N64 games on Switch: Could Mario 64 open the door to more Switch ports? Or will it take a Switch Pro hardware upgrade?

Could Mario 64 on Switch pave the way for N64 games on Nintendo Switch?

by Daryl Baxter

We’re now a few years into the Nintendo Switch. We’ve seen Breath Of The Wild and Mario Odyssey be critically acclaimed, people exchanging turnips in Animal Crossing, and others being amazed of their favourite games from the past being remastered, such as Onimusha and Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer.

But throughout its life so far, there’s been a growing want for retro titles to be released onto the system. The Online Service brought NES games back in 2018, followed by a SNES library last year, but there’s a niggling feeling that it can be doing more.

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Here’s everything you need to know about N64 games on Switch, from the story so far, to some thoughts on where this could be leading…

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Which N64 games are playable on Nintendo Switch?

If you were hoping we’d tell you that all your favourite N64 games can run on Switch, sadly, this is not the case. Not even slightly.

In fact, there is only really one N64 game on Switch that is worth writing home about: Super Mario 64 is coming to Switch on 18th September 2020.

The remake of Mario 64 will be bundled in with Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy in a collection called Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

Other classic N64 games like GoldenEye and Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time have NOT yet received Switch ports, and that could be down to some technical limitations…

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Why N64 games are hard to emulate

N64 games run on many different shaders and engines that have made it tricky to emulate, with Resident Evil 2 and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron being particular head-scratchers, alongside others like Ocarina Of Time only just having its own shader system be accurately emulated as of last year.

All of this adds into accurate emulation on the Switch being quite difficult. Speed is fine, but accuracy is what holds the memory of nostalgia; if you suddenly get graphical glitches that weren’t there before, it taints the memory of playing Banjo Kazooie when you were 9 years old.

I am glad to see Mario 64 coming to the Switch in an upcoming collection of classic Mario games, but a wholesale dump of N64 games (including ALL of your old favourites) would arguably be very difficult for the current Switch and its Online Service to handle.

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Could Mario 64 open the door to more N64 games on Switch?

What does the future hold?

Given the immense reaction from the internet over Mario 64 on Switch, there is still a huge fanbase desperate for more N64 content. It’s only a matter of time before Nintendo delivers.

I believe that, eventually, a ‘Super Switch’ or ‘Switch Pro‘ will appear on the market – a new console with a faster chip, able to easily emulate the N64 library through the Online service, with a larger amount of storage, and more memory to easily handle the emulation. But the previous Switch could lose out to this, just like the original 3DS missed out on those SNES games.

Before a Switch Pro is released, I’m willing to predict that Nintendo will continue to remake or remaster their previous titles, especially with Zelda’s 35th Anniversary just around the corner, too.

This treatment may well be reserved for the major fan favourites – those games that will easily make back Nintendo’s investment. Here’s hoping that Mario 64 on Switch will be a major hit, opening the door for Nintendo to bankroll some more N64-era remakes.

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An N64 Mini?

Perhaps the reason Nintendo has been so hesitant to release N64 games on the Switch is that the company is lining up to release a mini-version of the classic console.

We’ve already seen the NES and SNES get the same treatment, so fans hope an N64 version may come out pretty soon! We’ll be sure to let you know if that does get announced.

Will we get GameCube games on the Nintendo Switch?

If Nintendo 64 games ever do make their way onto the Switch, fans will no doubt quickly turn their attention to the lack of GameCube games on the console.

You can read all about our thoughts on GameCube games for the Switch down below.

READ MORE: GameCube games on Switch: Will the Nintendo Switch ever support GameCube games?

Daryl Baxter