Nintendo yesterday added another game to its Switch Online Expansion Pack and updated the N64 library to Version 2.0.0.
There have been all sorts of improvements, but this latest update is even better than expected, it seems. According to "Zelda 64 researcher" and Twitter user Fig (as highlighted by Nintendo dataminer OatmealDome), the emulation of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on the Switch Online service is actually "more accurate to N64" in one "situation" than it was on the Wii Virtual Console version.
Warning - Majora's Mask spoilers in the video below:
OatmealDome: "Majora's Mask - Here's a situation where the Switch version is actually *better* than previous releases and more accurate to N64, thanks to a patch added by Nintendo. It fixes a cutscene running too fast, causing it to end too early."
It's quite impressive if this is the case - as the Wii Virtual Console N64 library is still considered by many as "the best" generation of Nintendo's N64 emulation. You can read more about this in our previous post.
As OatmealDome further explains, the accuracy found in the Switch version of Majora's Mask is good news for fans who have been asking for an experience more like the original Nintendo 64 release, but not so great for the speedrunning community, as it technically takes longer to complete runs.
You can see the various other improvements in yesterday's story. This is another example of the effort Nintendo is now seemingly putting into this paid service to not only improve it but in this case make it even better than past emulations of N64 games.
Would you be willing to give the Switch Online Expansion Pack service another look after the most recent update? Are you already a subscriber? Leave your thoughts down in the comments.
[source twitter.com, via twitter.com]
I wasn’t sold on the expansion pack by the n64 games alone but the mario kart dlc really changed my mind on it. As soon as my current subscription ends I’ll renew it with the expansion
I hope the team that remastered Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie for the Xbox Live Arcade is taking notes...
Alright...fair enough, Nintendo. At least you're doing something to improve emulation. I'm not so sure about the other aspects of it though.
Nso is an either or situation for me. Like its either steak or majora's mask.
Now y'all know why Nintendo only give us one N64 game per month, cause if there are issue they could take the time to fix it. If they rush multiple games at once then it won't look good for Nintendo if one or all of those had issues.
@Moonlessky Is the added price really worth it though since you will only be renting the DLC? That's something you seriously have to take into consideration. If you want to keep enjoying the DLC tracks in the long run, you'll probably be better off purchasing it rather than opting for an NSO + EP subscription.
Well, that's good news.
My understanding is in the Wii VC days they tailored the N64 emulator for each unique game. If that level of care returns, you bet, I'd try the expansion
@KayFiOS Playing BK on NSO and comparing the two, the icons for Banjo and Kazooie look like they're made of playdough. I will say though, they did fix the Jinjo's, the icon on N64 looks like they're on a government list.
Emulation is all good and well but it’s high time Nintendo brought out 1080p HD remasters of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask on Switch. And have them run at 60fps plus free camera movement (like Skyward Sword HD)
@Fizza I was mostly talking about how cutscenes run too fast on Xbox, especially in Tooie's case. BK at least stops animations until the music catches up to the cutscene at certain points, BT plays cutscenes without stopping the animations, and the music that was composed to accommodate the laggy cutscenes now lags behind, so the sting heard when Kazooie says "Look out, it's Grunty!" and everyone looks outside now plays a whole 3 seconds too late.
Hopefully this intentional lag carries over to Donkey Kong 64 when it inevitably releases. The Wii U version of the game ran so smoothly and quickly that certain minigames were impossible, like the one where you had to shoot the banana in amongst the Kongs before the lights went out. The lights-out transition happened so fast that it was impossible to react quickly enough and complete the minigame at higher difficulties.
With all these improvements Nintendo is making to the N64 games it is slowly but surely becoming a better offering. I would like to think that the yearly 50 dollar price tag is encouraging them to put more effort into the service.
Good to see, it looked pretty ropey to start with.
I haven’t bought into the Expansion Pack as I don’t consider it good value as it stands but it’s getting there. More games and the MK8D DLC may change my mind
In case anybody there's anybody here with actual emulation knowledge: I'd love to know the reason why emulated retro games can't run at a higher framerate than the originals. Does anybody know? Like, really know? (last time I asked, someone answered "because they are so old")
I just wish they would add button mapping. It's kind of ridiculous that it's not in there.
