How To Play Gamecube & Wii Games on Your Windows PC - Dolphin Emulator Guide
This guide will show you how to use an emulator on your Windows PC, that will let you play games from the Nintendo GameCube & Wii platforms.
In this guide, we will talk about how to play Gamecube & Wii games on your Windows PC. The guide will also include some tips, so hopefully, you find it useful!
There’s no denying that Nintendo is one of the best gaming companies out there. They have made a myriad of classics that are severely loved to this age regardless of how old they look. A few examples are Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and the Kirby series.
Luckily, there’s an emulator that’ll let you play all of your favourite Nintendo games on PC. The emulator I am talking about is called Dolphin. This fine emulator is a work of art as it enables you to play any Gamecube or Wii game that you can think of. Come read about how to play Gamecube/Wii games on your Windows PC down below.
Notice: I try to update each emulator guide regularly so that it’s fun, accurate and helpful to read.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s Dolphin Emulator?
- 2 Is Dolphin Emulator Safe?
- 3 Where To Download Dolphin Emulator From?
- 4 What’s the Difference Between Beta, Development and Stable Versions?
- 5 How to Install Dolphin Emulator?
- 6 How to Configure Dolphin Emulator?
- 7 Checking the Dolphin Game Titles Compatibility
- 8 How to Improve the Visuals on Dolphin
- 9 Which Backend to Use on Dolphin Emulator?
- 10 How To Add Cheats to Dolphin Emulator
What’s Dolphin Emulator?
Dolphin is a free open-source emulator that is capable of running dozens of Gamecube and Wii games on Windows, Linux, macOS, and even on Android. The very first build of this emulator appeared back in 2003, but it sadly couldn’t emulate any game due to how it was just going through its first development phases. However, after troubled years into its creation, Dolphin finally succeeded at running commercial games properly from start to finish. Soon after the emulator gained support for Wii emulation, and a port for Linux and macOS, the developers aimed their efforts at developing a mobile version of the emulator for Android.
Is Dolphin Emulator Safe?
The emulator is absolutely safe to use and is the number one recommended emulator for anything related to the Gamecube and the Nintendo Wii.
Where To Download Dolphin Emulator From?
To get Dolphin Emulator head over to the official website. Head over to Download Dolphin as indicated and click it. Once you do that a new page will show up with different versions as shown above. However, which version should you pick up, you may ask. The community recommends downloading the development versions as they come packed with several features and improvements. Below, I’ll explain the difference between these three.
What’s the Difference Between Beta, Development and Stable Versions?
According to the Dolphin Emulator website, the explanation is the following:
- Beta Versions: Beta versions are released every month, usually accompanied by a Progress Report article. Use the latest beta version if you prefer stability over the newest features in the development versions.
- Development Versions: Development versions are released every time a developer makes a change to Dolphin, several times every day! Using development versions enables you to use the latest and greatest improvements to the project. They are however less tested than beta versions of the emulator.
- Stable Versions: The stable versions below are years out of date and missing countless features and bug fixes. Beta or development versions are a better choice for almost all users; the stable versions should only be used if you have a specific need for them. (e.g if you’re using a potato computer with an old Operating System)
How to Install Dolphin Emulator?
Dolphin is a standalone program just like any emulator we showcased before. Meaning it doesn’t require any installation wizard. Installation is facile: extract the emulator from the zip file, and you are good to go. As always, you should put your emulator into a folder other than the main drive as sometimes you may run into some problems. Also note that you need all of the Microsoft visual c+ on your computer, otherwise, the emulator will not function properly.
How to Configure Dolphin Emulator?
In this section, you will learn how to configure your Dolphin Emulator. You will get to see how to configure your controller, enhance the graphics, set up your games and more.
How To Setup Controller Using Dolphin Emulator?
Since Dolphin emulates both Gamecube and Wii controls, you’ll be met with different button mappings for each console. Luckily, it’s not that very difficult.
