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Classic Nintendo games add ray tracing, thanks to a modder

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Classic Nintendo 64 games are set to receive advanced ray-traced lighting, thanks to a modder.

Software developer ‘Darío’ claimed Friday that he is adapting RT64, the path-tracing system behind a Super Mario 64 PC ray-tracing mod, for use in other N64 games as an emulator plugin.

The open-source plug-in will allow players using a PC emulator to add ray-traced lighting, object motion blur, widescreen support, DLSS and 60+ FPS to supported Nintendo 64 games, they claimed.

The plugin, said to be in its early stages of development, will require creators to manually add support for the specific N64 game ROMs, Darío said. You can see the results in the Twitter video below.

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Supported games seen in early footage include Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Paper Mario, Kirby 64, Snowboard Kids, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon, and Rocket: Robot on Wheels.

“I started this project a month ago as a way to [Super Mario 64] the PC port backend as much as possible, and I quickly realized it could evolve into a generic emulation solution that would allow me to apply these improvements to many more games,” the developer wrote.

“This project is still in its infancy and it will be several months before its release, but the results so far are very exciting. I also realize that making any N64 game work is an impossible task as it is still a manual process to create lighting for a particular title.”

When it’s released, a whitelist of compatible games will be included in the plugin, Darío said, but users can also experiment and even create their own lighting settings with an optional toggle.

The developer said he also plans to make RT64 compatible with the fan-made PC ports of Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

“A very interesting side effect of this project is exploring a method to interpolate the rendering commands sent by an N64 game without actually modifying the game,” she added. “This means that a lot of games that have never had 60 FPS patches can run at 60 FPS or more, while still running at their original speed internally.”

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Fan group ‘Ship of Harkinian’ brought Zelda: Ocarina of Time to PC earlier this year with many new features such as HD graphics, ultra-widescreen resolution, keyboard support, modding support, force feedback and gyroscope aiming.

The PC port was made possible thanks to a two-year fan project that successfully reverse engineered a version of Ocarina of Time into compilable C code.

A similar decompilation project led to a Super Mario 64 PC port in 2019. Mario 64’s PC port was quickly updated with new graphics and modern effects like ray-tracing, and it looks like Ocarina will get even more modding support.

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