If you’re as big a Nintendo 64 fan as me and can’t walk past a cathedral without humming the Temple of Time music, then you’ll be blown away by the Warrior 64.
The trouble with old consoles, and I’m sure that you’ll agree with me on this, is that the graphics are never as good as we remembered them. It’s the curse of time, and sadly it’s just something that we have to live with.
Next-gen consoles and Smart TVs are slowly making these old machines seem dated. Yes, there are various cables and units that you can use to upscale your favourite games, but the performance results tend to vary wildly.
Nowadays, I get my Zelda kicks on the DS and scratch my Super Mario 64 itch on the Nintendo Switch (nice rhyme there). But what if there was an updated console that played all of your favourite carts with an HD output?
Wouldn’t that be something!
Meet the Warrior 64 – The Updated N64 We All Deserve
Take a look at the Warrior 64 in all its glory!
I’m very excited to be talking about this console with you guys. Redesigned, sleek, futuristic-looking, the Warrior 64 is a plug ‘n play console without the need to faff around with extra parts or internal mods.
The classic shape may have disappeared, but the makers of this revolutionary clone console have created what many of us never thought would be possible; the Nintendo 64 2.0.
This will tie us over nicely while we’re waiting for the N64 Mini to arrive in the office!
Where Did The Warrior 64 Come From?
Like many members of the retro gaming community, the creators of the Warrior 64 simply refused to live in a world without some of the best N64 games.
Trying to play Goldeneye or Space Station Silicon Valley on a modern 4K TV feels like glaring into a real-life sand storm. Plus. not everyone has space to stick a Sony PVM in their living room.
This is something that John, a retro gaming enthusiast from IntecGaming knows all too well, and he’s taken it upon himself to create a device that not only breathes new life into our favourite games, but one that redefines the way we play too.
How Does This Console Differ?
John and his team listened to the fans of this console and took on board their thoughts and ideas about what a Nintendo 64 2.0 might look like.
One of the biggest suggestions was the inclusion of an HDMI port, ditching the original AV cable or RGB cable solution which, as we know, doesn’t match up well with newer television models.
Most gamers these days will never have even have seen an AV out cable in their lives either, so this new inclusion will hopefully coax new fans to the N64 back catalogue.
A lot of gamers have also said that their N64s have become marked or dirty after years of neglect. I don’t know who would DARE to neglect their N64, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about now (we can have this discussion on the Retro Dodo socials later).
John and IntecGaming have taken this on board too, creating a new, modified shell that could have jumped straight out of Jet Force Gemini.
Yep, the Warrior 64 sure looks the part, but can it cut the mustard when it comes to your favourite games.
What Is A Clone Console?
I will be using this term a few times through this article, so I want to go into this in a little bit more detail before we carry on.
A clone console is a unit that doesn’t use emulation to recreate games. Take the Analogue Pocket, for instance. That is a clone console with updated hardware that plays original Game Boy cartridges.
Because there is no emulation involved, gamers will not experience dropped framerates or lag of any kind. There won’t be any issues with save files either; the core gaming experience is the same, but the graphics are so much better.
What Do Game Look Like On The Warrior 64?
You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a screenshot from our Super Mario 3D All-Stars review, but it’s not! This is a still captured using the original cartridge in the Warrior 64.
And what controller is that? Hold your horses; everything will be revealed shortly!
You can instantly see the difference in the comparison image below; brighter colours, more definition in the lines on Mario’s hat, and an all-round clearer picture. I never realised just how dark the original graphics were on this game until you see them side by side with an upscaled version.
Time is cruel!
The comparisons continue with another one of my favourite N64 games, Donkey Kong 64. I’ve tried playing this on some of the best retro handhelds that have dropped into Retro Dodo towers, but the camera angles are always jumpy and the gameplay experience is never what it was.
IntecGaming has tested tonnes of classic titles including Majora’s Mask and Mario Kart 64, and the results look astounding. It’s almost like playing on a completely different game!
How Does The Warrior 64 Work?
Let’s take a look inside this updated N64 and see what makes it tick!
