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A Nintendo Switch emulator for Windows, Mac, and Linux is on its way

By midian182 · 28 replies
Jan 15, 2018
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  1. The Nintendo Switch is incredibly popular. So popular, in fact, that it’s now the fastest-selling game console in US history. For those PC and Mac owners eager to try out some of its exclusives without buying a console, good news: the team behind the popular Citra 3DS emulator has announced work on a new emulator for the Nintendo Switch.

    The emulator, which is named Yuza, is described as “experimental” and “open source” on its official website. There are builds ready and maintained for PC, Mac, and Linux, though it’s currently in its infancy and is only useful for Switch reverse-engineering and homebrew development.

    Yuzu doesn’t yet run any commercial Switch games. It can boot some titles with varying degrees of success but it does not implement the necessary GPU features to render 3D graphics. There’s still no word on when it will be fully up and running.

    Because Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was also released on the Wii U, PC owners can try the Switch’s best game using the CEMU emulator—check out this video of the game in glorious 4K. Yuzu will open up more Switch exclusives to PC gamers, such as the excellent Super Mario Odyssey.

    In addition to keeping check on the Yazu website, you can also follow the project’s official Twitter account to keep up with all the new developments.

    As is always the case with this sort of emulation, it’ll be interesting to see if what kind of response, if any, Nintendo issues.

    Permalink to story.

    andy06shake likes this.
  2. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,207   +1,648

    It will take a few more years before this will ever run games properly, especially since it probably will need top of the line CPUs
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,458   +2,145

    Good grief, TS..is it Yuza, Yaza or Yazu? Make up your mind!
  4. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 488   +159

    Can't wait until this Yuza is rather more functional.

    I love CEMU been playing around with it for about 6 months and can achieve a near stable 60fps at 4K resolution, same with Mario Kart 8. I highly recommend it anyone who wishes to emulate Wii U software.

    And before anyone climbs on the software piracy hight horse, my kids own 90% of the titles im emulating so no harm no foul, just a big grey area. LoL
    Reehahs and ZackL04 like this.
  5. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 488   +159

    Considering it will be essentially emulating the Tegra 1 CPU most midrange PC CPU/GPU combinations will suffice.

    The Switch is just not that powerful to present serious emulation concerns.
    SirChocula and ZackL04 like this.
  6. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,207   +1,648

    It depends on the game.
    Considering it takes a powerful OCed Intel CPU (4 core i5 or i7 at around 4.5GHz) with 16GB of RAM to make the WiiU version of Zelda Breath of the Wild to work at ~60FPS with CEMU then yeah, you should expect the Switch version to require at least that much. It's much easier to get Mario Kart 8 to work at 60 FPS.

    I also hope Yuzu surprises us in terms of performance, but I'm not holding my breath.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  7. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 488   +159

    Not all games for the Switch are going to be as intensive or resource hogging as BOTW through. Yes, Mario Kart 8 does seem to work rather well with CEMU, just don't enable the tri-core compiler function or its crash crash crash. LoL

    Plus the 4K resolution is beyond anything the Wii U could ever be capable of producing.

    I cant wait to be able to play Super Mario Odyssey in 4K as I imagine it will be rather pretty if indeed this Yuzo(or whatever its called) comes to fruition and does what it says on the tin.
  8. enemys

    enemys TS Maniac Posts: 173   +170

    Emulation performance isn't related only to original hardware performance, sometimes slow, but complicated architectures make emulation hard even on very fast PCs, so you are presenting only a part of a picture. That being said, when (if) yuzu matures, it will probably be quite efficient and indeed might work on a midrange PC. Not just because of Switch performance, but also Tegra X1 is a well documented chip with a well known architecture, and that will make emulation easier. Besides that, Switch RE recently started accelerating quite fast.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to homebrew development advancements (which yuzu will hopefully aid). I'd like to jump on board and play with writing software for Switch, but I don't have the time to tackle the topic right now.
    andy06shake likes this.
  9. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    The Wii U uses a very different architecture to the Switch.
  10. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 528   +340

    I really enjoyed CEMU at first, until it wouldn't and couldn't recognize my DS4 controllers no matter which emulator I was running. Game over, self. :(
  11. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 488   +159

    Actually, the Switch is more similar to the 3DS.

