The Nintendo 64 is one of the most iconic and memorable gaming consoles in the history of gaming history. Released in 1966, the Nintendo 64 served as the company’s champion for the original ‘next-gen’ console wars.
The console up against the original Playsation, now known as PS1, to it had a tough competition right from the get-go.
Although the system always lagged behind its competition when it came to sheer numbers and sales, the Nintendo 64 was home to an array of memorable titles that left their mark on the history.
We’re talking about the Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda series, GoldenEye 007, Mario Kart 64, and the first Super Smash Bros. A number of these games later defined Nintendo as a company.
When you take those sales and the fact that the Nintendo 64 is over two decades old, finding one in pristine working condition is a tough task. Even if you do find one, you’ll have to pay a hefty sum, not to mention the original cartilage games which are even more difficult to find.
Fortunately, the system is well-emulated, perfected over the years. A plethora of emulators for a multitude of systems allows you to play legendary games such as Super Mario 64, Zelda, Turok & Goldeneye on pretty much any device.
The original specs of the Nintendo 64 are as follows-
As you can see, it’s exceptionally below what a modern computer packs inside. You don’t need any graphics card, huge RAM, or fancy CPU to run a Nintendo 64 emulator. In fact, you can emulate a Nintendo 64 even on Android devices.
A quick word on the legality of Nintendo 64 emulators, or any emulators for that matter. While building, hosting, distributing, and downloading emulators is perfectly within the bounds of the law, downloading ROMs BIOS files is illegal.
What this means is that any game that you play of an emulator is a pirated copy of the game, thus making it illegal even if you own a physical copy of the game.
Here, we’re rounding up the best Nintendo 64 emulators for PC, Linux, Mac, and Android.
Best N64 Emulators
1. Project 64
Platforms: Windows, Android
Project 64 is the most popular N64 emulator. An easy-to-use and operate emulator with an open-source library. Thanks to an active and dedicated community, Project 64 is regularly updated, making its name synonymous to Nintendo 64 itself.
The latest version of Project 64 is clean and free of bloatware. It uses a plugin-based architecture so you don’t need to reinstall the complete program just for one feature. The emulator allows you to use USB controllers (which need to be mapped to an N64 controller), save drives that allow you to save your progress and pick up right where you left off. Some games even support high-resolution textures that allow you to play classic in high resolution.
However, it’s not a smooth sail. The audio on Project 64 has always been iffy and even the latest version can’t fix it. As you might expect from a widespread open-source software, Project 64 is not free from viruses. So it is of utmost importance to download it from reputable sources.
Project 64 is also available on Android. At one point, it was listed on Google Play Store as well but swiftly taken down due to copyright issues. You’ll need to download an APK for Android. However, the android community isn’t as proactive as the Windows community, so there may be glitches and issues every so often.
As long as you’re on PC, Project 64 is an excellent N64 emulator with the latest updates.
Mupen64 Plus is another really good multi-platform N64 emulator. Installing and using it is a bit of a hassle as compared to Project 64. But on the positive end, it delivers an uncompromised sound experience and fixes on any small bugs that pop in Project 64. If a game doesn’t work on Project 64, the obvious solution is to boot it up on Mupen64 Plus.
The downloading and installation can get a bit messy since it doesn’t have any GUI or interface. Instead, you need to use a command line. You can install it on your own if you know your way around a command terminal, but the best way to install it without messing up is simply following a tutorial.
Mupen64 Plus shines when it comes to cross-platform compatibility. While ts the default option if you’re a Mac or Linux user, it’s a pretty good option for Android as well.
A quick shoutout to Mupen64 Plus FZ, the best Nintendo 64 emulator for Android. While Mupen64 Plus does work on Android, the FZ was built with mobile devices in mind.
The set-up is still a hassle, but once you’re past that, it’s a smooth sail onwards to the best Nintendo 64 emulator on Android. All the plug-ins and installations are also available.
Built on the Mupen64 Plus, the MegaN64 is the most popular Nintendo 64 emulator on Android with over 1.5 million downloads. Where it differs from Mupen64 Plus or Mupen64 Plus FZ is its UI.
MegaN64 is easy to install and use and allows you to play Nintendo 64 games without any fuss. The loading times are extremely short and the whole experience feels snappy.
It’s not quite as feature-heavy as compared to the competition and lacks any external plug-ins. The pop-up ads are a nuisance as well. The support ceased a few years ago, but it’s still a good emulator to whip out some casual titles on the go.
When the support ceased, the game was taken down from the Play Store but it’s still available on the internet in the form of APK.
Platforms: Common: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android
Uncommon: x86-32 (32 bit Intel x86), x86-64, ARM architecture, AArch64, PowerPC, MIPS architecture, Cell
Outdated: macOS X, Windows 95
Consoles: PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, Wii, Wii U, 2DS, 3DS, Switch, and more!
You may have guessed it by now, RetroArch is available on a number of platforms. You name it, they’ve got it! RetroArch is technically not an emulator. Rather, its front-end GUI where you can download a number of cores or emulators to play a wide range of games.
Among one of those cores is libretro, a Nintendo 64 emulator based on Mupen64 Plus. RetroArch is extremely easy to use and navigate, with a UI reminiscent to that of the last-gen Playstation interface.
Furthermore, there are a ton of unique features as well such as overclocking and more customization features that can’t be found on any other emulator. Overall, RetroArch is the best software if you use a number of emulators.
Nintendo 64 gifted us with a ton of memorable games that made our childhood a brighter time. The Nintendo 64 emulators are easy to re-experience those simpler times and enjoy the games that shaped the industry.
Since the console wasn’t quite heavily specced, it can be easily emulated on any PC or even mobile for that matter. So go ahead, get an N64 emulator, and play along!