Chinese Nvidia Shield TV with Nintendo games may actually be running a GameCube/Wii Emulator
Nintendo has been stuck in its ways for decades. In recent years, though, it’s been more willing to experiment. It released a Mario game for third-party platforms, for example, and teamed up with NVIDIA in China to bring select GameCube and Wii games to the NVIDIA Shield TV.
The NVIDIA Shield TV has long been advertised as an Android TV device for video gamers. Sure, it might stream and play a variety of media, but its gaming controller and game-centric services like GeForce NOW imply that it’s aimed at the gaming crowd. That’s why it didn’t come as a shock when Nintendo announced it was bringing titles like New Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, PUNCH-OUT!!, and Metroid Prime to the Shield TV in China. But from a technical perspective, it wasn’t clear how the company pulled it off.
There’s now evidence to suggest that NVIDIA shipped a GameCube and Wii emulator on the Chinese Shield TV. Details of the discovery come from ResetEra, where community member dragonbane uncovered a few performance quirks in the Shield TV version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
There aren’t any graphical issues in the port, according to the report, and the framerate was locked at 30 frames per second (FPS) throughout most of the game. Furthermore, loading times were comparable to the popular GameCube emulator Dolphin. But oddly, it was impossible to replicate two “notorious” and well-documented crashes on the GameCube version of the game on the Shield TV.
A subsequent dump of the APK revealed a native executable with the telltale strings of an emulator — including a GameCube function, “OSPanic”, called by the game when it encounters a critical error:
“[The code] leaves pretty much no doubt that the executable […] is in fact a GC emulator,” dragonbane wrote. “A GC emulator that runs one of the most demanding games on the Cube [sic] very smoothly on the same hardware as the Switch. Something tells me this emulator wasn’t created to just emulate 2 Nintendo games on a niche console in China.”
Assuming the APK’s the real deal, it’s not clear what plans Nintendo might have for a GameCube/Wii emulator. In any case, it’s an incredible discovery.