    It's based on the Tegra 1 CPU that is a well-known architecture and well within the limits of most modern-day CPU/GPU configurations to emulate. The architecture whilst an issue should not present any more of a problem than the Wii U or 3DS did.
  12. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 488   +159

    Works fine with both my DS4 controllers with motion sensing also enabled via Xinput and gamepad motion source control option.
    Might be a Bluetooth issue on your end. Have you tried removing the controllers, then reinstalling and running setup in Cemu?
    On the odd occasion, Cemu stops seeing my PS4 controllers the above steps resolve the issue.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  13. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +139

    I'd really wish they'd stop making emulators for current gen consoles. Its just gonna bring the hammer of doom upon us. Until now, we can get emulators for the GBA and SNES even for our phones and so on.

    Emulators for current gen will hurt them and compromise their sales and player numbers.

    The Dreamcast learnt it the hard way.

    That said Nintendo is absolutely shameful. Requiring people to buy the very same game over and over for some really old platform first then again for the wii then again for the wii u then again for the witch.

    People seriously paid 50$ for a poor version of Street Fighter II out of pure desperation.
  14. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,248   +1,261

    I prefer to wait a few years on current consoles - and not until they are jailbroken so I can install custom stuff.... Just jailbroke my PS3 over the weekend - will get on the PS4 and Switch in a few years :)
  15. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,426   +1,588

    This comment makes no sense.

    The dreamcast was done in by piracy, not emulation, so not sure why you are bringing this into the discussion.

    The existence of a switch emulator is perfectly legal, and does not threaten the existence of emulators for other systems. The BIOSes and ROMS are the grey areas.

    Then you go on to bash Nintendo for selling old games, while simultaneously bash newer systems getting emulators. Which side of the argument are you on? Nobody is compelling you to buy these games.

    Nobody bought SFII out of "desperation". Are you under the influence that games are like food or water? Anybody burnt of SFII switch edition deserves what they got, given capcom's piss-poor record of late.
    andy06shake likes this.
  16. J spot

    J spot TS Maniac Posts: 209   +127

    Nintendo doesn't have anything to do with Super SFII, and if I get a Switch, I will probably get that game. Having the option is a great thing.

    They are releasing a couple of Wii U games on the Switch, such as Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, and I'm very glad for that since the Wii U sold so poorly, the game is a masterpiece, and this way many times more people will get to play it. Since the Wii U sold so poorly. (And buying it is not a requirement.) (I'm really glad more people will get to play it.)

    Also, though I'm not a big fan of current system being emulated, the Dreamcast's problem was not emulation, but piracy. It took many years after the Dreamcast was canceled for a proper emulator. The best one was Chankast and as quickly as it came out, development stopped.

    (On a unrelated note, I like the CAPCOM has always improved on Street Fighter II. Else a forgotten World Warrior would had been the end of it. Makes me wonder what could have been if companies just continuously improved on games. Random games, Super Mario Land, or GTA San Andreas.)
  17. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,248   +1,261

    Actually... Sega's own previous flops killed the Dreamcast - not to mention Sony's Playstation 1 and 2 - both of which were probably pirated more often - which helped boost sales, not kill them.

    Check out http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/dreamcast-a-forensic-retrospective-article for a really good article on the true reasons Dreamcast failed.
  18. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Addict Posts: 174   +114

    Emulation is 100% legal.

    BIOS backups are 100% legal. [Thank you BLEEM!]

    Making backups of media is legal *except* if you have to break copy-protection to do so. [DMCA]

    So yeah, Nintendo can whine all they want, they really don't have any legal recourse. The only thing they can even attack is the process of making disk backups/breaking copy protection.


