N64 games on PC: Will classic Nintendo titles ever be playable on a computer?

It's time for a pep-talk about N64 emulation. So if you've ever wondered how to play classic Nintendo games on PC, you've come to the right place.

We’re in a world that can feature Gaming PC’s with terabytes of storage, and an ultra-wide monitor that can simulate two screens at once, but throughout all of this, we always want to see how the games of yesteryear play on these machines.

From Pong, all the way through to Metal Gear Solid 4, we simply want to see just how our PC’s run these games in their own, upscaled way.

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Granted, there are ‘unofficial’ ways of playing these, with some making incredible efforts to emulate systems such as Nintendo’s N64, Gamecube, and many others. There’s recently been efforts made to be able to play Gamecube and Wii games on the iPad.

But people have wondered; is there an official way to run N64 games on a PC? Yes, there is, but there isn't much available if you're looking to play Nintendo games on PC in a legal way.

So, instead, here’s some history in how talented individuals began with N64 emulation, and where we’re up to now...

Some HLE history

Way back in 1999, an emulator in the name of ‘UltraHLE’ was introduced, showing Mario 64 being emulated perfectly on a regular PC running Windows 98. This was the start of things, a way of showing just how a (at the time) console could be emulated, as before this, there was already great headway in Super Nintendo games, Mode-7 games was the last frontier to take on in 1999.

But with the Nintendo 64, the noughties brought massive advancements in playing games on a PC. Features were soon introduced to enhance the games, way past the N64’s native resolution, being able to scale it up to 1080 by the end of 2009.

It also brought the ability to replace textures *within* the game, with the below being a fantastic example of this.

The Present

Of course, there’s always a few games on every system, especially since the PlayStation, that have been a challenge to emulate perfectly, or accurately. Star Wars: Episode 1 - Battle for Naboo was unplayable for ages, until two years ago.

Now that it’s twenty-two years since the debut of ‘UltraHLE’, there’s now so many emulators of the N64 that it can be difficult to choose. The next frontier now seems to be to emulate it on smart devices, like iPhone, iPad and smart-televisions.

Where next?

But after all of this, the question still remains; can you play official games on a PC, or through other means.

The answer is simply; no. Unless Nintendo introduces N64 games on the Switch Online Service soon, or an ‘N64 Classic’ Console arrives that’s in the same vein as the NES & SNES Mini, there will be no other way.

I do suspect that these amazing feats of emulators and ways of playing them on iOS for example, are slight bouts of frustration, that Nintendo does not seem willing to capitalise on the nostalgia.

Granted, Sony has its own situation in this, as discussed before, but when there’s a console such as the Switch, its design alone is a great justifiable reason in how N64 games would be great to play on it. Playing them when docked, or when mobile, is a massively tempting, alluring possibility, and three years into the release of the console, there’s none to be found.

Even though there’s rumours of Mario 64 appearing in a remastered form alongside other entries later this year, people still want to be able to play Ocarina of Time, or even a few from Rare’s library. But with Rare belonging to Microsoft, there may be some issues, but then again, Banjo appearing on Smash Bros last year may be the chink of light that may see a ‘Rare Replay Deluxe’ release on the Switch soon.

READ MORE:Will N64 games come to Switch?

Never give up

Apologies to build up a dream here of being able to play Ocarina of Time on your PC natively, but unless Nintendo makes its own version of ‘Game Pass’ for PC, or updates the Online Service to make it run on PC, there’s little chance right now of that happening.

It is worth noting that Nintendo did work with Nvidia on a project that can bring Wii games onto PC, including Super Mario Galaxy, so perhaps it isn't completely out of the question that a mainstream 'Nintendo on PC' service could follow at some point in the future.

After all, Nintendo has always been a company full of surprises, and of unveiling games in quick succession, so don’t give up hope, it’s not over yet.

READ MORE: Best retro consoles to buy in 2020

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