@NintendoWife I’m not amazing with emulation but my understanding is that you are tricking the game making it think it is on the system it runs on and because of this the emulator software is very similar to the console power wise which is why emulated software runs at the same framerate. To increase the framerate you would need to port it to the more powerful system
@NintendoWife There are many reasons, but one of them is how game logic used to be coded because games were not designed with portability in mind. Imagine this scenario: Lava deals damage to you every 10 frames and the game runs at 30fps. Now double this framerate to 60, it means you will take twice the damage per second.
In modern games, the use of this type of frame bound logic is considered really bad practice and we instead use timers, but in old games this was common. Even some newer games have this issue, like Dark Souls, in which the 60fps version makes your weapons lose twice the durability as it was hard coded for 30.
@NintendoWife From what I understand...
The ROM is running on an emulated CPU of the retro machine (i.e. NES, SNES, N64), so it's designed to mirror the original hardware.
Although, certain emulators allow you to overclock the CPU. Thus, you actually can run retro games at a higher framerate. I don't think that you would want to do that though... certain games will not play very well.
@OorWullie Yes - absolutely. The N64 "A" should be mapped to "B" and the N64 "B" should be mapped to "Y". Then they'd be in the same relative positions as they are on the actual N64 controller.
Personally I find it's really difficult to adapt to for some games.
@Troll_Decimator Ah that makes sense... if more things are clocked to the framerate than just the visible frames.
In particular I was wondering about slowdowns. It appears that emulated retro games stutter and creep in the same moments as the original hardware did. Which seems really unnecessary.
@NintendoWife That's purely so that the experience is identical to the original. If it isn't, then there might be some bugs and glitches that were not happening in the original version because of the timing being different. For example, it is mentioned that without the extra slowdown in some cutscenes, the cutscene music will continue to play even after the cutscene is done, which was unintended.
@Troll_Decimator I wish they could to something about it, frame rate on OoT and MM is ridiculously low :/ You'd think they could, dunno, leave the clock intact (for the game logic) and just double the visual output. I bet they could, but it's too much work to playtest it for errors.
@StuTwo I am struggling to adapt with some games too. Starfox especially. Perhaps if the direction buttons were mapped to the right stick, I'd get on better.
Won't somebody think of the speed runners! Seriously though, this is brilliant news. The small things make the difference
I still prefer the GC Collector's edition. It adds much more atmospheric tension when you have no idea if the game will crash ten seconds from now.
I will upgrade my Membership once they start adding games that haven't been added to previous Platforms. I want to see new games like Pokèmon Stadium for example. For a start I own the original N64 version of Majora's Mask and most of the other games already added so it simply isn't worth it to me atm.
It's good improvements have been made especially for those who haven't played these games but for somebody like me, a 44 year old man who's been playing Nintendo games since the NES launched there is next to no benefit to upgrading still.
@Neoicelord raises hand aye!
@KayFiOS Why? They're better than the N64 versions.
@Moonlessky Same happened to me. Hope they continue this trend of providing DLC
There are already two games which were not available on previous platforms.
We need a new game added weekly. Quantity over quality. We will get the quality games still and a whole bunch of others.
Add Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, TurboGrafx, TurboGrafx CD, Master System, Game Gear, 32X and Sega CD support as well.
@Neoicelord Never played it but I would if it came to NSO.
@mikegamer I prefer having the save state options on NSO. I like playing for like ten minutes at a time for some games. I use save states so I don’t have to wait until I can save again in-game.
@mikegamer I already explained my meaning in comment #11
VERY glad they tackled these fixes relatively quickly!
@nukatha ahhhhahahaha I will always remember my friend getting the sword upgrade after the goron race...and then it froze XD
N64 emulation is very hard to do, and often, it's not real emulation.
A good emulator works in a way where if you finish an emulator, then later, a brand new game gets released for the console, you don't have to go back and make changes to the emulator to run this new game, it will run just fine, because it's imitating the original console, but N64 emulators are often programmed with tweaks made for each individual game, in the Wii virtual console, every game had a different emulator.
I don't think this is an issue for speedrunners, don't they track these versions independently?
@NintendoWife as far as I know, these old games basically are timed to the frame rate.
You cannot increase the frame rate without increasing the speed of the whole game running.
The emulator could post-process the frame rate like some TVs can do, but that would mean even more input delay.
