We're big fans of EON here at Nintendo Life. The company has already produced some amazing GameCube HDMI adapters in the form of the GCHD and GCHD Mk II, both of which harness the console's digital output to give a crisp picture without the need for pesky internal modification.
However, for its next trick, EON has taken things up a notch. The Super 64 brings HDMI output to the GameCube's forerunner, the Nintendo 64, a feat which is made a whole lot harder thanks to the fact that the console has no digital output of any kind.
Like the GCHD, the Super 64 is a plug-and-play solution which takes the console's S-Video signal and upscales it to zero-lag 480p, and requires no internal hardware modification to run – you simply pop it into the AV port of the N64 and you're away. The unit has a robust design and even comes with a little 'foot' on the back which ensures that it remains stable when it's sticking out the back of your console.
The Super 64 has two modes – normal and 'slick' – and toggling between them is a simple button press away; there's a tiny button on the side of the unit for this purpose. Normal mode gives you crisp and chunky pixels, while slick mode smoothes off the edges to present an image that is arguably closer to what you might remember from back in the day.
Compared to what the N64 is capable of outputting to your HD TV over composite AV – arguably the most common way we connected our machines back in the day – the difference is like night and day. Everything looks sharper and clearer, and the Super 64 maintains the aspect ratio too, so you don't have to worry about messing around with your TV remote to get the right picture. Compared to S-Video the gulf is less pronounced, but is still noticeable.
However, at $150 it's a pricey bit of kit, and arguably falls well short of the kind of quality you get from an internal mod, like the UltraHDMI mod or an RGB mod running through an Open Source Scan Converter. Of course, both of those options require you to locate someone who can install the mod for you (if you're not brave or knowledgeable enough yourself to perform the surgery), which will be a stumbling block for some.
Also, it's worth noting that while this is a solid solution if you've only got access to a high def TV in your household, you may find that you prefer the way your N64 looks on an old-fashioned CRT set; we certainly felt that way when playing Banjo-Kazooie for this review, but that could just be nostalgia kicking in. It's also worth noting that the Super 64 will only work on NTSC N64 consoles; if you own a PAL system, then you're out of luck.
Not everyone is going to want to have their console opened up for an internal mod of course, so that does make the Super 64 a little more attractive, even if the price difference isn't all that large between the two. It's unquestionably a massive step up from the composite picture you get when you hook the machine up to a modern TV, and, in some cases, it may be your only option for playing your N64 on such a set – one of the TVs we used in this test stubbornly refused to recognise the composite signal from our console at all.
Ultimately, while the Super 64 may not be the best way to get HD visuals out of your N64, it's effortlessly the most elegant and hassle-free.
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