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Checkpoint: Playing With Dolphin Edition


Two things convinced me to dive into this whole Wii/GameCube emulation scene:

  1. “Artifacting” on my actual Nintendo Wii
  2. The promise of pseudo Wii HD

Deep Into The Rabbit Hole

I started this little project on Saturday afternoon and this is the result:

  1. Researched & installed Homebrew Channel on my Wii
  2. Installed USB Loader GX & ripped a handful of Wii titles onto my 16GB USB stick
  3. Learned how to convert WBFS to ISO
  4. Learned how to transfer Wii saves from my Wii to Dolphin
  5. Bought a wireless sensor bar (Deal Extreme), bought a 2GB SD card (Dell), bought a 16GB USB Stick (Dell)

I was impressed by the idea of loading my Wii games via USB stick, so I’m looking to buy another 16GB USB stick. But I’m not going to get into the Homebrew Channel possibilities now, this is about the Dolphin emulator.

A Familiar Time

Configuring and using Dolphin reminded me ePSXe and its plugin driven ways. Thankfully, I didn’t need to seek out the ideal plugins because they were already built-in. The emulator is essentially feature complete.

Input wise, I could use any combination of keyboard, mouse and Xbox 360 controller to play. Of course it supports the real Wiimote and Nunchuk, but I don’t have the sensor bar yet. I should probably simply use it for Donkey Kong Country Returns or any other IR-less game, but I completely overlooked it.

Like most WIP emulators, accuracy and performance problems were prevalent with Dolphin. For some games like Tatsunoko vs Capcom and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the emulation quality is near perfect. Unfortunately, for games like Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, the game runs and looks perfect until a massive explosion happens and the framerate bogs down to single digits.

SVN Builds to the Rescue!

I downloaded build version 7128 from the official Dolphin site and experienced stutters when switching characters and unleashing hyper combo moves. I noticed that someone was compiling the latest builds and promptly downloaded 7209. The result? The stutters were all, but gone.

These Dolphin developers are moving!

Not Ready For Prime Time — Yet!

I was hoping to finish Sin & Punishment: Star Successor and Donkey Kong Country: Returns on Dolphin, but that doesn’t look like it’ll happen. These emulators aren’t quite there yet, but progress is being made weekly if not daily.

I can wait it out or I could also try brute forcing my way to higher performance levels by revisiting the overclocking CPU idea. Emulators love CPU clockspeeds.

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