N64 sprite-based 2D games

I‘ve become obsessed with the N64 lately. There’s a small but impressive collection of games that seem like the next-generation of SNES. Here's a little selection:

Simcity 2000
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Susume! Taisen Puzzle Dama
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NBA Hangtime (this one is sprites while NBA Jam 99 and NBA Jam 2000 are polygonal)
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Worms Armageddon
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StarCraft 64
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Puzzle Bobble 64 (aka Bust-a-Move 3)
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Puyo Puyo Sun 64 (Puyo Puyo~n aka 4 is also on N64)
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Aside from the obvious ones like Yoshi's Story, what are your faves? I think Mischief Makers has some polygonal elements in later levels so unfortunately it should be excluded from this curation.

Hmm I guess Wonder Project J2 also has a few polygonal bits in it too so that doesn’t count either (maybe it could’ve had a Super FX chip in it? :stuck_out_tongue:)

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So you disqualify Wonder Project J2 due to the submarine exploration phases, for instance? Those could have very well been Mode 7 sequences, to be honest. [edit] Ah, I am not the only one to wonder…

The best pure 2D game is almost certainly **Bakuretsu Muteki Bangai-Ō**, possibly better known for its Dreamcast version but many purists prefer the original (and it was clearly designed with the N64 controller in mind).


I love the weirdass **Bomberman 64** (not to be mistaken with 🇺🇸Bomberman 64 a.k.a. 🇯🇵Baku! Bomberman) from Racjin that looks like an oversized GBA game. It’s not a looker but honestly hi-def LCD doesn’t do it any favor; it looked way more palatable on CRT. And it’s not a great Bomberman game either. I just appreciate how random it was, after some disappointing PS1 and Dreamcast releases, to suddenly get a proper 2D Bomberman on the home console I least expected. I definitely wouldn’t say it looks like "Next Gen SFC". Both the blurry sprite assets and overall character designs scream early 2000s – this game came out after the Gamecube!


I’ll limit myself to three games as to not hog down the potentially short conversation induced by this topic choice but there are a few table games and sound novels that definitely qualify as Super^2 Famicom. **A.I. Shōgi 3**, which is 2D plus fully digitized commentary, is probably close to what a mid-size publisher would have offered on the Nintendo Play Station eventually.


@“bankbank”#p62457 By the way! SimCity 2000, besides the opening Imagineer logo which is animated on a rectangular 3D box, also has (extremely simple and unimpressive) 3D mini games in its exclusive story mode.


wow, some amazing responses and info in this thread! for games that have just a wee bit of polygonal juice in them, I think we can put them in their own category of “nearly pure”: WPJ2, SC2K, SRW64, Rakuga Kids, Yuke-Yuke!! Trouble Makers, these all go in there. Shiren though… it's a lovely game but it looks VERY polygonal to me. (by the way folks, Shiren 64 recently got an english translation, so go give it a try if you like Shirenlikes).

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love the Shogi game! and Bangai-O is a lovely example as well. Dr. Mario 64 is a perfect example of a game that basically could look exactly the same on SNES, except for the increased horizontal width on the N64. And that Rampage game definitely counts, and there's another one on N64:

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Posting Puyo 4, although I'm scared there may be an errant polygon hidden in there somewhere:
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Also, interesting that this is a 1999 release published by Sega on a Nintendo console.

This looks like it might be lacking polys:
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It's hard to figure out where Harvest Moon 64 falls...

OK, I‘ve got an example that can’t possibly be 3D: Zool: Majuu Tsuka-

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*Damn it*.

I was really into this for a while too @“bankbank”#307 . Some of them are childhood faves, I rented bust a move 99 and beat the story mode that weekend in second grade.

I own a CIB copy of Puyo Puyo Sun for 64, the big bright box is very appealing.

One that’s not listed here which I adore is CUSTOM ROBO, which got a fan translation a couple years ago. Extremely similar isometric 2d graphics to digimon world 3, a rare case of a 2D rpg with analog movement speed in the overworld (really bummed rpgs basically never did that again after the PS2 generation)

Much better and easier on the eyes than the Gamecube CUSTOM ROBO sequel we got in the US that was completely 3D.

Yeah, I was pretty into n64 2D for a while, probably due to nostalgia alone, because most of them were also on PSX and Saturn anyways. But it’s still novel to play them on N64, and the controller has an extremely underrated, GIANT D-PAD which may have been the greatest d-pad ever made, yet underused in a major way. I think I’ve written about this in an N64 or a controller thread somewhere.

