Outside of Japan, the Nintendo 64 isn’t particularly well known for its RPGs. Because of this, there weren’t very many town or hubs that you could explore… and when there was some, they’d mostly just serve as just another stage.
I’d like to take a moment to take a step back and look at what are in my opinion, the best towns or cities on the N64.
For the sake of not overextending, I’ll make a few arbitrary rules:
- Must be from a game released outside of Japan. There are too many Japanese-only RPGs and I’m not too familiar with them.
- Only one town per game franchise. I’m pretty sure that you’re already thinking of a game or two with many great towns, so I’ll just limit it to one for each.
- You must be able to interact with the town and its people, or it needs to perform some kind of service to benefit the player.
5. Toad Town (Paper Mario)
Out of the few RPGs released in the west, Paper Mario was arguably the best despite what its cartoony appearance would lead you to believe.
Toad Town was the main hub in the game and capital of the Mushroom Kingdom. There were shops, a dojo, post office… Even a pipe that lead to Mario’s house. There are also plenty of transportation links such as a harbour, train station and a path that leads directly to Peach’s Castle – if it wasn’t flying high above the earth.
4. Kattelox Island City (Megaman 64)
This city is located right in the middle of Kattelox Island, and has a few districts: Apple Market, Downtown, Uptown, City Hall and Old City.
The Apple Market is the only area available to outsiders, so it’s where the game starts. City hall has the administrative buildings, Downtown is residential, Uptown is cultural and Old Town is desolate.
The town overall has plenty of shops to visit, people to talk to and areas that fork off to each of the levels, so it’s well worthy of its place in the list.
3. Zazen Town (Mytical Ninja Sarring Goemon)
This town from Goemon has a few areas such as the Shopping District, Mt. Nyoigatake, Duck Creek and the Golden Temple.
Zazen town doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of the other towns on this list, but it does count with many screens worth of content to visit. The relaxing music gives this area a very intimate feel, like you could just stay there forever. It kind of reminds me of Hobbiton, but Japanese.
2. White City (Pokémon Stadium 2)
The is the only game on this list which doesn’t really have a street view where you move you character around. Rather, it has a map where you can select the building you want to move into.
This city improves on everything from the first Pokémon Stadium (2nd in Japan). It has all the same stuff as before (stadium fight, challenge battles, kids club etc) but all improved with small quality of life improvements here and there, plus the ability to interface with Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal.
The biggest difference for me has to be Earl’s Laboratory, where you can learn about basic and advanced mechanics to one-up your opponents. My strategy for the mainline Pokémon games is to just level up and out-type the opponent for super-effective damage, but the challenges in the academy serve to teach you about the more advanced methods of combat used in competitive play.
1. Clock Town (Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
Of course the top spot had to go to a Zelda town.
The Zelda games (especially on the N64) have a different town to visit in each main area of the map, but usually have a central hub. The oracle games had Lynna City and Horon Village, Ocarina of Time had Hyrule Castle Market and Majora’s Mask has Clock town. However each of these games still has its own Goron city, Zora city etc, but they serve only the purpose to sell some localised goods and as temporary plot progression locations.
What makes Clock town different is how alive it feels. Castle town is lively, but there’s not really much to do besides the Mask quest, Bombachu alley and visiting the Bazaar. It is pretty cool to see it after the fall though. Clock Town on the other hand is different every day and every night, almost every character has something different to say each day and most of them even have their own storyline.
Each section of the town has its own look and feel. South Clock Town is like the CBD, North is a garden or park, West is an alleyway and East is a plaza or cultural area.
I could go on for hours about what makes it great.
These are a few cities that didn’t make the cut:
- Corneria (Starfox): Impressive, but you only really fly by it, not really interact with it.
- Sim City: Never released outside of Japan
- Anything from Banjo Kazooie/Tooie or DK64: no real ‘city’ vibe to any of the levels. Mostly just static houses with baddies on top.
- Port of Adia (Turok 2): Doesn’t have any inhabitant except enemies.
Remember that this is a guest post written by N64 Squid from n64squid.com. Thanks to Ghetto Gamer for posting this on his site, be sure to check back both sites regularly for retro gaming content.