If you want to configure your Gamecube controls using a keyboard or controller, simply head to options> controller settings> Gamecube controllers > port 1> configure. You will see a screen like the one below:
If you’re using an Xbox controller, please follow the following button mappings:
A: Press button A on your Xbox Controller
B: Press button X
X: Press button B
Y: Press button Y
Z: Press RT
START: Press Start on your Xbox Controller
UP: UP on your Xbox Controller
- Controller Stick
UP: Use your Left Stick and go UP
UP: Use your Right Stick and go UP
If you want to configure your Wii controls, simply head to Options ☛ Controller Settings ☛ Wiimote ☛ Wiimote 1 ☛ Configure.
Since the Wii controls are particularly different from the GameCube, you should check an eye out on the motion controls and IR tab like the one mentioned below:
This will come in handy if it’s the first time you experience Wii controls. Note, I do not recommend using a regular controller as it will quickly become a pain in the butt. That is why I recommend either using a mouse or buying an original Wii controller to get the full experience with zero annoyance.
How To Setup Your Games
The first time you boot up your emulator, it will look empty. But you can make it flourish with tons of games. However, you always have two choices. Either load the game directly by going to Open ☛ Navigate where your game resides ☛ double-click and that’s it. Or, fill the empty screen with all of your games like the pictures shown above. I think the second option is the best recommended one.
What you should do is double-click on it. Next, you’ll be prompted to select the folder where you have put your games. After you do that, that’s it, you’ll see all of your games in front of you. To run a game, just double-click on it and you are good to go.
How To Play Gamecube & Wii Games on Your Windows PC?
So say you want to boot a game, and you can’t wait to play it, but you don’t know-how. The step is easy, just double-click the game’s icon and it should boot up instantly. That’s pretty much all about it.
Similar to RPCS3, users can customize their emulators’ dashboards. In the demonstration above, I showed you how you can change your game’s icon into actual box art. You can also change the general colour of your emulator by heading over to Config ☛ Interface ☛ Theme. Check the demonstration of each option below:
Which one do you prefer? Let me know your opinion below!
Checking the Dolphin Game Titles Compatibility
To avoid running into a game that may have issues and waste your time, it’s highly recommended to keep an eye out on the Dolphin game’s compatibility. The image is self-explanatory and doesn’t need further explanation. To access the compatibility list, go to the official website right here.
How to Go Fullscreen Mode Using Dolphin?
Dolphin loads the game in window screen mode by default. Just like previous emulators press Alt+Enter to go full screen and press it again to go back to windowed mode. Bear in mind that you should have Vsync on enabled in the options to avoid any annoying screen tearings.
How To Save and Load Your Progress On Dolphin?
Just like any emulator out there, Dolphin allows you to save your progress anytime, anywhere, or you can stick with in-game saves. To use any save state, simply head to save state> save state to the slot > then choose which one you want. You can also save using keyboard hotkeys by pressing Shift+F1. Alternatively, to load your save state, simply press F1.
Although, I don’t recommend using this feature all the time as it may sometimes corrupt your save, forcing you to restart the game. That is why it’s better to stick with the saves-in game most of the time. Before I close this section, I highly recommend checking this wiki for any issues you will encounter in the near future. It’s extremely helpful!
How To Capture Screenshots Using Dolphin Emulator
To capture a screenshot, simply press F9 from your keyboard. You can do it from the menu as well by going to Emulation ☛ Take Screenshot. In case you’re wondering Dolphin sends the screenshot to Documents > Dolphin Emulator > ScreenShots as a PNG image.
How to Fast Forward?
Fast forward is the feature that speeds up the game. To activate it, hold down the Tab key from your keyboard.
How to Improve the Visuals on Dolphin
Compared to nowadays, Gamecube graphics may not please everyone. However, luckily with the Dolphin emulator, you can improve the overall visuals of each game you throw at it. The first time you boot the emulator into fullscreen, you will notice how pixelated the image is as shown in the picture. That’s because the emulator is set on default to run using your CPU power and to run smoothly on most low-end computers. Fortunately, you can fix that pretty easily.
