Enhance N64 Graphics With Emulation Plugins & Texture Packs

 

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

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)

Kirby 64

Super Smash Bros.


Another Super Smash Bros shot

Jet Force Gemini

Goldeneye 007

Yes, you can render the Sky Box – Glide64 HQ plugin works well also
Another screenshot

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.

Mario 64 – RiSiO’s Alternative Cartoon Mario 64

More Screenshots
Video Sample
Download Texture Pack

The Legend of Zelda: OoT – Hi-Res Pack

More Screenshots (With Before & After)
Zelda-Specific Instructions
Download Texture Pack

Paper Mario – Mollymutt’s Hi-rez


More Screenshots
Long thread with updates

Banjo-Kazooie – Macphisto’s Hi-Res Banjo-Kazooie

More Screenshots
Download Texture Pack

F-Zero X – speiles F-ZERO X retexture

More Screenshots
Download Texture Pack

Other Texture Packs (thanks CoolROM):

Special thanks: NeoGAF members from this thread that shared their N64 screenshots and


33 Comments

math says:

wait wait wait you says that you will pay 10$ for graphic when a better fzero in on gacube and (im not sure) on wii for the same price ? XD

phoenixking says:

The only thing about rice’s video plugin that disappoints me is that it doesn’t have anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering options. Jabo’s direct3d 1.6 doesn’t render the skybox in Goldeneye, but it looks amazing with the anti-aliasing settings all the way up. I almost can’t bear to use rice’s plugin- it looks so jagged in comparison. Guess i’ll have to deal without the skybox.

NewFang says:

Can someone direct me to a link with some good high res texture packs. Most links are broken, I’m looking for a Goldeneye texture pack.

aslay says:

ok does anyone got texture pack ocarina of time that works on win 7??

gabo says:

aslay
i have win7 and the texture pack ocarina in this page works perfectly, check your grapic driver or you are not installing the texture pack propertly

well… thx gabo i finally know how to use it ……. well i need a help here wht is this /hires_texture/THE LEGEND OF ZELDA/HUD ???? WHAT IS HUD??? WHT IS USED FOR??? HELP!!!!

Peeweemario says:

Luke look at paper mario’s edge; see how blurry it is? this is the untextured edge so that is a great comparison to the hd face next to it.
P.S. If you rip the rom yourself you can retexture that too.

As an entertainment ‘toy’, however, the magic of the 3D
and Nintendo’s usual fabulous build quality and playful software mark it out as something special.
The premise was simple: motorcycle racing with the aid of baseball bats and chains to knock your opponents off their crotch
rockets. 5″ is the result of lead developer Shinji Mikami createing a game that was near completion and then completely scrapping it.

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