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#17: Banjo-Kazooie (1998)
Last Year: 16

Looking back, it's amazing to think of the incredible games Rare developed in the 90's. They were certainly on their A game by the time the Nintendo 64 came out, as they just finished their final installment of the Donkey Kong Country Series. They first started out with the previously mentioned Diddy Kong Racing, hosting a number of new racers to race alongside Diddy Kong. One of them being Banjo, the somewhat dim yet lovable bear. Rare decided to team him up with the rash and sassy Breegull, Kazooie... and the rest is history. Taking the basic elements from Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie expanded on Nintendo's own game in numerous ways. The bear/bird combo used their unique skills to explore the different worlds, and even used the help of the Shaman Mumbo-Jumbo to turn into a plethora of alternate forms (including the infamous washing machine joke). All in all, the game remains great to this day (although like most games of that generation, the camera needs constant tinkering), and the sense of exploration and platforming excellence is still some of the best in gaming.