Dolphin - A GameCube and Wii Emulator
Dolphin is an emulator for running GameCube and Wii games on Windows, Linux, macOS, and recent Android devices. It's licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPLv2+).
Please read the FAQ before using Dolphin.
- Windows (7 SP1 or higher).
- macOS (10.12 Sierra or higher).
- Unix-like systems other than Linux are not officially supported but might work.
- A CPU with SSE2 support.
- A modern CPU (3 GHz and Dual Core, not older than 2008) is highly recommended.
- A reasonably modern graphics card (Direct3D 11.1 / OpenGL 3.3).
- A graphics card that supports Direct3D 11.1 / OpenGL 4.4 is recommended.
- Android (5.0 Lollipop or higher).
- A processor with support for 64-bit applications (either ARMv8 or x86-64).
- A graphics processor that supports OpenGL ES 3.0 or higher. Performance varies heavily with driver quality.
- A graphics processor that supports standard desktop OpenGL features is recommended for best performance.
Dolphin can only be installed on devices that satisfy the above requirements. Attempting to install on an unsupported device will fail and display an error message.
Building for Windows
Use the solution file
Source/dolphin-emu.sln to build Dolphin on Windows. Visual Studio 2019 16.3 or later is a hard requirement. Other compilers might be able to build Dolphin on Windows but have not been tested and are not recommended to be used. Git and Windows 10 SDK must be installed when building.
Make sure to pull submodules before building:
git submodule update --init
The "Release" solution configuration includes performance optimizations for the best user experience but complicates debugging Dolphin. The "Debug" solution configuration is significantly slower, more verbose and less permissive but makes debugging Dolphin easier.
An installer can be created by using the
Installer.nsi script in the Installer directory. This will require the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) to be installed. Creating an installer is not necessary to run Dolphin since the Binary directory contains a working Dolphin distribution.
Building for Linux and macOS
Dolphin requires CMake for systems other than Windows. Many libraries are bundled with Dolphin and used if they're not installed on your system. CMake will inform you if a bundled library is used or if you need to install any missing packages yourself.
macOS Build Steps:
An application bundle will be created in
Linux Global Build Steps:
To install to your system.
sudo make install
Linux Local Build Steps:
Useful for development as root access is not required.
cmake .. -DLINUX_LOCAL_DEV=true
ln -s ../../Data/Sys Binaries/
Linux Portable Build Steps:
Can be stored on external storage and used on different Linux systems. Or useful for having multiple distinct Dolphin setups for testing/development/TAS.
cmake .. -DLINUX_LOCAL_DEV=true
cp -r ../Data/Sys/ Binaries/
Building for Android
These instructions assume familiarity with Android development. If you do not have an Android dev environment set up, see AndroidSetup.md.
If using Android Studio, import the Gradle project located in
Android apps are compiled using a build system called Gradle. Dolphin's native component, however, is compiled using CMake. The Gradle script will attempt to run a CMake build automatically while building the Java code.
When Dolphin has been installed with the NSIS installer, you can uninstall Dolphin like any other Windows application.
Linux users can run
cat install_manifest.txt | xargs -d '\n' rm as root from the build directory to uninstall Dolphin from their system.
macOS users can simply delete Dolphin.app to uninstall it.
Additionally, you'll want to remove the global user directory (see below to see where it's stored) if you don't plan to reinstall Dolphin.
Command Line Usage
Usage: Dolphin [-h] [-d] [-l] [-e <str>] [-b] [-V <str>] [-A <str>]
- -h, --help Show this help message
- -d, --debugger Show the debugger pane and additional View menu options
- -l, --logger Open the logger
- -e, --exec= Load the specified file (DOL,ELF,WAD,GCM,ISO)
- -b, --batch Exit Dolphin with emulator
- -V, --video_backend= Specify a video backend
- -A, --audio_emulation= Low level (LLE) or high level (HLE) audio
Available DSP emulation engines are HLE (High Level Emulation) and LLE (Low Level Emulation). HLE is faster but less accurate whereas LLE is slower but close to perfect. Note that LLE has two submodes (Interpreter and Recompiler) but they cannot be selected from the command line.
Available video backends are "D3D" and "D3D12" (they are only available on Windows), "OGL", and "Vulkan". There's also "Null", which will not render anything, and "Software Renderer", which uses the CPU for rendering and is intended for debugging purposes only.
wiitdb.txt: Wii title database from GameTDB
totaldb.dsy: Database of symbols (for devs only)
GC/font_western.bin: font dumps
GC/font_japanese.bin: font dumps
GC/dsp_coef.bin: DSP dumps
GC/dsp_rom.bin: DSP dumps
Wii/clientca.pem: Wii network certificate
Wii/clientcacakey.pem: Wii network certificate
Wii/rootca.pem: Wii network certificate
The DSP dumps included with Dolphin have been written from scratch and do not contain any copyrighted material. They should work for most purposes, however some games implement copy protection by checksumming the dumps. You will need to dump the DSP files from a console and replace the default dumps if you want to fix those issues.
Wii network certificates must be extracted from a Wii IOS. A guide for that can be found here.
These folders are installed read-only and should not be changed:
GameSettings: per-game default settings database
GC: DSP and font dumps
Maps: symbol tables (dev only)
Shaders: post-processing shaders
Themes: icon themes for GUI
Resources: icons that are theme-agnostic
Wii: default Wii NAND contents
Packaging and udev
The Data folder contains a udev rule file for the official GameCube controller adapter and the Mayflash DolphinBar. Package maintainers can use that file in their packages for Dolphin. Users compiling Dolphin on Linux can also just copy the file to their udev rules folder.
User Folder Structure
A number of user writeable directories are created for caching purposes or for allowing the user to edit their contents. On macOS and Linux these folders are stored in
~/Library/Application Support/Dolphin/ and
~/.dolphin-emu respectively, but can be overwritten by setting the environment variable
DOLPHIN_EMU_USERPATH. On Windows the user directory is stored in the
My Documents folder by default, but there are various way to override this behavior:
- Creating a file called
portable.txtnext to the Dolphin executable will store the user directory in a local directory called "User" next to the Dolphin executable.
- If the registry string value
HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Dolphin Emulatorand has the value 1, Dolphin will always start in portable mode.
- If the registry string value
HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Dolphin Emulator, the user folders will be stored in the directory given by that string. The other two methods will be prioritized over this setting.
List of user folders:
Cache: used to cache the ISO list
Config: configuration files
Dump: anything dumped from Dolphin
GameConfig: additional settings to be applied per-game
GC: memory cards and system BIOS
Load: custom textures
Logs: logs, if enabled
ScreenShots: screenshots taken via Dolphin
StateSaves: save states
Wii: Wii NAND contents
Custom textures have to be placed in the user directory under
Load/Textures/[GameID]/. You can find the Game ID by right-clicking a game in the ISO list and selecting "ISO Properties".