The Nintendo 64 wasn’t the first 3D-focused video game console—the original PlayStation beat it to market in North America by a year. But it was Nintendo’s first console that didn’t rely solely on 2D sprites like the NES and SNES did. That means it was extremely influential, and some of the most iconic games of all time were released as Nintendo 64 exclusives. Those include GoldenEye 007, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, and many more. It’s still quite difficult to reliably emulate N64 games, which is one reason why Downing made this portable Nintendo 64 with an Ocarina of Time theme.
Downing is by no means an inexperienced modder. This build, which was aptly named “Project 15,” is actually Downing's 15th portable Nintendo 64. It is the culmination of all of the knowledge and skill that he has gained over his many years of N64 modding. Even if you’ve got a powerful desktop PC built for modern triple-A games, a Nintendo 64 emulator isn’t going to run perfectly and many specific games will be unplayable. That means that you definitely can’t use a single-board computer (SBC) like a Raspberry Pi in a portable console to emulate N64 games — at least not if you want an enjoyable experience. The most practical alternative is to use an actual N64 motherboard in your build, which is what Downing has done here.
If you take a look inside of a Nintendo 64, you’ll see that the motherboard is too large to realistically fit inside of a handheld console. The solution is to trim all of the “excess” off of the motherboard and use some custom boards to relocate the important components and keep everything compact. In this case, those custom boards include a power management PCB, audio amp, and controller PCB. Other new components include the 5” 640 x 480 pixel LCD, 4200 mAh batteries good for about three hours of life, and 28mm mylar speakers. The enclosure and buttons were all modeled in CAD by Downing and then 3D-printed. As you can see, those contain design elements from Ocarina of Time. Project 15 can even be connected to an expansion dock in order to output video to a TV and to connect additional controllers for multiplayer games.