For starters, the console itself is 25cm wide x 22 cm deep. That’s pretty much the same width as the original console but 3cm deeper than the N64 due to the controller-port hood on the Warrior 64.
In terms of weight, both consoles are practically the same; 2.2lb for the Warrior, and 2.42lb for the N64.
Obviously the biggest change is the output resolution. The original N64 had an output of 240p, whereas the Warrior 64 can upscale games to 720p thanks to the HDMI out!
Even the Super 64, one of the best Nintendo 64 accessories can only take it up to 480p!
The Warrior 64 uses an N64 mother board with a HD Video Control Board, all with a bit of clever soldering and a neat new shell.
You can build your own with a Warrior 64 DIY Kit, but we’d probably prefer to go down the ready made route – we’re impatient gamers!
Does It Have a New Controller?
Henceforth, there shall be no more claw-hand injuries!
The Warrior 64 ships with a brand new controller called the Mini 64 Gamepad, a redesigned controller that fits much nicer in your hands and loosely follows the style of the WaveBird.
It’s very much like some of the other new and improved N64 controllers that we’ve seen on the market such as the Hyperkin Wireless N64 Remote. The difference is that this wired controller comes with the bundle, so you can play right away!
From what we can gather, the controller follows the same configuration as the old pad bar the Z-button on the back. This appears to have moved underneath the L and R buttons on the shoulders for easier access, but we’ll confirm this when we have more info.
Also, it looks as though the controller has room for a Rumble Pak or a Memory Pak too, so you can still play all of your favourite explosive and third-party games with ease.
Other controllers can be used with the Warrior 64 too, so if any gamers out there do want that nostalgic claw-hand pain, then be our guests!
What Games Can The Warrior 64 Play?
I didn’t really know how long I could go without dropping this bombshell on you.
There is good news for Japanese and North American gamers who have big collections of N64 games…
… and some not so good news for European gamers… like me.
The Warrior 64 is compatible with Japanese and US cartridges only at this point, which means any PAL gamers out there will either have to wait or buy carts from second-hand sites.
It’s not a huge setback, and hopefully John and IntecGaming will create a PAL-friendly version for gamers in Europe very soon.
Where Can I Pick Up A Warrior 64?
You can grab a Warrior 64 unit by backing John and IntecGaming on Kickstarter.
By pledging $150, you can get a console and two controllers in either green or black. The black version looks like the Aussie N64 variant and would definitely be my choice!
Gamers can spend $95 on a unit with one controller or $25 for the controller on its own!
IntecGaming has said that units are shipping in November 2020. I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these, and with new colours and hopefully a PAL friendly edition soon, everyone can enjoy updated N64 graphics in their own way in the near future!
Update 11/11/2020 – Warrior 64 Issues
We all know that the Ultra HDMI mod for the N64 probably provides the best picture for your old console. It produces almost zero lag and has its own menu that can be accessed by a specific button configuration.
The problem is that you need to solder it in yourself. Plus, getting hold of the kit is like trying to find hen’s teeth, i.e pretty impossible.
That’s why we’re so excited about the prospect of having clearer, upscaled graphics with the Warrior 64.
It has, however, come to our attention that a couple of comparison videos between the Hyperkin 3-In-1 HDTV Cable for GameCube/ N64/ Super NES and the Warrior 64 HDMI output have surfaced, and the results are practically the same.
This is a little disappointing, especially as the cable costs $30 and the console costs $150…
Other websites have been quick to knock IntecGaming, but don’t forget that this is a new product with obvious teething problems that can be ironed out. The company have stated that they are making some necessary changes now that they have surpassed their Kickstarter backing goal and will ship revised models to users when production begins.
While this comparison should have been clocked by IntecGaming earlier, I’m glad that it has been found before users started getting their hopes up and ultimately being disappointed on release day.
IntecGaming now has to improve their HDMI output to surpass the cheaper alternatives, creating Ultra HDMI style graphics for those of us that don’t want to start messing around with our machines.
I still believe that this can be a great machine, but this blunder needs sorting out quickly if the company hopes to keep gamers on their side.
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.