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N64 emulation is getting there (RetroArch)

nkarafo

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After testing a lot of games (and every emulator/plugin in existence since 1999) i can safely say that the best solution for emulating N64 games is the current Mupen64plus-next core with the added Parallel RDP+RSP running on Vulkan. This combination is the closest you can get to perfect N64 emulation at reasonable speeds in 2020.

The new Parallel RDP brings the graphical accuracy of Angrylion (with all N64 filters and blur) at much faster speeds. This time you can run most N64 games full speed if you have a semi-decent CPU. Only on PC though (sorry mobile/Pi4 users). And not only that, this time you can even upscale the graphics. This wasn't possible with Angrylion but it is now. And the upscaling works better than it did with GlideN64 because it upscales all the N64 filters and it's not just "how N64 graphics look using a PC video card". So you are getting pixel accurate graphics and decent upscaling at the same time!

The upscaling also works much better here because you don't get the graphical errors and seams on the 2D assets. This was a problem for N64 graphics plugins since the beginning. The only way to fix some of them was to change some 2D texture options in per game basis because in some games it worked but in some others it made things worse. But with Parallel you don't have to deal with this anymore, everything upscales smoothly. At least i haven't seen any 2D assets breaking so far (about 100 games tested).

This combination also fixes some very long existing issues that i could never fix no matter what combination i used before. Top Gear Rally and World Driver Championship (both made by BOSS) had a sync issue that caused the games to freeze and crackle for a bunch of frames every few minutes. It was a quite annoying issue that i got used to but now it's the first time i see these games run smoothly with accurate graphics, perfect audio, 2X upscale and no mini freezes. Some other issues like Killer Instinct's sky being wrong is also not a thing anymore. This was also correctly rendered in Angrylion but it made my i5 4670 crawl at 50% speed. Now the game is full speed even with 2x upscale.

It's still not perfect though. Conker is still too slow on my CPU. And long time standing, core timing issues still exist. You still get some attract modes run too fast (Goldeneye, Quake 2, EWJ 3D) and Knife Edge also runs at fast forward. But these issues exist in all emulators/cores/combinations. What matters is that there isn't an issue here that it's better in other solutions. This combination will either give you the same results as in others or (usually) better. Which means you don't need to have multiple solutions to play certain games. ALL games will work better (or the same) here, so that's the only one you need. Well, except for the games that your CPU can't run at full speed that is... But that's more of a hardware issue that can be fixed in a faster machine.


Anyway, have others tried this? What's your experience? I'd like to know if there are any issues that other emulators/cores/combinations don't have because i'm still looking. Or any other long standing issues that are fixed.
 
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nkarafo

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Some examples that other emulators/plugins can't get right (except Angrylion but only at native resolution).

These results can only be achieved with this core+plugins (2x upscale + pixel accurate graphics + full speed):


Goldeneye: Correct rendering of the water when you are in the small boat.




Killer Instict: Correct sky.




Perfect Dark: Correct (low res) rendering of the camspy even at 2x up-scaling.




Top Gear Hyperbike: Correct textures.




World Driver Championship: Perfect Graphics without errors (lines) on the UI.




If you want me to test any game/scene that gives you trouble in other emulators free to ask. I can post a screenshot.
 
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Romulus

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I can play most of them on my original Xbox at higher than the original resolution. That's 2001 console. I'm sure PC is far better.
 

ThatGamingDude

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What year is this!? I'm sure I was playing my N64 games on the PC 15 or so years ago 🤔🤯
Yeah, but with a ton of graphical and other glitches because of how the calls on the N64 work
The point being that Mupen's core is fucking wicked good at being flexible and doing what it needs to do to make it more like ACTUALLY playing an N64, instead of weird shit always going on

I'd more pick at him for only recently finding the Mupen Next core; it was fiercely pushed on development because of trying to get the Switch better N64 emulation, or at least that's how I saw it rise hanging out on some other lawless forums

EDIT: The Mupen Next core was pushed early in the Switch's mod scene
 
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Hostile_18

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Yeah, but with a ton of graphical and other glitches because of how the calls on the N64 work
The point being that Mupen's core is fucking wicked good at being flexible and doing what it needs to do to make it more like ACTUALLY playing an N64, instead of weird shit always going on

I'd more pick at him for only recently finding the Mupen Next core; it was fiercely pushed on development because of trying to get the Switch better N64 emulation, or at least that's how I saw it rise hanging out on some other lawless forums

EDIT: The Mupen Next core was pushed early in the Switch's mod scene

I honestly can't remember any flaws in Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Mario 64 etc. I remember how good it looked higher res 😁.
 

