How Nintendo’s Destruction of Yuzu Is Rocking the Emulator World

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: When Nintendo sued the developers of Yuzu out of existence on March 4th, it wasn’t just an attack on the leading way to play Nintendo Switch games without a Switch. It was a warning to anyone building a video game emulator. Seven developers have now stepped away from projects, are shutting them down, or have left the emulation scene entirely. Of those that remain, many are circling the wagons, getting quieter and more careful, trying not to paint targets on their backs. Four developers declined to talk to The Verge, telling me they didn’t want to draw attention. One even tried to delete answers to my questions after we’d begun, suddenly scared of attracting press.

Not everyone is so afraid. Four other emulator teams tell me they’re optimistic Nintendo won’t challenge them, that they’re on strong legal footing, and that Yuzu may have been an unusually incriminating case. One decade-long veteran tells me everyone’s just a bit more worried. But when I point out that Nintendo didn’t have to prove a thing in court, they all admit they don’t have money for lawyers. They say they’d probably be forced to roll over, like Yuzu, if the Japanese gaming giant came knocking. “I would do what I’d have to do,” the most confident of the four tells me. “I would want to fight it… but at the same time, I know we exist because we don’t antagonize Nintendo.”

There’s a new meme where Yuzu is the mythical Hydra: cut off one head, and two more take its place. It’s partly true in how multiple forks of Yuzu (and 3DS emulator Citra) sprung up shortly after their predecessors died: Suyu, Sudachi, Lemonade, and Lime are a few of the public names. But they’re not giving Nintendo the middle finger: they’re treating Nintendo’s lawsuit like a guidebook about how not to piss off the company. In its legal complaint, Nintendo claimed Yuzu was “facilitating piracy at a colossal scale,” giving users “detailed instructions” on how to “get it running with unlawful copies of Nintendo Switch games,” among other things. Okay, no more guides, say the Switch emulator developers who spoke to me. They also say they’re stripping out some parts of Yuzu that made it easier to play pirated games. As Ars Technica reported, a forked version called Suyu will require you to bring the firmware, title.keys, and prod.keys from your Switch before you can decrypt and play Nintendo games. Only one of those was technically required before. (Never mind that most people don’t have an easily hackable first-gen Switch and would likely download these things off the net.) The developer of another fork tells me he plans to do something similar, making users “fend for yourself” by making sure the code doesn’t auto-generate any keys.

Most developers I spoke to are also trying to make it clear they aren’t profiting at Nintendo’s expense. One who initially locked early access builds behind a donation page has stopped doing that, making them publicly available on GitHub instead. The leader of another project tells me nothing will ever be paywalled, and for now, there’s “strictly no donation,” either. When I ask about the Dolphin Emulator, which faced a minor challenge from Nintendo last year, I’m told it publicly exposes its tiny nonprofit budget for anyone to scrutinize. But I don’t know that these steps are enough to prevent Nintendo from throwing around its weight again, particularly when it comes to emulating the Nintendo Switch, its primary moneymaker. Since Yuzu’s shut down, a slew of other emulators left the scene. The include (as highlighted by The Verge):

– The Citra emulator for Nintendo 3DS is gone
– The Pizza Boy emulators for Nintendo Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color are gone
– The Drastic emulator for Nintendo DS is free for now and will be removed
– The lead developer of Yuzu and Citra has stepped away from emulation
– The lead developer of Strato, a Switch emulator, has stepped away from emulation
– Dynarmic, used to speed up various emulators including Yuzu, has abruptly ended development
– One contributor on Ryujinx, a Switch emulator, has stepped away from the project
– AetherSX2, a PS2 emulator, is finally gone (mostly unrelated; development was suspended a year ago)

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Xbox Series X Can Run Windows 98, Along With Classic PC Games of The Era

Alex Battaglia from the YouTube channel “Digital Foundry” was able to use the “RetroArch” software emulator to run Windows 98 on the Xbox Series X, along with several PC games of the era. “Technically, you’re supposed to be an Xbox developer to access this, and you will need to sign up to the paid Microsoft Partner program and turn on ‘Developer Mode’ for your system to activate it,” notes Pure Xbox. “In DF’s case, rather than directly playing emulated games through RetroArch, they used the program to install Windows 98 software.” From the report: Beyond the novelty of actually booting up Win98 on a modern console the channel then decided to test out some games, running through the older version of Windows. Playthroughs of Turok, Command & Conquer, Quake 2 and more were all pretty successful, although the act of loading them onto the software requires a bit of messing about (you have to create ISO files and transfer them over — sadly, Xbox’s disc drive can’t read the original discs). Of course, this wouldn’t be a Digital Foundry video without some performance comparisons, so the team did just that. The video compares hardware of the era with Xbox Series X’s emulation, and while the console often lags behind due to the fact that it’s literally emulating an entire version of Windows, and then a game on top of that, it fares pretty well overall. You can watch Digital Foundry’s video here.

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