N64 is getting on its roll recently, but it wasn’t like that for several dozens of years. It’s then no wonder that the existing game catalog for this console is disappointing, to say the least – especially if you compare the available selection for NES or GBA.
Luckily, there is a solution. You can patch your own ROMs or install existing unofficial versions. Let’s take a look at how patching works and what are the easiest ways of transferring beloved retro games to emulators.
Even if you were lucky to find a reliable library with N64 ROMs, knowing how to make own patches provides you with freedom. It’s definitely an easy skill, and you’ll use it multiple times throughout your emulation journey.
What’s a patch?
A patch is a file with changed functionality and interface. The modifications can be applied to language packages, graphical data, or sound files. The term itself is not synonymous to ROM – it’s nice to remember and avoid possible confusion – but it’s often used in this context.
You’ll have to write code manually sometimes
Emulation fans make ROMs by creating firstly a copy of a copyrighted game and then using an original game’s functionality and adding these features to the new file. In the end, you’d end up with the file that’s almost identical to the original version at comparatively minimal time expenses.
Is patching illegal?
It is if the author of the patch does not own an original game copy. So, if you want to make your own patches, be sure to buy the copyrighted material. If you want to use the third-party patch, make sure that the creator obtained the original version.
With patching, it’s important to not fall asleep and keep track of legal updates
Authors who have obtained a copy of the game, are considered legal, and so are their patches. Such creators published in trustworthy libraries and continue to create new materials, usually for a small donation or for free.
Is patch distribution legal?
Shortly, yes. As long as the creator is the owner of the original version, the distribution of the ripped game file is not prohibited. However, using copyrighted material for commercial purposes is a questionable decision – it’s not always considered illegal, but it may raise some questions from legal authorities.
Let’s talk about auto-patching
Our method is to use software for other Nintendo console for basic patching and use manual tweaks to get rid of bugs and add more functionality. We recommend ZNES – a professional emulator that also includes a built-in patch editor. You have to choose the original game file, wait for the data to process and preview the result.
Another great option is Delta Patch – a small tool that supports NS 64 and provides roughly the same functionality. The tool is not as professional-oriented, but still, it does the job fairly well.
Delta Patch’s interface is simple – the functionality is really basic, too
In that same editor, you can also apply new patches to the existing file. The software automatically saves the created version to a new file, leaving the first version unchanged. The records of modifications are automatically documented – you can find the reports in the ‘Documentation’ panel.
If you can’t download or install SNES, for some reason, you can also trying using VisualBoy Advance, Gens, or SNES9x – but bear in mind that these are not native NS64 tools. You’ll still have to change code manually to perfect the ROM. For basic integration, these services will do an almost perfect job.
How to apply a patch?
Using two or more patches simultaneously is also called ‘Hard Patching’. You can run patches in dedicated Windows tools – Lunar IPS, or IPSWin.
We’ll analyze the application on the example of Lunar IPS – the procedure is similar to any such tool.
That’s all there is to editing the existing ROM – three basic steps that’ll allow you to edit and repair any existing transferred game file.
The final word
If you are serious about emulating NS 64, you’ll hardly get by without creating your own ROMs. The choice of available ported versions is limited, and even accessible ones often need to be edited.