Nintendo Switch emulators have become very popular since their emergence. This is because they allow users to play games from Nintendo’s hybrid console on PC, and, in some cases, even feature higher resolutions or have more features than the game itself. However, although it may seem like a good option, there are legal impediments and security risks that should be considered before trying to use software of this type. Thinking about it, the Techidence separated answers to the main questions about Nintendo Switch emulators. Check it out:
After all, can it or not?
An emulator is an application that simulates the operating conditions of a random device. For example, a Nintendo 8-bit emulator can read a console game on the PC by translating the original language, allowing it to be read by the computer’s operating system, be it Windows, Linux, or some other. So, as a tool, emulators are completely legal and very useful in various scenarios, such as for testing or running free software created by third parties, like “Homebrews”.
The legal problems start when users decide to emulate commercial games without necessarily buying them. This is because by downloading titles in ROM (cartridge) or ISO (optical media) format in a pirated way, users violate the copyrights of the companies involved with the game, such as producers and distributors.
Nevertheless, in theory, you can make copies of your games as a backup and then play them on emulators. However, this process is quite complicated, since downloading a ROM as a backup technically still violates guidelines. After all, the title is not owned by the player – in the sense of ownership over the brand and its registration.
How to play without problems?
Even after getting an emulator and a legalized ROM, rarely does game emulation go “smoothly”. Because it is one device trying to simulate another, it is common for interpretation errors to occur between systems. So, emulated games are often slow, with visual bugs, and crashes. Thus, to simulate another device without too much difficulty, the user needs a lot of power in his hardware – on average, twice as much as the system he intends to emulate.
For the Nintendo Switch, the minimum requirements are a PC with a 6th generation Intel Core i3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1050 card. The recommended configuration would be something like an Intel Core i5, 16 GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 470 card. Still, there is no guarantee that the games will run and have good performance.
What about Android?
There are two Nintendo Switch emulators for Android: one that is in the early stages, Skyline, and another surrounded by controversy, EGG NS. To use either one, users will need a powerful device with Snapdragon processors and at least 6 GB of RAM to run a limited selection of games – mainly 2D ones. On some of them, you can even play Super Mario Odyssey and Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee, but with limitations.
The first emulator is Skyline, an early-stage open-source application that can run some games in good condition, such as Super Mario Odyssey, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Sonic Mania, and Celeste. To use it, users need to download it outside the Google Play Store, from a Discord server of the app’s developers – which may present a certain security risk. However, by offering open source, malfeasance is less likely, as other users could see and alert.
The second is EGG NS, from developer NXTeam Studios, which is fraught with controversy. Although available for free download from the Google Play Store, the app only works with the payment of a monthly fee of US$4.5 or with an X2 Type-C Mobile Gaming Controller, which costs around US$59.99. Some users say they have found evidence that the app uses some of the code from another emulator, Yuzu, and that EGG NS has violated the license of his code.
How is the gameplay?
When games work on emulators, they run well and it is even possible to play with regular joysticks. This way, users can use controls from PlayStation 4 (PS4), PlayStation 5 (PS5), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and other third parties to simulate the Nintendo Switch Pro.
For some titles, however, gameplay may require very specific things, such as motion controls or Rumble 3D. In this case, joysticks can partially simulate movement, but not deliver the same experience. But if you have one, you can connect the original Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons to your PC via Bluetooth and thus ensure authentic gameplay.
What are the safe options?
On the PC, there are some emulators considered safe, such as Yuzu, Ryujinx, and CEMU (which runs both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U). Each of them has particularities, which, of course, can bring advantages and disadvantages to running certain games, but that is up to the user to evaluate.
It is worth noting, however, that although these emulators are considered safe at the time of writing, there have been cases where they have included malware and malicious content on your system. Therefore, users should always have an antivirus installed before downloading files, as they may detect potential threats.
With that in mind, because they offer risks, Android emulators are not recommended – such as Skyline, which requires installing an APK from outside the Google Play Store, and EGG NS, which has practices that raise suspicion. In this regard, users should be especially wary of permissions requested by apps to access data on their smartphones when downloading such apps.
Is it worth it?
Generally, no. Emulation plays an important role in the historical preservation of old games, as well as in keeping them accessible even after companies have gone out of business or video games have been discontinued. When it comes to modern consoles, however, they are not able to offer the same experience. This is because there are always frustrations, settings, and details to work out that take up time that could be spent exclusively on the game.
In addition to these points, emulators require a lot of hardware power and take years to reach a state where most games can run without the need for adjustments. Thus, for users who want to enjoy the Nintendo Switch games, buying the console and its games is the best option.