|Initial release||October 13, 2015|
1.26.0 / December 24, 2021
1.26.1 / December 24, 2021
|Written in||C, C++|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows, Linux|
|Type||Video game console emulator|
|License||Freemium (latest version available one week early through Patreon donation)|
Cemu is a closed-source Wii U video game console emulator developed by Exzap who serves as the core and GPU developer, and Petergov as the core and audio emulation developer. It was initially released on October 13, 2015 for Microsoft Windows. Typically, the emulator updates once every two to four weeks, with Patreon supporters receiving updates a week before the public release. Though it is still under development, it is able to run certain games smoothly. It was successful at booting and running The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild soon after its release.
Designed as a proof-of-concept, the initial release of Cemu could successfully boot Mario Kart 8 and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD yet lacked Wii U GamePad support and audio and suffered from stutters and video glitches. Cemu could run on 64-bit Windows operating systems and only supported OpenGL 3.3 on release. Despite the Wii U sharing a similar name as its predecessor, the Wii, the emulator was built independently from Dolphin, a Wii emulator, as the systems only shared their CPU architecture in common. The emulator would rapidly progress from this state and increase its compatibility with the Wii U game library and add more features.
A couple of days after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released, Cemu was able to boot the game though running at a sluggish framerate, without audio, and filled with many glitches. The anticipation for emulation of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild caused the emulator's Patreon to increase monthly donations to $7,400 per month and later $22,317 per month. Developers of Cemu expected that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would be playable with only a few months worth of work, and had a rudimentary version of the game's tutorial playable within weeks of its release. Cutscenes were made available with a community-made add-on called Cemuhook though Cemu 1.18.0 removed the need for the plugin.
The emulator has received positive reception on its ability to play Wii U games on PC at higher resolutions than 1080p, the base resolution of the console, via the usage of graphics packs. Notable games running at higher resolutions include Mario Kart 8 running in 8K resolution and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in 4K resolution. Many mods and enhancements have been developed for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In August 2017, a hack to Cemu Emulator developed by Cemu community member Xalphenos allowed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to run at 60 frames per second (FPS), higher than the game's native 30 FPS limit.
Unlike other emulators, Cemu is notably not open source. Exzap explained that it allows for quick progress and for more control of its development. However, the decision drew criticism from other emulation developers. Higan creator Byuu, later known as Near, condemned the Cemu's closed-source nature, arguing that Cemu benefitted from the work of previous emulators without contributing back. Pierre Bourdon, a Dolphin developer, also disagreed with its commercial status, expressing concern that high paying donors could influence the emulator's development team to favour certain bug fixes or games to support. In January 2022, Exzap revealed Cemu's roadmap, stating that Cemu is planned to go open source in 2022, noting that there is not currently a more precise ETA for this.
- Citra, the first Nintendo 3DS emulator
- Yuzu, popular Nintendo Switch emulator
- List of video game console emulators
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- "Wii U emulator team has huge parts of Zelda: Breath of the Wild working on PC". VentureBeat. 2017-03-23. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- Phillips, Tom (March 7, 2017). "Zelda: Breath of the Wild already up and running on PC". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
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- Becht, Eli (May 2, 2017). "'Breath of the Wild' CEMU 1.7.5 Update". Heavy.com. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- Meo, Francesco De (2020-04-06). "Wii U Emulator Cemu 1.18.0c Released; Vulkan Performance Improved For Zelda Breath of the Wild and More". Wccftech. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- "Mario Kart 8, Running At 4K". Kotaku. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- "Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Looks Awesome In 4K". Kotaku. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- Morton, Lauren (2017-11-20). "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's PC mod scene is bizarre and amazing". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- Fenlon, Wes (2017-08-18). "New Cemu emulator hack enables 60 fps in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- Fenlon, Wes (2017-03-28). "The ethics of emulation: how creators, the community, and the law view console emulators". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
- "Roadmap - Cemu Wiki". Cemu Wiki. Retrieved 2022-02-21.