Welcome to The High Score, where we explore the creative, immersive intersections of cannabis and gaming through reviews, product pairings, and more. Check out more installments of The High Score series here.
Who could forget the feeling of tearing back wrapping paper to reveal the box of the legendary Nintendo 64? Children foamed at the mouth with rabid euphoria, an emotion few of us have been able to replicate in our adult lives. At this very moment, my Nintendo 64 remains plugged in alongside the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. My love for this console is undying, especially as an adult who regularly enjoys reverting to a childlike state with the help of cannabis.
I know I’m not alone when I say that N64 games are some of the best to return to as a stoned adult. Sure, the graphics make everything and everyone look a bit polygonal, and yes, the controller’s design still puts you at risk for carpal tunnel. But many of the games released are some of the best of all time (in my humble and completely biased opinion). So grab your pipe, your favorite strain, and your dusty old N64 (…or a simulator) and let’s get gaming.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Strain Pairing: Aliens on Moonshine – because that’s who/what I suspect designed this game to begin with. Its disorienting euphoria is also a perfect companion for this game’s strange, strange world.
It’s weird, it’s dark, it’s creepy, and it’s absolutely the most captivating N64 game to play while high. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask will make you feel like you’re in an alien’s nightmare with creatures and characters that look like they came from the deepest depths of some deranged imagination. And as you look up into the sky to find an evil, grinning, wide-eyed moon slowly descending to crush the entirety of mankind, you might wonder how you ever got through this game as a child without a calming indica strain.
Strain Pairing: Cheese – Get it? You’re a photographer, so. (…Eh, I’ll see myself out.)
Now for something a little more lighthearted. Return to the world of Todd Snap, a photographer commissioned by Professor Oak, to go out and take photos of Pokémon doing adorable, whimsical things. Smoke up and try your best not to dissolve into a puddle of smiles and “dawww’s” as you bonk Charmander in the head with an apple or make Snorlax do the truffle-shuffle to the sound of your PokéFlute.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Strain Pairing: Timewreck – which basically sums up the musical-based time travel of this game; plus, the stimulating euphoric effects will have you immersed for hours.
Yes, another Zelda game. I know. But both Legend of Zelda games released on N64 were utter masterpieces. For me, Ocarina of Time demonstrates the tallest heights of creativity in gaming, from character design to music to plot to atmosphere. With a soundtrack so enchanting it’s been performed several times by symphonies around the world, this game’s story revolves around the power and mystery of song. Its characters range from darkly disturbing to endearingly hilarious, and they’ll lead you through Hyrulian lore so imaginative, leaving it will feel a lot like waking up from a dream.
Strain Pairing: Death Star – because guess what, you’re fighting to the death to become what Toad calls the “Superstar.” This indica will help slow time down, for better or for worse. You decide.
Oh, I remember the days when us third-graders would order a pizza and have ourselves a little Mario Party. Things haven’t changed much (other than adding a dab rig to the table), and even though there are now nine sequels to the game that started it all in 1998, I’m still forever loyal to the original. It’s simple and nostalgic, and who doesn’t love a little friendly* competition with friends?
*Disclaimer: this game can actually get vicious, so play at your own risk.
Mario Kart 64
Strain Pairing: Jet Fuel – this hybrid enhances performance through its focusing effects, and you can pretend it makes you zoom faster, too.
Whether or not you liked video games growing up, you probably remember some kid from your childhood forcing you to play Mario Kart 64 with him/her. And admit it, you had fun. Adding a layer of strategy through an artillery of shells, slippery bananas, and lightning bolts that shrink your enemies, Mario Kart 64 is much more than just a racing game. (Diddy Kong Racing and Star Wars Episode I: Racer were also great and you should play them, too.)
Strain Pairing: AK-47 – because I think I remember guns being in this game (duh), and AK-47 is a magnificent hybrid strain that’ll ground you solidly in the couch while zoning in focus.
First-person shooters existed long before Goldeneye 007, but this game definitely provided many with their first experience in the genre. Whether you’re a skilled marksman or a hot mess spewing aimless bullets (me), Goldeneye 007 offered a playground of tactics from guns to grenades to landmines.
Strain Pairing: Transformer – a sharp cerebral strain perfect for gaming, Transformer also makes sense thematically when Banjo is given the option to transform into a walrus, a pumpkin, and, for some reason, a washing machine.
Banjo-Kazooie’s a puzzle platformer that is easy enough to enjoy while stoney baloney, and it arguably stands the test of time. You’re a shirtless bear who keeps a loudmouthed, cynical bird stuffed in his backpack. That’s Kazooie, and she’ll emerge now and then to poop out combat eggs or verbally accost other characters. The levels are sensibly designed and manageable in size, meaning you won’t be wandering anywhere long enough to forget where you’re going or what you’re doing.
Super Mario 64
Strain Pairing: Skywalker – Lose yourself to your couch with this heavy indica strain as you fly around the Mushroom Kingdom skies with your little winged cap.
The first game ever released for the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 is immortalized by nostalgia. For us kids who grew up exclusively with side-scrolling Mario games, walking into this 3D world felt a lot like the first time I tried cannabis: a new dimension opened, colors became brighter, and ohh snap, I can also fly. Super Mario 64 may feel a bit aged after Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, but there will always be a timelessness to this game as the first of its kind.