@NintendoWife It isn't really possible, they would have to make native ports to the Switch, or start using their old N64 devkits again to repackage these games with fixes, which is significantly more work. Maybe they will remake them one day or at least release enhanced ports of the 3DS versions, but as far as emulation goes it isn't simple to fix.
@Neoicelord Absolutely. It isn't great but it's a fun little nostalgic romp.
@PtM Exactly. While it’s not N64, overclocking the SuperFX chip in Starfox doesn’t really make the game smoother, it just makes it run faster. Like you say getting better frame rates out of those games would mean making changes to the code.
I will give credit where credit is due. Good job nintendo!
I can see where the demand is for this but it really seems to be asking much of Nintendo especially if people are going to constantly want games remastered when they have already been.
@Hero-of-WiiU those games have never been officially remastered in HD. If fans can do it, Nintendo can too. Or maybe they should just hire the fans who made their HD remasters. The work is already done.
@Yosher @ModdedInkling You are totally right, but it is hard to compare apples to apples. We have multiple copies of AC and multiple copies of MK8, but the expansion covers DLC for everyone on my plan along with the other benefits for everyone. If people on my plan decide they want it past the life of the subscription service, then the paid DLC will need to be purchased individually for each account.
The expansion pak is definitely not worth it for the Mario Kart DLC alone. But this is probably just the beginning. We've got 2 DLCs included with the expansion pak within its first 4 months. If they maintain this pace there could be 6 DLC packs included for the first year (and also the n64 games which is the main point of the expansion pak). I would definitely prefer buying over subscribing, but if the value is there, then I'm open to it.
This is Exactly what happens when we actually pay and Support our Masterpieces through Nintendo Switch Online. We get Updates and Finished Games.
The wii sucked and so did the vc. And so did homebrew and all of you hackers who killed it.
@NotoriousWhiz @Tandy255 That is a good point from both of you, but the EP still wouldn't allow you to play all the DLC beyond the duration of the pass. Unless they decide to suddenly make the DLC free for long time subscribers or something, which, honestly, doesn't sound like a bad deal: if you've been able to enjoy the DLC for 2 years (maybe 3 years) through the expansion pass, you get to keep it.
Regardless of value, regardless of if ALL Switch game DLC would be available this way (theoretically), as it is, you would lose every single bit of it once they stop the service, and that is something that should never happen if you ask me.
@Yosher Truthfully, digital content can never be owned. I'm considering the upgrade for the extra games and MK DLC. It's a personal choice but physical media is your until it decays; digital is yours until the publisher decides it isn't.
@KayFiOS That was due to the original N64's slowdowns
But this is a particular scene speed, is the rest better than the Wii version?
@nilcam Digital media can still be yours so long as it remains on your system, provided it's not locked behind a subscription. For example, I can still access every single Virtual Console game I ever bought on both Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, and will be able to keep accessing them until those systems brick. That can't be said for MK8D DLC if I don't purchase it. And I honestly highly doubt they would prevent you from accessing it after a purchase, unlike the subscription.
@Troll_Decimator It’s funny, if I was developer at Nintendo I’d do just that. Get the old devkits, gather some of the original programmers and fix stuff.
It’s mind boggling to me that they don’t do that, or sometimes don’t even seem to have access to their old source data anymore. I’m thinking of the AI upscaled cutscenes in Mario Sunshine for Switch. How is it possible that a company like Nintendo doesn’t keep and document all their project and source data?
@mikegamer slowdowns that the games were designed around. The remasters run smoother, but they don't accommodate for those animations not functioning correctly, so it's fair for people to think they're inferior to the N64 versions for that.
@NintendoWife I'm also no expert but here's my explanation. An emulator is a virtual machine. Playing on original hardware you have Rom data-hardware-screen. But with an emulator, the hardware doesn't match the rom. So instead of the data going directly straight to a bespoke chip it was designed for, the data needs to be interpreted, and translated into something alternative hardware can understand, and then process the data in a way that simulates the behaviour of those old chips, in real time.
@NintendoWife They do have all the source code and assets. How do you think they remade Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask for 3DS? It's just that if they put the effort in to rework the games, which would be significantly more work, then they might as well port them natively to Switch, in which case they wouldn't just put them on NSO. Instead, they would release them as enhanced ports in a collection, or just remake them and charge full price.
Adding a per-game hack to fix this scene is not any different than Wii/WiiU/3DS VC using a different emulator each game.
