1. GBAtemp_Switch_Top_Emulators.png

    One of the major appeals for Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, is its hybrid aspect. With the ability to seamlessly switch between docked mode for a home console experience and handheld mode for an on-the-go experience, this unique feature of the Switch sets it apart from other consoles.

    While it boasts a healthy library of new, first- and third-party titles, nostalgia inevitably hits every gamer, pushing them to go down memory lane and play some cherished games from their childhood. But you might not want to dust off your console for only one playthrough or your retro console might not even be functional or accessible in the first place.

    Thankfully, with emulators, you can play those retro games and the latest ones from a single console. With its hybrid feature, the Switch allows you to play games of yesteryear from the comfort of your home or wherever your feet take you! Of course, there are purists who’ll look for faithful audiovisual recreation when it comes to emulation but if you aren’t as nitpicky, there are some software out there that offer decent level of playabilty or are simply an impressive feat to experience on the Switch.

    Here’s our favourite emulator picks for the Nintendo Switch that get you straight to playing your retro games. If you’re wondering whether your console is able to run those homebrew software and how to do so, check out our dedicated Switch forum for more information.

    1. One emulator to play them all: RetroArch

    retroarch.jpg

    RetroArch is among the most famous software for emulators out there. This multi-system frontend serves as a one-stop-shop for retro games emulation on various platforms ranging from Android through the Raspberry Pi to the Nintendo Switch, of course. For the latter, RetroArch supports over 50 systems. Libretro, the creators of RetroArch, have a nice how-to video to help you get started:


    We also have an official RetroArch Switch thread on GBAtemp if you’d like to join the discussion.

    While RetroArch serves as an all-in-one option with downloadable cores for each system you wish to emulate, there are also standalone software should you prefer those. You can in fact look for the cores that RetroArch uses and find compatible Switch versions. The following options refer to such standalone homebrew apps that are worth looking into should these fit your needs.

    2. Point-and-click fun: ScummVM

    scummvm.jpg

    Once upon a time when games came in something called floppy discs, a company by the name of LucasArts made point-and-click games with a distinct type of humour. ScummVM was developed to emulate these LucasArts games and grew to support those from other companies like Revolution Software and Adventure Soft. My personal favourites to play on ScummVM are the Monkey Island games, which I highly recommend if you haven’t tried any yet!

    As for the Switch version of ScummVM, GBAtemp member @cpasjuste ported it and it’s pretty much completed with good framerate and touchscreen support. He made a video of the emulator running on the console, as well as a GBAtemp discussion thread:


    3. SEGA's last on Nintendo's latest: reicast

    reicast.JPG

    SEGA’s final console is playable on Nintendo’s latest console. Yes, thanks to @davidgf, reicast, the Dreamcast emulator, works on the Switch. It’s still in Alpha version, with davidgf mentioning that he rushed the release, so expect it to be rough around the edges with some bugs.

    There’s also the Flycast emulator available as a RetroArch core if you’re looking for a more up-to-date Dreamcast emulator but reicast is the standalone emulator should you be looking for one.

    rc1.JPG
    rc2.JPG rc3.JPG

    If you want to get started, we have a dedicated Switch thread complete with a how-to guide and a download link.

    4. Sony's handheld lives on the Switch: PPSSPP

    ppsspp.png

    Sony might have forgotten about its line of handhelds but the PSP lives through emulators! @m4xw developed a standalone PPSSPP based on his libretro port. It’s still in Beta version but is getting regular updates, with the changelog available via the GBAtemp thread. You can also access the download link and installation instructions via the same link.

    mgs psp.jpg
    gta psp.png menu psp.jpg

    5. Sharing our namesake: mGBA

    mGBA.png

    Well this list couldn’t possibly be complete without a dedicated GBA emulator, we’re on GBAtemp afterall! One of the most accurate GBA emulators out there, mGBA, is available on the Switch. The official Switch port along with the changelog is available here and you can join the GBAtemp discussion thread here.



    Bonus! - A 3DS emulator is coming to a Switch near you

    citraswitch.JPG

    While it’s technically not publicly available, a 3DS emulator for the Switch is indeed in the works! It is based of the popular 3DS emulator Citra and the developer, fellow GBAtemp member @m4xw shared his progress earlier this year on Twitter:


    It’s probably only a matter of time before you can play games from all of Nintendo’s handheld consoles on a single handheld! We’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we learn more. In the meantime, you can join the ongoing discussion thread here.

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    As we come to a close to this article, we hope you liked it and are keeping an eye on developments regarding emulators on the Switch! Which ones are your favourites?
     
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  2. Discussion (59 replies)

  3. Jayinem81

    Jayinem81 GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    Pretty sure Reicast cannot be played on any firmware 9.0 or newer, because Nintendo broke controls and davidgf never made a new version to fix it.

    Also it's worth pointing out that Flycast only works on Atmosphere does not work on sxos.
     
