Dolphin Emulator: What you should know about GameCube and Wii emulation!

Dolphin Emulator: What you should know about GameCube and Wii emulation!

Ever wanted to play GameCube and Wii games on your phone? I’m sure you have, and Dolphin Emulator is the best way to do so. It has an ever-growing compatibility list, works on all kinds of smartphones depending on what game you want to play, and is the best way to enjoy classic titles released on either of these Nintendo systems. It’s available on Android, but you can also get it on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Dolphin Emulator
Dolphin Emulator
Developer: Dolphin Emulator
Price: Free

Setting up Dolphin Emulator

Setting up Dolphin Emulator is fairly easy, and it works out of the box on most configurations. Install it, get your game files, and launch. That’s really all you need in most cases, and any specific changes you may make will likely be to the detriment of some other core aspect of the game. That’s because Dolphin Emulator is shipped with default settings for the most optimal performance, so all of the most popular titles across GameCube and Wii will already be optimized.

For now, anything that’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or newer should do the job for basic emulation. Any newer chips than that will progressively get better performance, but I would personally class the Snapdragon 845 as the bare minimum for playing most big titles. Games that don’t require as much processing power will still work fine on a Snapdragon 845, but you should also be mindful of thermal throttling.

Thermal throttling is when your phone decreases the amount of work it completes in order to cool down, which can have a detrimental effect on performance as your phone heats up. Using any of the best Android phones available on the market today will more or less be good enough.

Once you have Dolphin Emulator set up, you’ll need to copy over your game ISOs to your smartphone. We do not condone piracy or the illegal sharing of games, and you’ll need to dump your own titles to be able to play them on your smartphone. You can rip games specifically for use on Dolphin Emulator by following this official guide on the official Dolphin Emulator website. You can do it with a hacked Nintendo Wii, or with some older DVD readers and a computer. Dolphin Emulator can also play WAD files (Wii Channel files), and that guide also shows you how to dump those too.

Performance Problems? Try Dolphin MMJ

If you’re having performance problems with the original emulator, give Dolphin MMJ a try. Dolphin MMJ is a fork of the official emulator with some hacks and workarounds for common problems found on Android smartphones, particularly with buggy GPU drivers. It will also perform better on smartphones with Mali GPUs as, on Android, it’s hard to have a good emulation experience on non-Qualcomm chips. You’ll need to uninstall the original Dolphin Emulator before installing the MMJ version, as they have different build certificates and it’ll fail to install over the original.

Enhance your game

You can enhance your gaming experience with some of Dolphin’s enhancements in the settings. A common one for people to do is to bump up the internal resolution, as usually it’s the CPU that causes slowdowns and other problems. The GPU is rarely being pushed to its limit, so you can often increase the graphical fidelity by increasing the rendering resolution without any effect on performance.

There are a few settings that you might want to modify, but most of them are purely cosmetic.

Above are really the only settings that you’ll want to touch. You can change the video backend from “OpenGL” to “Vulkan” (though Vulkan support may not be the greatest), and you can also enable an FPS counter so that you can see how well your game is running. If you want to change the internal resolution and set up anti-aliasing you can also do that, though keep in mind that bumping up either may cause performance problems. You can force widescreen in games that don’t support it, and you can disable fog in other games too. Finally, you can also make some Wii or Gamecube-specific changes for emulation, particularly when it comes to the Wii remote too.

Games you can play with Dolphin Emulator

Wii

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart Wii on the OPPO Find X3 Pro

Mario Kart Wii is an example of a game that plays well on Android, though it’ll play even better with Dolphin MMJ. The square you see in the top left happens when using OpenGL on Dolphin Emulator on some devices, and can be fixed by using Vulkan (which may have its own issues thanks to GPU drivers on Android), or by using Dolphin MMJ. This game is running at 1920×1584, three times its original resolution.

Super Smash Bros: Brawl

Super Smash Bros: Brawl on the OPPO Find X3 Pro

Super Smash Bros: Brawl runs very well on a smartphone, even if the controls are a bit finicky. For this one, I’d recommend hooking up an actual controller to your phone to play, as the touch inputs can be difficult to use for such a fast-paced game. This game is running at 1920×1584, three times its original resolution.

GameCube

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

The Simpson: Hit & Run on the OPPO Find X3 Pro

The Simpsons: Hit & Run is a childhood favorite of many people, and the game runs very well on the latest and greatest Qualcomm chipsets. While lag is still evident in certain sections, it’s certainly not unplayable. This game is running at 1920×1584, three times its original resolution.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on the OPPO Find X3 Pro

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is one of the highest-rated games on the GameCube, and it runs near-flawlessly on the OPPO Find X3 Pro. Performance is superb and the game runs very well even with a bumped-up internal resolution. This game is running at 1920×1584, three times its original resolution.

Relive your childhood with Wii and Gamecube games on the go

I for one love being able to play Gamecube and Wii games wherever I go, especially with the wide variety of supported games that you can play nowadays. While performance is nowhere near perfect, it’s absolutely worth giving it a try if you feel some nostalgia for older games. I often enjoy playing The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and The Simpsons: Hit & Run, and it’s even better knowing that I can take them with me whenever I want. Definitely give it a try, as you might be surprised by how well your favourite games run!

About author

Adam Conway
Adam Conway

I'm a senior editor here at XDA-Developers. I'm also a 22-year-old Irish technology fanatic and Computer Science graduate. Lover of smartphones, cybersecurity, and Counter-Strike. You can contact me at [email protected] My Twitter is @AdamConwayIE and my Instagram is adamc.99.