Nintendo Switch emulators

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Nintendo Switch
Nintendo-switch.png
Switchdocked.png
The Switch in its two forms, handheld (above) and docked (below).
Developer Nintendo
Type Hybrid video game console
Generation Eighth generation
Release date March 2017
Predecessor Wii U
(new) 3DS
Emulated
For other emulators that run on Switch hardware, see Emulators on Switch.

The Nintendo Switch is an eighth-generation hybrid gaming console released by Nintendo on March 3, 2017, and retailed for $299.99. During its development, the Switch was known as the NX (short for NeXt or Nintendo "Cross") and was widely speculated upon until its announcement. Aside from specialized components unique to the console, the hardware is more or less off-the-shelf, being built around a semi-custom variant of NVIDIA's Tegra X1 system-on-a-chip, which was also used on a number of Android devices. The Switch contains 4 ARM Cortex-A57 CPUs and 4 ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs running at 1.020 GHz with 4 GBs of RAM and a proprietary NVIDIA GPU codenamed GM20B.

While Nintendo intended to step up the console's security, vulnerabilities were still found early on that allowed tons of system files to be dumped, including dumps of games in the form of romfs.istorage archives, an exefs folder, and license files. These game dumps eventually got shared online by scene groups except for their licenses but were missing essential files to run. Even if they had been completed, there were no custom homebrew apps, let alone solutions to load unofficial game dumps for the system. A number of prominent hacking teams (starting with shuffle2 and fail0verflow in collaboration) all came across a new exploit independently of each other that allowed complete control over the system, later officially recognized by NVIDIA as CVE-2018-6242.

A "debugging emulator" for the Nintendo Switch, CageTheUnicorn (now Mephisto), popped up not long after the first components were dumped. It was designed to emulate sysmodules with "no support for graphics, sound, input, or any kind of even remotely performant processing [...] by design". A couple of months later, members of both the Citra and Dolphin teams announced the release of their own emulator written in C++, which was capable of booting some homebrew applications; within a couple of weeks, yet another emulator named Ryujinx, written in C# by developer gdkchan, was released showing successful booting of commercial Switch games Puyo Puyo Tetris and Sonic Mania.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and peripherals
Enhancements Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Ryujinx Windows Linux macOS Nightly
LDN builds
~ ~ 83%
3543 out of 4273 reported titles
yuzu Windows Linux EA ($)
Mainline
~ ~ 54%
1457 out of 2699 reported titles
[N 1]
NSEmu Windows git ?
Mephisto Linux macOS git ?
CageTheUnicorn Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git ?
Mobile / ARM
yuzu Android EA ($)
Mainline (Google Play)
Mainline (GitHub)
~ ~ ?* ~
Strato Android git ? ? 4%
58 out of 1426 reported titles
~
Sudachi iOS 0.0.1.7 ? ? ? ~
Ryujinx Android iOS Unreleased ? ? ? ? WIP
Skyline Android Edge 69 ? ? ? *
Egg NS Android 4.0.5 78%
172 out of 220 reported titles