    Prans likes this.
  4. x65943

    x65943 Dr. Rabbi Prince X, Sr., Ed. D.
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    If you guys want to try the citra emulator on switch before it's totally stable, check out mx4w's patreon

    It's really really cool

    Was playing OoT 3D last night and despite some choppiness here and there, it played very very well upscaled

    One of the cooler features is glasses 3D and labo 3D

    2020070813413200-F1C11A22FAEE3B82F21B330E1B786A39.jpg 2020070813420200-F1C11A22FAEE3B82F21B330E1B786A39.jpg

    Edit:
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  5. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Dick, With Balls
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    Obligatory "Retroarch is not an emulator, it's a frontend" ;O;

    mGBA is such a nice emulator though, really great work.
     
  6. Prans

    OP Prans Geek, gamer, human
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    tbh I did mention it being a frontend though but yeah, not totally an emulator either XD
     
  7. TheCasualties

    TheCasualties Just trying to be helpful
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    Dang I got real excited seeing that MGS screenshot. Then remembered it's probably Peace Walker. Not that I have anything against it, but the picture had me think MGS 3 was on PSP and I missed it somehow.

    Has anyone tried playing the 3ds version of MGS 3 with Citra? I'd imagine the bigger screen helps with this game. I love it on 3ds but it can be hard to see enemies more than a few yards away. (and aiming with that little nub is.. a pain to say the least)

    I'll have to give Flycast a try, JetSetRadio was fun back in the day. If only we could play JSRF on switch..
     
    Last edited by TheCasualties, Jul 8, 2020
  8. subcon959

    subcon959 teh retro
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    My top 5 would be a little different. I think it would be criminal to not include UAE4All2 or pFBN.
     
    Snomannen_kalle likes this.
  9. Sonic Angel Knight

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend
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    Retroarch gonna take over everything. :blink:
     
  10. Jayinem81

    Jayinem81 GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    One of the best reasons I have an RGH Xbox 360 right there, but it's not fullscreen if you set the resolution 1080p. So I have a second RGH with a lesser resultion to make games like that fullscreen.

    You're right too bad there's no way of playing it portable.
     
    Last edited by Jayinem81, Jul 8, 2020
    TheCasualties likes this.
  11. Goku1992A

    Goku1992A GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    I miss stand alone emulators it's kinda a hassle to flip through cores through retroarch I personally dont like it. I end up using my vita for emulators or my phone. MAME is a horror story to run on retroarch while my phone I can play any MAME game without trying to figure out which core goes to which.
     
  12. seanp2500

    seanp2500 GBAtemp Maniac
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    Wow no pfba love? That thing rocks. Suppose it is just a retroarch core. Also melon ds?
     
    catlover007 likes this.
  13. NoNAND

    NoNAND Give me back my legions!
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    Yeah, if only mgba had dynarec. It would make it possible to run at full speed even on New 3ds
     
    MarkDarkness likes this.
  14. osaka35

    osaka35 Instructional Designer
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    I really don't like retroarch. Never been anything but a giant headache. I much prefer messing with individual emulators. Mainly it's the pants-on-hand silly UI which feels like a vague idea of a rough draft with a lot of glossy shiny poured over it. I keep waiting on it to get better but...after 5-6 years of waiting I guess that's never going to happen.

    That being said, ppsspp and citra are definitely my top picks.
     
    Last edited by osaka35, Jul 8, 2020
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  15. x65943

    x65943 Dr. Rabbi Prince X, Sr., Ed. D.
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    I understand where you are coming from, but it's nice to have everything in one place - and there simply aren't standalone versions of a lot of these

    The citra emulator for example is a retroarch core - it makes development easier too no?
     
    Agusto101 and osaka35 like this.
  16. Schnida

    Schnida GBAtemp Regular
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    I tested a lot of emulators lately and in my opinion there are two standalones which are really worth using over the RetroArch cores for performance reasons:

    - melonDS -> The version by @catlover007 (https://gbatemp.net/threads/melonds-for-switch.518300/page-62#post-9077251) performs much better than the melonDS core on RetroArch. Mario Kart DS is barely playable on RetroArch and runs very well on the standalone.
    - PPSSPP -> The GLES2 build runs more demanding games like GTA much better
     
    Prans likes this.
  17. ScarletDreamz

    ScarletDreamz [Debug Mode]
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    To be honest, I enjoy standalones emulators alot, such as Cpasjuste Snes Nes and FBA emulators.
     
    j0hn484, Ninn, Prans and 1 other person like this.
  18. Goku1992A

    Goku1992A GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    It would be nice to see Gamecube , Wii, and 3DS along with DS fully funtional on the switch (being played on the Horizon not lakka) I think this is where the Wii U have a 1 up against the switch with the ability to play Gamecube and Wii games better than the switch. I'm not too sure if it can be done but that would be pretty sweet.

    I personally use my phone since my phone can do all I stated above with no issues. But it's kidna weird carrying a Bluetooth controller around lol. I guess my other issue with the switch is it is too large to carry around portable, It is good for your house but bad if you want to take it with you due to the size.
     
  19. mathew77

    mathew77 Lovin' life.
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    usineur0, Prans and TheCasualties like this.
  20. Agusto101

    Agusto101 GBAtemp Regular
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    So apparently when is the stable version of Citra going to release?
     
  21. x65943

    x65943 Dr. Rabbi Prince X, Sr., Ed. D.
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    I don't know, only the dev can say
     
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