Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023

After months of fakes, a real Wii U emulator is finally available for download, even if it’s still rather janky. According to the developer, Cemu contains “actually no optimization whatsoever”, no proper controller support, and no audio. For now, it’s only for Windows x64, though other platforms may eventually be supported. Ignoring all these caveats, it’s actually quite impressive if these videos are any indication of just how far things have come.

NES Remix gameplay

Windwaker HD boots to menu

Cemu, which is currently in the so-called “proof-of-concept release” phase, requires OpenGL 3.3 to work. It has an internal resolution of 1920×1080 and can output encrypted Wii U graphics (WUD) and RPX/RPL files. To launch a game, it must be in raw dump format (WUS or ISO). There are plans to release updates every two weeks, although nothing is set in stone just yet. Interestingly, Cemu defies current emulator trends by not being an open-source project.

Exzap, the primary force behind Cemu, started the project about two years ago, but lists the effective development time as six months. Based on a thread on the GBAtemp forums, this could be attributed to the rise of the Wii U key earlier this year. While many have speculated that Cemu was based on the Wii emulator Dolphin, Exzap says it was built from scratch – a fact confirmed by Delroth, who worked on Dolphin. Delroth explained that the only thing the Wii U and Wii have in common is the CPU architecture.

As exciting as Cemu is, it seems somewhat unlikely that Nintendo will approve of its existence. Earlier this year, the US arm of the company sent a takedown request to GitHub, asking it to remove a JavaScript-based Game Boy emulator from its code repository. Before that, Nintendo shut down homebrew DS carts and filed a complaint against a fan-made remake Super Mario 64. It seems only a matter of time before Cemu faces the same, especially considering that Nintendo is still actively developing for the Wii U.

Which would actually be a shame. Aside from the legality of the situation, emulators are an interesting option for historical preservation. With companies dropping support for older systems and machines subjecting themselves to the test of time, older games are at risk of being lost forever. That said, we currently have a not insignificant number of Wii Us in the world.

By akfire1

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