Later this year, Steam Early Access will be receiving a GameCube and Wii emulator from the developers of Dolphin. This open-source emulator has been in development for two decades and will allow users to play classic games like Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker with improved graphics and better performance compared to the original consoles. However, Nintendo may not be pleased with this development.
“We are pleased to announce our great experiment—Dolphin is coming to Steam!” the creators wrote on Tuesday. “We’re pleased to finally tell the world of our experiment. This has been the product of many months of work, and we look forward to getting it into users’ hands soon!” While Dolphin’s Steam page is already live, the emulator won’t officially be available through Valve’s storefront until sometime in the next few months.
The emulator will be free to download and will support 4K displays as well as modern controllers. It also features built-in netplay for online multiplayer and allows for community mods, randomizers, and custom level packs. Other features include save states, slow motion, and rapid fire.
The emulator’s makers are quick to point out that Dolphin doesn’t actually come with any games, something they note repeatedly on the Steam page. “This software is built to run legally acquired games,” one of the notices reads. “Dolphin Emulator does not come with games. We do not condone piracy in any shape or form.”
Although players can rip their existing game collections to PC and use them on the emulator, pirated copies of console games are also available for download. This has historically been a point of contention for Nintendo, who has shown contempt for emulation and amateur development on its platforms.
Emulation has become increasingly popular among Steam Deck users, who have been using emulators to access their old game collections with better performance on the go. In fact, Valve even accidentally included a reference to a Switch emulator called Yuzu in one of its trailers for the PC gaming handheld, before quickly deleting it.
For retro gaming enthusiasts and preservationists, emulators like Dolphin are a valuable tool. With the recent closure of the Wii U and 3DS eShops, it has become impossible to digitally purchase many amazing games. Homebrew projects like Dolphin are one way for the community to keep these games alive. However, they may not be welcomed by companies like Nintendo who are protective of their intellectual property.
I’m finally glad that such a tool will exist on steam and to a wider audience. Nintendo for some reason does not want to preserve their classic games and make it more accessible to newer generations as such many games have been lost due to e-shops closing down or discontinued support for the console. One of my favorite games from the GameCube era was “Gotcha Force”. I still play it from time to time on an emulator on my phone but that would tend to overheat a lot and drain the battery dry.