Cemu 1.22.6c running on Windows 10
|Initial release||October 13, 2015|
1.22.6c / February 12, 2021
1.22.7 / February 23, 2021
|Operating system||64-bit Windows 7 and above|
|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 1920 by 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 60fps, higher than the games native 30fps 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 ire from other emulation developers. Compared to Dolphin Emulator, a clean-room open source reverse-engineered emulator, potentially helping the project avoid lawsuits from Nintendo, Cemu is a closed source emulator so it is unknown if Console SDKs, leaks, or other illegal information was used to aid in the development of the emulator. Byuu, the creator of Higan, condemned the decision for Cemu to be closed source as they argued that Cemu benefitted from the work of previous emulators without contributing back.
Furthermore, it was one of the first commercial emulators to use Patreon for its funding. Pierre Bourdan, a Dolphin developer, disagreed with its commercial status as he worried that there could be incentives to improve emulation of desired games or focus on bug fixes from high donors.
- RPCS3, the first PlayStation 3 emulator
- Citra, the first Nintendo 3DS emulator
- List of video game console emulators
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- 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.
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