EON Super 64 Review
Who needs an N64 Classic Edition?
For many retro gaming fans the Nintendo 64 is the Holy Grail. Nintendo’s followup to the SNES was well received and housed many of the greatest games of its generation and of all time. Yet its strange architecture makes emulation difficult, and its games have not been as widely available through other means. So the prospect of an HDMI adapter is a very tempting one. Sure, there’s mods that require opening up and changing components of your console, but can’t it be simpler? EON, makers of previous adapters for consoles such as the Gamecube is tackling this project with their newly released Super 64. But does the device fulfill the promise of classic N64 action on modern TVs?
The simple answer is yes. The EON Super 64 works exactly as advertised in every single way. This starts with the setup, which EON somewhat playfully describes in three simple steps. Plug the Super 64 into your console. Plug an HDMI cable into it and the TV. Then enjoy your classic N64 games on your massive HDTV. And for once, it really is just that simple. There’s no power needed. You don’t have to open up your console and solder anything. You pop the unit into your N64 and it immediately has an HDMI port available that works just like all your other HDMI devices.
This simple setup also shows off the fantastic design of the device itself, which also extends to the cool N64 themed box it comes in. Aside from the glowing light on top, the Super 64 looks like a natural fit for the N64 aesthetic. It’s somewhat odd shape even has a purpose as it fits into the wonky back unit of the system while protruding enough for easy access with cabling. It’s a solid piece of tech that’s well designed and performs its function perfectly. You can’t ask for much more beyond that.
And yet EON did go ahead and include something that helps with the unit’s biggest flaw. The only real issue with the Super 64 beyond its big price tag (more on that later) are the limitations of the N64 itself. As it was among the first 3D focused consoles, the games on the N64 aren’t as good looking as you might remember. Running in 480p thanks to the Super 64 using the S-Video settings, the games will look as good as they can, but that might not be what you were thinking.
The EON Super 64 promises classic N64 gaming on modern TVs and it delivers this completely.
Blurry, pixelated, jaggy messes might be the best description. These games do not stand the test of time like their 2D, sprite-based predecessors and the Super 64 doesn’t totally rectify this. It does try though. On the unit is a single button which will enable Slick Mode. This promises smoother visuals and rounder edges. Does it deliver? Somewhat. The visuals do improve, but don’t expect a night-and-day difference. It really just takes care of the worst of the worst in regards to the issues of N64 graphics on a 1080p or 4K TV. It’s enough that you won’t feel like the games look worse than they did before, though they’ll never truly appear the same way they did on CRT monitors.
But what about input lag? That’s the other major concern in regards to these sorts of changes. Does the Super 64 add latency as it translates the analog signals and ports them over to HDMI? Nope. Not from my eyeball tests it doesn’t. In fact, after engaging my TV’s Game Mode option, it felt like a faster response than modern consoles such as the Switch or Xbox One. Everything felt just as responsive as before, so while there may be some tiny, imperceptible change to the input latency, it is not worth worrying about if you want to play these games without lugging your CRT out of the closet.
But this brings us to the Super 64’s biggest hurdle when it comes to whether or not you should buy it. At launch the unit is priced at $150. Considering a brand new N64 in 1996 cost $199 that’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s simple and easy setup should be a factor in your consideration, as other N64 to HDMI converters typically involve much heftier and riskier setup. At the end of the day the price will be the determining factor for many, so you should weigh all your options in this regard.
And one other thing I noted was that the original games looked worse than their Virtual Console counterparts. Loading up Wave Race, Super Mario 64, and Star Fox 64 on my Wii (using an HDMI converter as well) showed that Nintendo’s official re-releases had far better visuals than their cartridge-based counterparts. This does not seem to be a failing of the Super 64 itself, rather it’s a consequence of the games getting updated for the newer hardware. So that means that while the Super 64 offers a purer experience, it might not be the best one.
That’s the ultimate question potential Super 64 owners should ask themselves. Are you a purist? Do you have to play all your original cartridges on an N64 console using the same controllers you once did? If so, the Super 64 is definitely for you. Is there some game out there that you have been dying to play but will never see a re-release, such as Goldeneye? The Super 64 may be your only and best shot. And it will play just like before, even using your original save files if the internal battery has held out. It’s a fantastic proposition if the N64 is as dear to you as it is to so many others.
The EON Super 64 promises classic N64 gaming on modern TVs without the hassle of other setups and it delivers this completely. With the easiest setup of pretty much any retro gaming tool out there, it literally is a plug-and-play experience from top to bottom. Adding no discernible input lag means you can rest assured your gameplay isn’t harmed in the process, and can even be enhanced slightly with Slick Mode. The high price tag may make some buyers balk though, and for good reason if you aren’t the sort of die hard purist that this unit is aimed at. If there are N64 games you just have to play though, this is a great way to do it.
EON Super 64
- Available On: Nintendo 64
- Published By: EON
- Developed By: EON
- Genre: Hardware
- US Release Date: July 22nd, 2019
- Reviewed On: Nintendo 64
- Quote: "The EON Super 64 promises classic N64 gaming on modern TVs without the hassle of other setups and it delivers this completely. The high price tag may make some buyer balk though, and for good reason if you aren't the sort of die hard purist that this unit is aimed at."