Emulating the nearly 25-year-old Nintendo 64 console doesn't seem like a hard task in 2021. There are plenty of stable emulators out there that do the job perfectly, or close to it.
But seems like Nintendo itself didn't do well when including a selection of its old 64-bit in their Nintendo Switch. Some titles, accessed through a new subscription level unveiled a few days ago, is performing below expectations, according to many users.
More than one issue is reported. The first is with button mapping. The original Nintendo 64 controller had only one analog, with four small yellow buttons designed for camera control – hence called the C-buttons.
The emulation places the C buttons on the Joy Con's YBXA buttons, while the user holds the ZL. Of course not everyone is enjoying this configuration. Buttons B and A are also on Switch's B and A.
So far, so good? Kind, because the Switch's B and A buttons are aligned in a very different angle from the Nintendo 64's. The best way would be to map them to the Joy Con's Y and B buttons, thus achieving a feel more like the classic controller.
But... You can't remap the buttons. Why doesn't Nintendo let users tweak the controller as they like best?
Some players suspect it is a way of "forcing" those looking for the most original experience to buy the re-creation of control. The replica, sold separately to package subscribers for $49, quickly sold out.
But that's not all. Some games have obvious delay and issues with sound. In Mario Kart 64, the problem is quite noticeable; it is believed to be caused by some netcode trying to keep online players in sync – and in the process, sacrificing audio sync.
Another one is with some graphic effects. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time struggle to correctly display fog effects – something not even ordinary PC emulators do.
Check the difference between Nintendo 64, Wii Virtual Console and Switch versions (via stopskeletons on Twitter):
And seems to be impossible to emulate the Controller Pak, a memory cart attached to the slot on the bottom of the Nintendo 64 controller. With that, some games and features are gone. In Mario Kart 64, for example, data was saved in the Controller Pak to have the ghost racer, so players could run against a "ghost" of their previous best races. You can't do it – for now – on Switch.
Some players also complain about input lag, which would make certain games almost unplayable, especially online. While it's difficult to prove each personal perception, the issue of buttons is undeniable and remains to be seen for Nintendo to express itself.