9 Nintendo Emulators for Desktop PCs

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John Corpuz

John Corpuz flip-flopped between computer science and creative writing courses in school. As a contributor to Tom's Guide he's found a happy middle ground writing about apps, mobile gaming and other geekery.

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  • mrpijey
    A small correction, Dolphin doesn't use Wifi, it uses bluetooth. The Wii controls uses Bluetooth for communication so you need a bluetooth dongle (or the built in). And get a standalone sensorbar or build your own with two infrared LEDs.
  • shoelessinsight
    A good article for those new to emulation. Unfortunately, it doesn't talk about some of the features I personally enjoy the most in my emulators: slow motion, fast forward, rewind, and the range of emulator functions available for binding to the controller. With computers as powerful as they are these days, I would gladly switch from my old mainstays to a more accurate emulator if I knew that it carried these features.
  • gamerk316
    For the DS: DesMuMe > NO$GBA. Otherwise I agree with every choice on this list (Though Jnes was a surprise entry).
  • Emulators are nothing new. Available for DOS, Windows, Linux, and Android now metro. I was amazed when they ran in DOS. You don't need anything powerful to run them.
  • Cryio
    Virtual Boy Advance is a 5/5 for me. Fast, smooth, multi-threaded, and with option of in-game anti-aliasing. What's not to like?
  • tburns1
    Okay ...anyone know of a GC emulator that can actually run Rogue Squadron 2/3?
  • How is Project64 not on the list?
  • Soda-88
    One of your go two emulators?
  • tyralyon
    The Dolphin emulator is pretty amazing. Running games in 1080p with AA makes so big a difference, I would never have guessed that it was a Wii game I was playing if I hadn't known.
    Check out a Zelda: Skyward Sword comparison video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQU0oFVh0DU

    Another great thing about emulators are re-dubbing and re-texturing.
  • DSpider
    You forgot about Nintendo 64.
  • PrvtChurch
    The lack of Project64 is a heinous crime against humanity.
  • stevelord
    Anyone else here remember Bleem? :P
  • filenotfound
    anonymousHow is Project64 not on the list?

    Because project64 is really a horribly buggy emulator, with horridly buggy plugins...
    But i guess in the pile of trash that is 64 emulators, its not bad considering... 64 was probably the worst emulation of all consoles, since no one wanted to work together, and all projects die before they get good.

    But mupen64plus and some of the 1964mod emulators are the best imo.


    gamerk316For the DS: DesMuMe > NO$GBA. Otherwise I agree with every choice on this list (Though Jnes was a surprise entry).

    ^ no$GBA is a TRASH emulator.... it "was" the best DS emulator in like 2007, since at that time, all ds emulators were trash.... but desmume has been BY FAR the best DS emulator for quite a long time now....
    And its not just the writer of this article, everyone seems to swear by no$gba for some reason i cant comprehend....


    tburns1Okay ...anyone know of a GC emulator that can actually run Rogue Squadron 2/3?

    All the lucas arts games are not able to be emulated very well (like gl trying to get a 64 emulator that can emulate Rogue Squadron1 lol)

    Just wait for dolphin, its very well supported and updated happen like hourly lol
    Make sure you are using a later version(not always latest), but definitely something up in the later 3.5s ( http://dolphin-emu.org/download/ )
    looking at
    http://forums.dolphin-emu.org/Thread-gc-star-wars-rogue-squadron-ii-rogue-leader
    http://forums.dolphin-emu.org/Thread-gc-star-wars-rogue-squadron-iii-rebel-strike
    http://forums.dolphin-emu.org/Thread-games-which-hang-freeze-crash-don-t-boot-at-all
    (you can find out information about dolphin stuff on the dolphin forums! what do you know!)

    If you read things like you you will see
    RS2 (needs MMU & real XFB, and to note: Dolphin is not able to emulate it properly, resulting in extremely short visual range)
    RS3 (It is functional in Interpreter as of 3.0-701 with "Enable MMU" on and the "MMU Speed Hack" disabled, but this is too slow for any computer to run in a playable form)

    I did get RS2 to play, but with an i5-2450M (2core/4threads) runnin at like 2.7-2.9ghz, i was hitting 40-60% speed alot, which is unplayable. But if you change the settings like the above says, you could "play" RS2 if you have an amazing cpu. But the view distance is quite short, kinda of making it "unplayable" lol

    RS3 if you enable interloper, i was sitting at like 2% play speed, so ya, completely unplayable, even if you had a super cpu, it still wouldnt be enough lol

    But i know the RS series is notorious for being hard or impossible to emulate. Though the dolphin team is really good, and im sure in time they will probably get it to work some how, and especially as hardware advances and people get better cpus.