Nintendo Switch emulation on M1 Macs looks very promising

JC Torres - Dec 22, 2020, 9:58pm CST
Nintendo Switch emulation on M1 Macs looks very promising

You might be getting tired of hearing about how powerful and capable the Apple Silicon M1 is so here’s yet another proof of that. Granted, being able to run Windows apps is already concrete evidence, let alone running Windows 10 itself. Still, gaming console emulation has always been a rather tricky matter, especially considering how it’s not officially and directly supported, which is why this first successful attempt at running a Nintendo Switch game on an M1 Mac, even if short-lived, is already a huge milestone in that direction.

Despite the legally questionable territory, there is a big and thriving community around gaming emulation that tries to bring support for almost every console to almost every computing device out there. Some do it as a form of protest against giant corporations but others simply love the challenge of bringing a software platform to hardware it was never designed to run on. Apple’s first ARM-based M1 Silicon is definitely the most interesting development in computing this year and, as expected, the target of such projects, hacks, and mods.

Developer Sera Tonin Brocious, @daeken on Twitter, took to Twitter to share the joy of making the Yuzu Nintendo Switch emulator run on an M1 Mac running Super Mario Odyssey. The game loads up but doesn’t get far, unfortunately. It runs into a limitation with the MoltenVK framework that translates the Vulkan graphics API into Apple’s own Metal API.

Still, it’s a good start that showcases both the Apple M1’s capabilities as well as the possibilities it may offer. Considering the Nintendo Switch is an ARM-based device, emulating it on the ARM-based M1 may have made it easier. In fact, @daeken theorizes that it might even be possible on iOS provided Apple brings its new Hypervisor.framework that it uses for virtualization on Apple Silicon.

Of course, that will hardly be a reality, given Nintendo’s rigid stance against any sort of unofficial emulation, even though it uses the technology for the NES/SNES Classic mini consoles and even on the Switch. It will only be a matter of time before the company starts the game of cat and mouse again with emulator developers and users, this time on Apple’s shiny new M1 platform.


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