Dolphin Emulator

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Dolphin program icon.png Dolphin Emulator
Type: Nintendo Wii and Nintendo GameCube Emulator
Developer(s): Dolphin Emulator Project
Stable Release Versions: Version 5.0, Version 4.0, Version 3.5
Operating System: Windows, Linux, MacOS
Written in: C/C++
License: GNU GPLv2+
Website: Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin is a Wii and GameCube emulator with high compatibility across the majority of titles for both platforms. It was first developed as closed source in 2003, and as open source since 2008.

It allows PC gamers to enjoy games for these two consoles in full HD (1080p) with several enhancements: compatibility with all PC controllers, turbo speed, networked multiplayer, among other things.

Setting up Dolphin

Main article: Installation Guide (on

Basic steps

  • Download Dolphin emulator from here (Nightly Builds), or from here (Stable).

Please read about the differences in Dolphin versions below.

  • Extract the contents of the .zip file you just downloaded to a folder of your choice.
  • Run Dolphin.exe

Differences in Dolphin Versions

Those differences are specific to NSMBW and irrelevant to other games.

Dolphin 4.0.1 Dolphin 5.0 Dolphin Nightly
Graphical Functions Set Texture Cache to Safe for coins to spin
Set EFB Copies to RAM as well
Texture Cache = Fast
can be used
Texture Cache = Fast
can be used
Gameplay Dump (synchronized) A/V not synchronized
Use Dolphin 4 AVSync
Function integrated Function integrated
Record output from .dtm file Does not seem to work Seems to work for most people Function integrated
On-the-fly Changes Can replace level on-the-fly with identical/smaller level Can replace level on-the-fly with identical/smaller level Level size not allowed to change. See Fixed Level Size in Reggie Preferences for a handy solution to that problem

It is recommended to use Version 5.0 or a Nightly Build.

Dolphin Game Management

Dolphin emulator can open Wii ISO files, WBFS (Wii Backup File System) files, and also play the extracted contents of such files. The setup procedure for the third method is more complex, but allows to edit levels on-the-fly, while the emulator is running. Please consider, that it's also very time-consuming to create a new ISO/WBFS archive each time something has changed in your game. Please see Extracted Game.

Dolphin game folders2.png

To populate the list of available games, it's needed to to setup the Game Folders where Dolphin will look for games. Click on Config, then select the tab Paths and add directories with ISO/WBFS files in them to the list. Proceed by pressing Ok. The list in the main window should now show your games.

It's also possible to add paths to .dol files from extracted games to this list. This will be explained later in the tutorial.

Extracted Game

It is advised to use this method for extensive testing.


  • Wii ISO of the game you want to extract
  • Dolphin 5.0 Nightly Build (Dolphin 5.0 stable doesn't have the option to extract the entire disc).

Dolphin is capable to play the extracted contents of a Wii ISO or WBFS file. This makes it very easy to edit files in general, and especially easy to edit a level on-the-fly. First we need to obtain the game files. The steps are similar compared to this tutorial (Obtain Original Game Files), with the exception that we need to extract the entire disc instead of just Partition 1. You can follow the steps in the above tutorial, or read on for the precise steps.

  • Open Dolphin Emulator with your game populated in the Games List. Select it in the main window pane, right-click it and select the entry Properties.
  • In the window that opens, go to the Filesystem tab.
  • Once there, right-click on Disc and select the entry Extract Entire Disc.... Choose a folder for your files and click on Ok.

Dolphin extract disc2.png

  • You should now have a DATA folder. Inside that folder are 3 more folders, disc, files, and sys, along with the files cert.bin, h3.bin, ticket.bin, and tmd.bin. This folder is also called a Dolphin Game Patch.
  • The final step is to point Dolphin to the DATA directory. This can be done, by clicking on Config, navigating to the Paths tab, and adding the path to the DATA folder to the Game Folders list.

Please read on. We'll be talking about how to use more than one extracted game patch in parallel.

Dolphin Game Patches

It is possible to use multiple extracted games in parallel. Useful if you have to supervise more than one project.

How to create multiple custom Game Patches based on Newer

  • Create a folder for your Dolphin game patches. As an example, we'll be using:

Games is the Dolphin Game Patches folder. You can choose any folder name you like of course.

  • Extract the entire disc of Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii as shown in the Extracted Game tutorial.
  • Rename the DATA folder to Newer and move the entire folder to the Games directory created above.
  • This is now your Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii Dolphin Game Patch. It is recommended to keep one such patch untouched.
  • Now copy the entire Newer folder (it's around 350MB) and paste it into the Games directory again. Choose anything you want as a folder name, but it's recommended to use your project name. In the example image it's just called YourGamePatch.

Dolphin GamePatch2.png

You should now have an entire copy of the game in both folders.

  • Last step is to add the directory with the game patches to your Game Folders list in ->Preferences ->Paths, and select the checkbox Search Subfolders.

Dolphin GamePatch3.png

All your game patches in that folder should now show up in the list. More custom game patches can be added as well if needed. It's also possible to add NSMBW (original game) as a Dolphin game patch, alongside Newer patches.

To start an extracted game now, simply double-click on it in the list.


Savestates is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in any game. You can use this feature manually by going into the File menu or by quick keyboard shortcuts.

Using save states:

  • Capturing a save state: To capture a save state go to Emulation > Save State > Save State to Slot > Save to Slot 1. The keyboard shortcut for saving a save state is Shift+F1.
  • Loading a save state: To load a save state that you previously saved, go to Emulation > Load State > Load State to Slot > Load to Slot 1. The keyboard shortcut for loading a save state is F1.
  • Ten save slots! Dolphin allows you to save up to 10 different save states. By default, it is set to slot “1”. You can change the slot by going to Emulation > Select save slot. Then select the desired slot.





Main article: Cheats

Gameplay Recording

Main article: Gameplay Recording

HQ Dolphin Screenshots

Main article: Screenshots