PCG has for several years now been keeping tabs on the incredible passion project of programmer James Lambert, a major N64 fan who decided to make a version of Portal for hardware first released in 1996. Lambert has shared various updates over the years about the project, most recently showcasing the game’s opening, but things have just got real. Portal 64: The First Slice is now out of beta and free to download.
In the announcement video Lambert goes through some of the new features in the latest build, including a seriously impressive visual rework on the portal gun itself. The video also showcases just how much of Portal’s feel this manages to successfully capture, in particular the mind-bending effects of observing rooms and Chell through the portals themselves. I once called this the most impressive homebrew game I’ve ever seen and, while admittedly the N64 nostalgia helps, I’d stick by that.
While this is obviously the first slice (geddit) and there’s more to come, it’s an incredible achievement in its own right: The first 13 test chambers of the game all present-and-correct. Portal has 19 test chambers, and Portal: Still Alive (which unbelievably has never seen an official PC release) added a further 14, so Lambert’s well on his way to completing a vanilla version of Portal 64.
Looking at Lambert’s ongoing work and projects outside of Portal 64, the love for the N64 absolutely shines through, particularly his ambitions to do things like add rumble pak support. Perhaps the sweetest bit of this video comes at the end, when it turns out Lambert’s work has won so much admiration among the wider N64 fanbase that others have reached out to help him give the game physical form, and even a modded Portal N64 itself. There’s a game pak and a game box from one admirer, while another made the below version of the hardware to play it on.
Portal 64 themed console and controller pic.twitter.com/HOhhmcabKbDecember 30, 2023
The Portal 64 project can be followed on Youtube, the first slice ROM can be downloaded here, and if you like Nintendo 64 generally then this guy has lots more to show you: How about Skyrim (kinda) running on an N64.