There are several new mods for the unofficial PC version of Mario 64 that add features that would never have been possible if this game had been limited to the original N64 format. With the functions of modern gaming PCs, the game can be reworked to take advantage of a much more powerful hardware. The N64 was a great machine in the mid-1990s, but even the most humble gaming PC today is far more powerful.
This fan-made Mario 64 PC port, based on a team of people who decompile the original game, already has features like support for Ultrawide monitors, robust controller support, and frame rates up to 60 fps, but people are just starting to implement new features in this new PC version of Mario 64.
Here are some of the latest features.
HD model package
Modders have worked hard to recreate many of the key elements of the game and to replace the basic low poly versions from the original game with much more rounded and crisp versions. So far, they have replicated Mario himself, many of the enemies, and the handful of NPCs.
They are referred to as the “SGI Project” and attempt to restore the look of artwork created by SGI Silicon Graphics, high-end 3D rendering computers used to create rendered artwork for the original game, promotional graphics, and the like the game was created.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but if you are interested in following this mod progress you can keep track of it Twitter.
No drawing distance
As a groundbreaking 3D platform, Nintendo had to get every imaginable power out of the N64 hardware when creating the original game. One way to improve efficiency was to use a limited train distance. If game objects are far enough away from the player, they will essentially no longer render. This allowed them to improve the details of nearby objects without wasting resources on distant ones. It’s a worthwhile compromise and originally a smart approach, but given the storage capacity available on modern gaming PCs, this new PC port of the game isn’t necessary. There is a mod that completely disables this, which means that all game objects, including those in the distance, remain rendered. Especially when you play the game on high resolution monitors, you can really see the difference and it only helps that the game looks more expansive and feels more expansive. If this had been possible with the original version, Nintendo would certainly have tried something similar, but it’s great that we can play this classic game all the years later without the same restrictions.
No Drawing Distance is an option implemented in sm64pcBuilder2, a tool to create your own version of Mario 64 if you are able to provide your own legally purchased ROM.
Frame rate without cap
No practical application at the moment, but this is still an interesting curiosity, even if the video material is unintentionally extremely unsettling. By removing the frame rate cap, we can get an idea of how fast the game can run. On a system with a GTX 1080 GPU and an Intel i7 7700k, we can see that the game reaches frame rates of more than 1000 fps. The game logic is tied to the frame rate, which means that the game will speed up to match the frame rate when played that way. However, there is a possibility that another mod may decouple the game logic and render the frame rate across the board and possibly use animation interpolation, so this game may be butter-soft on high frame rate displays. In the meantime, it’s an entertaining benchmarking tool that could likely be expanded in the future.
These mods give us a taste of what the different members of the mod community around Mario 64 can produce in a short time. We are excited to see what could still be possible across the board.