(stolen yuzu)
DamonSwitch Android 1.0Preview N/A
(stolen yuzu)
Horizon Linux Linux git ?
  1. Obsolete list, there is a ongoing rewrite project.
Ryujinx
An open-source hybrid approach emulator that's programmed in C#. Unlike yuzu, Ryujinx does not offer packaged early-access builds. However, work-in-progress features can still be tested by building locally from unmerged pull requests. Separately, Ryujinx has a closed source LDN-enabled build and there is a feature tracker for this LDN build for upstreaming. As of August 2022, Vulkan API support is available. One of Ryujinx's notable feature is it's focusing compatibility and accuracy but has more shader stutters compared to yuzu. Also it has an alternative approach (alternative to yuzu's NCE) for emulation on ARM systems for improving performance.[1]
yuzu
An open-source HLE approach emulator made by many of Citra's developers. As it's a hard fork of Citra, it shares many of its traits, namely cross-platform support and the use of OpenGL and Vulkan. Also offers early access pre-compiled builds to its $5/month Patreon supporters, these builds allow supporters to try out new features before they're released in the main version. However, if you have experience building and compiling, you can build your own version. Alternatively, some users create and share unofficial early access builds. One of yuzu's notable feature is its performance and has less shader stutters compared to Ryujinx, so it's ideal for weaker PCs. Yuzu also has free and paid Android versions which greatly improved recently thanks to the support for Native Code Execution (NCE) and other improvements. Recent Device Mapping & SMMU implementation further helps reducing memory footprint, allowing future optimizations and more. Also there are even more optimizations exclusive to the Linux-x86 and Android platforms thanks to the "MADV_REMOVE" but despite all the optimizations and improvements, only high-end devices are recommended for Android platform. The yuzu's January 2024 progress report highlights ongoing work on "multiprocess" and "services". This progress is crucial for emulating applets and enabling emulating system functions like the QLaunch HOME Menu, but further development is required before these features are fully implemented.
Sudachi
An experimental port of Yuzu to iOS/iPadOS by Jarrod Norwell. Requires a paid Apple Developer Account or TrollStore in order to use the com.apple.developer.kernel.increased-memory-limit entitlement.
Skyline
The predecessor to the Strato project. Development of Skyline ceased in May 2023.
Strato
A fork of Skyline that continues from where that project left off. It's an open-source compatibility layer for ARMv8 Android devices. For the sake of convenience, the team bills the app as an emulator, but it functionally works like Wine, running almost all the entire original code on bare metal except for what interfaces with the rest of the system. Some titles can go ingame with poor framerate and minor glitches, but the Skyline team has done great work making 3D games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, have graphical output, boosting FPS in many titles, and fixing bugs in games.
Egg NS
Similar to DamonPS2, it's a closed-source, payware/malware emulator only for Android. It is NOT recommended to use this emulator because there is significant controversy surrounding this emulator for the following reasons: touch controls require an expensive monthly membership to use, it expects to run on a high-end/flagship device within the ballpark of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8xx and 8 Gen 1, and it was discovered to have violated GPLv2 licensing requirements by illegally stealing code from yuzu and Skyline. Happy Chick is also a code-stolen emulator by this company. Its icon is edited from Happy Chick with Adobe Photoshop. Its real headquarters location is in mainland China.
DamonSwitch
Developed by DamonPS2 team. Closed-source, payware/malware emulator for Android only, known to steal code from other emulators. Even worse compatibility than Egg NS, it can barely run anything. It is NOT recommended to use this emulator. Damon company edited the yuzu icon with Adobe Photoshop for its own use. Its real headquarters location is in mainland China.
Horizon Linux
Horizon Linux is an open-source ARM64 Linux modified to run Nintendo Switch applications with hypervised CPU & IO, but still mostly relying on yuzu code in its Mizu shim to emulate functions such as the GPU. Puyo Puyo Tetris is semi-playable with audio output, and the emulator can also run several homebrew applications.

Hardware features and peripherals[edit]

Name Ryujinx Yuzu Strato
Switch HOME Menu * WIP
Mii Editor *
NSO emulators ~ ?
Connectivity Nintendo Switch Online
Local Wireless Play / LDN ~ ~
LAN Play
Controllers[N2 1] Native Dual Joy-Con Support ~* * ?
Ring-Con * * ?
Keyboard & Mouse ~* ? ?
Inputs IR Motion Camera *
HD Rumble * * ?
Motion Controls (Gyro) * * ?
Touchscreen * * ?
Amiibo
Nintendo Labo ? ? ?
  1. Also see PCGamingWiki: Joy-Con page for more information about Joy-Con and PC connectivity/compatibility.

Connectivity[edit]

Local Wireless Play/LDN
Only works with other users of Ryujinx's LDN builds or yuzu users, NOT with native Switch players. However, Ryujinx also allows for connecting to CFW Switch devices that are using the ldn_mitm submodule. Also, there is a feature tracker for Ryujinx LDN upstreaming.
LAN Play
Not to be confused with Local Wireless Play. This one is similar to XBOX systems System Link feature or PlayStation systems LAN tunneling feature. Please see XLink Kai's setup guides for Ryujinx and yuzu
Nintendo Switch Online
Main article: Nintendo Switch Online

NSO emulators[edit]

For the Nintendo Switch family of systems, Nintendo distributes retro games to subscribers of their Nintendo Switch Online service. Subscribers have access to games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Game Boy (GB) and Game Boy Color (GBC). At the more expensive subscription tier, titled "Expansion Pack", players can also access Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, and Game Boy Advance (GBA) games.

