The latest Nintendo Switch update has brought improvements to N64 emulation on Nintendo Switch Online – meaning that classics like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are now running a whole lot better.
When N64 emulation launched with Nintendo Switch Online's Expansion Pack tier, Ocarina of Time in particular suffered from graphical issues and noticeable input lag.
As reported by VGC (opens in new tab), the latest update to the platform not only adds Banjo-Kazooie to the roster of N64 games, but also makes some improvements to the quality of emulation overall.
Switch dataminer OatmealDome took to Twitter to share their own findings with the Nintendo Switch Online update, and noted that a texture glitch in Ocarina of Time – one that removed the water's transparency in the room where you fight Dark Link – has now been fixed.
[NSO - Nintendo 64]It seems the water in the now-infamous Water Temple room has been fixed in the latest update? I think the fog is still missing, though.Haven’t checked the rest of the game to see if any of the other issues have changed, but this is promising. pic.twitter.com/wcoG3hIxu2January 21, 2022
Another dataminer, LuigiBlood (opens in new tab), added that the N64 ROMs themselves haven't been altered in any way, owing the fixes to actual improvements to the emulator. If true, it would mean that Nintendo has started to make good on its promise of improving Nintendo Switch Online's N64 emulation.
The latest update hasn't fixed everything, however. Twitter users are still finding that a bug that causes Paper Mario to crash (opens in new tab) during the Game Over screen. There's also no support for the N64's Controller Pak, meaning there's still no way to properly save or load games outside of Nintendo Switch Online's suspend point solution.
Ocarina of Time was arguably the most in need of improvements, and while issues still exist (the emulated version still can't render fog), tweaks to certain textures and a reduction of input lag bring the game a bit closer to that original N64 experience.
However, it is disconcerting that issues are being found in games released post-launch, such as Paper Mario. Nintendo will have its work cut out for it if this trend continues, especially if evidence of at least 38 N64 titles coming to Nintendo Switch Online turns out to be accurate.
Given how Expansion Pack is a fairly expensive upgrade from the base Nintendo Switch Online tier, the service's N64 emulation simply couldn't stay in such a shoddy state forever. And thankfully, improvements are starting to crop up as more games are added to the service.
We'll be interested to see the state of N64 emulation on the system in February, when The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask launches. As the Ocarina of Time sequel shares many assets with its older counterpart, Nintendo will surely want emulation to be in top condition, especially considering Majora's Mask is often regarded as one of the best N64 games.