Dolphin Emulator – The Gamecube and Wii Emulator

This is my favourite Nintendo Gamecube and Wii emulator. It plays pretty much every Wii game, requires basically no set up and doesn’t require a powerful computer to play.

Its available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

It also just works with my Aimtrak pretty much out of the box.

What is Dolphin Emulator

The Dolphin emulator is arguably the most popular, free open-source video game console emulator for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and Linux. It is highly preferred among gamers because of its compatibility with all PC controllers, its networked multiplayer mode, high resolution for images, and its high speed. The Dolphin emulator is used for Nintendo GameCube and Wii games.

Dolphin emulator works by making use of the software file of the nintendo  gamecube and wii game disc which is usually saved as an ISO file. Since the process of emulation can be quite demanding, it is recommended to have a high powered system when using this emulator.

Dolphin Emulator Instructions

How to Download and Install Dolphin Emulator

Ready to relive your childhood memories by playing your favorite games? All you need to do is to download and install the Dolphin emulator using a few simple steps. Important to note is that all games that run through the Dolphin Emulator need to be downloaded as an ISO file.

For PC;

  • To download, first head over to the Dolphin official site and get a link to download the file on your Windows or Mac OS.
  • Once it’s downloaded, you will need to open the file folder from ‘Downloads’
  • When it opens, it initialises the installation of the file
  • A pop-up will appear on your screen warning that the app might be harmful to your computer, Ignore that message.
  • When the install is complete, you will get a notification. That is it!
  • You are now able to use the Dolphin emulator on your PC.

The emulator comes with preset settings which might be a bit inhibiting. You can always adjust the settings to your liking. However, you need to be careful since the settings affect the overall experience. If unsure, stick to the recommended settings.

How to set-up Dolphin emulator

Once the Dolphin emulator has been installed, it often just works out of the box. It is worth first setting everything down to its base setting s so that you can get games working in their native state before trying to up the settings as this is heavily dependant on your hardware and PC performance. Its good to just get it working then have a play and improve things. Do do it that way you will need to first adjust a few settings so as to enable you to play your games seamlessly. There are a ton of adjustments you can make to the settings; It all depends on your preferences but here are the first few basic set-ups;

  • On your PC, open the downloaded Dolphin emulator.
  • From the top bar, click on the ‘Graphics’ section then click on the ‘General tab’.
  • From the ‘General tab,’ there is the ‘Backend’ option. Get there and select Vulkan, Direct 3D 12 or ‘Direct 3D 11’ option.
  • Make sure that the ‘Adaptor’ is set to your graphics card or internal graphics adaptor if you are using the cpu’s gpu!
  • Down below on ‘Others’ select the ‘Show FPS’ option. – This is just so that you can easily see that your game is running ar a consistant fps. SOme game are intended to run at 60, some at 30 and a few are variable. If the fps is constantly dropping or varying widely then you probably have an issue with your hardware not being able to keep up.
  • Next, go the ‘Enhancement’ tab go to the ‘Internal Resolution’ option and select ‘Native (640*528)’ – This is the minimum level. Ideally you will be able to set it much higher to make games look better, but we start here so that we can make sure that everything is actually working before tryin to improve things.
  • On the ‘Anti-Aliasing’ option select ‘None’. – Again, just to make it easier to emulate. You might try turning this on later.
  • Finally, on the ‘Anisotropic Filtering’ select ‘1X’ – Same as above.

There are a variety of options that you can select and adjust as you learn and progress.

When you come to it, you can red the How do I Speed up Dolphin Emulator and How to Lock fps in Dolphin Emulator articles which talk about improving performance and how the games will look.

How to Use Dolphin emulator

The sole purpose of the dolphin emulator is to enable you to play GameCube and Wii games on your PC. After you have downloaded and installed the file, open its folder and click on the action file labelled ‘Dolphin’ and the wii emulator window will appear on the screen.

There are 2 ways that you can get your games into the Dolphin emulator to play them, you can either load them directly or you can import them all into the GUI for easy access.

To load games directly from Dolphin, you will first need to locate them.

Open Games in the Dolphin Emulator
Open Games in the Dolphin Emulator

To locate game ROMs, click on the ‘Open’ tab. This will open up a file explorere window (or the equivalent depending on your system) Click on the file of your preferred game and wait for it to load on the emulator. If everything was installed correctly, the game will start running on the emulator.

The better solution is to import the games into your GUI so that they are all there.

Dolphin Emulator - The Gamecube and Wii Emulator 1

If you haven’t imported any wii games or gamecube games into Dolphin then the main screen area will be empty except for some instructional text. Just double click that text and then in the explorer window, navigate to the folder containing your Wii or Gamecube games. Click select folder and Dolphin will import all of the games so that yo can see them and start them with a click.

Using a Dolphin emulator is as easy as that. The same process applies to each game you download and would like to play.

What specifications do you need to run Dolphin emulator

Each game comes with its own set of requirements. While some might require systems with higher specifications others can comfortably run on ordinary systems. However, there are some basic requirements that your PC needs to be able to run the Dolphin emulator smoothly. These specifications include;

  • Windows 7(*86 and *64) or a higher version; Mac OS (10.10 Yosemite or higher); Windows Vista SP2.
  • CPU needs to be Core i5 2500k or above with SSE2 support (not older than 2008)
  • 2GB RAM or more
  • Graphics card – Direct 3D 10.0/OpenGL 3.0. it is recommended that the card should be able to support Direct 3D 11/ OpenGL 4.4

How to update Dolphin emulator

The Dolphin Emulator is under active development. This helps to fix a number of issues that each version encounters as well as introducing new features and improving performance across all games or somtimes for a specific game. Its worth keeping your install of Dolphin at the latest version. The older the version you have, the more issues it might be having and a sure way to fix them is to update to the most recent version.

