Shovel Knight Cemu.png

A little while ago we shared news of Cemu, a functioning Wii U emulator. Early doors it could barely boot up the opening artwork of a game, and the slow nature of progress on such projects points to it being many months (maybe years) away from being functional in a meaningful way. It's less a threat to Nintendo's intellectual property and more a hobby for some who enjoy a challenge.

Well, it seems the project is making some progress - based on videos of a recent 1.1.0 update, at least; we appear to have the first playable game - Shovel Knight. That's not really a surprise considering the humble requirements it has of the system's capabilities, and unlike a standard PC version of the game the Cemu emulation struggles with juddering movement and a lack of sound.

Beyond that progress is still largely limited to "now loads menus" or "is slightly more visible". Case in point are the following examples of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, which launch but aren't playable in any way.

As we highlighted the last time we posted about Cemu, it's no legitimate threat to the Wii U; a little like homebrew efforts on the 3DS it's a niche interest. Besides, the leader of this small-scale project said a while ago that it's closed source for a host of reasons, with one being that opening the project up to the wider web could see it used for rather grubby purposes.

But of course there are other concerns as well, like development suddenly focusing on a direction which is not favorable to the original intentions of the emulator. Example: Focus on hacky solutions to get games into playable state earlier. I can see this happen in a open-source environment more likely, because piracy can become the main source for development motivation. Another example: Splatoon is moving towards playability fast, but online features are of low priority to avoid people using the emulator to cheat in online-play and ruin the experience for everyone. With open-source code there is no easy way to steer the development focus away.

It's interesting to see projects like these emerge, once again demonstrating how curiosity and some coding ability can see some spend a lot of time on difficult tasks with little end-game other than "because we can". Cemu isn't likely to disrupt the Wii U in any meaningful way, but it's intriguing to see how difficult it is to emulate Nintendo's box of tricks.