Calverz

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This looks great OP. Can you test mario tennis? Thats notorious for having shite all over the court etc
 

nkarafo

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I'd more pick at him for only recently finding the Mupen Next core; it was fiercely pushed on development because of trying to get the Switch better N64 emulation, or at least that's how I saw it rise hanging out on some other lawless forums
Oh, i was aware about the core since it was released. But only recently they added ParaLLel in it. The combination is great because the previous ParalleL core has an older Mupen core. Now it's the latest Mupen + Parallel code all in one core.

I honestly can't remember any flaws in Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Mario 64 etc. I remember how good it looked higher res 😁.
There were a lot. Not so much in Mario 64 though.
 
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jshackles

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Gotta agree, recent updates to the N64 emulation scene have made it damn near perfect.
 
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ThatGamingDude

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Oh, i was aware about the core since it was released. But only recently they added ParaLLel in it. The combination is great because the previous ParalleL core has an older Mupen core. Now it's the latest Mupen + Parallel code all in one core.
Ah no shit?

I stopped following it so closely once the beta cores were actually pretty decent; just kept sticking to the beta cores afterwards

Now if they could start working on better GCN emulation I'd be all hot and bothered
Getting some really good cores for that would be hawt
 

nkarafo

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Mario Tennis looks good. Transition screens also look correct.




Duke Nukem 64. I don't remember this game having issues in other emulators/plugins though.

 
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TexMex

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I'm a complete amateur when it comes to emulation so you know better than me but, hasn't it been there for a while now? I watch people stream N64 stuff all the time and has seemed pretty perfect for years - or is that limited to the classics that I'd be seeking out and random stuff like Top Gear Hyper-Bike needs ironing out?
 

HE1NZ

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They should do a separate emulator. RetroArch is pain in the ass.
 

nkarafo

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I'm a complete amateur when it comes to emulation so you know better than me but, hasn't it been there for a while now? I watch people stream N64 stuff all the time and has seemed pretty perfect for years - or is that limited to the classics that I'd be seeking out and random stuff like Top Gear Hyper-Bike needs ironing out?
The more popular games were emulated pretty decently even in older emulators. But at least 50% of the game library had tons of issues or didn't run at all. But even in the more popular games you would find errors if you looked. Accurate N64 emulation wasn't a thing since very recently.
 
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Sophist

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What about Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine and Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo? i remember those games were using a custom microcode.

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nkarafo

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What about Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine and Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo? i remember those games were using a custom microcode.
Both games are fixed in both Parallel and Gliden64 plugins. The microcode works in both LLE and HLE nowadays. Though, they can still have the occasional hang issues in both. I haven't tested them throughfully but if you use "interpreter" i'm pretty sure the hangs never happen but that also tanks the performance in these games. Because of this it might be best to use GlideN64 instead of ParaLLel, it displays the game fine so you don't really need LLE anymore.
 

theclaw135

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If it's in the game, it's in plugin hell. Fixing this game to break that game was the legacy N64 emulation left.
 

Horatius

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does banjo tooie glitch out? ive had that game go nuts on various different emulators over the years, never finished it because of it. jiggies disappearing, stuff being uncollectable, cutscenes not playing, etc etc.
 

nkarafo

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What was wrong with good old Project64?
If you use GlideN64 with it you are set for 90% of games but there are going to be issues in the rest of them. The examples i gave in the second post for instance don't apply to GlideN64.

If you use Angrylion, you are getting great accuracy but it's going to be way slower (even on high-end CPUs) and you won't be able to upscale the graphics.


does banjo tooie glitch out? ive had that game go nuts on various different emulators over the years, never finished it because of it. jiggies disappearing, stuff being uncollectable, cutscenes not playing, etc etc.
Hmmm, is there a consistent issue that i could test? Like an area that always glitches or something? I only tested it for a few minutes and it seemed fine.
 
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Horatius

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Hmmm, is there a consistent issue that i could test? Like an area that always glitches or something? I only tested it for a few minutes and it seemed fine.

nah sadly it would always happen deep into the game, the only one that consistently messed up on more than one playthrough was the crusher shed in glitter gulch mine.
 

nkarafo

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nah sadly it would always happen deep into the game, the only one that consistently messed up on more than one playthrough was the crusher shed in glitter gulch mine.
I have a save that someone played for 8 hours.

Is there something particularly wrong with the crusher shed?

I found it, enter inside and hit that red button. It stopped the conveyor belt and some crushers hit me a few times on the way out. Didn't notice any glitch, though everything was collected already.
 

Horatius

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I have a save that someone played for 8 hours.

Is there something particularly wrong with the crusher shed?

I found it, enter inside and hit that red button. It stopped the conveyor belt and some crushers hit me a few times on the way out. Didn't notice any glitch, though everything was collected already.
yeah it's to do with the jiggy itself, on three different playthroughs on various project 64 builds that jiggy just straight up disappeared. the loooong cutscene that shows it dropping played, but once in the actual shed it just wasn't there at all. Meant it wasn't collectible.

obv difficult to check/recreate haha, was just wondering. idk if those kinds of glitches were a common thing for people but i've definitely had some weird ass behaviour emulating n64 over the years.
 

