Many of the most old-school of gamers still pride themselves on playing all the classics on the original hardware and look down on emulation. Many other Nintendo fans may be loading up their Wiis with plenty of excellent N64 games on the Virtual Console. However, if you are looking for something to breath a bit of fresh air into your favorite N64 games, you may want to look into some neat little hacks you can do with an N64 emulator and some select plugins and texture packs.
More Must-Read N64 Content to Check Out
- The Best Undiscovered N64 Games
- The Best N64 Games That Are Still Timeless
- The Cheapest N64 Games Worth Your Time
- A Beginner’s Guide to the N64
- The N64 First Person Shooter (FPS) Library
What Can These Tweaks Do?
Even though it was 64-bit, the N64 was still in that era where 3D processing was at its infancy and the graphics weren’t quite as smooth as we might like. In fact, the 32-bit Playstation had a number of later games that gave the best of the N64 a run for its money in terms of graphics. However, with some emulation tweaks, we can give some of your favorite N64 classics a significant boost to help transition them into the modern era.
While I wasn’t as impressed with most of these as much as I was with the PS1 emulation enhancements we covered a while back, there are some very interesting examples of a high-gloss finish added to some of the best of the N64 library.
Basic Image Enhancement Plugins
Without doing anything too terribly complicated, you can make most any N64 game look significantly better by using Project64 with a plugin, typically the Rice Video Plugin (find others on list of plugins here). These improvements are usually made by enhancing the 3D model textures and using anti-aliasing techniques to smoothen the rough edges of the polygons. Here are some great examples of enhanced screenshots (click to enlarge)
Super Smash Bros.
Jet Force Gemini
Custom Texture Packs
One of the coolest tricks in N64 emulation is re-texturing. With this technique, the original graphics of the game are taken out, redone using high resolution textures or a different graphic style (such as Cell Shading), and then reinserted for playback on the PC. These texture packs consist of zipped files that you download and use in combination with a copy of the original game ROM and specific emulators. (See this guide for a detailed example)
The only disadvantage to this technique is that there is a lot of time and effort that goes into these texture packs. Dedicated members of the N64 emulation community pour their creativity and skill into these creations and is is no small task to adequately take care of one game, let alone the entire N64 library. Because of this, not every N64 game is going to have high-resolution texture packs available. Although, you are free to join in on the initiative yourself.
Below are some of my favorite examples of texture packs (click to enlarge screens), but there are more available. If you have a favorite that isn’t mentioned, feel free to drop some links in the comments section below.
The Legend of Zelda: OoT – Hi-Res Pack
Paper Mario – Mollymutt’s Hi-rez
- Diddy Kong Racing by _pm_
- GoldenEye 007 by Kerber2k
- Legend of Zelda, The: Majora’s Mask by Djipi and MDtauk (Screenshots here)
- Mario Kart 64 by Mazzocchi
- Monopoly by krhyluv
- Starfox 64 by Kid A
- Super Mario 64 by cloudscapes, _pm_, and John Doe
- Super Smash Bros. by _pm_ and optimus$prime
- Virtual Chess 64 by sToRm_seveN
- Wave Race 64 by The Dave
- WWF No Mercy by alanchiz
Special thanks: NeoGAF members from this thread that shared their N64 screenshots and