Welcome to the way-too-early N64 Classic speculation. The second the NES Classic hit the market we all began wondering about the future systems. Logically, with the success of the NES and SNES Classics, Nintendo could turn their sights to the next possible cash cow.
Before we speculate on specific games, we need to examine a few trends for Nintendo to figure out how many games would be included. When the SNES Classic was released, the system specs did not change. Essentially, Nintendo used the same hardware and slapped a new case on the outside. This worked just fine, but meant cutting into the amount of games on the system.
SNES Classic MiniThe first challenge is going to be file size. NES games typically come in at 128 to 384 kB. One of the larger games, Metal Slader Glory, clocked in at 1MB. SNES games range from 0.23MB to 4MB. The largest games for the SNES had a total of 6MB (Star Ocean). When it came to the N64 there were three cycles of cartridges. The first set, in 1995, had a max storage of 12 MB. Cartridges increased to 32MB. In the 5th generation of games, Nintendo reached 64MB to support large games like Resident Evil 2.
Both the SNES and NES Classics have a reported 512MB of flash storage and 256 DDR3 memory. Hackers have broken into the SNES and reported roughly 260MB of free space on the SNES classic. With an N64 Classic, an emulator and control scheme will likely take a bit more space. Using some simplified math, not my strong point, we see that the 21 SNES games took up 84 MB at most. The operating system, saves, and emulator take up roughly 424MB of space on the system. If the N64 takes more storage because of the increased inputs and audio capabilities, then it might leave the system with roughly 268 MB to play with. Again, I am going conservative here. If N64 games average roughly 32 MB, then the system will only be adding 8 games. I would estimate an N64 system would have no more than 12 games on it.
shruggingWhy Nintendo would not just increase the storage capacity of the system? While this would be feasible with the new storage capabilities, Nintendo seemed to design the system so they could mass-produce it and not have to rework the system for future consoles. This fits with previous analysis and research I have done on Nintendo, as they like to re-purpose established technology for their innovation. The NES used established technology when released in 1983. The Wii used accelerators that had already been fine-tuned. There is no better example of this philosophy than the Switch, as it re-purposed tablet technology and computer docks. Both are much cheaper to produce now than when the first ipad was released. With this in mind, Nintendo will likely keep the exact same hardware and simply change the case.
Limiting our scope to 12 games will force some hard choices. The first thing to do is to eliminate games that Nintendo will struggle to get the rights. Rare’s Perfect Dark and Conker’s Bad Fur Day are two prime examples. Secondly, 3rd party games were lackluster on N64 as the cartridge was very expensive to produce. The final challenge will be to get a variety of games if limited to only 12. Pilotwings and Starfox 64? I doubt it as the games overlap a limited genre. The one exception would likely be Zelda. Here is how I break down the possibilities.

Obvious choices:

  1. Mario 64
  2. Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  3. Super Smash Bros.
  4. Mario Kart 64

Strong possibilities:

  1. Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  2. Starfox 64
  3. Mario Party
  4. Wave Race 64
  5. Paper Mario
  6. Pokemon Snap

It could happen:

  1. Turok
  2. 1080 Snowboarding
  3. Mario Tennis
  4. Mario Golf
  5. Kirby 64
  6. F-Zero X
  7. Bomberman 64
  8. Pilotwings 64
  9. Harvest Moon 64
  10. Excitebike 64
  11. Yoshi’s Story

Who has the rights?

  1. Donkey Kong 64
  2. Diddy Kong Racing
  3. Goldeneye 007

Dream on:

  1. Perfect Dark
  2. Conker’s Bad Fur Day

nintendo-nx-revealWith an N64 Classic, Nintendo and Rare have virtually all the best games for the system. Limiting to 12 games means that Nintendo could use only their own games. This makes the most sense as it saves them time and money. Realistically there are no games other than Rare ones that people will be upset about missing on an N64 Classic.
Finally, we have to go bold. I am laying down my bold prediction. Let me know yours in the comments below.

Bold prediction:

  1. Mario 64
  2. Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  3. Super Smash Bros.
  4. Mario Kart 64
  5. Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  6. Starfox 64
  7. Mario Party
  8. Wave Race 64
  9. Paper Mario
  10. Harvest Moon 64
  11. Kirby 64
  12. F-Zero X