Best Nintendo 64 Games That Utilize The Expansion Pak
The Nintendo 64 was a technical achievement, & one of the first video game consoles to introduce three-dimensional gameplay. A video game might need an extravagant symphonic score, but other times it’s the performance that propels a game to new heights. Just when we thought the PlayStation One was the peak of gaming, Nintendo answered back with the Expansion Pak.
The Expansion Pak boosts the Nintendo 64’s RAM 4MB to 8MB. It helps the system to render objects at a further distance, & it can improve resolutions. The Nintendo 64 will forever be a mainstay because of its advances in gaming. These are fifteen games that utilize the Expansion Pak, ranked.
Updated November 14th, 2022 by Russ Boswell: The Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak was a rather unique (& strange by today’s st&ards) piece of gaming history. Though games can receive patches & other quality-of-life updates now, the N64 was limited in its ability to “leap” generations. Thankfully, the Expansion Pak acted as a catalyst that would help Nintendo 64 faithful play some of the biggest & best titles the system had to offer. There were quite a few games in the era that made use of this Expansion Pak, with some of them outright requiring it to access certain features or in-game worlds. Here’s an exp&ed look at some of the games that utilized the Expansion Pak for the Nintendo 64.
18/18 StarCraft 64
StarCraft 64 features on this list thanks to its rather unique use of the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak, though it’s not necessarily for a positive reason. StarCraft 64 st&s out for being a Nintendo 64 port of the original PC release, as well as its Brood War expansion. Unfortunately, players that failed to read the fine print would find themselves locked exclusively to the base game if they didn’t have access to an Expansion Pak.
Although the main chunks of StarCraft 64 were completely playable, players would hit a wall & be forced to use an Expansion Pak to play through the Brood War Expansion missions.
17/18 Gauntlet Legends
The Gauntlet series has been around for decades now & is widely considered to be one of the best multiplayer dungeon-crawling franchises of all time. In order to utilize the four-player local co-op mode in the N64 release of Gauntlet Legends though, an Expansion Pak is sadly required.
With four main characters & a number of unlockable ones to go alongside them, the game is perfectly geared for four players. The regular Jumper Pak did still allow for three-player co-op, but considering the Dreamcast port of the game required no additional hardware & also packed in some extra content, the N64 release is generally considered to be an inferior port.
16/18 Duke Nukem: Zero Hour
Before fans were made to wait forever for the disappointing release of Duke Nukem: Forever, the Duke Nukem franchise was an incredibly popular one. Zero Hour may not be the best in the series, but it still serves as a pretty decent follow-up to Duke Nukem 3D & remains a lot of fun to play.
Unlike many of the other games that utilize the Expansion Pak, Eurocom took a slightly different approach when it came to developing Zero Hour. Like many of the other Expansion Pak games, it’s possible to increase the resolution, but players can instead opt to increase the frame rate if they so choose.
15/18 Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
Though nowhere near as enjoyable as Symphony of the Night, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is still a lot better than some of the series’ more recent entries. It also contains a remake of the original game while also serving as a prequel, making it a great title for those looking for an entryway into the world of the Belmonts.
Sadly, however, playing the game with Expansion Pak is something of a double-edged sword. On the one h&, the resolution is increased to 490×355, making everything a lot crisper than it would otherwise be. Enabling hi-res mode does cause some pretty Depraved frame-rate issues though, leading to many opting to play through the game without it.
John Romero’s Daikatana was perhaps one of the biggest gaming let down of the 64-bit era. Much like Cyberpunk 2077, the game was massively over-hyped in the build-up to its release, leading to waves of disappointment when players finally got their h&s on it. Despite the initial dismay of the gaming community though, there is still fun to be had with the game.
The game is a little reminiscent of classic arena shooters like Quake 3 & Unreal & features more than its fair share of gore. The high-res mode that’s available when it’s played with an Expansion Pak does little to improve the visuals, although it does switch video output from a 4:3 aspect ratio to widescreen.
13/18 Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
The Turok series rarely gets a mention these days, but back in the late nineties, it was one of the biggest & most respected franchises around. The third-party exclusive titles were among the very best in the N64’s library of games & played like a first-person shooter version of the early Jurassic Park movies.
The pick of the bunch was arguably Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, which was one of three Turok games to utilize the Expansion Pak. Much like its sequel & Turok: Rage Wars, playing Seeds of Evil with an Expansion Pak enabled two special high-res modes, offering resolutions of either 480×360 or 480×232.
12/18 Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes 2
This time around, the second Army Men Sarge’s Heroes 2 took on a more lighthearted tone compared to its former. The game received criticism from critics, but a cult-following suggests that people do like this game. It’s feature-rich. This game’s microcosmic setting is appealing in so many ways. Imagine being a tiny figure in a ginormous world.
Using the Expansion Pak on Army Men Sarge’s Heroes 2 boosts the game’s resolution to 640×240. It was one of those games that could be picked up from the local rental store several times without regrets & the bump in resolution made it all the better.
11/18 Pokémon Stadium 2
The Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak did not release until later in the Nintendo 64’s active years. For this reason, it was mostly only games from the early 2000s that benefited from the Expansion Pak.
