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Dolphin - A GameCube and Wii Emulator

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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.

System Requirements


  • OS
    • Windows (7 SP1 or higher is officially supported, but Vista SP2 might also work).
    • Linux.
    • macOS (10.13 High Sierra or higher).
    • Unix-like systems other than Linux are not officially supported but might work.
  • Processor
    • A CPU with SSE2 support.
    • A modern CPU (3 GHz and Dual Core, not older than 2008) is highly recommended.
  • Graphics
    • A reasonably modern graphics card (Direct3D 10.0 / OpenGL 3.0).
    • A graphics card that supports Direct3D 11 / OpenGL 4.4 is recommended.

Building for Windows

Open the solution file Source/Dolphin.sln to build Dolphin on Windows using Visual Studio 2019. 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 10.0.17763.0 must be installed. You can download it here. Once the solution is loaded, change the Configuration to Release x64, this can be done changed in the top toolbar.

You also need the June 2010 DirectX SDK, you can download it here. You will most likely have issues installing this, look at this comment for how to fix it. Not sure everything in it is a hard requirement.

If you have trouble with some .lib files missing, right click the Externals directory and click rebuild.

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:

  1. mkdir build
  2. cd build
  3. cmake ..
  4. make

An application bundle will be created in ./Binaries.

If you are building on Mojave, you will need to install the 10.11 and 10.14 SDKs to build because Quicktime has been removed in the latest SDKs. Find the sdk version here and copy it to /Applications/ You should not need to modify the plist file as the project readme seems to indicate.

If you are building on Catalina, you only need to install the 10.14 SDK.

Linux Build Steps:

There are two builds of Slippi Dolphin, the netplay and playback build. To build each you can use the given build scripts or read them to understand how to do your own.

./ [playback] will generate a dolphin binary. The binary will be written to ./build/Binaries/. ./ [playback] will generate an AppImage with the binary you generated by running

Command Line Usage

Usage: Dolphin [-h] [-d] [-l] [-e <str>] [-b] [-V <str>] [-A <str>]

  • -h, --help Show this help message
  • -d, --debugger Opens the debugger
  • -l, --logger Opens the logger
  • -e, --exec= Loads 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 fast but often less accurate while LLE is slow but close to perfect. Note that LLE has two submodes (Interpreter and Recompiler), which cannot be selected from the command line.

Available video backends are "D3D" (only available on Windows) and "OGL". There's also "Software Renderer", which uses the CPU for rendering and is intended for debugging purposes only.

Sys Files

  • totaldb.dsy: Database of symbols (for devs only)
  • GC/font_ansi.bin: font dumps
  • GC/font_sjis.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.

Folder Structure

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. 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.txt next 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 LocalUserConfig exists in HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Dolphin Emulator and has the value 1, Dolphin will always start in portable mode.
  • If the registry string value UserConfigPath exists in 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

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".


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