By following the steps highlighted below, you will be able to easily update your Dolphin emulator to its most recent updated version.

First, you have to make sure you have the latest version of the Dolphin emulator which currently is version 5.0. Next, ensure that you have the 64-bit Visual C++ redistributable for Visual Studio. Without this, all attempts to update the Dolphin emulator will lead to errors.

With the two in place, you can now download the latest development version available. The next step is to extract the development and build it into the existing installation. this will prompt you to override the existing file, allow it. and there you have it, the latest development build. You will notice a few changes and overall smooth experience.

How to use Dolphin Emulator on PC

To get it just go to their download page:

Get the most recent stable version unless you know what you are doing and are prepared to deal with any problems. I use the stable version because I just want it to work.

To install it just run the installer (or click the app on a MAC) follow the instructions and thats it. Ou are up and running and ready to play your wii games.

One thing that you can do to make it nicer to use is give it your game directory so that it can load your games without having to navigate to it each time.

Just double click in the main window and you will see a explorer window where you can set your games directory. Dolphin will do the rest and scan your library.

Dolphin Emulator - The Gamecube and Wii Emulator 1

Setting up Light Guns on The Dolphin Emulator

The last thing you will need to do is to set up your light gun.

This is a great tutorial on getting this up and running. It is using the Aimtrak lightgun to demo this but the process should be the same for anything that inputs as a mouse.

Useful setup information on the Dolphin Emulator:

You may want different configs for each game, especially if you play some games with a controller as well as some with the light gun. Also, some games you may have to reduce the resolution to get working and you don’t necessarily want to do that for all of the games.

You can have per game configs in Dolphin. Follow the guides in these 2 links:

What games can you play on Dolphin emulator

Games are why you are bothering with all of this I imagine, so you probably already know what you want to play. On the other hand, it never hurts to find some gems.

There are a variety of game genres available for download on your PC on GameCube ROM sites. YOu should technically own those games before playing them. It is possible to extract the rom from the game disc dierectly but it requires specific hardware, so most people just fownload an already extracted version of their game. I can’t link to those sites here but if you just type the name of the game followed by the worn ‘rom’ or ‘iso’ then you will quickly be able to find what you are looking for.

Below is a top 10 list of some great games you can download and play on your Dolphin emulator

  1. Super Mario Sunshine

Genre – action/platform game

Size – 1.2 GB 

  1. Resident Evil 4 ISO

Genre – action/adventure

Size – 833MB

  1. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

Genre – Action/Adventure

Size – 837.5 MB

  1. Mario Kart Double Dash

Genre – Racing

Size – 1.1 GB

  1. Wheeler American Pro Trucker

Genre – Racing

Size – 1.1 GB

  1. Pokémon Colosseum

Genre – Role Playing

Size – 1.1 GB

  1. Paper Mario The Thousand-Year Door

Genre – Role Playing

Size – 1.0 GB

  1. Metal Arms Glitch in the System

Genre – Action/Shooter

Size – 1.0 GB

  1. Terminator 3: The Redemption

Genre – Action/Shooter

Size – 0.9 GB

  1. Legend of Zelda the Twilight Princess

Genre – Action/Adventure

Size – 1.0 GB

What Light Gun Games can you play on the Dolphin Emulator

The short answer is All of them! the longer answer is that there may be a few games that either wont play or have bugs. They are rare though. Most games work beautifully and compatibility is very high.

If you want to get a per game answer then you can check out this searchable database of games:

In terms of light gun games that you can play on Dolphin emulator then there are quite a few. I strongly prefer the rails type shooters so I will list them here although there are others that could be more loosely be called light gun games.

The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return

The House of the Dead: Overkill

Ghost Squad

Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack

Gunblade NY and LA Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Target: Terror

Gunblade NY and LA Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack

Attack Of The Movies 3D

Chicken Blaster 

Chicken Riot 

Chicken Shoot 

Cocoto Magic Circus

Dead Space: Extraction 

Dino Strike

Fast Draw Showdown


Wild West Guns

Wild West Shootout 

Martian Panic

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon

You can also read my list of the best gun games for the WII.

And here is more information on playing wii light gun games on the PC.

Dolphin Emulator Cheats

Its easy to get cheats working on the dolphin emulator. There are 2 options, Action Replay or AR codes and Gecko codes.

The instructions are in that link but do remember to enable cheats in the settings or they wont work!

Common Issues with the Dolphin Emulator.

dolphin emulator no sound

dolphin emulator crashes when i start a game

dolphin emulator lag or dolphin emulator lag

dolphin emulator running slow

dolphin emulator stuttering

dolphin emulator invalid read

dolphin emulator audio choppy

dolphin emulator wont open

vcruntime140_1.dll dolphin emulator


The Dolphin EMulator is completely Legal, both to use and to have been created/maintained. The system was created without copying the origional hardware and as such is a new work.

It is also legal for you to backup games that you own and play them on an emulator so long as you have the disk.

Is the Dolphin emulator safe?

Absolutely. The dolphin emulator is completely safe. It simply allows you to play backups of your Wii or GameCube games on your PC instead of your original hardware. There is nothing risky about this. It is a well known and supported project that is completely above board and poses no more risk to your system than any other legitimate program.

How does Dolphin emulator work?

Thats a complicated question but at a very simplistic level, the Dolphin EMulator takes the inputs from the game disk and creates the same outputs as the original hardware would have in order to let you play the games.

For more information I would suggest that you start with the Dplphin Emulator FAQ:

How good is Dolphin emulator?

It is excellent. Almost the entire library is playable glitch free and at a very accurate level. Up scaling and improving graphics can be demanding on your hardware but simply playing the games on your device requires only a modest system and the Dolphin Emulator is available on a wide range of systems and operating systems.

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