Nintendo has one of the finest game catalogs. And it’s not just limited to the Nintendo Switch console.
The world of Mario, Metroid, Zelda, and Pokemon are part of Nintendo’s game library from the 1980s. With major console releases, you got better games with the same fun you had two decades ago.
This nostalgia, and the sense of feeling like a kid, make Nintendo games a must-play for any gamer out there. And the handheld gaming experience is what makes the whole ordeal a surreal one.
However, you may also want to try those games using Nintendo Switch emulators on your computer.
These emulators can run on your Windows PC or Android phone. Let’s get started.
What is a Nintendo Switch Emulator? 🎮
Emulators, especially video game console emulators, are software programs that emulate the console on other hardware, such as a personal computer or a mobile.
Emulation is not a new concept. IBM developed the idea when they needed to run old-generation programs on new devices. It saved them time, effort, and money to re-create old programs for new hardware.
Achieving emulation requires understanding the console completely. The developer might succeed in imitating the console but achieving a 100% similar experience may not be possible because of the proprietary hardware and software of consoles.
However, there are cases where the emulation goes beyond what the original console offers. For example, emulation opens up the possibility of adding new mods for both gameplay and graphics. In addition, due to today’s more powerful hardware, some emulators can outperform the original console performance.
So, a Nintendo Switch Emulator can emulate the Nintendo ecosystem (hardware and software) and run games directly from a PC or phone.
Is Using a Nintendo Switch Emulator Illegal? 🚫
Now, the big question. Is using Nintendo Switch Emulator, or any emulator in general, illegal? Well, no, it isn’t.
That’s because, by definition, emulation doesn’t guarantee any illegal activity. However, the means to generate and share copyrighted ROMs is considered illegal.
So, if you own the original Nintendo game, you can enjoy your Nintendo games on PC or Android using Emulation.
Disclaimer: When emulating, you’ll need ROMs. Finding and installing these ROMs is not covered in the article. That’s because sharing copyrighted ROMs are not allowed. We recommend only emulating games if you own the original copy.
Are Nintendo games easy to emulate?
Nintendo games are challenging to emulate. They’re complex software, and Nintendo has ensured that developers find it hard to create an emulated solution.
This may come as a surprise to people who emulated old NES and PlayStation games. Essentially, these older-generation console games are easy to emulate.
And that’s why you need a powerful device to emulate the Nintendo games.
What PC or Phone Hardware Do You Need To Emulate Nintendo Games? ⚙️
To emulate Nintendo games, you need a decent computer. As Nintendo games are not graphically intensive, you can emulate them with
- AMD RX 470 or NVIDIA GTX 1060 and above.
- Coming to PC RAM, you need at least 8GB. However, if you want to experience lag-free emulation, 16GB is recommended.
- Finally, we have the CPU. The CPU requirements start with a minimum Ryzen 3 or Core i3 processor. CPU plays a crucial role in emulating Nintendo games, and the better your PC’s processor, the better the emulated gameplay.
For Android phones, the requirements are on the higher side. You’ll need beefy SoC (system on a chip) to emulate the Nintendo games on Android. It must be at least Snapdragon 855 or above. This means you must own a flagship Android smartphone to emulate Nintendo games on your Android smartphone.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best software to play your favorite Nintendo Switch games on your PC or Android smartphone!
Best Nintendo Switch Emulators
Egg NS Emulator
Egg NS Emulator is an Android-based Nintendo Switch emulator. It is developed by NXTeam Studios, which started working on it form 2017.
With it, you can play many Switch games, including Link’s Awakening, Super Mario Odyssey, and Pokémon. Overall, it comes with the support of thousands of Nintendo Switch games.
But, to use it, you’ll need a smartphone with at least Snapdragon 855 (mentioned on their site) and Snapdragon 888 (mentioned within their app) or equivalent SoC. If you have a lower-powered smartphone, you can try it, but you’ll find sub-optimal performance.
The UI is simple and intuitive to use. Once you log in, you must add a data packet and Game Rom (XCI/NSP format).
And below is the image of the interface when you’ll try to add your game.
You can also discover games by going through its Discover tab.
Furthermore, you also get decent game settings where you can set options such as Full Screen Display, Rumble, and Region (set it depending on your Game ROM region).
Is Egg NS any good?
On the downside, Egg NS was caught multiple times stealing code from the YUZU emulator (listed later in our article).
Initially, Egg NS needed a custom controller (worth $100) to use it. That’s a deal-breaker for many emulation lovers out there. These controllers are named Gamesir X2 or X3. However, after the backlash, the requirement is removed, and you can play Nintendo Switch games using touch controls.
But to access Touch, you’ll need to pay or have your VIP status alive by doing community tasks/watching ads, or paying for the VIP tokens.
If you’re a first-time user, you’ll get 3 days of VIP status, which lets you emulate your Nintendo games. They also give gold coins for signing up, which can help you extend your VIP days. You can buy these gold coins for $0.99 per week or $3.99 per month.
Should you try Egg NS?
