Portal 64 dev's latest project? Nintendo 64 powered VR connected to an Oculus Rift headset

If the Apple Vision Pro is all about high-fidelity immersive mixed reality, then this Nintendo 64 mod is all about lo-fi 'motion-sick inducing' VR.

2 minutes & 16 seconds read time

N64 expert and programmer James Lambert is back doing the impossible. The developer who successfully ported Valve's iconic first-person puzzle game Portal and got it running natively on Nintendo 64 hardware is shifting to modern VR on the N64. Virtual Reality was a big deal in the 1990s. However, products like Sega VR for the arcades were the VR Stone Age compared to where we are today.

The Nintendo 64 never got a VR peripheral, nor was one ever in development (Nintendo's Virtua Boy device is a different story), but in bringing "modern-day" VR to the system, James Lambert's project involves getting the Oculus DK1 (the development kit precursor to the Oculus Rift) to communicate with the N64 a custom USB adapter.

The reason for using the Oculus DK1 is its simple tracking, fewer sensors, and access to the source code, making it easier to port over to the Nintendo 64. From there, the HDMI port on his modded N64 sends the video signal back to the Oculus DK1, creating a nice little VR loop. Simple.

Of course, it's not as simple as that, as there's dealing with the accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyro, using an interface meant to talk to an N64-style controller. After getting it to speak to the console, James Lambert managed to get a playable environment for a new N64 game he's working on running, though VR on the N64 is "pretty motion sick including."

This comes down to the poor performance (in FPS) and a max resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (or 320 x 480 per eye) - the N64's high-res mode. The demo is also playable in the lower 320 x 240 resolution, but at this point, it becomes a pixelated mess, even though it runs faster.

All in all, it's a fascinating and impressive feat. Although it's sad to learn that James Lambert's Portal 64 project has been canceled due to a DMCA takedown from Valve, be sure to follow James on YouTube. His next big project is creating a brand-new N64 game from scratch.

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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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