If you want to play retro games, emulation is the way to go. It’s convenient since there’s no need to get a bundle of dongles just for the retro console to work with a new TV. Nintendo, being one of the famous brand for beloved retro games, is always subjected to emulation. The company was the first one to redefine 3D platformer games with the release of Super Mario 64, and it is still one of the most popular games in the speedrunning community. One can dream about Super Mario 64 natively on PC, except you don’t need to now, thanks to some passionate fans.
Hardware emulation through software (which is what people are doing) is inefficient. There are lots of overheads in the code and explains the reason why even modern hardware can’t smoothly emulate consoles from several generations ago. The new Super Mario 64 port does not require an emulator as it is ported and uses DX12 API. Since it is built around DX12, it provides the options to upscale to ultra-wide monitors (like the Acer Nitro XV340CKP that we reviewed) or native 4K resolution. You can even use peripherals such as Xbox One controller thanks to the use of the DirectX API.
And while games such as Metro Exodus down to Minecraft and Quake get ray-tracing support, it is also possible to add it into the SM64 port through a 3rd-party plugin such as Reshade. It doesn’t look great since most textures and polygons are flat, but the lighting in the game does change a lot.
It is unclear whether the release of this project has any relation tied to the recent Nintendo leaks where internal documents such as Wii source codes and N64 demos are now out in the public as the fan-made port actually started last year with fan’s decompiling the N64 game codes and recompiling for the PC.
From the looks of it, only most 3D models are upscaled, leaving UIs and textures as jaggy or blurry as it is but this is what contributes to the feeling of retro gaming. Perhaps AI upscaling could sharpen them and provide more options for the player. Maybe, someone will create new high-definition texture packs for Super Mario 64.
If you prefer the game to run on a modern Nintendo system because it is a Nintendo game, fear not as Super Mario 64 is rumored to be released this year on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Super Mario Bro’s 35th Anniversary celebration. I’m also looking forward to Super Mario Galaxy, actually.