Monday, February 4, 2013

Play Wii games on your Mac with Dolphin Emulator

Wii games on your Mac or PC? What witchcraft is this? Yes, it's possible. And yes, you don't need much. Thanks to the magic of Dolphin Emulator, you can run Wii games and Gamecube games. So far, my experience of it has been pretty good. It runs the games smoothly at 60fps and you can even run the games at 1080p if you want to – something the Wii and Gamecube were not capable of doing. (It looks the same, just with more pixels.)

Here's what you need:
1. A Mac or PC with a fairly powerful processor. 
2. Some kind of controller. I used a PS3 controller. You can use a Wii controller for the Wii games. You can also use your keyboard if you like.
3. Game ISOs. Rip them from your discs or resort to software piracy. It's up to you.

Here's how to do it:
1. Download and install Dolphin Emulator.

2. If you are using a Wii controller, simply sync to your PC/Mac using Bluetooth. If you have an IR sensor bar, place it under or on top of your TV/monitor. Dolphin Emulator should figure out that you're using a Wii controller and you're good to go. I haven't tried this yet though. I'm still trying to get a free/cheap Wii controller, but from what I've read, there don't seem to be any issues.
3. For Gamecube games, you'll need a more standard controller. The old Gamecube controller resembled an Xbox 360 controller or PS3 controller more than it does a Wii controller. I got Dolphin to work with a PS3 controller on a Mac.
3a. Sync your PS3 controller with your Mac via Bluetooth. This can be tricky. Basically you have to do this little dance (***deep breath now***): plug your controller into USB, remove the cable, press the PS button to sync, enter the passcode (0000), turn off Bluetooth, plug your controller into USB again, turn on Bluetooth, press the PS button to sync. 
     If you've done this once, the process is much shorter next time around. Just plug in via USB, remove the cable, then press the Home button to sync and you're good to go.
     OR you can just use your PS3 controller plugged in via USB all the time. That's supposed to work too. (Bizarrely, it didn't for me.)
3b. Now your computer and Dolphin emulator can both see your PS3 controller, but they have no idea what the buttons do. You have to map your buttons on the PS3 to correspond to a Gamecube controller. Luckily, Dolphin can set this up for you. It can get confusing though. It's ridiculously simple once you figure it out, but until then, it's insanely complicated. Basically you have to go through each button and assign a button on your PS3 controller to it.

For example: 
GC     PS3
A    =  Button 15
B    =  Button 16
X    =  Button 14
Y    =  Button 13
Z    =  Button 12
Start = Button 4

And so on. Believe me, it will make more sense when you're doing it. Save these settings so you don't have to do them again.
3c. Head on over to Wii settings and set up your PS3 controller in the same way for the Wii emulator. Or if you've got a Wii controller, things should be simpler.
4. Get some game ISOs. ISOs are files of a disc, ripped from the disc much in the same way as ripping a CD to MP3. You can get ISOs of Gamecube and Wii games from all sorts of places.
5. Start Dolphin Emulator. Add games by selecting the folder with your game ISOs. Pick a game and press play. And that's it! You should be rocking Gamecube and Wii games on your computer. 

Here's my experience of Dolphin so far:
1. If you've got a fairly recent computer, you should be able to rock at full settings. I'm using a 4 year old MacBook, and it runs smoothly at 60fps. 
2. According to the Dolphin website, not all games have been tested. So some games might have issues. This is a work in progress after all. 
3. Dolphin is processor-intensive. My computer's temp shot up while using it. This is normal.
4. You can also map your PS3 controller for use with Wii games. Some games require the infrared sensor bar and Wii controller though, so you might as well get one. The sensor bar costs P600 at Toy Kingdom.
5. For a while, I couldn't get the PS3 controller to work with the hackintosh. After days of troubleshooting, I learned that PS3 controllers require Bluetooth with EDR. They will not work without EDR. My hackintosh was using an ancient Bluetooth adapter, so once I got a P150 adapter from CD-R King, everything worked.


space cadet said...

what OS are you running? and i guess it would be helpful to know your computer specs as well, like RAM, processor, graphics card, etc. i've got an old 2008 macbook running 10.5.8 and needless to say, dolphin doesn't really work on it. i was planning on upgrading in september, so i'm just trying to get a feel for how the newer macs handle emulators. thanks!

The Third World Nerd said...

I have it running on both my desktop hackintosh (3.4GHz Core i5, Nvidia 660Ti) and my old laptop. The laptop is a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM MacBook, not Pro, from late 2008, with integrated Nvidia GeForce 9400. So it's no speed demon. Framerate on the MacBook is pretty steady. It does drop sometimes though. It runs at almost full throttle, getting really hot and the fan gets noisy. Upgraded the OS all the way to 10.8.3. The desktop doesn't break a sweat. :)