Retro console emulators group test: Project 64 2.1 review
Some games take a bit of extra fiddling to get going, but this is still one of the best emulators around
The recently released version 2.1 of Project 64, a Nintendo 64 emulator, offers unsurpassed quality and superb performance for anyone wanting to relive the hardware from the mid-90s. It’s Windows only, for the moment, but there's talk of a possible Linux version in the making, but for many fans of the N64, Project 64 is considered as one of the best N64 emulators available.
The N64 was quite an impressive machine and the successor to the more popular SNES. With an estimated 33 million units sold worldwide, the N64 was for many one of the best consoles of the time, despite the lack of texture cache and the limited storage capacity of the cartridges. However, the impressive 3D graphics system from Silicon Graphics helped pave the way for a console that would soon grow into the more enhanced GameCube.
Project 64 version 2.1 is a complete emulator that includes all the various graphical and audio plug-ins for the N64. With this version, which was released in May 2013, there are a number of fixes, tweaks and improvements. For starters, the Glide64 graphics plug-in is installed by default, although many of the popular N64 games may have trouble using it, and there have been some improvements to the controller configuration and audio plug-ins, as well as some much needed enhancements of the screen resolutions, both windowed and full-screen.
While there are a few options available within Project 64, like Turbo Engine 16, it has cut out a lot of the unnecessary settings that usually bog down an emulator. While this is great for the newcomer, it does limit the more advanced user who may want to specify and tweak it to a certain level or to provide enough support for a particular game.
The controller setup is nicely designed, showing a graphical representation of the N64 controller, along with the relevant buttons, which can be remapped to either a keyboard or a connected USB controller – which worked perfectly and configured without any issues or loss of settings once the game was up and running.
Loading up a game was just as easy, and there’s a useful feature whereby user the can point Project 64 to a directory where the games are held and they're displayed in the main window along with a column that states the condition of the game, its compatibility, any notes that accompany it and any problems that it may have when run under the emulator. It’s certainly handy for testing games with certain plug-ins and can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Project 64 is an excellent emulator. The games played perfectly, although some only after we altered the graphics plug-in, and the sound came across reasonably well, with only a few pops and minor distortion. As a result, Project 64 is by far one of the best emulators for a retro console and one that’s continually being developed with its large following in mind.
• Price: Free – beware of toolbars
• Manufacturer: Many
• Website: www.pj64-emu.com/
• Required spec: Windows XP or later, 1GB RAM