Recommended N64 plugins
The N64 emulation scene has been described as a broken mess, the very definition of plugin hell. This page is an attempt to make sense of the madness for the benefit of both the casual and enthusiast looking to get their N64 emulation fix.
Note that these plugins will NOT work on Mupen64Plus, As such, it has its own plugins, and recommendations can be found at its own section on this page.
Project64 2.1 - The most recent version of Project64, now public and open source (though the official download asks you to install useless toolbars). Its RDB is somewhat outdated, and some games have issues with audio and timing regardless of plugin setup unless you mess around with timing settings. Some users have also reported problems with BSODs, which apparently may be an issue with outdated Windows system files. However, the user interface is quite a bit nicer and easier to use, and switching between RSP plugins is far easier than in 1.6. It also fixed a number of games that were completely broken in 1.6, such as Kirby 64. Still, for general use, it might be wise to stick to either Project64 1.6 or Mupen64 for the time being.
Project64 1.6 - The older but more stable version. The interface is slightly clunkier, and switching between RSP plugins is a pain (the desired RSP plugin must be named rsp.dll for the emulator to see it and use it), but timing issues are less severe, it has a more up-to-date RDB at the moment, and many of the later improvements were ported back through Jabo's 1.6.1 patch. It is one of the best emulators for general use, with good compatibility with most of the popular games.
Mupen64 - An open source, multiplatform N64 emulator. Even though its last update by its original author was in 2005, it is possibly even more compatible than Project64, particularly with more obscure or less discussed titles, though it has incompatibilities of its own. Its modern, currently active successor is Mupen64Plus, which improves upon the original's compatibility, but chose to depart from Zilmar's plugin spec, rendering it incompatible with the plugins discussed in this page. It is also less accessible than its forebearer, owing to its lack of a native GUI.
This pack has these four emulators, a few older and special or modified versions, and more obscure and largely irrelevant emulators added only for specific fringe cases, as well as every plugin discussed in this page and more.
- Jabo's Direct3D - Comes with Project64. Very speedy, can potentially look the prettiest due to built-in AA and AF options, and is the only plugin with a widescreen hack. The most recent version included with Project64 2.x (184.108.40.206-ver5) is somewhat buggy and has regressions, however, so the version included in Jabo's 1.6.1 patch is recommended instead for most cases, though the former can run in LLE mode, which can help with a few games. Sadly, it will likely never see another update again.
- Glide64 - Also comes with Project64 as of version 2.1. Often much more accurate and compatible than Jabo's plugin, and has a wealth of options, though it can be slower on lower end machines, and may not work on integrated graphics. Still, it is overall the best and most compatible plugin for general use. The 220.127.116.11 version bundled with Project64 2.1 may have some regressions, however, so Glide64 Final may be worth keeping around just in case.
- Rice Video - A fast, highly configurable video plugin famous for its ability to load hi-res textures, making it a popular plugin within the N64 emulation community. The 1964 team eventually annexed it as its official video plugin, renaming it 1964Video. There are many versions and forks of it floating around, either to fix issues or add features. For the most part, however, it has fallen behind in comparison to Jabo's and Glide64, which can now also load hi-res textures. As such, none of its variations are recommended for general use unless there's a very specific fringe case or you're on a toaster.
- z64gl - A hardware-accelerated, low-level plugin developed by ziggy. It has the capability to render at the N64's native resolution in case you don't like super sharp polygons with low-res textures. Requirements may be heavier than Jabo's and Glide64, and configuration requires editing the config file directly. Needs an accompanying RSP plugin. Overall, it tends to be a little glitchy, but it is one of the only plugins capable of properly displaying difficult games such as Rogue Squadron.
- HatCat/Angrylion's Pixel-Accurate N64 Plugin - Hands down the most accurate N64 renderer in existence, as well as the slowest. Because of its sheer intensiveness, it is currently little more than a curiosity. Try it out if you have a tricked-out rig and want to test your CPU's mettle. It is currently in the process of being optimized by HatCat. Options include being able to disable the VI filters, as well as set custom resolutions.
- GLideN64 is a currently in-development plugin being developed by the maker of Glide64, though its code is inspired by gl64. The plugin currently supports mip-mapping, emulation of low-level triangles,microcode of some games, gamma correction, flat and prim shading, and LLE (though defaults to HLE). The private release is out; the public release would follow after 2 weeks.
- Jabo's DirectSound - Comes with Project64. It works fine for the most part, but some games may not play nice with it. It is a low-level plugin, so it needs an accompanying RSP plugin. Will probably never be updated again.
- Azimer's HLE Audio - This popular HLE audio plugin boasts high compatibility. Version 0.56WIP2 is old as hell, but it is the tried and true standard to which audio plugins are compared against. Recently, Azimer came out with version 0.60WIP2, though it has a few issues.
- Shunyuan's HLE Audio - Needs more testing, but so far it appears to be a great sound plugin. Can run in both LLE and HLE modes despite the name. Under constant development, so expect further improvements. If games run at a weird speed using this plugin, go to the ROM's Game Settings, and disable Fixed Audio Timing and Sync using Audio.
