Switch Gets Homebrew Multiplatform Emulators

The Libretro Team, a development team behind several multiplatform emulators, announced that RetroArch is now available on the Nintendo Switch. Now it will be easier to play games from other platforms like the PlayStation, NES, Game Gear, Genesis, and more if you are willing to take more than a few risks.

In RetroArch update 1.7.5., users can now install this software modification to use a plethora of emulators from across the computing spectrum. With this latest update, a jailbroken Switch is capable of playing games from the NES and Commadore 64 to the original PlayStation. It is worth noting that the Nintendo 64 emulator isn’t quite ready, but they say they hope to bring that in a future release.

Other enthusiasts have also had success in modifying the Switch. Earlier this year, the GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin was working, but with limited functionality.

Many Nintendo Switch functions, like its touchscreen interface and split and undocked joy-con support, are up and running. RetroAchievements are also available, filling an industry-standard void that Nintendo has yet to address.

RetroArch has been available to install on numerous platforms over the years, including Raspberry Pi, PlayStation Vita, and even continued support of the long-dead PowerPC Mac. Depending on the device and OS, some jailbreaking might be required, as is the case with the Nintendo Switch.

There are numerous risks involved with installing RetroArch on a Nintendo Switch: a users’ Nintendo Account could be banned or the system itself could be bricked during the jailbreak process. Once installed, a significant amount of setup is needed to get the emulators running correctly on the Switch, and obtaining ROMs can be an obstacle in unto itself.

Bringing homebrew and emulation to modern gaming platforms has a complicated history. For one, most companies like Sony and Nintendo are litigious when their content is used without their consent. In a past statement to Kotaku, Nintendo has said of emulation sites:

“The sites include hundreds of pirated copies of Nintendo games for multiple Nintendo platforms. The most popular downloads on the website are Nintendo’s first-party titles that have reportedly been downloaded more than 60 million times.”

In a recent wave of legal notices, many long-running ROM hosting sites have either removed specific content or shut down entirely. Nintendo also has had the ability to ban individual game cards if it senses that you are doing things it considers shady.

Before the launch of Nintendo Switch Online, Switch owners had limited options to play classic games apart from arcade classics on the eShop. Earlier today, Nintendo confirmed several new titles that will be coming to Nintendo Online’s NES collection. However, there has not been any further word on other platforms, aside from various arcade classics, being made available for purchase.

We have reached out to Nintendo for comment.