Valve's iconic game Portal running on Nintendo 64 hardware is an incredible achievement

Portal RTX with path-traced lighting is incredible, sure, but Portal 64 running on actual Nintendo 64 hardware might be the more impressive achievement.

1 minute & 22 seconds read time

In 2007, Valve released the iconic first-person mind-bending puzzler Portal. Set in the clinical Aperture Science Laboratories, it introduced the 'Portal Gun' to create one of this century's most innovative and memorable gaming experiences.

Portal was/is a groundbreaking technical and design achievement and something that has sparked continued interest thanks to the recent release of the path-traced Portal RTX mod for the GeForce RTX 40 Series of graphics cards. But what if you went the other way - and tried to port or get the game running on ancient hardware like 1996's Nintendo 64?

That's exactly what N64 expert and programmer James Lambert has been doing for years, recreating and building a working version of Valve's Portal for the Nintendo 64. Right now, a dozen test chambers are playable and working with fully functioning portals and physics.

Per the video presentation above from Modern Vintage Gamer, which showcases 'Portal 64' running on actual Nintendo 64 hardware, you're looking at a pretty astounding technical achievement for the console that helped spawn the very early days of full 3D gaming. The N64 came out a full decade before Valve released Portal, and seeing the game run with N64 visuals, textures, and blocky models is nothing short of incredible.

The game's most memorable aspect, portals, is something that took a lot of work and technical wizardry to get running on N64 hardware - making use of some of the console's z-buffer and only rendering what is visible. This ingenuity applies to how Portal 64 handles lighting, physics, and overall rendering - making this a project and endeavor worth celebrating.

It would be amazing to see Valve release a limited run of Portal 64 cartridges for retro gamers to slot into their Nintendo 64 consoles once the project is finished. To stay up to date with the project (or to download it), head to the Portal 64 page over on GitHub.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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