At the end of the day it's the same emulator with the needed changes patched in.
@Yosher You are right. However, for a few people, it will be worth getting the NSO subscription and the paid DLC. They overlap in service, but are not mutually exclusive.
The collectors are a minority of the Nintendo users. Most people play the current console and then move on to the next (or even skip a generation like the Wii U). Nintendo has a bad pricing structure, but for most users — a shared family rental plan is all they need. The collectors are in the tougher spot.
I like your idea of rewarding long term customers. If Nintendo were to do this, they should communicate it now. That way consumers can make a decision they feel good about and won’t feel burned later.
It would be awesome to see significant eShop discounts on digital Nintendo titles and DLC for Expansion Pack subscribers.
After watching the video I can see why this wasn't in the GC/Wii/WiiU releases, it's pointless no one in their right mind would spot this difference unless they were carefully analyzing the game and comparing with a real n64.
The sound crackling in OOT whenever you open the pause menu stands out way more than this.
Removed - unconstructive
@Neoicelord if we're adding in games not only from N64, I'd really love to see Lost Kingdoms and ESP Lost Kingdoms 2 from the GC era. So much underratedness.
@Yosher Is that confirmed though? How would anyone know at this point if the DLC vanishes if you cancel your Expansion Pack membership?
@Troll_Decimator I know that they have the Zelda assets. I was referring to other cases like said Mario Sunshine pre-rendered cutscenes. Apparently they were unable to re-open those 3D projects and re-export them in HD. Or, of course, they didn’t wanna make the effort.
@Basicbird No, that is not how it works at all.
The games back then was created in such a way that they were locked to run at a specific framerate. And in many cases that goes very deeply. Even down to animations and on some consoles sound.
That means that if you were to unlock the framerate or increase it then you would end up with issues such as animation running too fast, broken physics, broken sound or other issues.
I am not sure if the Switch have enough power to emulate N64 at 60fps if they went through the trouble of patching the roms and fixing all the issues, but I don’t think the power of the console is the main issue. If that was the case then I bet we would be able to run ocarina of time at 60fps on PC via emulation.
No it comes down to how the games are built.
We might see a homebrew port of Ocarina of time running at 60 fps natively on the Switch in the near future, since that game has been decompiled.
Wouldn't comparing Wii and Switch speedruns be somewhat akin to comparing NTSC and PAL speedruns, given the playback discrepancies? Kind of an apples and oranges scenario, no?
@vio the animal crossing dlc addition confirmed that question, saying you'd be able to keep the stuff you took back to your island and whatnot, but not access any of the dlc, so assumedly in mario kart's case it just re-locks the dlc courses
@vio Yes, this is confirmed by Nintendo. It's on their website. I couldn't find it on the English one, but on the Dutch one there's a Q&A that reads, and I quote and translate:
"Q: If I use the DLC Animal Crossing Happy New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass through a membership of Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass and my subscription expires, will my save data be lost?"
"A: Even if your membership of Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass expires, you will not lose your save data.
By purchasing the membership again (or by purchasing the downloadable content of Animal Crossing New Horizons - Happy Home Designer or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass separately), you will be able to continue where you left off."
So yeah, pretty deep confirmation that once your subscription ends, you will lose access.
@NintendoWife Yeah I'm not too sure about that one, but it is not necessarily trivial to redo them, they might have the original project, but it might not be compatible with modern tools for instance, so they might need to use some ancient version of Windows and 3D Studio Max to re-export them. The usual approach for this kind of thing is to outsource it so that some poor underpaid fella in Indonesia or something will have to figure it out. Nintendo and outsourcing don't go very well together.
@Yosher @somebread I see.. Thank you for the info gentlemen. A little disappointing, but I understand why Nintendo is doing it that way. They obviously want everyone to renew every year..
@Orpheus79V XBLA have may QOL features like auto save, true widescreen, better HUD textures, and they actually save the notes you collected. Too hard to go back to the N64 versions.
Remakes for Ocarina and Majoras is a must. I do play the 3ds games because they looked like a nive overhaul on the original, but the Switch has enought power to bring a cool remake on those marvellous classics.
@sleepinglion That is how the emulation has been done in the NSO expansion pack.
@DaniPooo oh sorry I didn’t realise that’s how it was thanks for letting me know
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