Nintendo N64 emulation woes with Kirby, Fixation coming soon 

 May 10, 2022

Nintendo has promised to fix an annoying bug that’s cropped up in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, a Nintendo 64 game available via Nintendo’s Online Expansion Pack subscription. The bug makes it so players can’t move if certain enemies or items hit them in the game’s underwater levels.

According to people who say they’ve experienced the bug, the only way to fix it is to exit the level. The issue seems to be caused by Nintendo’s emulator.

Players report that they don’t remember it happening in the original version of the game or in other ports (it was available through the Virtual Console on the Wii and Wii U). In a tweet on Friday, the company said that a patch to fix the issue “will be released early next week.”

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It is far from Nintendo’s first brush with emulation woes on the Switch. Players have complained that some classic games run poorly on the company’s modern console, and in some cases, players have noticed changes from the original versions.

When Paper Mario, another Nintendo 64 game, came to the console, its launch was a bit of a disaster; there were crashes, complaints of lag, and even reports of saving file-deleting bugs. Unfortunately, Nintendo 64 games on Nintendo Switch are not too up to snuff.

It doesn’t help people’s moods that Nintendo markets its emulator as a premium feature — to get access to NES or SNES games, you have to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, which costs $20 a year. However, access to Nintendo 64 games requires a subscription to Switch Online plus Expansion Pack, which is $50 a year (and which includes other emulators and access to DLC).

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Getting games to emulate correctly is no small feat, and Nintendo isn’t the only one struggling. Sony’s PlayStation Plus classic game emulator, meant to run PlayStation 1, 2, and Portable games, has already garnered some complaints, with Digital Foundry calling the current iteration “not good enough.” (Ouch.) People weren’t excited about the emulation capabilities of its standalone PlayStation Classic console either.

nintendo-64-2

The recently renamed Nintendo 64 console was fully revealed to the public in playable form on November 24, 1995, at Nintendo’s 7th Annual Shoshinkai trade exhibition. Keen for a preview, “hordes of Japanese schoolkids crowded in the cold outside … the electricity of anticipation rippling through their ranks”. Game Zero magazine shared photos of the event two days later. Nintendo’s official coverage followed later via the Nintendo Power website and print magazine.

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The console was initially slated for release by Christmas of 1995. However, in May 1995, Nintendo postponed the release to April 1996. Consumers anticipating a Nintendo released the following year at a lower price than the competition reportedly reduced the sales of competing Sega and Sony consoles during the critical Christmas shopping season. Therefore, Nintendo may have revealed the April 1996 release date with this end in mind, knowing that the system would not be ready by that date.

The Nintendo 64 (N64) is a home video game console developed by Nintendo. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System beneficiary was released on June 23, 1996, in Japan, on September 29, 1996, in North America, and on March 1, 1997, in Europe and Australia. It was the last central home console to use cartridges as its primary storage format until the Nintendo Switch in 2017. It competed primarily with the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn as a fifth-generation console.

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Development began in 1993 in collaboration with Silicon Graphics, using the codename Project Reality, then a test model and arcade platform called Ultra 64. The final design was named after its 64-bit CPU, which aided in the console’s 3D capabilities. Its creation was primarily complete by mid-1995, and the launch was delayed until 1996 to complete the launch games Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Saikyō Habu Shōgi (exclusive to Japan). A series of color variants followed the charcoal-gray console. Some games require the Expansion Pak accessory to increase system RAM from 4MB to 8MB for improved graphics and functionality. The console mainly supports saved game storage, either onboard cartridges or the Controller Pak accessory. The 64DD peripheral drive hosts exclusive games and expansion content for cartridges, with many additional accessories plus the defunct Internet service Randnet. Still, it was a commercial failure and was only released in Japan.

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Time named it Machine of the Year in 1996, and in 2015 IGN called it the ninth-greatest video game console of all time. The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2002 following the 2001 launch of its successor, the GameCube. However, the Nintendo 64 was critically acclaimed and remained one of the most recognized video game consoles.

“At the heart of the system will be a version of the MIPS(r) Multimedia Engine, a chip-set consisting of a 64-bit MIPS RISC microprocessor, a graphics co-processor chip, and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs)”. The product will be developed specifically for Nintendo and unveiled in arcades in 1994 and available for home use by late 1995. The target U.S. price for the home system is below $250″. “For the first time, leading-edge MIPS RISC microprocessor technology will be used in the video entertainment industry [and already] powers computers ranging from PCs to supercomputers.”

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Following the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo led the industry with its first home game console, the Famicom, initially released in Japan in 1983 and later released internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) beginning in 1985. Though the NES and its successor, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), were commercially successful, sales for the SNES decreased due to the Japanese recession.

In addition, competition from emerging rival Sega’s 32-bit Saturn console over Nintendo’s 16-bit SNES emphasized Nintendo’s need to develop improved SNES hardware or risk losing market dominance to its competitors. The Atari 5200, 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar also competed with Nintendo.

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Nintendo sought to enhance the SNES’s capabilities by outsourcing existing media companies as licensed developers for a proposed SNES CD-ROM peripheral. Philips and Sony were the forerunners of Nintendo’s add-on concept, but both companies’ contracts were ended without a peripheral being produced.

Instead, Philips would use the licenses granted by Nintendo to release Mario and Zelda games on its CD-i console. In contrast, Sony would use the technology to develop the first PlayStation. Further complicating matters, Nintendo also faced a backlash from third-party developers unhappy with Nintendo’s strict licensing policies.

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