GameCube emulators

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The Nintendo Gamecube (GCN)

The GameCube (GCN) is a 2001 console produced by Nintendo. Due to how similar the architecture is between the GameCube, Triforce and Wii, many GameCube emulators offer support for them.

The Triforce is an arcade system board developed jointly by Namco, Sega, and Nintendo, with the first games appearing in 2002. The system hardware is based on the Nintendo GameCube with several differences, like provisions for add-ons such as Sega's GD-ROM system and upgradeable RAM modules.

Due to having very similar (albeit more powerful) hardware, the Wii is able to natively play GameCube games rather than emulating them.

Emulators[edit]

Name Operating System(s) Latest Version GCN Wii Triforce Libretro Core Recommended
PC
Dolphin Multi-platform GIT ✓** ✓*
Ishiiruka-Dolphin Windows GIT
Dolphin (Nintendo) Windows e2.8
Gekko Windows, Linux SVN
Mobile
Dolphin Android GIT ?

*Currently at Alpha release and has bugs that are not present on standalone Dolphin.

**Requires the Triforce branch to work. It is very old and unsupported.

Comparisons[edit]

  • Dolphin is the only real emulator you should use; Gekko is still in very early development after being on hiatus for many years, and is nowhere near achieving Wii emulation either. In addition, for Triforce emulation, MAME is not optimized for 3D systems yet, nor is the emulation of the system in question very good either. Dolphin is updated on a near daily basis and has very good emulation of almost everything. System requirements are high, moreso for Wii games than GameCube.
  • Ishiiruka-Dolphin is a fork of Dolphin optimized towards performance while potentially lowering accuracy and stability in the process. Its most important features are:
    • Async shader compilation (Avoiding shader compilation time)
    • Galop's DX11 Texture Encoder/Decoder (Improve Texture decoding specially EFB TO RAM)
    • Pre compiled Vertex loader & Optimized vertex decoding using SSSE3 and SSE4
    • Dolby Pro Logic II support for XAudio and OpenAL
    • Custom Texture improvements to allow direct compressed texture loading including mipmaps
    • DSP - Time Stretching Option (Improve sound output to avoid sound skipping on slow machines)
    • DX9 support for old machines
    • Modified Post Processing interface to support:
      • Multiple Stages allowing more complex effects.
      • Depth and native gamma as inputs.
      • Custom version of DolphinFX that work under dx11 and ogl
      • SSAO and DOF.
      • Texture Scaling Support
      • Bump Mapping with advanced material properties
      • Phong Specular reflection to improve lighting quality
      • Tessellation and Displacement Mapping
      • Rim Lighting
      • Bump auto generation to improve lighting


  • Dolphin (Nintendo) is an official emulator by Nintendo of the same name as the recommended Dolphin emulator. The two are unrelated; the official Nintendo emulator does not run commercial games.

Running BIOS[edit]

If you want to open games through the GameCube's original BIOS in Dolphin, first make sure that "External Framebuffer" is enabled and "Skip BIOS" is unchecked in the GameCube options. When the game window opens and the GCN startup animation begins, hold whatever key you've assigned to the A button from the first controller and the intro will be skipped, sending you into the GameCube's menu instead of booting the game. You can then switch to whatever game you really wanted to play with Change Disc, or explore the BIOS.

GBA Connectivity[edit]

A special cable (DOL-011) was released to connect a GBA to a GameCube controller port. Up to four allowed at once. Third generation Pokémon games are the prime example of it being used in conjunction with Pokémon Collosseum, Pokémon XD, or Pokémon Box, but it isn't the only game series to do so. The GC/GBA Link feature is partially emulated. You'll need to enable DSP-LLE, along with the files ripped from a real GC for that, as well as VBA-M (see Game Boy Advance emulators for more details). Some GameCube games use the e-Reader, but it isn't supported yet.

The author of mGBA claims to have tried to make his emulator compatible with Dolphin like it does with VBA-M, but no stable or nightly build has been released with the capability.

