Nintendo Switch Online N64 games are another retro rip-off – Reader’s Feature

Is Nintendo treating its classics with enough respect? (pic: Nintendo)

A reader is upset the N64 games on Nintendo Switch Online might be the PAL versions and accuses Nintendo of mistreating its retro classics.

I think everyone seems to be in agreement that the Nintendo Direct on Thursday was a really good one, with lots of surprises (Chris Pratt?!) and a good amount of new footage and hope for the future. The rumour of N64 games becoming part of a second tier for Nintendo Switch Online turned out to be true, with an extra bonus of being joined by Mega Drive games.

It all sounded pretty good until people started analysing the small print and it turned out that Nintendo seem to be using the 50Hz versions of N64 games. For those that don’t know, back before the use of HDMI cables, publishers had to specially adapt games to work on TVs outside of America and Japan.

American TVs ran at 60Hz but lower resolution, whereas European TVs ran at 50Hz but higher resolution. It is possible to convert a game to run properly at 50Hz but almost no one, including Nintendo, ever bothered and as a result most games up to the PlayStation 3 era ran at least 17% slower than the original American and Japanese versions of games and often with large black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Thought Sonic The Hedgehog was a really fast game? It was faster in Japan and America, and didn’t have weirdly squashed graphics. At the time, hardly anyone knew because there was no internet, especially during the 16-bit era, and nothing to compare the games with. But in these enlightened days publishers do acknowledge the problem and usually try to release the NTSC (the name of the American/Japanese standard) versions of games in Europe – in retro compilations and the like – instead of the PAL ones (the name of the European standard).

Except Nintendo, who were spotted running the PAL versions during the Nintendo Direct. Now, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll use them in the finish product, but since it’s out in a month there doesn’t seem much hope that they’ll change it.

The reason they just don’t use the NTSC versions straight off is that they don’t have the European language options in them, so rather than paste them into the NTSC version we just have to put with the inferior PAL versions. Nintendo cost cutting at its worst, just as there’s also rumours that the reason Bayonetta’s voice actress has changed is because they prefer to use cheaper and more easily controlled non-union actors. Disgusting.

It’s not just Nintendo Switch Online either. Consider the cynical mess that was Super Mario 3D-All Stars, or the fact that Nintendo having an equivalent of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery system is about as likely as finding green cheese on the moon.

Nintendo’s utterly random, utterly cynical attitude towards its retro back catalogue frustrates me so much. They have been making some of the best games in the world for over 40 years now and whether they’re available or not on any given format is completely random, as is whether it’s the proper NTSC version, or if it’s full of newly created bugs, or they’ve downloaded the ROM from the internet instead of using their own copies (they’ve done this at least once).

So please Nintendo, before you start charging us for these N64 games, please make sure they’re the superior versions. I don’t want to play Wave Race 64 in French or Spanish I want to play it without a third of the screen given over to huge black bars and at full speed. Is that really too much to ask? Because if it is, I guarantee I won’t be giving Nintendo a penny towards this new service.

By reader Galoshes

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk and follow us on Twitter.


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