Nintendo Switch emulators

From Emulation General Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nintendo Switch
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, 3DS
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 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.


Name Platform(s) Latest Version NSO System
Amiibo Texture
FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Ryujinx Windows Linux macOS Nightly
LDN builds
~[N 1] [N 2] ~[N 3]
yuzu Windows Linux Early Access ($)
~[N 1] [N 2] ~*
NSEmu Windows git
Mephisto Linux macOS git
CageTheUnicorn Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git
Mobile / ARM
yuzu Android Google Play
Early Access ($)
Strato Android git ~
Skyline Android Nightly * ~
Egg NS Android 4.0.5
Egg NS
(Stolen yuzu/Skyline)
DamonSwitch Android 1.0-Preview
Google Play
(Stolen yuzu/Skyline)
Horizon Linux Linux git
  1. 1.0 1.1 Only with other Ryujinx LDN build or yuzu users NOT with native switch players. But recently with Ryujinx "ldn_mitm" implementation; games such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, can now achieve interconnectivity with a hacked Nintendo Switch when the ldn_mitm submodule is used. Prior to this update, only games that had a "LAN mode(System Link)" could communicate across Switch and PC hardware.
  2. All the goal features that have been previously met will be finished and delivered, this also includes "Texture Replacement", which Ryujinx team should be able to preview very soon!
yuzu (compatibility)
An open-source 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 (though unlike Citra, it also supports Vulkan). This emulator currently offers early access builds to $5/month Patreon subscribers, which allows said Patreons to utilize new features prior to their eventual release on the mainline build. One of yuzu's notable features is its disk-based shader cache for OpenGL, negating the need to compile shaders on the fly on every boot. Resolution scaler support was added in October 2021. Yuzu emulator generally gives better performance (but less stable), so it's ideal for weaker PCs.
Ryujinx (compatibility)
An open-source emulator that's programmed in C#. It supports resolution upscaling to 4K and beyond; custom upscaling/downscaling ratios are also supported. 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 supporting local wireless multiplayer across the internet, LAN mode compatibility on local networks with Switch consoles on supported games, and ldn_mitm, which can connect Ryujinx to your CFW console on the same local network. As of August 2022, Vulkan API support is available and boosts FPS further. Ryujinx has been tested on approximately 4,050 titles; over 4,000 boot past menus and into gameplay, with roughly 3,400 of those being considered playable. Ryujinx is able to load some applets included in the firmware (like the Mii maker), unlike yuzu. The ability to directly run the Switch HOME Menu in Ryujinx is in development. But, for now you can use a launcher such as Ninty Launcher through the command line launch options supported by Ryujinx.[1]
Skyline (compatibility)
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 of the 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. Claimed the first spot in getting games running on Android. 81 titles are purported to work, and the rest are either not working or assumed to fail. 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 headquarter location is in mainland China.
Developed by DamonPS2 team. Closed-source, payware/malware emulator only for Android. 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.