The creator of the canceled Portal 64 demake says, 'Don't be mad at Valve here'

Programmer and Nintendo Jedi James Lambert has spent the last couple of years working on a demake of Valve's first-person puzzler Portal for the Nintendo 64, a machine I wasn't sure could even display a proper circle let alone a moveable hole in reality you can use to teleport through 3D space in real-time. That project, Portal 64, was recently canceled after Valve's lawyers asked Lambert to take it down.

In a new video Lambert made it clear that he expected this, and he doesn't want people who were excited about the project to be upset at Valve. "I don't blame them at all," he said, "and I don't think you should either. Don't be mad at Valve here. The project was probably doomed to be taken down from the beginning."

Portal 64 was being made in Libultra, the official Nintendo 64 SDK, and Lambert says that was a sticking point for Valve's lawyers. While he has thought of switching to the open-source alternative libdragon, he's unlikely to commit to doing all the work that would take.

Lambert seems entirely relaxed about the way things have shaken out, saying that after two years' of effort, "I'm pretty happy with how far I got with it." He's ready to move on, and is already considering his next big project. "I'm thinking I want to create an original game and develop it simultaneously for the Nintendo 64 and PC," he said. "That way it's an interesting project that runs on N64, but I also have a way to easily monetize that and have a wide audience of people who could buy it."

Lambert plans to continue making videos about Nintendo 64 hacking for his YouTube channel, and developing a brand new game for the console would give him something to document. And, at the end, something he could sell on both Steam and a cartridge—so long as he leaves the Nintendo branding off it. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.