Last night, Nintendo launched the new pricing tier for its online subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online. This “Expansion Pack” as it’s called introduces a Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 app in addition to the base subscription’s NES and SNES libraries. While it seems like the Genesis app is great, many users are reporting several issues with the NSO’s N64 emulation.
Most of the issues being reported seem to be most apparent in three games. Unfortunately, these three games are the most crucial of the N64 library: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. From input latency to sound issues, these games appear to be inspiring some buyer’s remorse. That said, the impact of these snags can be very user-dependant, as some confusion in message boards and online threads indicates.
Ocarina of Time, a game that has always had trouble running well even on its original hardware, seems to be the biggest problem. Multiple folks, speedrunners and otherwise, have pointed out a degree of input latency that is catching them off guard compared to previously emulated versions. It’s similar in Super Mario 64, which is being compared to Super Mario 3D All-Stars that includes a much better emulation experience. Many of the sound issues documented online seem to largely show up in Mario Kart 64.
— Toufool (@Toufool) October 26, 2021
On top of the technical issues, there are problems that are seemingly deliberate parts of the emulator. The button configuration cannot be altered, and the way the N64’s oddly-arranged buttons are mapped to the Switch is not going over well. The N64 Controller Pak, the way the original console needed to save data in certain scenarios, is also not emulated. Thus, players are seeing error messages in games like Winback or Mario Kart 64 that they can’t do anything about.
— fuck it phrog phone (@kirbolotl) October 26, 2021
Further complicating the matter is that other games, such as Star Fox 64 or Mario Tennis, appear to be running just fine according to some of these same users. It’s too early to tell what exactly is going on with this emulation, but it seems inconsistent to say the least. And considering where N64 emulation is and has been (official and otherwise), the NSO Expansion Pack’s price hike is causing further dissatisfaction. Will Nintendo address or respond to these issues? Who can say? But we’ll be keeping an eye on the matter.