Using the Expansion Pak on Pokémon Stadium 2 enabled 640×480 resolution. High-definition gameplay wasn’t possible on the Nintendo 64, but the Expansion Pak brought us closer to this reality on games like Pokémon Stadium 2.
10/18 Rayman 2: The Great Escape
The Nintendo 64 was the birthplace for a significant number of three-dimensional adventure games. Its capabilities were cutting-edge at the time. The Rayman series went from being two-dimensional to three-dimensional then back to being two-dimensional today. However, we can’t forget the groundbreaking achievement that was Rayman 2: The Great Escape.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape was one of the many masterpiece platformers of the Nintendo 64. It suffered from camera issues like many of the Nintendo 64’s platformers, yet it is an objectively fun game that is only improved when paired with an Expansion Pak.
9/18 Excitebike 64
The original Excitebike for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System played phenomenally, which raised the bar considerably for its sequel, Excitebike 64. Despite these lofty expectations, however, the game was able to soar well above them & serves as a more than worth successor to the original title.
A high-resolution mode is playable if players insert an Expansion Pak into their console. Although the st&ard Jumper Pak can still be used with Excitebike 64, it is highly recommended to use the Expansion Pak to get the absolute most out of the game.
8/18 Donkey Kong 64
Inspired directly by Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64 took a non-linear approach to the platform genre. The game differs greatly from the Donkey Kong Country series, which is made up of titles that are two-dimensional & a lot more linear. Despite this though, many consider the Donkey Kong Country trilogy to be the better games.
Nintendo 64 bundles featuring Donkey Kong 64 came with an Expansion Pak. The Expansion Pak is used to increase the game’s frame rate & improve the rendering of distant objects. The game is so massive, in fact, that it actually requires an Expansion Pak to be plugged in in order to work.
The latter half of the 1990s was filled with a wide array of racing releases. Some of the best racing franchises got their start in the 90s (I.E. Gran Turismo & Need for Speed) & there were many outliers & one-offs that saw attention from gamers seeking speed-based gameplay. Many of these games followed a fairly traditional formula, but there was a small h&ful that offered unique experiences.
Re-Volt is a great example. This title looked traditional from the outside but actually took place within the world of RC racing. Players would take control of these miniaturized vehicles & race through multiple tracks inspired by locations like Suburbia, a Museum, & even a grocery store. Re-Volt was a charming racer for its time & the Expansion Pak helped players to see it more vibrantly thanks to an increased resolution.
6/18 Hydro Thunder
Another unique racing game, Hydro Thunder saw players piloting high-speed boats across a variety of watery locations. They could battle it out against the CPU for naval dominance, with some tracks featuring obstacles that were difficult to navigate. Each track also had its fair share of secret shortcuts & players could pick up specialized boost packs to activate Nitro systems on their boats to scream across the waters even faster.
The Expansion Pak made multiplayer even more exciting by allowing up to four players to race together (up from just two without it).
5/18 Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
There are several Star Wars games on the Nintendo 64, but the one that st&s out the most is perhaps Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Piloting various starfighters in dogfights never looked as good, with many people hailing it as one of the very best Star Wars games of all time.
Played in three dimensions, this technical achievement was made even better with an Expansion Pak. Rogue Squadron was the first game to utilize the hardware & does so to enable a high-resolution mode that improves the graphics. It’s not always all about graphics, yet upscaled resolutions rarely impede gameplay.
4/18 Resident Evil 2
Before the Resident Evil 2 remake took the world by storm, the original Resident Evil 2 was an integral part of the Nintendo 64’s library of games. No, the game doesn’t require an Expansion Pak, but it does benefit quite a bit from the extra megabytes of RAM.
The Expansion Pak increases the resolution of Resident Evil 2 to 640×480, which may sound like a low resolution by today’s st&ards. At the time though, it was vastly superior to the average video game & really made the game look great when compared to its PS1 counterpart.
3/18 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
What separates Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 from other games is its focus on engaging gameplay. There is no story, & there aren’t any cutscenes, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 managed a perfect l&ing with its execution. As far as sports games go, many see this as the gold st&ard.
Nailing a string of combos is deeply satisfying. Play this game or the series’ first or third entries with an Expansion Pak for increased performance on the Nintendo 64, but, even without one, the N64 versions were among the very versions of the games. At least until the 2020 remake came along, anyway.
2/18 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a complex game that will not appeal to all gamers. At the same time, it is a graphically dem&ing title that really pushed the Nintendo 64 to its limits. So much so, in fact, that Majora’s Mask is one of only two games that requires the Expansion Pak to run on the system.
The game contains wearable masks & a grim story that’s far darker in tone than the one found in Ocarina of Time. Players can lose themselves in an endless assortment of side quests, while the main story, which involves time travel, is one of the very best in the Legend of Zelda franchise.
1/18 Perfect Dark
GoldenEye 007 was the definitive Nintendo 64 first-person shooter before Perfect Dark came around. From the same development company that brought GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark improved on the formula in nearly every way. Starring strong female lead Joanna Dark, the game surpasses expectations with its intricate level designs.
It’s one of the most advanced Nintendo 64 games. To play the campaign & the majority of the multiplayer modes, players will ll need an Expansion Pak, which is why certain copies of the game were bundled with one. Even without it though, Perfect Dark provides an experience that’s not to be missed.
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