The eternal mystery of why so many major gaming companies work so hard to not sell us their classic games remains as inexplicable as magnetism. But as the N64's GoldenEye 007 finally reaches the official Nintendo Switch Online service next year, thanks to a successful decompiling, somewhat less official avenues will now be able to port its spiritual successor Perfect Dark to PC.
Decompiling a game’s code is a process which involves taking machine code and restoring it to human-readable code, using a combination of meticulous experimentation, months of painstaking human effort, and witchcraft. Previously we’ve seen Nintendo 64 games like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time receive the same treatment, leading to PC versions with vastly improved graphics and resolutions. Now that a team has successfully completed the monumental task of doing the same for Perfect Dark, we can expect to see versions for PC popping up in a few months.
The legality of such actions is obviously questionable. The team behind Perfect Dark’s decompilation very reasonably insist that anyone who attempts to recompile the game only does so while owning a legal ROM of the original game. They add that, “When a matching decompilation is compiled with the same compiler that the original developers used, the output will be exactly the same as the retail game, byte for byte.” The point being, you’re simply backing up your ROM.
Of course, that’s not why anyone’s really doing it, which is where things get murkier. Perhaps offering the decompiled code is a violation of Nintendo or Rare’s intellectual property, and Nintendo certainly doesn’t take kindly to any efforts to distribute their decades-old games to a PC audience.
At the same time, these games remain nigh impossible to legitimately play without access to a time machine. (Sure, you’ve got a cart and an N64, so you could just plug it into...oh wait, how do I get these fat grey plugs into the tiny holes in the back of my TV?) However, it’s pretty important to note that’s not entirely the case with Rare’s Perfect Dark, where the 2010 remake is currently included in Xbox’s Game Pass.
Anyway, all this aside, the widely-adored yet almost impossible to play N64 version of Perfect Dark will soon be compiled for PC, with inevitable improvements in its framerates, resolution, and possibly even graphics. Heck, mouse and keyboard support for the classic shooter will be a revelation.
Companies: we want to give you our money for this stuff, even though we already did twenty years ago. We’re that gullible. Just let us do it.