Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin is an emulator for two recent Nintendo video game consoles: the GameCube and the Wii. 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, and even more!

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Dolphin Progress Report: November 2019

One of the most enjoyable parts about being a part of emulation is seeing the classic gaming community use the tools we provide to find hidden bits of joy that would be impossible to reach otherwise. Freelook has found secret after secret hidden away just off-screen, and there's even a youtube series that focuses entirely on them! Savestates basically made speedrunning and TASing possible, allowing for quick testing of routes and sequence breaks to push games to their limits. But communities can go far beyond that, with tools now allowing us to look directly into game files and expose unreleased and rare relics. In the past couple of months, we've had two incredibly interesting leaks: A TGC file ripped from a store preview disc containing a pre-release version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and a very early prototype of the never released Spider-Man 4.

Released versions of the game show this intro screen during the day, but this pre-release version is at night!
We can't say for sure that the Spider-Man 3 film doomed the Spider-Man 4 game, but, well, it probably did.

Each of these games give a very specific look into their development. Wind Waker's prerelease demo is very close to the retail product and fully playable beginning to end without the imposed timer. Those that have looked into it have found a plethora of minor differences and glitches between this build and the one Japan would see a few weeks later. Spider-Man 4 on the other hand, never saw release and this was just about everyone's first look at the game. While it emulates just fine in the latest development builds, it does not run in Dolphin 5.0, due to broken support for unencrypted Wii discs. If you do run it, you get to see an incredibly early preview of the game with many non-existent textures, placeholder graphics, and incomplete collision detection. Still, we're happy that Dolphin was chosen as a platform to test out this unique prototype and the game worked without needing modification. With that bit of interesting news out of the way, let's get back to our regularly scheduled Progress Report.

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Dolphin Progress Report: October 2019

We apologize for the late Progress Report, but at this point it's partially by design. There's been an ongoing issue with Dolphin's updater being recognized as a trojan by Window's Defender Cloud AI scanning. The good news is that Microsoft has acknowledged that Dolphin's updater isn't a trojan, however for now they have to manually whitelist our executables. In order to ensure that the monthly builds distributed through our update track aren't deleted by Window's antivirus, we've been verifying that the build we've chosen is whitelisted. If you're interested in learning more about how something like this happens, MayImilae researched the issue and wrote up a detailed report below on what is happening and where we stand on the problem for now.

Until further notice, please keep reporting these erroneous detections so our builds can be whitelisted by Microsoft until they get their AI sorted. Thank you. Without further ado, let's jump into a smattering of significant changes that hit this month, including a way motion features in some of your favorite controllers.

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Dolphin Progress Report: August and September 2019

Earlier this month, an interesting development within the Wii reverse engineering scene was announced as Fullmetal5 revealed that they had hacked the Wii Mini via a Bluetooth exploit. This bookends a flurry of a Wii Mini hacking, including rigorous hardware modding by DeadlyFoez. You may be wondering, "Wait, wasn't the Wii hacked over a decade ago?". That's true, but the Wii Mini stubbornly remained unhacked all the way into 2019.

This resiliency came from the Wii Mini's cut down nature: it physically lacks the attack vectors that were used against the original Wii. In total, the Wii Mini was missing GameCube support, with no GameCube controller ports or Memory Card slots, lacked internet and browser support, and they completely removed the SD card slot. With so few attack surfaces, hackers have had to get inventive. DeadlyFoez created "FrankenWiis", mixing Wii Mini hardware and standard Wii hardware, to create exploit options and dump the Wii Mini firmware. This was as far as anyone could go, until Fullmetal5 found the holy grail: an exploit in the standard Wii Mini configuration, through the Bluetooth stack! This exploit completely opens the Wii Mini, allowing for arbitrary code execution to dump and/or load data over the Wii Mini's USB ports. The exploit is currently not public, but when it is released, users will be able to run homebrew on the Wii Mini just like any other Wii console, without any hardware mods. If you're interested at all in the Wii Mini and its many differences, feel free to checkout some of DeadlyFoez's videos of their efforts. It's a very strange little machine.

Update: During the writing of this article, the exploit was released!.

With the Wii Mini Menu dumped, the main question for us was... does it run in Dolphin?

The Wii Mini Wii Menu running in Dolphin!
Here is a normal Wii Menu for comparison. The Wii Mini lacks the Wii Shop, all internet channels, and the SD Card.

The answer is yes! In addition to that, Fullmetal5 also adjusted Dolphin to correctly detect Mini Wii Menu versions. While there isn't much practical use for running this cut down Wii Menu in Dolphin, it was exciting to finally see one of the last unhacked pieces of Wii hardware fall. We'd like to wholeheartedly thank everyone involved for their efforts toward Wii hacking and preservation.

With that out of the way, we have a few changes of our own to go through. While the end of the summer was a bit slow, there are still some essential fixes for several popular games and finally EFB Access is working correctly on Adreno devices... at least in Vulkan. Let's jump into August and September's Notable Changes without further delay!

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