How to Use the Dolphin Emulator

Play Gamecube and Wii games on your computer

Dolphin Emulator is a video game emulator available for multiple operating systems. If you know how to use Dolphin Emulator, you can play classic GameCube and Nintendo Wii games on your computer or even your smartphone.

Instructions in this article apply to Dolphin 5.0 for the Windows and macOS operating systems.

How to Download Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin Emulator is an open source program, which means anyone can download it and contribute to the source code. Visit the official Dolphin Emulator website to download Dolphin for your operating system. You can choose between the Stable version or the Development version. The Development version gives you access to the latest new features and updates, but they aren't guaranteed to work properly.

Visit the official Dolphin Emulator website to download Dolphin for your operating system.

If you want to play more classic games on your PC, use RetroArch to download video emulators for other consoles.

How to Get ROMs for Dolphin Emulator

You will need your own ROMs in the ISO format to play GameCube and Wii games. If you have a physical copy of a game, you can rip the CD to your computer. Another option is to download ROMs from torrent websites.

Not all games are compatible with Dolphin Emulator. The Dolphin Wiki contains information about compatibility issues as well as various enhancements.

While the use of emulators is legal, it is illegal to download or distribute ROMs of games that you do not already own.

How to Use the Dolphin Emulator on PC

Before you begin, it is recommended to put all of your ROMS in a single folder. Now let's play GameCube and Wii games with Dolphin Emulator.

  1. Open Dolphin Emulator and select Config.

    Open Dolphin Emulator and select Config.
  2. Select the Paths tab.

    Select the Paths tab.
  3. Select Add.

    Select Add.
  4. Select the folder containing your games.

    Select the folder containing your games.
  5. Close the Configuration window and select Refresh. Your games will appear on the main menu.

    Close the Configuration window and select Refresh.
  6. Double-click the game you want to play to launch Dolphin Emulator.

    Double-click the game you want to play to launch Dolphin Emulator.
  7. To save your game, go to Emulation > Save State in the Dolphin main menu. Select Load State to load a save file.

Do not close the emulator before saving, or else you will lose your progress.

To save your game, go to Emulation > Save State in the Dolphin main menu.

How to Set Up Controllers for Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin Emulator supports many PC gamepads in addition to Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers. If you connect a PlayStation 3 or 4 controller to your PC, you can use that as well. It's even possible to use the original GameCube controller if you have the appropriate adapter.

To play Wii games, you'll need an actual Wii Remote and a Bluetooth motion sensor bar. The Mayflash DolphinBar accessory makes it easy to sync Wii controllers with your PC. You can also find controller profiles for Dolphin Emulator that automatically configure button mapping for specific games such as Super Mario Galaxy.

Here's how to configure controller settings.

  1. Select Controllers on the Dolphin Emulator main menu to open the Controller Configuration window.

    Select Controllers on the Dolphin Emulator main menu to open the Controller Configuration window.
  2. Select Port 1 under GameCube Controllers and select the type of controller you want to use, then select Configure.

    Select Port 1 under GameCube Controllers and select the type of controller you want to use, then select Configure.
  3. Configure the button mapping to your liking, then select OK.

    To save your controller settings, enter a name under Profile and select Save.

    Configure the button mapping to your liking, then select OK.
  4. Select Wiimote 1 under Wiimotes and select the type of controller you want to use, then select Configure.

    You can use your keyboard or a gamepad to play Wii games, but you will be unable to use motion control features.

    Select Wiimote 1 under Wiimotes and select the type of controller you want to use, then select Configure.
  5. Once your Wii Remote is configured, set the Sensor Bar Position, select Enable Speaker Data, then click OK.

    Once your Wii Remote is configured, set the Sensor Bar Position, select Enable Speaker Data, then click OK.

Configuration files for Dolphin Emulator are stored in the My Documents > Dolphin Emulator folder on your computer. Keep all custom assets in this folder.

Dolphin Emulator Game Configuration

You can also create custom settings for each game. For example, here's how to enable cheats for a game.

  1. Right-click the game in the Dolphin main menu and select Properties.

    Right-click the game in the Dolphin main menu and select Properties.
  2. Select the AR Codes tab.

    Select the AR Codes tab.
  3. Check the boxes beside the cheats you wish to enable.

The changes will take affect after you close the window.

Check the boxes beside the cheats you wish to enable.

Dolphin Display Settings

If you have a high-end gaming PC, it should have no problem running GameCube and Wii games at their original speeds or even faster. To customize display settings, select Graphics on the Dolphin Emulator main menu.

To customize display settings, select Graphics on the Dolphin Emulator main menu.

Under the General tab, you can choose your graphics card by selecting the box beside Backend. It's best to leave the Fullscreen Resolution and Aspect Ratio set to Auto unless you're having problems with a particular game.

The Enhancements tab houses additional effects you can add. For example, set the Anti-Aliasing to 4X MSAA to smooth the jagged edges of 3D graphics, and select Disable Fog to improve long distance rendering.

The Enhancements tab houses additional effects you can add.

How to Use Dolphin Emulator for Android

The Dolphin Emulator app is still in beta, and it is only available for Android 9.0 (Pie). If you have a particularly powerful tablet, you can comfortably play GameCube games using the touchscreen overlay or a real controller. Playing Wii games is trickier due to the current lack of motion control support.

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker running in Dolphin Emulator for Android.