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N64oid emulator for Android review and gameplay video

N64oid for Android: N64 emulation
N64oid, the Nintendo 64 emulator for Android, was released earlier today, and being absolute fans of the console, we figured a hands-on review would be the only fair and just thing to do. You don't want to know how many hours we've spent playing multiplayer GoldenEye here in the Download Squad bunker, and Lee can almost complete Ocarina of Time while blindfolded.

Now -- before you get too excited -- you can't network N64oid for awesome on-the-toilet multiplayer GoldenEye action, but it does play single-player games surprisingly well. Like PSX4droid, it still suffers from some framerate drops and slow-and-crackly sound, but it's still more than capable of playing Ocarina of Time.

If that wasn't exciting enough, get this: if you have a Wiimote and nun-chuck, you can pair them with your Android device and use them instead, removing the need to poke ineffectually at the on-screen virtual gamepad.

Take the jump for our full experience with N64oid, and a gameplay video of Ocarina of Time on our Nexus S test unit.


Features

This is the first release of N64oid, and its feature set is unsurprisingly spartan. You can change key mappings, and make small changes to how it copes with framerate drops, but that's about it. If you have hardware buttons, or a Wiimote, you can disable the virtual gamepad, too (see video).

The save-game feature is flawless, however -- and the accelerometer control is surprisingly accurate and responsive (3:30 in the video).

Game support seems to be good. We've only extracted the ROMs from a few of the cartridges that we own, so it's impossible to say if support is universal -- but it supports Ocarina of Time, which is one of the most complex N64 games, so it probably supports most games.

Performance

GoldenEye on Android
It's amazing: the Nexus S's 1GHz processor is over 10 times faster than the processors found in the Nintendo 64, and yet N64oid still drops frames! Better yet, the N64, which was released 15 (!) years ago, has just 4MB of RAM, compared to 512MB in the Nexus S -- it has 128 times less RAM. We know that you can't make a direct comparison -- and emulation is dirty, messy work -- but still...

With that out of the way: N64oid's performance is acceptable; nothing more, nothing less. Ocarina of Time taxed the Nexus S a lot more than GoldenEye, but both were definitely playable. Sound playback is surprisingly good, too, but it still suffered from slowdowns in places -- and no one wants to hear the Great Fairy Fountain music at 50% speed! (You can see a slow-down at 1:40 in the video).

Basically, if you just want to play a few minutes of your favorite Nintendo games from time to time, N64oid's performance is fine. If you want to enjoy Nintendo's classics properly, with perfect sound and 60 FPS, you should invest in a Wii or Nintendo DS.

Bluetooth control with a Wiimote

Ocarina of Time on Android
Did you know that there's a very good app for connecting a Wii remote to your Android device? It's free, and very easy to set up.

Once you've paired your Wiimote with Android, head into N64oid (or your emulator of choice -- almost all of them support Bluetooth controllers) and change the 'Input method.' Before you know it, you'll be running around the beautiful, playful fields of Hyrule with a real analog joystick!

Incidentally, you can also use a Wii remote for general navigation and surfing on your Android device, but that's a topic for another day.


Conclusion

Unlike the other emulators from Yongzh, there isn't a try-before-you-buy Lite version of N64oid, which means you have to fork over $5.99 before you can give it a go -- and the 15-minute refund window really isn't enough time to see if it works well on your phone.

Having said that, $5.99 is a very small amount of money when you consider the joy it can bring. Just running around a few Zelda dungeons and throwing a some shells in Mario Kart was enough to brighten up everyone's day, here in the Download Squad bunker. It reminded us of simpler, happier times; when apps were programs, and when 640KB of RAM was enough for anybody...

N64oid for Android: Nintendo 64 emulation

Tags: android, apps, emulation, emulator, features, goldeneye, hands-on, mario, mobile, n64, n64oid, nintendo, nintendo 64, Nintendo64, ocarina of time, OcarinaOfTime, old school, OldSchool, retro, yongzh, zelda

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