Even if you’re a big Nintendo 64 fan, it’s possible you may not even remember these things. As far as I can determine through my extensive research (AKA some Google searches and message board perusal), there were only 9 games in the entire N64 library that included an “N64 operation card”. They were designed to be one-page, nifty “cheat sheets” that explain the most important mechanics of a game, so you don’t have to sift through the entire manual!
I definitely have nostalgia for any and all game box inserts, but these are so cool because they’re still helpful today. If I haven’t played Wave Race 64 or F-Zero X for some time, I’ll grab the operation card and place it next to me while I’m racing. The operation cards are all visually appealing and very concise in how much information they convey! So for posterity (and nostalgia, obviously), let’s take a look at some of these cards (I’ve got 7 of the 9 games), because they’re just excellent.
I didn’t pick this game up until recently, on suggestion from my friend Kamal! (see the comments on my top 10 N64 games) And seriously, this N64 operation card was a lifesaver in learning the mechanics of the game. I can be a beast on the slopes in no time at all:
Diddy Kong Racing
Diddy Kong Racing is fairly easy to pick up in terms of controls and mechanics, especially if you’ve played Mario Kart. But it does have some differing gameplay elements like new items and a unique system to increase your speed. This N64 operation card captures everything very nicely and explains it to new players. Now let’s get this underrated gem a true sequel!
I only more recently picked up F-Zero X from eBay. And let me tell you-this game is HARD. Understanding how to race smart and navigate tricky turns isn’t exactly intuitive! And that’s why this N64 operation card is so helpful. I always play with this bad boy out:
Glover was a very recent pickup. I’ve been intrigued by the unique gameplay mechanics in this 3D platformer for some time, so when I saw a minty complete-in-box at my favorite retro game shop I had to pick it up! I honestly haven’t played it yet, but I know it’s a bit notorious for being a bit tricky. As Glover, you need to execute a variety of moves (which sound really cool-look at the card!) to guide a ball from one point to another without losing it. Luckily, I’ve got this comprehensive operation card to help me when I play through it (doesn’t it make the game look fun?)
Killer Instinct Gold
Personally, I’m pretty terrible at fighting games. Even in the glory days of Mortal Kombat, I could rarely win and earn a chance to try a “fatality”. This is especially when move sets are unique to each character, as they are in Killer Instinct! Add in how wonky the N64 controller is for traditional fighters and it’s a recipe for disaster, at least for myself. So if I’m going to play KI Gold, this operation card is a must:
Mario Kart 64
I think just about everyone knows how to play Mario Kart, or can pick it up within minutes of trying! It’s a great family game that I always play with loved ones of any age. But that doesn’t mean this N64 operation card is anything less than glorious. Not only do you have charming image of all the items, but it’s still a useful reference for younger players!
Wave Race 64
Wave Race 64 is still one of my top 10 N64 games-it holds up so well! It’s one I like to pop in and play for a few minutes to run through a championship. Or to ride around on the dolphin in training mode! And though I know the controls pretty well, I always forgot how to handstand, drive backwards, and stand by the steering. Lo and behold, this N64 operation card is here to help:
As far as I can tell, the only other operation cards are for Yoshi’s Story and Snowboard Kids 2. These are two N64 games I’ll probably never own. I’m just not a fan of Yoshi’s Story, and Snowboard Kids 2 is worth a small fortune due to rarity right now! Still, if they end up in my collection I’ll update this post. If you know of another N64 operation card not mentioned here, please share below! And if you’re into N64 collecting, check out my Funtastic controllers list too.
Do you appreciate a good N64 operation card as much as me? Or am I just ridiculous? Do you know of any other N64 games that included one? And we should bring these babies back for modern games? Let me know in the comments below!