In 2019, the source code for Super Mario 64 was reverse engineered, leading to all kinds of wonderful mods, and even ports to systems like the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. Now it’s Ocarina of Time’s turn.
As VGC reports, the dozens of members of the team at Zelda 64 Reverse Engineering have, after two years spent on the project, painstakingly recreated the whole damn thing. They told the site, “Last night, Fig, who is a notable community member as well as a project lead, matched the last-remaining function in the project. This means that all compiled code in the game has been turned into human-readable C code. We thought for a time that we may never be able to match every function completely, so this is an incredibly exciting accomplishment.”
It is! What’s so impressive about these efforts is that nothing was stolen or leaked or pirated. These fans have simply rebuilt the entire game’s code—albeit “using modern coding languages”—from scratch, to the point where it functionally performs identically to the original. This means there’s an expectation that technically they’ve done nothing illegal. How legally certain that is remains to be seen, but for reference, the reverse engineered Super Mario 64 code is still available at its source, despite Nintendo going after some projects that were built off that code.
That legal shit kicks in when you start talking about assets and characters, so while the code itself is hoped to be safe from Nintendo’s lawyers, the second you start adding anything on top of that code to make it look and sound like Ocarina of Time in a playable sense, you’re in trouble.
Not that the threat of legal action from Nintendo has ever or will ever stop fans from doing this kind of work. While the team responsible for this reverse engineering feat have sworn off doing any further work, other than refining their own code, with their efforts now out there it’s only a matter of time before others pick it up and run with it.
While your first thought in this case might be “mods,” one of the coolest things to come out of the Mario 64 reverse engineering project was a proper PC port, which allowed for things like support for 4K and ReShade.