With emulation being the bane of their existence, Nintendo won’t be overjoyed with this latest news. They shouldn’t be surprise though because gamers and computer enthusiasts will always look for ways to tweak or modify consoles. That said, a video has been posted by YouTuber Mizumi where he shows off the GameCube/Wii emulator Dolphin up and running on a Nintendo Switch. This is still a work in progress but it does look promising.
The Dolphin emulator is running via RetroArch and Lakka OS. For those of you new to this technical jargon, Lakka is a Linux OS that, “transforms a small computer into a full blown retrogaming console” and RetroArch is the frontend that enables the Nintendo Switch to run a vast number of different emulators in a user-friendly environment. RetroArch isn’t exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and is available for a vast number of consoles and computers as well.
The Dolphin emulator for the Switch does have a few limitations in its current form. It won’t run in docked mode and you need to keep the Joy-Con controllers connected at all times. Mizumi points out that wireless and Bluetooth isn’t setup yet so that means other controllers won’t work. For the time being you’re limited to single-player GameCube games which isn’t the end of the world.
On the positive side of things, the Dolphin emulator will run on any version of the Nintendo Switch firmware. Mizumi states in the video that you won’t be risking bricking or banning because “technically the Switch isn’t running the official firmware.” It’s still risky however so keep that in mind. Another positive tidbit is that Dolphin on Switch currently supports game saves. This is obviously important because nobody wants to restart a game and lose their progress especially when this emulator is only single-player game capable.
In the video, Mizumi demonstrates the Dolphin emulator running Super Smash Bros. Melee and Paper Mario running anywhere from 20 to 26 FPS. According to Mizumi, there is a mixed bag of results in terms of frame rates. Some games run smooth in menus but perform poorly when in the game. Paper Mario for example, was sporting 40+ FPS in menus but gameplay ran at around 25 FPS. Super Smash Bros. Melee gameplay ran as high as 30 FPS. Even at these framerates the games certainly appear playable in the video.
No question that fiddling with the software and or exploring emulation on your Nintendo Switch isn’t for everyone. There are always risks involved. Emulation is not exactly plug-and-play, but let YouTube instructional videos be your friend. Watch a few and decide from there if you’re up for the challenges and risks. In terms of the GameCube emulator Dolphin for the Nintendo Switch, it’s not officially released yet but you can look for it in the description links from the YouTube video.