classic RPG, you can shape his reputation according to the actions you take in the adventure.

The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask

And so that they don’t take up so much space in the ranking, we decided to put Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask together in one place.

Each tells a unique story that you surely already know, with incredible mechanics such as time travel or the ability to transform into other beings. Love, emotions, and drama are some of the narrative elements around which these great titles revolve, which are still considered the best of the saga by thousands of gamers.

The technical aspect of both games is majestic, exploiting the capabilities of the Nintendo 64.

If there is something to regret is that they lack dialogues with voices, due to the limited storage space of the cartridges, but that does not prevent the interactions with the secondary characters to be the soul of the stories as in any RPG.

And you know, it is always good to take advantage of any opportunity to recommend this legendary series that revolutionized the gaming industry.

Hybrid Heaven (1999)

If you mix RPG, science fiction, and action, what game would you get? You probably thought of Metal Gear Solid, the epic game by Hideo Kojima that was a sensation in 1998. And although it is the maximum representative of this combination of genres, other developers such as Konami experimented with this formula, giving rise to Hybrid Heaven.

Hybrid Heaven for Nintendo64

The plot starts with Diaz, a synthetic human created by aliens, but when we advance in the adventure, the protagonist is revealed as Johnny Slater, a government agent who disguised himself as Diaz to confuse the alien race.

Slater’s task is to stop these evil beings from outer space from annihilating the nation’s president while dealing with amnesia problems and hybrid life forms that camouflage themselves as humans. 

The title is interspersed with video scenes with a third-person perspective, a typical science fiction setting of the time, and a turn-based combat system where weapons, explosives, and new techniques are added.

With the occasional puzzle and platforming scenarios, Hybrid Heaven shines for its combat, in which the area of your body that you use the most to fight will be the one that improves the most. 

In conclusion, it is not Metal Gear, but it has its grace and unique essence.

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber (2000)

Despite coming in second place, this Quest Corporation game has the honor of being considered the best traditional RPG for the Nintendo 64. As the third part of its saga, Ogre Battle 64 takes the best of its SNES predecessors to create a unique experience.

Ogre Battle 64

The plot revolves around Magnus Gallant, a cadet who is sent to the southern division of the Palatinus army, intending to quench the people’s thirst for battle, although in the process, he will realize that he was fighting for the wrong side all along.

In the adventure, you must gather brave warriors of different classes to sustain great battles in a Tactical RPG format. Depending on how your strategy will change the destiny of the town’s history, with 3 possible endings.

Each battle has its own objectives. In most cases, you have to fight with a horde of enemies and defeat their stronghold, or sometimes you will have to protect your base from the enemies.

Good graphics, excellent sound design, and epic strategic battles make Ogre Battle 64 one of the best Tactical RPGs of yesteryear, and also one of the longest because of the many narrative elements that will make you play it again and again.

Paper Mario (2001)

On a console where his platform, adventure, and driving games dominated the market, Mario also found a way to star in the best Nintendo 64 RPG. 

Paper Mario Is the best RPG for the Nintendo 64

Since his first foray into the genre with the popular Super Mario RPG on the SNES, the Italian plumber returned with a game that offered never-before-seen mechanics and graphics that hold up very well by contemporary standards.

As usual, the villain of the story is Bowser, who imprisoned the 7 Star Spirits and defeated Mario with the power of the legendary Star Rod. This began an era of terror in the Mushroom Kingdom, with the evil Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach.

To nullify the Star Rod’s effect and save the kingdom, everyone’s favorite plumber must rescue the 7 Star Spirits, which are under the control of the villain’s various henchmen.

The game lives up to its name with graphics that look entirely made of paper. The landscapes are very varied, ranging from jungles and beaches to seas and snowy forests, all perfectly recreated with very bright colors and splendidly made decorations, perfectly mixing the parts made in 2D with those made with 3D polygons.

The great RPG component is given in the fights, in which Mario will jump, hit with the hammer or use special skills against enemies, you will have to demonstrate your reflexes to press the attack buttons at the right time to cause maximum damage.

Of course, there is a customization section, mainly for the allies that will join your ranks, with their own skills that will help you both in combat and in exploring the environment. 

With brilliant dialogues, gameplay that never gets boring and challenging bosses, Paper Mario was a risky project from Nintendo that ended up innovating the gaming industry, creating a new saga that continues to deliver some of the great games to this day.

Whether you are a fan of RPGs, Mario games, or both, this title is not to be missed.

At this point, and despite the excellent games in this list of the best N64 RPGs of all time, it must be said that the console did not enjoy the best catalog of classic RPGs, as many of them are titles that combine several genres. For this reason, most veteran fans of the genre preferred to invest their time in Role Playing Games for the PlayStation or Dreamcast RPGs, which boasted more traditional turn-based battles.

However, every Nintendo fan did enjoy the RPGs of the N64, achieving enough success for Nintendo to give the genre a much better reception on their later consoles.