Video games today can be up to hundreds of gigabytes in size and feel like movies that we can control. But, back in the 80s and 90s, they were a lot more primitive compared to today’s standards. Developers didn’t let that stop them though, and many masterpieces were created that were megabytes in size, some even kilobytes. But, what if you need just a bit of extra power to achieve the game that you envision? Enter the N64’s Expansion Pak, offering 4MB more ram than what the stock console provides. The Expansion Pak offered the possibility of higher frame rates and resolution, and in some instances was a requirement just to play the game.
Here are 10 N64 games that utilized the Expansion Pak.
10. Hydro Thunder
Multiplayer is a key part of the N64, it even comes with four controller ports and features some of the greatest console multiplayer games of all time including 007 Goldeneye, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart 64. Hydro Thunder also features multiplayer, but only with two players on a stock console. To play with three or four players you will need an Expansion Pak.
9. Resident Evil 2
The fact Resident Evil 2 is even possible on the N64 is a technical achievement. Although the visual quality is lowered compared to the PS1 version, which is understandable when the PS1 version comes on two CD-Roms, while the N64 cartridge can hold just 64MB, by using the Expansion Pak things can be improved further to help make the experience more enjoyable. The Expansion Pak will allow for increased video resolution and texture detail, as well as switching between progressive and interlaced resolutions.
8. Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer
Today’s current-gen consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, allow developers to often be able to give players a choice of being able to play the game at a higher framerate or a lower one but with improved graphics. Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer has an early version of this using the Expansion Pak. Players will be able to enable a hi-res mode, allowing the game to run at 480i, or they can choose to keep the resolution the same but increase the framerate to allow for smoother gameplay.
7. Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage
One of the only RPG games on the N64, with many developers instead opting to release them on Sony’s PlayStation, Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage is a game that offers many improvements by using the Expansion Pak. By using it, players will be able to enable a “high resolution” setting, add foliage to maps to improve the overall visual quality, as well as change some of the music in the game.
6. San Francisco Rush 2049
While not a requirement for San Francisco Rush 2049, using the Expansion will help improve the game in many ways. The Expansion Pak is required to play the sixth track in the game, as well as accessing the Advanced Circuit. Utilizing the extra 4MB of ram will also unlock changeable rims for the cars, as well as replacing the music in the Arcade mode.
5. Vigilante 8
Vigilante 8 and its sequel 2nd Offense can both have their resolutions increased to 480×360i when using the Expansion Pak. But, both titles also feature a hidden “ultra” mode which increases the resolution to 640x480i. This can be done by entering “MAX_RESOLUTION” in the password screen on Vigilante 8, and “GO_MAX_REZ” in the password screen of 2nd Offense.
4. Pokemon Stadium 2
If an Expansion Pak is detected, Pokemon Stadium 2 will double its resolution from 240p (320×240) to 480i (640×480), as well as improving some textures in the game. Pokemon Stadium 2 is the only Pokemon game to utilize the Expansion Pak.
3. Perfect Dark
The Expansion Pak is required for the single-player, co-operative, and counter-operative campaigns, as well as most multiplayer features in Perfect Dark. By using the Expansion Pak, players can also access a variety of resolution improvements depending on the region, allowing the game to run at 640×222p (from 320×222p) in the NTSC version and 448×268p (from 320×268p) in the PAL version.
2. The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
While the game would have run without it, the use of it allowed the developers to create the game they envisioned, rather than making sacrifices to make it playable. Majora’s Mask was built from the ground up with the Expansion Pak in mind and is a requirement to play the game. The Expansion Pak was used to make many improvements when compared to the previous entry in the series, Ocarina Of Time. It allowed for increase texture detail, the number of on-screen models, the removal of fog that was seen throughout Ocarina Of Time to make up for poor draw distance, and also allowed motion blur to be implemented.
1. Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64 is the game that is likely the reason you owned an Expansion Pak as the game came bundled with one. With Rare throwing everything but the kitchen sink at making Donkey Kong 64 the best game it could be, it was decided early on that it would utilize the Expansion Pak. There is a myth that the Expansion Pak was used to solve an issue with the game, lead artist Mark Stevenson debunked this myth. The Expansion Pak helped improve the frame rate of the game and allow for greater draw distance.