The Nintendo 64 released in 1997 in Europe and by 2009 had sold almost 34 million units worldwide. It was considered revolutionary at the time for launching with a game featuring a fully realized 3d world and one very iconic plumber! The push for 3d pulled the games industry forward and on a personal note, it is still my all time favorite console. Coming out at a time when I was a teenager with money in my pocket was ideal and I played the crap out of this system. Hoovering up and completing as many 64 cartridges as I could get my hands on. I still have fond memories of that era and have held on to my dusty console ever since. Now it’s time to dust it off again, hook up the paddles and jolt this bad boy back to life thanks to super 64!
All in One Cartridge
The super 64 is a loader cart which comes with an SD card filled with every N64 game ever released (and some that weren’t released). The games are stored on the SD in the side of the cart and can be popped out and put into your PC if you feel like deleting or adding your own Roms. The cart itself also has a switch on top which allows you to change from NTSC to PAL. The setting you choose is based on your console model (not the games). In my case, I have a European Nintendo console so I keep the switch flicked to P for PAL. Simples!
Full Rom Set
As mentioned above, the crafty cart creators have already filled an included SD card with all the original Nintendo 64 games including European, Japanese and USA versions of a lot of titles also. I had quite a large collection of games growing up but the 340 titles on offer here puts my old collection to shame. Getting to play titles that passed me by is such a joy and also playing different versions is quite appealing. Mario64 in particular has quite a few minor differences between the Japanese version and the European version which is worth checking out. Exploring the many titles on offer here is truly a heart warming experience.
Rom is a dirty word to most. Using emulators to run Roms in the past has been hit and miss at best. N64 titles in particular have difficult architecture to emulate and even the beefiest of powerful PCs can never offer a perfect version of a title. Goldeneye is one of my all time favorite games and I have tried emulating it on lots of different systems including PC, NVidia Shield and WiiU. Although it will play quite well it’s never 100%. There’s frame rate issues and texture issues all the time and the experience is never as good as it was on the N64. By using the original hardware and this loader cart you get to play the games perfectly. A short load screen is all that’s between you and a pitch perfect version of any N64 title. As of writing this, I have breezed through 20-30 titles to test them and found no issues at all. I’m sure I’ll find some flaws the more I use it but so far so good.
Okay so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Saving your progress in a game is a little bit awkward sometimes. Nothing too extreme but important to know how to do it properly before it frustrates the life out of you. On the game select menu, you will see in the bottom left corner how each game wants to save. Some will save to your memory card (inserted into your controller) some will save directly to the console’s RAM (not many) and most will save to the SD card in your super 64 cart. To save this way, you need to save in game from the menus but then you also have to hit the reset button on the console. This registers your save and adds it to the SD card. It sounds worse than it is. In practice, I found I was generally only saving a game when I was finished a play session. I would have to get up off my ass anyway to power off the console, so having tohit reset first before powering off wasn’t a huge deal for me.
There is a huge modding community out there and for years they have been making new versions of old beloved titles. Mario64, Goldeneye, Banjo & Kazooie & WWF No Mercy (and many more) all have dedicated sites with modders creations which are free to download. Some creations were made to be played on PC only but a lot have been made to play on original hardware too. A special shoutout have to go to ‘Super Mario: Star Road’ which feels like a fully fledged sequel to Mario64. You can easily spend hours on forums and sites finding the best roms out there and playing then is as easy as copying the rom file onto the SD card. Definitely worth checking out.
I really need to stress this point as it’s always a concern for most people. By using a cart, you aren’t making any physical or firmware changes to your console. You can’t do any lasting damage. If it ever crashed, you can just restart the console. If you don’t want to use the super64, just take it out and use your own original carts as normal. A small bonus to using the super64 cart is that technically, you never have to remove it as all your games are there ready to play. This means there is less risk of the pins in the console getting damaged over time by removing and inserting carts over and over again. No more blowing into a cart to get them to work (although I love doing that).
It’s cheap, it’s easy to use. Everything is pre-loaded and it breathes new life into your N64. What more could you want? Go get your Super 64 cartridge now and show your kids what real gaming is all about!