How do I model an N64 character?

I’d like to learn how to model a low-poly N64 character, step-by-step. I don’t know where to start–the face, the feet, the chest–but each character model I know of is made up of different parts–two feet, two lower legs, two upper legs, an abdomen, a chest, two upper arms, two lower arms, two hands, a face, eyes, a mouth, a hair piece, and a bunch of hair. Which of those parts shall I begin with when learning?

There is no specific workflow. Each modeler has its own way to create characters. In my case, i always start with the body, i make the wholes for the neck, legs and arms. Then i model the legs, arms, and attach to the body. Then i move in to the hands and i attach the hands to the arms. The head is the last step, since it is the most tricky part. About the pieces you will need, is it up to you and depends on how much level of detail (including animations) you want to add to the final model. Also, things like hair pieces, eyes, etc shoudnt be modelled separatedly if you are not going to animate or do anything with em… BUT, in other thinking, having unique pieces can make things easier as well, in case you want to texture the eyes more closely or in a future you want to animate em… etc.

I guess I’m going to try to start with the chest and/or abdomen, then (assuming that Mario model I analyzed is correct, they’re two different pieces). For the chest, should I try to leave some triangles for what I call the “scout scarf”? (I’m trying to make 3D models of the Camper and Picnicker from Pokémon, as practice.)

I really dont know how are the models of N64 designed (i mean, i know they are low poly but thats all i can guess) so i cant really tell you an advise about the chest. You should experiment for yourself. If the model is not too complicated, it shouldnt be so hard. Just pick an image of the model and try to mimic it.

You could try to look at the original model in blender, and analyse how everything is connected, https://www.models-resource.com/nintendo_64/supermario64/model/1637/ you can import the obj file and take a look.

Seeing that image, the chest doesnt need to be even modelled… you just create the basic shape of the chest but you really dont make any details. Because if you want to do it right, the clothes should be modelled apart, not within the chest. And the clothes are going to cover basically the entire model.