Enhancements[edit]

Name Ryujinx yuzu Strato
Graphics Resizable Internal Resolution
Ultrawide hack
Widescreen already supported on Nintendo Switch system.
But there is no support by system for render games in other ratios such as ultrawide 21:9 or super ultrawide 32:9.
?
Texture Replacement ~[N2 1] ~*
Ray-tracing Implementing ray-tracing in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
However you can try "Screen-Space Ray Traced Global Illumination" shader using ReShade.
(Demonstration)
Pre-rendering AA
(MSAA, SSAA)
Super-resolution techniques
(DLSS, XeSS and FSR 2+)
Requires access to the depth buffer and temporal data like motion-vectors so it's quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
Enhancement request for yuzu.
RTX Remix Implementing RTX Remix technology in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
Besides, yuzu and Ryujinx already supports some of RTX Remix features.
On top of that you can use ReShade for post-processing.
Performance Internal Framerate Hack ?
Frame generation technologies
(LSFG, DLSS-G, ExtraSS and AFMF)
Implementing frame generation technology in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future, however post-processing techniques such as motion interpolation is quite possible. Input latency will be a crucial factor, but its impact likely varies depending on the specific technique employed, it's recommended to use after applying the "Internal Framerate Hack".
While AFMF or LSFG can be used with yuzu or Ryujinx, please be aware that some visual glitches and artifacts may occur at this time.
Overclock
Preload optical disc image to RAM
For users with sluggish multi-platter HDDs or plagued by horrible seek times, this enhancement might offer smoother experience, potentially reduced power consumption; it also shines when disc images reside on a network drive.
Although keep in mind that preloading image would take some time, and it will require additional amount of RAM capacity.
Rendering latency reduction technologies
(LatencyFleX, Reflex and Anti-Lag+)
While most emulators offer frame pacing or framebuffer latency control options, implementing rendering latency reduction technologies like NVIDIA's Reflex SDK isn't currently feasible. This is due to a combination of factors, including potential licensing issues[2] and likely doesn't offer enough benefit to justify the development effort.
Post-Processing Post-rendering AA
(FXAA, TXAA and MLAA/SMAA)
?
Post-rendering scaling
(Sharp bilinear, Lanczos and FSR 1)
?
Filters
NTSC filters, HDR tonemapping etc.
Shader Chain *
TAS features Macros/Scripts/Lua *
Rewind
Fast-Forward/Turbo Speed
Savestates *
Movie recording/playback
Quality of life Built-in Graphics mod editor/manager *
Built-in Cheat Manager *
Built-in Custom resolution/CRTSwitchRes
For using this on Windows OS you need CRT Emudriver.
Another option is using EDID editor tool such as "Custom Resolution Utility".
N/A
Eighth gen home consoles and beyond only have digital video output anyway.
Streamable compression format
Per-Game Profiles * * ?
Command Line Options * * ?
On-Screen Display
Showcases messages, controller input state which is useful for speedrunners, performance data, active settings, and various notifications.
* ?
Big Picture Mode * ?
Controls Mouse Injector Compatible ~*
Input lag-mitigating technique
Misc RetroAchievements
Free Look
Free Look is a enhancement feature that allows manipulation of the in-game camera.
~[N2 2] ~[N2 2] ?
Debug Features *
  1. According to a Progress Report from April 2023, texture replacement, along with all of the Patreon goal features that have been previously met will be finished and delivered. Implement texture replacement support for Ryujinx.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Have to be done on a per game basis as the yuzu or Ryujinx didn't have a "Camera" feature like the Dolphin emulator at the moment, so look for game mods like TOTK-UltraCam.

Emulation issues[edit]

For more information about Nintendo Switch hardware and reverse engineering;

References[edit]