Skyline is an in-development Nintendo Switch emulator that actually works
You can do a lot with an Android smartphone, and the number of emulators that you can get for modern and retro systems alike is incredible. From age-old systems like the NES right up to the Nintendo 3DS, you can play them all from the comfort of your phone. Emulating more recent systems, such as the Nintendo Switch is, a bit more difficult. However, following a conceptual Nintendo Switch emulator launch and then a shady emulator that required a particular gamepad to use, Skyline is the first proper Nintendo Switch emulator that actually works, and you can test it out already.
To roll back a little bit, Skyline has been in development for over a year now, and only recently did some games become playable. As I was told by one of the developers, Skyline is extremely specific to just Android devices and has been built from the ground up following that philosophy — all while making use of community projects to assist its development. For example, Ryujinx is used as a reference throughout the project thanks to its accuracy, and the shader compiler used in Skyline is a fork of yuzu’s. Both the teams behind Ryujinx and yuzu have provided assistance in Skyline’s development, with the Skyline team also being granted a license exemption when it comes to yuzu.
At the moment, the developers tend to focus on getting one game at a time running. The first was Sonic Mania, the second was Celeste, and now the third that’s currently undergoing work is Super Mario Odyssey. This is because when one game runs nearly perfectly, incidentally, other games will start to work, too.
The Skyline app
The Skyline app itself is pretty bare-bones, though it has all of the features that you need. You can set a theme, the layout, performance statistics, change how logs are saved, username, language, and more. There’s also controller support with support for more than one, so that you can play multiplayer with friends. All you need is to ensure that you have your production keys and title keys along with your games, and you can get those by dumping your keys with Lockpick RCM on your Nintendo Switch.
Game compatibility is hit or miss
Currently, Skyline isn’t in a completely playable state right now — in fact, far from it. A lot of games don’t work, and the playable section of the compatibility list is rather short. That being said, we tested out both Super Mario Odyssey and Celeste to give you an idea of what to expect, and it’s quite impressive, to say the least. We also tried to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons but it didn’t run. Note that while the below recording’s audio is out of sync, the audio was not out of sync when playing.
Celeste is a fun platformer that’s available on a lot of platforms, though not on Android. It runs between 40 and 60 FPS on my OnePlus 10 Pro with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, making it perfectly playable. It’s a lot of fun, though the touch controls are a little bit dodgy. That’s because the game requires pretty precise input, and is nothing to do with the emulator itself.
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is a game that is the latest focus of the Skyline team’s efforts. Currently, it can kind of show the menu, but the world itself doesn’t load on my OnePlus 10 Pro. 3D games are harder than 2D games to emulate, so it could be a while before you see this one running properly on a device.
Download and install Skyline
If you want to give Skyline a try, be sure to join the team’s Discord to see the latest APKs available for download, and read the rules before talking on the server as well. You will need a GitHub account, and typing “.rl ftx1” in the bot commands channel will give you a link to download the latest APK for your device. Otherwise, you can build the app yourself from its source code on GitHub by following the team’s build instructions.