On the emulator, click on Options ☛ Graphics Settings. Wait for a second, and a window will appear like the one below:
Click on the Enhancements tab. This tab is the main tab that can either improve the visuals of your game. If you own a high-end graphics card, you can play your games at 4K resolution quite easily without any issues.
With Dolphin, you can increase the internal resolution up to 5k. However, make sure your monitor and hardware are capable of handling it. Otherwise, you will encounter sudden slowdowns. Low-end computers can run up to 2x native with no problems at all. For Mid-end, 4x native is the maximum, and for High-end, you can go the extra miles and enable 5k with ease. Make sure to head over to the Dolphin wiki to stay up to date with intensive and non-intensive games on the emulator.
In addition to increasing the internal resolution, you can enable anti-aliasing as well. One thing for sure is that low-end PCs can handle a handful of Gamecube games up 4x MSAA. However, when it comes to Wii games, low-end PC games with an iGPU may struggle. Here’s how to enable the feature: On the emulator, click on Options ☛ Graphics Settings. A window similar to the one below will appear.
Note that enabling MSAA will put heavy stress on your CPU and GPU. Make sure you have a CPU with high clock speed, more than 4 cores for full performance.
How To Load Custom Textures Into Dolphin?
With Dolphin, you can install Custom Textures to make your games HD. To demonstrate, I’m using our guy Wario once again. The first thing you should do is go to Dolphin ☛ Graphics ☛ under Utility put a check on Load Custom Textures.
Grab the HD Texture Pack of the game. It can be grabbed from the official Dolphin website from here. Once it’s finished downloading, extract it and place it in the following directory: Documents/Dolphin Emulator/Load/Textures (This is the folder where you should place it to). You may run into some stutters, and to fix that, just enable Prefetch Custom Textures. Bear in mind that these textures require more RAM, preferably from 8GB up to 16GB depending on what you’re attempting to use.
Which Backend to Use on Dolphin Emulator?
According to the community, Vulkan is the fastest backend while OpenGL is the most accurate one. However, these backends may sometimes produce stutters with async uber shaders every now and then. If that issue annoys you, then DirectD 11 and 12 is your best option. For further information, check out this interesting conversation from the thread.
How To Add Cheats to Dolphin Emulator
When I first played Viewtiful Joe on the emulator, I was stuck in the last level. No matter what I did, I ended up receiving the ” game over ” screen over and over again. Luckily, I stumbled across an option on the emulator that enables cheats, and boy, I finally managed to finish that dreadful level I was stuck in for days.
To enable cheats, go to Config ☛ General Tab. Then, in the Basic Settings window, put a check in enable cheats. There are two types of cheat codes you need to know about in Dolphin: Action Replay (AR) Codes, and Gecko Codes. Below, I’ll be explaining what each of these codes does, keep reading, please.
How to Add AR Codes to Dolphin?
Let’s say I want to cheat on Lost Kingdoms 2, but I don’t know how to do that. Don’t worry, it’s easier than PCSX2. Please check the steps bellow:
- Right-Click on your game, and select Properties.
- Head over to AR Codes Tab
- Grab your AR Codes online
Now let’s check if the codes worked or not.
- Without Cheats:
- After putting the cheats:
As you can see, it worked quite easily. Bear in mind that if you’re putting codes while the game is running, you may be obliged to restart the game so the codes will take effect.
How to Add Gecko Codes to Dolphin?
Now despite Gecko Codes being easy to activate, they aren’t available for every game. For instance, when I try to enable cheats for Lost Kingdoms 2, I end up getting this message:
It basically means that this game has no Gecko Codes. However, upon executing the same trick on Viewtiful Joe 2, the codes end up being shown like this:
So a piece of advice, just keep experimenting with codes here and there. If Gecko codes don’t work, it’s not the end of the world. AR Codes should work all the time.
That’s it for the guide. Happy gaming, and thank you for reading. If you liked this guide, helps us grow by sharing it with your friends.