Dolphin Emulator on Android is one of the most well-made emulators around. You can play Wii games and GameCube games straight from your phone, so long as it’s powerful enough. Nowadays, devices like the Razer Phone 2 and the OnePlus 6T are enough to actually do just that. I’ve personally enjoyed The Simpsons: Hit and Run straight from my smartphone, along with Super Smash Bros Brawl. Performance isn’t perfect though, and it can be improved upon a lot. The latest Dolphin progress report for December 2018 and January 2019 documents a number of performance-enhancing changes for Android builds of the emulator, and some of them are great.
Vulkan: Fix rendering of new Adreno drivers with the Android 9 Pie update
First up, and one of the most important updates, is a fix for the Vulkan API on Android Pie. With the updated Adreno graphics drivers that shipped with the Android 9 Pie update, the Dolphin Emulator could not make proper use of the Vulkan API, which is problematic as the devices most likely to be able to run games to their best ability are also the ones most likely to be updated to that version. Running games through Dolphin with the Vulkan API more often than not results in better performance than just using OpenGL, but it can sometimes break things. It’s preferable to use it though, so not being able to meant that device owners weren’t getting the most out of their smartphones. Now that that’s out-of-the-way, users should see even better performance going forward.
Bounding Box Fix on GLES
Bounding Box is a feature used for certain effects in games like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario. Emulating the feature relies on OpenGL ES features, but the Adreno and Mali GPUs use GL ES which has a lot fewer features than OpenGL ES. Due to a mistake in the emulator’s coding in which the emulator called a function that isn’t available in GL ES, games like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door would crash on non-NVIDIA SHIELD devices.
Wii Remote pointer emulation
On top of that, Wii Remote pointer emulation has been added. Games like Super Mario Galaxy rely somewhat on the ability to have a Wii Remote pointing at the screen, something that’s not possible without a Dolphin Bar. Work has now been done so that you can simply tap on the screen where you want to point. It’ll be clunky for shooters, but it works great for games where you may not need to move and point at the same time. Animal Crossing: City Folk is another example of a game that will work great with Wii Remote pointer emulation.
And while feature improvements are great, under-the-hood optimisations are excellent as well. The official GameCube adapter now works, and so do official Wii Remotes. A number of calculation and rendering fixes have been made too, so you can benefit from more accurate emulation. Check out the full blog post below for the nitty-gritty of the changes made to improve Dolphin Emulator on Android.
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