2

This is more of a technical question

It appears as if there's a significant loading delay on some N64 VC games. I recently purchased a used first gen Wii (the one with Gamecube controller ports), and a few VC titles were already installed.

When starting, say, Mario Party 2, there is about a 10-15 second delay during which the N64 logo (the N cube) spins on the screen before the game starts. Kinda like this:

enter image description here

If the Home button on the remote is pressed after the game has started, the screen blacks out before the home menu appears. Closing the menu results in about another 5-7 second wait.


This is clearly a loading process of some kind - but what I can't figure out is why. N64 games are not particularly large or memory-intensive compared to native Wii titles. The blackout-on-home-button behavior is something I've never noticed on any other Wii or Virtual Console title, and I'd expect loading from the onboard memory to be multiple times faster than loading from disc (which doesn't have this behavior either).

Why this load delay? What's happening in the background?

  • Interesting question! I recall that basically the Wii needs to load lots of internal functions to handle the various aspects of emulation smoothly. In native Wii games, the load times can be masked behind various menus or intros (or the wrist strap screen), etc, but in N64 games the process is fairly front-heavy. However, there probably is something else too. – mmKALLL Dec 7 '17 at 13:58
3

It's loading both the emulator and the entire N64 ROM into RAM, and also loading a firmware handler to run the console in "N64 mode." Most emulators on Nintendo's systems (beyond the simpler NES and SNES emulation) have a special firmware like this, and switching between that and the normal Wii Menu firmware would account for the delay when using the Home button.

Another example of special firmware is the 3DS firmware for running GBA games.

15 seconds seems excessive, and I remember it being a bit shorter than that on Wii U N64 VC games, but I would imagine that N64 emulation on Wii was rough around the edges, being an early step in emulation for Nintendo (although Nintendo staff weren't the ones who developed it).

N64 games are not particularly large or memory-intensive compared to native Wii titles

That's true, but note that original N64 games can be read directly from the cartridge with speeds comparable to RAM. The Wii stores the N64 ROMs on its internal flash memory or an SD card; both kinds of memory are faster than, say, discs, but not as fast as cartridge memory was. So the N64 has a speed advantage in not needing to really load anything, but just boot up and jump right to the title screen.

...loading from disc (which doesn't have this behavior either)

With a Wii game, time to boot is faster because there is no extra firmware and not much necessary to load into RAM initially, but after boot, many Wii games have protracted opening logos or loading spinners (or both!) that mask the wait time as content is read from the disc.

  • Makes sense. Regarding the slowness, this is on a first generation Wii, so that could account for some of it. – Mikey T.K. Dec 12 '17 at 17:36
  • This is doubtful, as Wiibrew doesn't even seem to mention the Wii having a firmware... – Hiccup Feb 28 at 20:34
-3

My guess would be it's due to the same reason it appears when running off of a Nintendo 64.

Also consider that emulation may require more overhead than you think. A quick side by side between recommended specs for emulating with Project 64, and the system specs for a Wii suggests that the Wii has it's work cut out for it (of course, I can't speak for the optimizations that probably exist behind the scenes within the Wii hardware+software, but you get the general idea).

  • The N64 logo does not appear on an original N64. The game’s boot up near instantly. – Stevoisiak Dec 6 '17 at 22:44
  • Interesting, I remember that N appearing various times when booting up games on the original console. – rob Dec 6 '17 at 22:50
  • 1
    that was done on a game-by-game basis. Some had the logo, some didn’t, but it was never part of the console itself. – Stevoisiak Dec 6 '17 at 22:51
  • Why the downvotes? @StevenVascellaro that's even more interesting. That would suggest the N is part of the console itself. – rob Dec 6 '17 at 22:52
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    as for downvotes, you open saying " same reason it appears when running off of a Nintendo 64" but then never explain this and go onto specs so one reason is that your answer is unclear in how it answers the question – Memor-X Dec 6 '17 at 23:45

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