Game Boy Player[edit]

This addon gave the GameCube the ability to play Game Boy Advance games on the TV. It even has support with the GBA-GCN link cable where the handheld serves as the controller. There are a few GBA games that support rumble, such as Super Mario Advance 4 and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. No emulator supports the Game Boy Player hardware and its features. The hardware is essentially just a Game Boy Advance missing buttons, missing a screen, and blocks Game Boy Advance Video cartridge booting. The disk just returns an error after booting. The author of mGBA has expressed interest with Dolphin's developers to get the feature working.[citation needed]

Broadband Adapter[edit]

This shouldn't be confused with netplay, which forces games not designed for play over a LAN connection to be possible.

This was an add-on that allowed GameCubes to connect to other GameCubes with RJ45 cables. A router can extend connection capabilities. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! only allowed LAN connectivity with up to eight GameCubes while Phantasy Star Online took it a step further to allow to connect to official game servers provided by SEGA, which is now offline forever. Kirby Air Ride and 1080° Avalanche also support this adapter. This feature was unavailable in the Wii's GameCube mode despite having 802.11 b/g connectivity built-in and a USB LAN adaptor released officially by Nintendo.

It is possible to hook up zero or more of each of these configurations on one networked game:

  • GCN with broadband adapter
  • Wii with Devolution
  • Dolphin with OpenVPN

For example, one GCN, one Wii, and one computer running Dolphin will all sync up for a game that officially supports LAN, even if Dolphin runs slow for whatever reason.

Dolphin has support for the Broadband Adapter. Just go to config and select the GameCube tab. A drop-down for SP1 will have the Broadband Adaptor or BBA, depending on what version of Dolphin is running. The next steps vary by OS.

Windows[edit]

  • Go to OpenVPN. Scroll down to the TAP-Windows section of the download page. It will say you want OpenVPN instead, but the TAP option is the minimum setup. If you are running Dolphin on Windows XP or older, install NDIS 5. If you are running Dolphin on Windows Vista or later, install NDIS 6.
  • Open up Control Panel and click Network and Sharing Center.
  • Click change adapter settings.
  • Holding CTRL, select the TAP-Windows adapter and the adapter you use to connect to the internet.
  • Right-click and select bridge connections. This will take a few minutes to take effect. An additional icon will appear once completed, named Network Bridge.

Dolphin will change the TAP-Windows adapter status from Network cable unplugged to Enabled, Bridged, but only if the game supports the Broadband Adapter (usually on boot).

Bongos[edit]

This is a special controller used with Donkey Konga and other Donkey Kong games released for the GameCube. Dolphin supports this controller.

Microphone[edit]

The GameCube was compatible with a Microphone that plugs into the slots below the controller ports on the front, typically the second slot because the first slot typically occupies game saving. Mario Party 6 came bundled with this accessory but other games can use it as well. Dolphin can emulate this feature. No special in-emulator setup required. Just have to tell slot B in the emulator settings to have the microphone present. Through the OS, you have to select the default recording device.

Triforce Arcade Board[edit]

The Triforce is an arcade system board developed jointly by Namco, Sega, and Nintendo, with the first games appearing in 2002. The system hardware is based on the Nintendo GameCube with several differences, such as provisions for add-ons such as Sega's GD-ROM system and upgradeable RAM modules. Wii emulators can also play Triforce games.

You'll need the Triforce branch of Dolphin. The main branch doesn't even emulate it but it had code for it. Support was eventually removed from the main branch by September 2016, but the old branch remains.[1] The developers plan to bring it back, but only if there is interest and the code is cleaned up.

However, compatibility is abysmal and there are lots of unemulated features preventing the games from even booting without patches like in the case of both Mario Kart GP games (obviously thus requiring "Enable Cheats"). Check the Dolphin Wiki for more info. Various features including the NamCam camera, the save transfer functionality, and the multiple Triforce board networking, are simply not emulated.

For the games that do emulate with Dolphin Triforce (that is, the Mario Kart GP games and little else):

  • Under "Config/GameCube" (or more recently "Controllers"), "SP1" and "Port 1" need to be assigned to "AM-Baseboard".
  • "Enable Cheats" must be activated. Mario Kart GP1 and GP2 have patch codes that need to be added to their gameini file to fix the showstopping emulation bugs and to change the coins value to something else than 0, to play it at all.
  • The keys used are the same as the GameCube controls in Dolphin. The Z button supposedly emulates "Insert Coin", but it doesn't seem to work.

Resources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. https://dolphin-emu.org/blog/2016/09/01/dolphin-progress-report-august-2016