The worlds 'first' Nintendo64 emulator that played commercial games. coded by RealityMan and Epsilon. first is in parenthesis because Project UnReality showed the Copyright Screen for Mortal Kombat trilogy long before the release of UltraHLE.

The project was discontinued because of a flood of ROM image requests and probably other legal reasons too (ie Nintendo lawsuit in near future).

It depended on Glide, which really pissed of nVidia card owners.
The real technical achievement that was UltraHLE was the HLE part, or high level emulation. The N64 was very hard to break via brute force, which was project unreality's approach. The N64 was programmed in C, which meant a C compiler, and tons of recurring code. Noticing this, the authors of UltraHLE basically emulated the toolkit of the N64, based on the opcode patterns. Thus the concept of High Level Emulation, or emulation of code patterns. Thus there are compatability concerns with this approach (ones that didn't use the development toolkit won't work), but games that do typically work well.

It's an interesting approach, and a brialliant observation by the two esteemed authors. There have been teases of an update to this amazing program, but nothing has materialized. I don't blame either RealityMan or Epsilon for leaving the scene, they didn't deserve the crap that they got.

To fully understand the effect that UltraHLE had on the emulator community, one must make a trip to the Wayback Machine and view various emulation sites' news.

UltraHLE was released on January 26, 1999, and at the time it was released, it was unheard of. A proper comparison would be an GameCube emulator being released - with working games - only two months after the game was even released. UltraHLE followed a policy of "best games first" - the original release could emulate 17 games, all of which were major Nintendo 64 hits. I was one of the fortunate ones to visit UltraHLE's site before it got big. The hit counter initially read 3000; six hours later it read 80000. The authors - Epilson and RealityMan - discontinued it because of legal fears; after all this represented a major threat to Nintendo's intellectual property interests. Four years later, it is still the only real emulator for games.

It had a profound impact on emulation history

  • The IDSA went on a rampage.The IDSA is comparable to RIAA for video games - an organisation founded to protect its members' intellectual property interests. Armed with the DMCA in hand, cease-and-desist letters went flying. Doug Lowenstien, president of the IDSA, said that he would like to see emulation destroyed, a statement taken as a declaration of war by many. Major casulaties included Dave's Classics.
  • Demand for Glide wrappers exploded. Because UltraHLE made use of 3DFX' propietary Glide technology, demand for Glide wrappers, which allowed non-3DFX cards to play UltraHLE, spiraled. GlideUnderground mushroomed almost overnight, earning them a cease-and-desist letter from 3DFX. Others - like me - went out and brought a Voodoo card just to play UltraHLE.

It was worked on again with very promising progress - RealityMan almost got an OpenGL core - but for unknown reasons, he put up a statement saying that he had deleted the source and all documentation, and that UltraHLE was finished forever. The extensibility of UltraHLE was proven by the various hacks and patches that have been released - for example, SupraHLE, and various .ini files have been added to give games support

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