Yesterday, Nintendo Switch owners got all excited by the prospect of N64 games coming to Nintendo Switch Online – but some eagle-eyed European fans have spotted something rather disturbing.
During the North American version of the Nintendo Direct broadcast, the games shown ran at full speed. However, when compared to the Nintendo UK edition of the broadcast, the footage was noticeably slower, which hints that the games European players will get will be 50Hz, rather than 60Hz.
If you’re based outside of Europe, you might wonder why this matters. Basically, in the days before HDMI, European players had to endure slower, letterboxed games due to the differences between the NTSC (North America and Japan) and PAL (Europe) TV standards.
While PAL has more display lines and technically offers better image quality, it has a slower refresh rate. This means that games that are encoded for NTSC televisions have borders at the top and bottom of the screen (where the extra PAL lines remain unused) and run around 17% slower. Some PAL games were optimised to overcome these issues, but most were not.
The issue of 50Hz games on modern Nintendo systems isn’t a new thing; back when the Wii Virtual Console began, some games were 50Hz. However, Nintendo would later fix this on the Wii U Virtual Console. So, has the company taken a step backwards with N64 games on Switch?
When contacted by our friends over at Eurogamer, Nintendo UK replied: “We have nothing to announce on this topic.” Eek.
Still, it might not be as bad as we think: