Is Emulation the Best Feature of the Nvidia Shield?

Nintendo 64


The iconic Nintendo 64 has a great collection of titles that are prime for emulation such as Mario, Zelda and Goldeneye. It’s not the easiest console to emulate, party due to its rather unique controller and also because of the way it renders certain aspects of some games, which can often lead to visual glitches and slow down when emulating. Fortunately, this console has been emulated for a long time now and while still not 100%, most of the major titles are more than playable. Some roms work in one emulator, but not in another, but all of the emulators are free and similar to use, so trial and error isn’t exactly difficult.

Emulators Used

  • RetroArch
  • Muper64 Plus
  • ClassicBoy

Mario Kart still one of the greatest arcade racers ever created. It has gameplay that is easy to pick and play and difficult to master, as well as some crazy and entertaining multiplayer. The game worked straight away, without any technical tweaks to the emulator. There were a few graphical glitches from time to time, but nothing that would interfere with gameplay. The frame rate was often above 30fps, dropping to 29fps when things got a little busy on screen, of course with auto frame skipping enabled this shouldn’t affect the speed of gameplay.

Goldeneye is one game I’m always eager to try out on a new emulation device, but it’s also one of the hardest to get running. The game boots just fine, but as you can see, some sky textures are not visible and the frame rate is just 13fps at its lowest, rarely going above 20. Surprisingly it still plays pretty smooth regardless, more than well enough to enjoy a nostalgic jump off of the dam at the end of this level. The real issue you’re going to have is that Goldeneye used a control scheme that is pretty unique compared to most shooters, mapping it is difficult and will take considerable trial and error to get something you’re happy with. I found the best method to be to use touch screen controls, then use the Nvidia Shield software to map the touch controls to face buttons.

Both Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask work on the Shield compatible emulators, but they’re a little glitchy at times. Ocarina certainly works better out of the two, with only a few graphical glitches and some slow down when there are a lot of effects going on in the game. Majora’s Mask is prone to slow down in cut-scenes that can leave the audio a little crackly, but in-game you can expect around 20fps, which is more than playable and I’m sure there are a few more tweaks and improvements that you could make to squeeze out extra performance. Perhaps some updates to the emulator will improve compatibility on this device.

One of the coolest racing titles ever created and still my favourite Star Wars franchise game ever! Episode 1 Racer is a great looking game and runs at an incredibly slick 60fps most of the time, never dropping below 30 when things get really chaotic. This means the game still has a great sense of speed on the Shield and the controls are easily mapped to the Shields dual analogue sticks. When racing on the near camera you do get a depth glitch that makes the polygons of the ship invisible, but playing from the bumper or chase cam easily solves this issue.