Overall, Egg NS Emulator is only worth your time if you “really” want to emulate your game on Android. Their VIP days model is sketchy and makes the app not “free.” Also, you’ll need a beefy smartphone to play the games smoothly. Lastly, Egg NS is not clean, as they have been found to steal code from a more popular Yuzu emulator that we’ll discuss next.
Yuzu is one of the most popular Nintendo Switch Emulators. And it is good at what it does. You can run most Nintendo Switch games on Windows, Linux, and Steam Deck with it. Yuzu is one of the earliest Switch emulators in the market and launched just 8 months after the Nintendo Switch release.
It is an open-source experimental project managed by the creators of Citra (Nintendo 3DS emulator). This means experienced professionals manage the project, which shows in its functionality. It is currently licensed under GPLv2.
To start using it, download the installer package for Windows.
It’ll ask you to install either Yuzu early access or the latest reviewed version. It is advised to go with the default one. However, If you use the Early Access build, you’ll notice that Windows won’t let you run it. To bypass it, click “more info” and choose “Run anyway.”
You now need to set up a few things. These include “Prod.keys.” Again, Yuzu offers an excellent start guide to show you the steps. You may also want to customize the app settings before you launch your first game.
And now, you’re set to enjoy the world of Nintendo games. They offer a complete list of compatible games on their site.
How does Yuzu perform?
So, I loaded Super Mario Odyssey, and it ran butter smooth at 60 fps. On top of that, I forced it to run on 21:9 ultrawide mode at 1440p resolution (it supports up to 8k resolution!). This performance is achieved thanks to it using C++. You can also run popular games such as Zelda Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8.
Note: The performance depends on your hardware and the game you’re running.
On top of that, you can also run Homebrew games and apps on it, giving you more flexibility.
Should you try Yuzu?
Yes, you should. It is open-source, free to use, and easy to set up. Yuzu is also updated regularly and has a great community surrounding it.
Ryujinx is another popular experimental Nintendo Switch emulator. It is written in C# and is created by gdkchan. The development team behind the project is impressive and releases constant updates that improve stability and performance and bring new features.
Moreover, it also supports tons of Nintendo Switch games. At the time of writing, Ryujinx marks 3400 titles playable out of 4050 titles! That’s a lot, and it only means that Ryujinx is a high-quality Nintendo Switch emulator. It also supports cross-platform, which means you can run it on macOS, Windows 10/11, and Linux.
The user interface is snappy and beginner-friendly. However, like Yuzu, you must set up Ryujinx before running your first Nintendo Switch game. Here, you also need ProdKeys. In addition, you’ll also need to install the firmware that Ryujinx supports.
When writing, I could install the latest Nintendo Switch version 16.0.3.
How does Ryujin perform?
I ran Super Mario Odyssey at 2K resolution and 21:9 aspect ratio to test the performance. To my surprise, it ran well. However, there are more FPS dips than Yuzu, but nothing substantial between them.
Nonetheless, the performance of your system depends on your system specs and the game you’re running.
Should you try it?
Ryujin is a top-notch Nintendo Switch emulator. It is easy to use and also actively developed with scheduled releases. So, you must try it, especially if you tried Yuzu but are finding issues with it.
CEMU is a Wii U emulator that you can use to emulate Nintendo Switch games. According to their developers, it is still an experimental project. That being said, it is still updated regularly.
Due to its status, CEMU will not perform on older computers, especially if you have a weak processor. (Yes, it is processor-heavy).
Installing and configuring CEMU is not easy or intuitive compared to Yuzu or Ryujin. However, there are plenty of tutorials available that you can use to set it up. Also, once to set it up, you can benefit from its impressive modding capability.
The user interface is simple and clean, and you’ll find navigating different options a breeze. Its setting options are also very diverse. For example, you can change graphics and audio settings.
How does CEMU perform?
For example, I tried Zelda’s Breath of the Wild. I modded its graphics and set it to run uncapped framerates. And it was working at 120 fps.
However, your mileage may differ, depending on your machine specs and the game you’re playing.
Can CEMU run all Nintendo Switch Games?
No. As mentioned, CEMU is a Wii U emulator, but it can run many popular Switch games, such as Zelda Breath of the Wild or Mario Kart 8. If you’re unsure whether your Switch game is supported, check out its official game support list. Any Nintendo games released for Wii U should run without any issues.
Should you try CEMU?
Yes, you should. CEMU is a stable and highly mod-able emulator. It can run most games at 1080p and 60fps. And, if you have a powerful computer, you can run most games at higher resolution and uncapped FPS.
That’s it! We went through the best Nintendo Switch Emulator. The option to emulate your portable Nintendo Switch gives you excellent flexibility. For example, you can play on an ultrawide monitor or play the game using your keyboard. The possibilities are endless!
Are you a fan of games with compelling narratives? Why not check out our list of the best story-driven games?
For the past 20 years, Nitish has been an avid gamer. His primary focus is on PC games, but he also enjoys exploring the worlds of Nintendo, XBOX, and PlayStation. Nitish is always looking for new games to try out and is particularly fascinated… read more