Nothingmuch

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nkarafo nkarafo

Thanks for posting this thread! I actually made an account just to say that I had been working with some older hardware as I use an older machine for my emulation gaming and gave up on n64 about a year ago due to the issues with so many games. I am one of those guys that loves to play the games as o played them when I was a kid so accuracy is the most important thing to me and your post led me to download the new cores and check them out. I can now play most games at or near full speed and with much higher accuracy.

You really made my day! The improvements are indeed massive and my hats of to the hardwork of the many people who have brought the scene this far.

So once again thanks for posting!
 
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nkarafo

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nkarafo nkarafo

Thanks for posting this thread! I actually made an account just to say that I had been working with some older hardware as I use an older machine for my emulation gaming and gave up on n64 about a year ago due to the issues with so many games. I am one of those guys that loves to play the games as o played them when I was a kid so accuracy is the most important thing to me and your post led me to download the new cores and check them out. I can now play most games at or near full speed and with much higher accuracy.

You really made my day! The improvements are indeed massive and my hats of to the hardwork of the many people who have brought the scene this far.

So once again thanks for posting!
I'm on the same boat, i also prefer a more accurate representation of N64 games. For the longest time Angrylion was the only way for this but it was too demanding and the separate ParaLLel core wasn't as compatible. But this current combination is what i was looking for since the first time i started emulating the system, in the early 00's. N64 is my favorite system to emulate btw. I can say we finally reached good/accurate emulation status. Only thing left is to make the timings more accurate, which is more of a core CPU issue and not graphics, and the system is pretty much set.

I'm glad this thread helped.
 
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Trimesh

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I'm on the same boat, i also prefer a more accurate representation of N64 games. For the longest time Angrylion was the only way for this but it was too demanding and the separate ParaLLel core wasn't as compatible. But this current combination is what i was looking for since the first time i started emulating the system, in the early 00's. N64 is my favorite system to emulate btw. I can say we finally reached good/accurate emulation status. Only thing left is to make the timings more accurate, which is more of a core CPU issue and not graphics, and the system is pretty much set.

I'm glad this thread helped.

I suspect one of the big problems with accurate timing in N64 emulation is that the memory subsystem in the real hardware was a huge bottleneck with major sensitivity to timing and access patterns.
 

evanft

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Honestly, this is cool, but most of the n64 games I'd want to play now are available somewhere else. Perfect Dark and the Banjo games are on the XBoneX in 4k. The Zelda games have enhanced remakes for the 3DS.

Wouldn't mind playing DK64, though.
 
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nkarafo

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The Zelda games have enhanced remakes for the 3DS.


The remakes are OK but also quite different in tone. Ocarina of time especially is darker/creepier on the N64. Majora's Mask is a better remake overall but they butchered the Moon's face, which is a huge part of the game since it's always above your head, watching everything.
 
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Rodolink

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Some examples that other emulators/plugins can't get right (except Angrylion but only at native resolution).

These results can only be achieved with this core+plugins (2x upscale + pixel accurate graphics + full speed):


Goldeneye: Correct rendering of the water when you are in the small boat.




Killer Instict: Correct sky.




Perfect Dark: Correct (low res) rendering of the camspy even at 2x up-scaling.




Top Gear Hyperbike: Correct textures.




World Driver Championship: Perfect Graphics without errors (lines) on the UI.




If you want me to test any game/scene that gives you trouble in other emulators free to ask. I can post a screenshot.
what about Paper Mario and Yoshi's Story? i have never found good combination for those.
 

dave_d

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Honestly, this is cool, but most of the n64 games I'd want to play now are available somewhere else. Perfect Dark and the Banjo games are on the XBoneX in 4k. The Zelda games have enhanced remakes for the 3DS.

Wouldn't mind playing DK64, though.
I wouldn't mind playing Indy on one of these emulators. I know it's on the PC too but I've heard the N64 one is better.
 

nkarafo

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what about Paper Mario and Yoshi's Story? i have never found good combination for those.

Both seem fine:







I choose this water level for Yoshi because i know the water surface and reflections is a difficult effect to emulate and you need to enable "depth compare" in GlideN64 (iirc).

No trouble for this combination though, works out of the box.

Edit: Ignore the scanlines, they don't look as good after the jpeg/upload compression.
 
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Rodolink

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Both seem fine:







I choose this water level for Yoshi because i know the water surface and reflections is a difficult effect to emulate and you need to enable "depth compare" in GlideN64 (iirc).

No trouble for this combination though, works out of the box.

Edit: Ignore the scanlines, they don't look as good after the jpeg/upload compression.
awesome, will try it out