Someone's reverse-engineered Perfect Dark for N64 and made a PC port possible

A shot of the cover art of Perfect Dark showing the protagonist's eyes and a pistol.
(Image credit: Rare)
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It's been quite a year for Nintendo games on PC. We've had an unofficial port of Ocarina of Time (opens in new tab), a full decompilation of A Link to the Past (opens in new tab), and now a coder called Ryan Dwyer has gone and reverse-engineered the original Nintendo 64 Perfect Dark. Pretty soon I won't feel the need to own any consoles at all.

The decompilation is available right now on Dwyer's GitHub page (opens in new tab), and it opens up all sorts of new possibilities for tinkering with Perfect Dark on PC. Now that the game's been reverse-engineered, future tech wizards could do anything from modding the game, to creating entire unofficial PC ports.

Before you castigate me for drawing the baleful eye of Nintendo's lawyers, it should be noted that the decompilation—and a hypothetical PC port project resulting from it—would be technically legal (the best kind). If you wanted to use the decompilation to play Perfect Dark on PC, you'd need to provide your own ROM with all the game's copyrighted material on it. This is why the Zelda projects mentioned up top haven't been DMCA'd into oblivion, too.

Dwyer is working on decompiling a bunch of different versions (opens in new tab) of the game, but it's the NTSC 1.0 and NTSC Final versions—the original release and a later patched version respectively—that have been completed so far. They're not listed as 100% complete on the tracker because they aren't yet "byte-matching," meaning they don't match the original games "byte-for-byte," but they are functionally complete. Still, it probably won't be too long until they match the originals completely when recompiled with the compiler the original dev team used.

There are plenty of other projects aiming to do the same thing for other Nintendo classics. At time of writing, a project looking to decompile The Legend of Zelda: the Minish Cap (opens in new tab) says it's 97.5% done, another one for Banjo-Kazooie (opens in new tab) is 91% of the way there, and (most excitingly for me personally) an effort to reverse-engineer Majora's Mask (opens in new tab) is nearly three quarters of the way done. By hook or by crook, Nintendo games keep trickling onto PC.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.