- Jabo's DirectInput - Comes with Project64. It isn't too bad, but it may have some compatibility problems with some controllers. Should work just fine with the keyboard if you're one of those masochists who emulates without a controller. As usual, do not expect any updates.
- N-Rage Input - Probably the best input plugin. Has a ton of options and great controller compatibility, including XInput support for use with Xbox 360 controllers. It sees occasional updates.
- Zilmar's RSP - Comes with Project64. Quite fast in Recompiler mode, and will work fine for a lot of games, but may need to be set to Interpreter for a difficult few, in which case you may as well use one of the following RSP plugins.
- Mupen64 RSP - Comes with Mupen64. A very fast and compatible HLE RSP plugin. Written by Hacktarux and Azimer. Might be better for some games than Zilmar's RSP.
- z64 RSP plugin pack - This set of RSP plugins comes with the z64 video plugin, each with their own purpose:
- Ziggy-z64RSP - This RSP is based on the MAME/MESS RSP code. It is slower, but more accurate.
- Ziggy-PJ64 - Based on the Project64 1.4 RSP, this plugin is much faster.
- Angrylion - This RSP is a simple Interpreter, and is required for a few games like World Driver Championship to work correctly with z64gl.
- BatCat's RSP Interpreter - As of the most recent version, it is not only one of the most accurate RSP plugins, but may even be the fastest if using the SSSE3 version. It also comes in SSE2 and non-SSE variations in case your PC does not support those instruction sets. It is capable of working with both HLE and LLE audio and video plugins via the following settings:
- Send display lists to the graphics plugin - Check if using an HLE graphics plugin, uncheck if using LLE
- Send audio lists to the audio plugin - Check if using an HLE audio plugin, uncheck if using LLE
- Force CPU-RSP signals synchronization - Check if playing Gauntlet Legends, World Driver Championship, or Stunt Race 64. Only works with Project64 2.x.
- Support CPU-RSP semaphore lock - Check to fix issues with Mario no Photopie. Only works with Project64 2.x.
Recommended N64 Setups
Project64 and Others
- Commonly Used
- Glide64 18.104.22.168
- Shunyuan's HLE Audio (set to LLE)
- BatCat's RSP or Zilmar's RSP
- Either of the RSP plugin should be fine for most games. However, BatCat's RSP is more accurate and compatible, and may be just as fast if not faster than Zilmar's if using the SSSE3 variation. As such, Zilmar's RSP should only be used if your PC is ancient and does not support at least SSE2. Keep in mind that Glide64 22.214.171.124 is the same as Glide64 Final. Glide64 126.96.36.199 is just a merge of Glide64, GlideHQ, and Glitch64 (which of course the final version has) to be one file, but limits you to certain settings that cannot be changed with the emulator.
- Best Performance
- Glide64 Final
- Azimer's HLE Audio
- Zilmar's RSP
- Make sure you configure the graphics plugin to show texture enhancement options. Then you'll have an extra tab to change more options. Goto the texture enhancement tab and click on the button that gives best performance and it should improve framerate once you saved the settings. There's also another button for best texture quality. There's no need to touch the other plugins. Recommended for most emulators.
- Angrylion's Pixel-Accurate N64 Plugin or Shunyuan's SoftGraphic
- Shunyuan's HLE Audio
- BatCat's RSP
- Do not expect to run the emulator with these plugins without a powerful PC. Audio can mislead easily if it's not in sync with the graphics when using without a powerful PC. Gives best and most accurate appearance, but will give up a big amount of framerates just to run it.
Mupen64Plus has its own set of plugins which are incompatible with plugins used in other emulators. Here is an overview of recommended setups.
- Commonly Used
- Video: Glide64mk2
- RSP: cxd4-ssse3
- Glide64mk2 is just Glide64 with additional tweaks and enhancements for use with Mupen64Plus. The cxd4 plugin is a port of BatCat's RSP plugin for Project64. This appears to be the best combination for use with most games, though toasters may have performance issues.
- Best Performance
- Video: Rice
- RSP: rsp-hle
- These are Mupen64Plus's default plugins. Rice's Video is a plugin used on other N64 emulators, most known for its support for hi-res texture packs, now enhanced for Mupen64plus. It is not quite up to Glide64's level, but it does well enough for many games and is quite fast. The default RSP plugin appears to be just an enhanced port of vanilla Mupen64's RSP. Use this combination if you have a lower end PC and can't handle the Commonly Used setup.
- Accuracy/Rogue Squadron
- Video: z64
- RSP: cxd4-ssse3
- z64 is a port of z64gl, a low-level emulation video plugin for N64 emulators. It comes with its own accompanying z64 RSP, but cxd4 (a port of BatCat's RSP Interpreter plugin) appears to be more accurate and very well optimized. This setup is capable of playing difficult games like Rogue Squadron with very few graphical glitches, and faster than on Project64 to boot.