Also, did no one mention Ogre Battle 64 ?
And similar to yoshi’s story, Paper Mario kind of goes without saying, I’ve written about it a ton here, the last great 240p Nintendo game afaik.
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I thought this thread would be ABOUT mischief makers and bangaioh, susprised to see mischief makers not even get its box art shown, so:


I'm going to say that doing pixel art on the N64 with its half-an-inch of texture memory is daring enough that any game that's majority pixels and has a little 3D in it deserves a spot, so J2 works for me! there's also Rampage, Harvest Moon, Mario no Photopi (lol) etc. But I think all the actually interesting ones have already been mentioned... maybe!? It is pretty interesting how many of the prerendered sprite-based games seem to go for a blurrier look, relying on the display to fill in the detail, where pure pixel games seem much sharper. I think mischief makers is the exception, being both prerendered and sharp at once.

man, a friend of mine and i used to play a lot of disney's magical tetris challenge. i haven't thought of it in years.


@“Syzygy”#p62534 was going to post PPL as well, which is a game I somehow only first played last year (and also somehow runs like poopoo in emulation!). I was wondering if it might be disqualified on a technicality, as there is a “3D” mode that wraps the tiles around a cylinder, which seems to be rendered in real time and not some sprite-based trick.

I have to say, though, as good as it is, it really pales compared to Panel de Pon and Tetris Attack in terms of presentation…the music and visuals just feel so muted in comparison, whereas the SNES/SFC games have this vibrant _electric_ quality to them. What I’m trying to say is that, for me, it’s missing that spark that would make it seem like “the next generation of SNES” the OP mentioned.

@“exodus”#p62521 I really like that Mischief Makers cover :heart_eyes:



with its half-an-inch of texture memory

regarding this restriction, where does the N64 stand relative to the SNES or Mega Drive with regards to 2D capabilities? just barely better, significantly better, etc? I wonder which is the super 2D system between Saturn and N64. would CPS3 ports have been feasible?

@“bankbank”#p62578 I‘ve wondered about that! The saturn has all that RAM plus the 4mb expansion, but if the N64 had expanded its ram pak further, maybe they could’ve been a contender there.

@“Punzai”#p62561 there’s a whole comic included too!


@“kory”#p62536 I was wondering if it might be disqualified on a technicality, as there is a “3D” mode that wraps the tiles around a cylinder, which seems to be rendered in real time and not some sprite-based trick.

it's kind of hard. i'm willing to bet sprites are just screen aligned polygons on the n64 to begin with... but the tiles have actual form... but the sides are just one color.

the vibes to me say it's right to call it sprite based.


@“exodus”#p62579 i‘m not an expert in the n64, but i think it has a couple issues with memory beyond just the amount of it. the memory they used was high speed but high latency and the gpu did all direct memory access. this seems like a bad move to me: high speed and high latency is fine for the gpu, since that would be a lot of copying buffers around, but if you’re doing smaller reads and writes, like for logic, you would be paying a higher cost with that latency and tying up the gpu. but this is only what i've heard.

*edit* what i'm getting at is i think the architecture made it hard to fully utilize the memory that was there


@“bankbank”#p62578 I wonder which is the super 2D system between Saturn and N64.

As far as I know, any comparison on [their respective abilities to handle sprites and tilesets](https://segaretro.org/Sega_Saturn/Hardware_comparison#Graphics_comparison_table) is laughable. The stupid VDP1/VDP2 architecture of Saturn barely saved its skin when it comes to 3D games but made it extremely versatile and competent at 2D.

As mentioned a few posts above, N64’s RAM technology was extremely advanced but unproven and ended up being a burden on the hardware due to latency issues. The hardware was even silently revised halfway through the system’s life to get rid of the RDRAM latency issue – which is why some tricks Rareware intended to abuse thanks to the original RDRAM, such as the infamous [Stop & Swop](https://banjokazooie.fandom.com/wiki/Stop_%27n%27_Swop) trick, could never be implemented in the end.

The best solution would have been to cache textures and use them as sprites (which this layman believes is what the Dreamcast made a common programming technique?), but the texture cache of the N64 was its most glaring and famed weak spot.

In other words, N64 wasn’t designed with 2D in mind at all. Nintendo probably assumed 2D games could remain on the Super Famicom.

@“chazumaru”#p62604 I miss the days of weird, bespoke hardware.

I‘m gonna give Bomberman 64 (Japan, 2001) a shot. It’s a condensed version of Bomberman Land. A kind of Mario-party with a story mode and classic bomberman gameplay along with the mini games. Lots of good spritework, given the year it released it would be masterful spriting.


Real mistake not having Jun Chikuma do the soundtrack. I‘ve always thought the look of this one was interesting, because it’s almost like prerendered sprites, and the thick outline sometimes merges across the sprite giving it a real Java game look. In some ways that makes it look like the future, but mostly in a bad way.