Most tech creators are on a never-ending upgrade quest – always after higher frame rates, pixel counts and processing speeds, in a lighter, sleeker form factor – but a select few instead choose to look backwards. And that’s how we got a Nintendo 64-powered Oculus Rift setup that's pretty much the antithesis of the Apple Vision Pro

It's the latest project from James Lambert – previously known for the Portal 64 demake that aimed to bring the classic Valve game to Nintendo’s 1996 console – and in a video shared to his YouTube channel he detailed exactly how he managed to create this unlikely VR pairing.

The first step was picking the right VR headset. Lambert opted for the Oculus Rift DK1 because its tracking is “relatively simple” – there are only a few sensors in the headset – and they can all pass data through USB – which works great with Lambert's custom-built N64 USB adapter.

He was then able to easily output video from his modded N64 to the headset via an HDMI cable running between their HDMI ports. And while the DK1 has a very low 640 x 800 pixel resolution per eye, Lambert jokes that it’s “not the bottleneck here” while gesturing with the N64.

Another unavoidable issue is that while the Oculus Rift can read sensor data at a rate of about 1,000 samples per second, the N64 setup Lambert used can only read data at a rate of about 60 samples per second. But after calibrating everything as best as he could, Lambert was able to send semi-accurate tracking data from the headset to the aging console. 

Lambert goes into much more detail about how he got the setup to work despite these technical limitations in his 10-minute video, and it’s well worth a watch – but the TL;DR is that while the Rift can indeed run on an N64, the end result isn’t a VR experience you’d actually want to try for very long.

A technical feat we don't want to experience

The phenomenally low resolution – just 320 x 480 pixels per eye – gives the world a very pixelated look. This coupled with the input lag when turning your head and low frame rate makes the whole thing “pretty motion-sickness inducing” according to Lambert.

Another disappointment was that he was unable to complete the Nintendo experience by getting the Power Glove to function with the Rift-N64 setup – having previously managed to get the wearable NES controller to work on the N64 in a previous video. Lambert does seem keen to keep tinkering with his N64 VR setup, though so perhaps that's an upgrade we’ll see in a version 2.0.

As with other modded hardware projects, you unfortunately can’t go out and buy an N64 VR setup for yourself – unless you’re willing to put in a lot of time recreating Lambert’s mods. But even projects as eccentric as this are a technical marvel, and we’re excited to see what odd hardware will power a VR setup next – following in the footsteps of Doom, maybe we’ll see a lawnmower power a Valve Index, or another console will enter the mix with a PSP running a PlayStation VR headset.

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