The Best Nintendo Switch Emulators for PC

. 3 min read

The Switch OLED is Nintendo's most current model of console and a hybrid model at that. Users can play games with the console docked and hooked up to a television screen or take it with them on the go for portable play. While each of these modes has their pros and cons, it does raise the question about what other ways exist for someone to enjoy Switch content. This is where emulators come into play.

@NintendoAmerica

What the Heck Is an Emulator?

An emulator is a program that spoofs a gaming device, tricking ROMs, the code that games are written with, into believing that your computer is actually whatever game system is needed to play that game. While emulators for early generation consoles included the ability to insert cheats and exploits that legitimate users had to purchase third-party peripherals or software to utilize, most people just want a way to play their games.

One of the biggest reasons why a person might use an emulator is to enjoy their games without the dreaded "Joycon Drift" design flaw that old Joycons seem to experience on their analog sticks as a result of wear and tear. One other reason for emulating Switch titles is that it is considerably less of a fuss to play European or Japanese titles than creating a dedicated profile based in that region.

When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, there are several to choose from. However, users should beware of sketchy software programs. To help you with your search, we have outlined our two favorite Switch emulators for PC below.


Yuzu

@yuzuemu

Yuzu is an open-source emulator that has been entirely coded with C++. The website for this particular emulator provides users with everything they could need to get Yuzu up and running. Furthermore, Yuzu has several notable Quality of Life features worth mentioning.

  • Support for Cheat Codes. Users can create their own cheat codes or mods and implement them from the main menu of the emulator.
  • Remote DLC/Update Installation/Deletion. Users can toggle a few files from Yuzu's main menu and instantly transfer the data to the relevant directories of whatever games those improvements apply to. Users can also easily undo/downgrade such features, making it great for figuring out what order to apply things.
  • Custom Control Schemes. Users can rig gameplay inputs to whatever controller they prefer in lieu of the Switch's proprietary Joycons.

Yuzu is supported on Windows platforms 7 on up and Linux. MacOS was supported at one time but deprecating OpenGL caused support to stop.


Ryujinx

@RyujinxEmu

Ryujinx is an open-source emulator coded in C#. Much like with Yuzu, Ryujinx's website contains plenty of information on how to run and operate its emulator and its blog covers regular updates being made to the program's functionality. Most of the QoL features of Yuzu seem present in Ryujinx.

Ryujinx is supported on Windows and Linux with future plans for MacOS.


The Best of Both Worlds

Both programs seem perfectly suited to emulating Switch titles. Each emulator has its own Discord server, Twitter account and presence on Github. While Yuzu offers a FAQ section on its website, covering a lot of common operating problems, Ryujinx has a Patreon.

The Nintendo Switch has been on the market since March of 2017, meaning it has a considerably lengthy catalog across regions. With that statement in mind, my best piece of advice for anyone unsure which emulator to pick is to pore over the compatibility page of each emulator, see how well each one handles the games you like and go with whichever program has a higher total of playables.