N64 Games on Nintendo Switch (2021): Exploring the Possibility

What will it take for Nintendo to get N64 games on the Switch?

Not only is the Nintendo Switch Online subscription vastly cheaper than its home console counterparts, but signing-up gives you access to an extensive range of classic Nintendo titles.

As it stands, you get 29 SNES games and 68 NES games, but fans have been craving a collection of titles from the glorious era of 3D gaming on the Nintendo 64 console.

Here, we’re going to explore what it’d take to bring N64 games to the Switch, some recent revelations in the topic of N64 games on the Switch, and throw in a wishlist of the games that we want to come to Nintendo’s hybrid console.

N64 game size could be the primary factor

Even though they comprise 97 downloaded games in total, the ever-expanding library of NES and SNES games barely make a dent on the storage capacity of the 32 GB internal storage of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite.

All of the NES games combine to take up 127 MB, with the SNES titles coming to 183 MB (including update data). There’s a tremendous leap in storage requirements between the SNES of 1990 and the Nintendo 64 of 1996.

The N64 games were much heavier than those of the console’s predecessor. SNES game cartridges ranged from 230 KB to 4 MB, while the N64 cartridges ranged from 4 MB to 64 MB.

Looking at the SNES collection, it also appears as though games take up more storage each than they did on their console of origin. With 29 SNES titles on the file, requiring 183 MB in total, each game averages 6.3 MB apiece.

Even if each game were a full-capacity 4 MB, there would still be 66.7 MB unaccounted for: some of this will be the necessary adaptations to bring the game to the Switch, with the rest being for the encompassing SNES file itself.

The same can be seen with NES titles. Original renditions ranged 8 KB to 1 MB, but the 68 games on the 127 MB software average 1.9 MB each, not considering the possible requirements of additional aspects of the NES file.

Even if it was the case of a direct port taking up the same amount of storage as the original, just three of the N64’s maximum-capacity games would eclipse the size of the 29 SNES games.

As such, having an automatically-updated collection of N64 games could quickly take up a large chunk of the Switch’s internal storage.

Of course, Nintendo could always run a separate page within the eShop where the games can be accessed and downloaded by subscribers at their leisure.

Movement on the N64 front

As reported by Nintendo Life, a Reddit user recently calculated that all 388 N64 games, even at the largest size of 64 MB each, could comfortably fit on the larger available Switch cartridge.

Those 388 titles would combine for 24.8 GB, even if they all tipped the scales as N64 games, leaving plenty of space for further formatting and development on the max-size 32 GB Switch cartridge.

Bringing a game from the N64 may require a significant amount of additional storage, as appears to be the case with NES and SNES games.

While not run under Nintendo, Aspyr’s absurdly faithful port of the superb N64 title Star Wars Episode I: Racer weighs-in at a lot more than 64 MB.

Including a post-launch update, bringing it to version 1.0.1, the podracing-classic takes up 235 MB of storage on the Switch. There are some extra elements, such as Switch-compatible controls, but overall, it’s as direct as a port can get.

While this is still a small amount of storage given the requirements of modern games, the one game file is about 28 per cent larger than that of the whole SNES file.

The chances are that many Nintendo Switch Online subscribers wouldn’t mind 1 GB or two being taken up by some top-tier N64 games, but doing so could prove to be quite the undertaking on the development side.

From a strictly business point of view, Nintendo likely wouldn’t irritate most players by releasing N64 games for a small fee. After all, Racer’s £12.29 ($14.99) price tag didn’t stop it from surging to the top five of the Nintendo sales charts.

Given that these games would be directly from the Nintendo factory, and if they were to be sold individually, £6.99 ($8.99) would probably be the cap to maintain goodwill with the players.

Then again, given the standard set by the NES and SNES collections, some will expect the next step to be N64 games as a part of the subscription.

N64 games that deserve to be on the Switch

The Nintendo 64 boasts a fantastic collection of games, many of which long-time Nintendo fans would love to play through again on a modern console.

While there are so many great titles to pick from the N64, with Star Wars Episode I: Racer being one of them, consider the below to be one example of a priority list of preference for N64 games on the Switch.

  • Super Mario 64
  • GoldenEye 007 (one of the very few superb games drawn from movies)
  • Star Fox 64
  • Pokémon Stadium
  • Yoshi’s Story
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  • NFL Blitz
  • Mario Golf
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape
  • Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
  • Jet Force Gemini
  • Paper Mario (even though a new one’s coming soon)
  • Donkey Kong 64

The shortlist is a bit longer than most, but that’s just testament to the legendary library that the N64 boasts; some great titles that were bumped from this shortlist also deserve to come to the Nintendo Switch.

Should Nintendo manage to get N64 games on the Switch, as a part of the subscription or as low-cost games in the eShop, their efforts would be greatly appreciated by fans of the classics.

Ben Chopping

Will give almost any game a chance, particularly those that include wildlife, monsters, or prehistoric creatures of any kind.