How to Patch N64 ROMs

We all like Nintendo 64 (N64) games. They mesmerize us with exciting storyline and captivating gameplay. Notwithstanding the fact that the N64 was discontinued almost 17 years ago, its legendary titles are considered a must-have for old-school gamers who consider Nintendo to be an equivalent with retrogaming. Still, the most disappointing fact for us is that N64 games are not as versatile and diverse as those created for Nintendo’s consoles. Fortunately, there are the enthusiasts that don’t let the retrogaming legacy vanish into thin air. Such enthusiasts create patches wherewith you can replenish your collection of N64 games and make it more diverse. Let’s learn more about the art of patching and how it can improve your retrogaming experience.

What is Patching?

Almost every experienced classic gamer knows what a ROM file is. We’ll bet you have a whole host of N64 ROMs to play on your PC or smartphone. You may wonder why you may need patches then.

Patch is a file that allows changing or altering a certain games’ language, graphics, sound, or even the gameplay. Technically, patches are the game files whose data has been changed to satisfy gamers’ specific needs.

Retro gaming fans make ROMs by creating firstly a copy of a copyrighted game and then using an original game’s functionality and adding these features to the new file. As a result, they obtain the file that’s almost identical to the original version at comparatively minimal time expenses. Isn’t that great? If you’re ready to invest some time and energy into this undertaking, you can learn to make your own patches for N64 games. This will help you customize the original games, make them more fun and exciting. Of course, at first it may seem difficult, especially if you don’t have relative experience in patching software. But, everything is possible with due diligence.

Is Patching Illegal?

We’re all law-abiding guys and don’t want any trouble when it comes to patching ROMs, which are copyrighted software. Though the N64 is now defunct, Nintendo still has a firm hold of its rights to all titles, which means that you can neither obtain ROM files nor create patches for the N64 games you don’t own. We in no way encourage tampering with patching and violating any laws. So, if you didn’t buy this or that game, you may want to refrain from patching ROMs or downloading an already patched version from a third-party website. But if you have an original game cope, there’s no nothing that may legally prevent you from patching it. So, if you want to make your own patches, you need to own the file you intend to modify. As for downloading third-party patch, you need to make sure that its author has also obtained the original version. In fact, all this game emulation and patching stuff still remains a grey area which still have to be clarified in the future. So, we highly recommend that you keep abreast of any changes or legal updated in this area not to get into trouble inadvertently.

Patch creators owning a copy of the game, are considered legal, and so are their patches. Such authors create and distribute new patches for small donations or for free.

Is Patch Distribution Legal?

You probably know that distributing copyrighted material is illegal. Still, if the creator has the original version of the ripped game, they are free to distribute their patches without the fear of being persecuted. That being said, sharing patched games for commercial purposes can be a legally questionable undertaking. So, you want to refrain from doing this to avoid unwanted problems.

Let’s Talk about Auto-Patching

If you set your sights on auto-patching, the most convenient option would be using reliable emulation tools that have built-in patch editors. For example, you may use the ZSNES emulator which is famed not only for its advanced options but also an auto-patching feature. If you can’t download or install SNES, for some reason, you can also trying using Visual Boy Advance, Project 64, Gens, or SNES9x – but bear in mind that these are not native NS64 tools and you’ll have to change code manually to refine your ROM. But for basic integration, these services are just perfect.

For .xdelta ROM files you can use the Goldeneye Setup Editor and Delta Patch. This latter also may come in handy when you need to apply a patch to, say, your Super Mario 64 ROM or any other popular N64 game in a short space of time without writing too much code. The tool is not as professional-oriented as its Goldeneye counterpart, but still it does the job fairly well. With Delta Patch you’ll be able to apply a new patch to the existing ROM file. The patcher in question will automatically save the created version to a new file, leaving the first version unchanged. The records of modifications will also be documented and stored in the ‘Documentation’ panel.

How to Apply a Patch?

Let’s imagine you want to add a patch to your Ocarina of Time ROM. It’s just the example. You may choose any other game, say, Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Kart, Perfect Dark, or Donkey Kong 64 ROM.

So, to patch your chosen game, create a dedicated folder and download xdelta patches for your Ocarina of Time.

If your patch is a zipped file, make sure to unarchiver it and extract its contents to the created folder. Remove the old archive files and keep the .xdelta patch.

If you haven’t downloaded Delta Patcher yet, it’s about time you did that. Once again, you need to unpack the program if it comes in the archive format and save it to a dedicated folder.

Click on the Delta Patcher.exe file to run the program. Select the un-altered Ocarina of Time ROM from the “Original Game File” section.

Click on “Apply Patch” and in a moment Delta Patcher will congratulate you on having successfully patched your ROM or throw you an error message. If the former is the case, you’ll have a patched and working ROM.

If receive an error message, try changing the byte-swapped status of your ROM using the Tool64 program.

Congratulations! Now you know everything about applying patches and how to tailor-made N64 ROMs to your gaming needs.



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