    For those who don't know:

    Emulation is perfectly legal per several Supreme Court cases over the years. Emulating the Switch is no different then AMD re-implementing the x86 instruction set. So long as all the engineering is done without outright ripping out Nintendo's source code, there's no real way to attack the emulator itself.

    BIOS backups are legal per the BLEEM case. BLEEM basically tried to make a PS1 emulator on the Dreamcast. They got sued and went bankrupt, but the Supreme Court took up the case anyway. One of their rulings explicitly protected BIOS backups. Note most emulators eventually re-implement the BIOS anyway, but allowing the raw BIOS image does speed up initial development.

    Backups of media is protected per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That being said, breaking encryption to do so is currently *not* protected. Nintendo in particular has had a history of heavily encrypting their titles (Gamecube/Wii disks can't be read by 99% of DVD drives), but could be legally backed up if you happened to have one of the drives that could. In theory, the Switches cartridges should be easier to dump (once someone makes the necessary hardware), and digital downloads right off Nintendo's store should be unencrypted and thus easily usable.

    So yeah, there aren't many ways Nintendo can attack this emulator.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Puiu likes this.
  19. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +139

    Oh this naivety.

    Using an Emulator to play Switch games on a PC or on anything else than on a Switch is piracy.

    Oh yeah sure Emulators are legal lol. As if that would stop them. Its no longer legal the moment you play something with it which is the sole purpose of its existence.
  20. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,207   +1,648

    Not really the point and if you own the game then it's legal to play it on a PC using an emulator as long as you don't download an illegal copy from the internet (aka make your own ISO/ROM). There is nothing Nintendo can do to stop you.

    You don't want to be able to play Zelda or Mario in 4K on PC at 60 FPS?
    andy06shake likes this.
  21. thelatestmodel

    thelatestmodel TS Addict Posts: 142   +60

    Not always. It depends on the country. In the UK, for example, this is NEVER legal - you are not even allowed to make a backup of a game disc you already own.

    In any case, as someone who's been using emulators for over 20 years, this announcement is kind of a moot point. If you care at all about having a smooth, authentic, glitch-free gaming experience, you'll almost always play on original hardware. Getting a Switch is totally worth it.
  22. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 488   +159

    If you care about being able to play Switch titles at 4K/60fps with a decent enough rig once this Yuzu comes to fruition the problems a misnomer. I bought the kids Switches plus additional games, but rather a few peeps, myself included, much prefer to play the software on systems capable of implementing framerates and resolutions the Switch will never be able to reproduce. ;)
  23. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,207   +1,648

    Well, to be fair... in the UK people still measure weight using stones and drive on the wrong side of the road. They're weird and backwards and all that jazz. :D
  24. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +139

    Ah so now you're down to it being eventually possible to somehow copy the game by yourself in the future.

    Insignificance is how such projects survive. Ofc they have to let somebody know, I mean they shouldn't make a big fuss about it.

    Current gen console emulation is something that hasn't existed before (not in a relevant manner).

    Politicians have become gamers and we can see with the lootbox controversy that things can change and that they become aware of gaming. Look its great for as long as it lasted but if we get too greedy we'll spoil the fun. Ofc playing Zelda on PC with 60fps in 4K with a decent controller for free is a fantastic thing. My point is, its too fantastic.
  25. VeeTeeF

    VeeTeeF TS Rookie

    That's not really true. I'm getting an average of ~ 50fps at 1080p in most overworld locations in Breath of the Wild in Cemu using an i5-4670 (non-k), GTX 1050 ti, and 8gb of DDR3-1600. Optimizations play a huge role in how well the emulators work with each individual game.

    Just a month ago I was averaging close to 20 fps at 720p with the same system, but with the most recent Cemu update my performance more than doubled. I should be able to get near locked 60fps at 1080p if I upgrade to a GTX 1060 (not for the $600+ they're selling for brand new right now though).
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018

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