Wii U emulators

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Nintendo Wii U
Wii U.png
Developer Nintendo
Type Home video game console
Generation Eighth generation
Release date November 2012
Discontinued January 2017
Predecessor Wii
Successor Switch
Emulated
For other emulators that run on Wii U hardware, see Emulators on Wii U.

The Wii U is an eighth-generation console released by Nintendo on November 18, 2012, at $349.99. It has a 3-core IBM PowerPC CPU at 1.24 GHz with 2 GBs of RAM and an AMD Radeon GPU. It is the first console by Nintendo to output high-definition (HD) resolutions, such as 720p and 1080p. It includes a tablet-like controller, known as the Wii U GamePad, to provide certain additional gameplay. Notably, it can play all Wii games as well as support the Wii Remote controllers for native Wii U games.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Enhancements Hardware features
and peripherals
Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Cemu Windows Linux macOS Artifacts
2.0
Flathub
~ ~ 53%
Decaf Windows Linux git
Kinnay Linux git
Mobile / ARM
Cemu Android 1.0 (source only) ~ ~ ? roadmap


Comparisons[edit]

Cemu
An initially closed-source Wii U emulator created in October 2015, regularly updated every 2 to 5 weeks. It can run a sizeable amount of games. As of 2022, Cemu is no longer in the experimental stage, it's now fully open-source, and a macOS port has been released.
Decaf
Can boot some commercial games. It's developed sporadically.
Kinnay
Emulates the Wii U processors and hardware at the lowest level. It's able to emulate all the way through boot1, IOSU, and Cafe OS up to the Wii U menu. Written by the leading Decaf developers, exjam and kinnay.

Hardware features and peripherals[edit]

Name cemu
Wii U Menu ~*
Virtual Console *
Wii Mode / vWii
Connectivity Nintendo Network
Inputs Motion Controls (Gyro) ~
GamePad Screen *
GamePad Speaker
Microphone
Camera
IR sensor
NFC ~[N2 1]
Amiibo ~*
Skylanders Portal of Power ~
LEGO Dimensions Toy Pad ~
  1. Cemu allows to load NFC tag from file, but it's not possible to scan NFC tag in real-time via NFC reader.

Nintendo Network[edit]

Main article: Nintendo Network

Wii Mode[edit]

Wii Mode
WiiBrew: vWii

The Wii U is compatible with all Wii games and Wii accessories such as the Wii Remote (Plus), Wii Nunchuk, and the Wii Balance Board. It is possible to migrate most downloaded software and save files from a Wii to a Wii U.

Also it supports Wii games that allow you to connect to the DS if you're gonna play them on the WiiU.[1]

The Wii U is not compatible with GameCube discs or accessories, although a homebrew application for Wii Mode exists that enables GameCube hardware and GameCube controller support. A USB GameCube controller adapter with four ports was released exclusively for use with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and does not support any other Wii or Wii U games.[2]

Skylanders Portal of Power[edit]

Cemu can communicate to the USB device directly if you have the Skylanders portal even though currently it has minor issues. There is no official Skylanders portal emulation for Cemu at the moment, but you can use this unofficial modified version which has an emulated portal of power included.

There is a pull request for adding "Skylanders Portal of Power" emulation to cemu though.

LEGO Dimensions Toy Pad[edit]

cemu can communicate to the USB device if you have the Toy Pad. Just like RPCS3 there is no Toy Pad emulation for the cemu at the moment but you can use LD-ToyPad-Emulator for that.

Enhancements[edit]

Name cemu
Graphics Resizable Internal Resolution
Ultrawide hack
Widescreen already supported on Wii U 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 packs
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.
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.
Besides any GPU that can use DLSS can run cemu at 4k native anyway.
Performance Overclock
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 cemu, please be aware that some visual glitches and artifacts may occur at this time.
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.
Post-Processing Post-rendering AA
(FXAA, TXAA and MLAA/SMAA)
~[N2 1]
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 *
Controls Mouse Injector Compatible
Input lag-mitigating technique
Quality of life Streamable compression format
Built-in Graphics mod editor/manager
Built-in Cheat Manager ~[N2 2]
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.
Per-Game Profiles *
Command Line Options *
Big Picture Mode
Misc RetroAchievements
Free Look
Free Look is a enhancement feature that allows manipulation of the in-game camera.
~[N2 3]
Debug Features ~*
  1. Possible if game has GraphicPacks for post-rendering AA.
  2. Use the graphics pack options to enable cheats in cemu. Right click on your game>select graphic packs, you'll get many other options there.
  3. Have to be done on a per game basis as the cemu didn't have a "Camera" feature like the Dolphin emulator at the moment, so look for game mods like botw-freecam. Also there is a feature request: free cam for cemu.

Dolphin support for Wii U[edit]

You might have read about an unofficial branch of Dolphin with Wii U support — but don't get your hopes up. While the PowerPC architecture in the Wii U is the same as the Wii and GameCube (this fact alone was the reason why Wii emulation was added to Dolphin. It was originally GameCube-only), this support is nothing more than the file viewer features (region, internal name, various info, list of files and folders inside ISO and a way to extract them) being expanded to Wii U disc images. Nothing has been done on the actual emulation front as far as Dolphin is concerned, and the Dolphin developers have said that they are not interested in adding Wii U support to Dolphin.