Nintendo could do it harder to play old games on official hardware, but there are other options if you know where to look. One of them is about to be much easier to find: Dolphin, a popular emulator that works most GameCube and Wii titleswill be launching on Steam later this year. Dolphin is already available for free, but launching on Steam might make it easier to use the emulator on devices like the steam bridgewhere switching to desktop mode and manually installing programs can be a compact.
This does not mean that downloading Dolphin from the Steam store will give you instant access to classic Nintendo games, However. Dolphin’s store page is quick to point out that “the app does not come with games. You must own an original copy of any game you wish to use with Dolphin”. If you’ve dabbled in retro game emulation, this should sound pretty familiar – console game emulation is a bit of a legal gray area.
This is probably why the Dolphin Steam page is reluctant to even identify exactly what it does – opting instead to say that it plays “classic cube-shaped, motion-controlled consoles from the Big N”. The emulator’s website is a bit more explicit, specifically stating that “downloading commercial games is illegal” and encourage users to use homebrew tools to make backups of game discs they legally own.
Dolphin is expected to launch on Steam Early Access by the end of Q2 2023, with a full launch expected by the end of the year.