N64 Roms - Most Don't Work (General N64 Emulation Question)

Discussion in 'Wii - Emulation and Homebrew' started by A4orce84, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. A4orce84
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    A4orce84 Advanced Member

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    Hey Guys,

    Just a general N64 emulation question, nothing really specific here. Why is it that N64 emulation hasn't come up to speed like NES, SNES, Genesis, etc.? It seems that most of my roms have always been a bit buggy, or the coloring is off, and never seem to work as fluidly / smoothly as they did on the N64 console.

    Is there something difficult with emulation on the N64 and "ripping" roms? I'm assuming since it has been almost been 20 years since the N64 was released, something is still preventing the emulation from being on-par to other systems.

    Just a curious question from an emulation newb. =)

    Thanks,
    Asif
     
  2. Clarky

    Clarky Don't you know who I think I am?

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    just a lot more complicated then previous generations to emulate accurately. A new emulator CEN64 is aiming for accuracy while trying to keep it around the same ballpark in terms of specs as BSNES so there could be hope yet
     
  3. A4orce84
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    A4orce84 Advanced Member

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    Why is it more complicated than say PS1/PS2 emulators, which seem to be emulated a lot more successfully than N64?
     
  4. Vague Rant

    Vague Rant Deceptively cute

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    For one, the N64 is a more powerful console than the PS1; keep in mind there's something like a 2+ year gap between the consoles' release.

    That aside, one major factor is that until the N64 (and the PlayStation to a lesser extent), emulators could be written entirely in software (which is slower but more accurate) and generally still run full speed on contemporary computers. You could emulate the SNES with pretty good accuracy--at least compared to N64 emulators--back in the '90s on any average home PC. To get similar results on the N64 required a massive shortcut: high-level emulation. Rather than emulating everything the N64 does (especially in terms of 3D rendering), emulator developers intercepted its instructions and executed the equivalent instruction on the PC's graphics card, so the game ends up being half "hardware emulated in software" and half "interpreted in real-time" by the user's PC.

    Using this method, it was possible for a general home PC to run (some) games at full speed, but accuracy was pretty much thrown out the window. The alternative--emulating the console entirely in software--would have been prohibitively slow on contemporary computers, so it's not an approach anybody was taking 15 or so years ago. Instead, we got a plugin system where users could mix and match different high-level implementations to get most N64 games running. From a user's perspective, it was kind of inconvenient, but it sort of worked and this probably discouraged progress in some ways--if most games are playable with the current scheme, why re-invent the wheel?

    We're just now starting to hit the point where going the software route is feasible and there's enough interest in doing it; the MESS package and CEN64 as mentioned above are both attempts to do (slow) accurate Nintendo 64 emulation. As for the effects of this trickling down to emulation on consoles ... eh, that's gonna take a while. A Wii can't hold a candle to a modern PC, and even the best smartphones are several years behind the best PCs--not to mention, most smartphones aren't "the best" smartphones. The high-level route is likely to hang on for quite a while in lower-spec arenas like phones and game consoles.

    Why is PS2 emulation so good in comparison? Eh, I dunno. Better understood hardware, maybe? I don't know jack about PS2 emulation.
     
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  5. SuperrSonic

    SuperrSonic GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Since we're on the subject and the Wii section, every time I read about the VC's n64 people mention it's rendering models at 2 times the original resolution. Wouldn't that process slow down already struggling emulation?
     
  6. Vague Rant

    Vague Rant Deceptively cute

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    Not as much as you might expect, because the 3D is all done in hardware (high level emulation). Rather than actually emulating the N64's graphics hardware, the instructions are translated in real-time into something the Wii's hardware can make sense of, and rendered just the same as any native Wii game. You might be able to get a small boost to performance by rendering at the original resolution, but the Wii is working harder on basically every part of emulation besides the 3D rendering. The 3D is the easy part.
     
  7. A4orce84
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    A4orce84 Advanced Member

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    You are making it sound like the N64 (being an older console) has better internal hardware than the wii....or am I misunderstanding?
     
  8. Vague Rant

    Vague Rant Deceptively cute

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    No, not at all, just very different internal hardware. That means if you wanted to emulate it accurately, the system would have to work quite hard to run it (harder than the Wii can work and maintain full speed). Just speaking purely hypothetically, if you had access to the source code and could port an N64 game to run natively on the Wii, it would run just fine (at higher res and framerate than on N64), but traditional emulation requires emulating all the internal parts of the system and perhaps equally important, keeping them synchronized.

    There's a horribly oversimplified and generally false claim that to do accurate emulation of a console, the parent platform (in this case, the Wii) needs to be eight times more powerful than the original. It's bad on a factual basis, but the idea isn't unsound: it introduces a lot of overhead to make one system's CPU emulate another system's entire hardware setup (CPU, video hardware, sound hardware, etc.). The "8 times" is silly and not really even possible to measure and will vary based on the complexity (not always correlated with capability) of the original system, so don't repeat that, but it's helpful as an indicator of how hard emulation requires the emulating machine to work.

    Basically, the Wii is much more powerful than the N64, but not powerful enough to emulate it entirely in software with much success. In Wii64, you can see some of this by going into Settings > General and setting the CPU Core to "Pure Interp". This switches the emulator to a mode where the CPU is emulated entirely in software instead of its instructions being translated to PPC (Wii) instructions in real time. As you might guess, it has a massive impact on performance and I'd imagine no games at all run full speed: Mario 64 gets kind of close, with the castle exterior running at a mildly sluggish ~85% of full speed. However, it's likely to me a good deal more accurate, so some games which don't work at all with the Dynarec might work (slowly) in Pure Interpreter.

    Even with the slower Pure Interp mode enabled, though, the graphics are still being done at a high level (rendered on the Wii hardware rather than emulating N64 3D hardware and rendering it there), so there's a big shortcut being taken to improve speed. It's only when these two shortcuts are used together that the Wii is able to emulate the Nintendo 64 at full speed. All this is despite the fact that the Wii is a far more powerful console than the N64. The short version is: emulation is hard.
     
  9. RanCorX2

    RanCorX2 Member

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    is anyone working on wii64 anymore? Not64 seems dead too.

    I can play RS 3D & BFN on the pc but can't play RS2 & 3 because dolphin can't emulate them

    I can play RS 2 & 3 on the Wii but not RS 3D or BFN :(

    would've liked to have all 4 games on the one system. poo
     
  10. Lakum

    Lakum GBAtemp Regular

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    What emulator and roms are you using some N64 emulators have a very high compatibility with the right plugins it may be that you are using a bad rips.
     
  11. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Just use Not64 and you should be fine. Emulating is not the same as native support, so it will always require more juice than the original hardware. The thing about the N64 is that it was rather complex for its time and remains troublesome to emulate to this day, not to mention that the Wii is not exactly a powerhouse.
     
  12. SomeWeirdSin

    SomeWeirdSin GBAtemp Regular

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    At the risk of sounding dumb, which emulator is better? I currently have Wii64, but if Not64 is even the slightest bit better I'd like to make the switch.