Nintendo has ported a handful of classic N64 games to its portable systems, such as Ocarina of Time appear on the 3DS. But for gaming on the go, the N64’s library is usually not available. Modder GmanModz accepted the challenge of building an oversized replica of the clamshell Game Boy Advance that is large enough to accept and play real N64 carts.
Reviving classic games on modern hardware is usually done with emulators that rely on powerful processors to recreate classic consoles through software. Throw enough processing power their way and the experience can be almost seamless, with smooth gameplay and solid frame rates, but some consoles emulate more easily than others. The N64 is one of the most challenging, which is why GmanModz’s approach is arguably the best way to ensure its portable N64 experience, just as it remembers on the original console.
Starting with a real N64, GmanModz undertook one of the most thorough gadgets of the original electronics and motherboard, including extensive rewiring to move a chip called the PIF, which is responsible for the motherboard’s interface with controllers and the security measures used in game cartridges. (Region lock.) The extensive miniaturization of the guts of the N64 made them fit into a custom 3D printed case inspired by the Game Boy Advance SP: the clamshell version of that portable that graciously featured a side light. (And possibly backlight)
GmanModz’s N64 SP has a much better LCD display than Nintendo ever supplied on the GBA SP, and some claim a better control layout than what was offered through the N64’s odd triple controller. While the N64 SP includes shoulder buttons and an analog joystick, it lacks the pistol-grip Z trigger that played no small part in making Golden Eye as nice as it was.
If you want to sacrifice the N64 that collects dust in your parents’ basement to build your own portable version, you have to wait for GmanModz to more detailed breakdown of this mod on website. The video hey shared on YouTube takes a closer look at some of the details, but at just three minutes, it’s not detailed enough to tackle such a technical build.