Dolphin now has native GameCube controller support with Wii U adapter

Dolphin Gamecube Adapter

Wii U owners were overjoyed when Nintendo announced the USB GameCube controller adapter for Super Smash Bros. Wii U. After using the GameCube controller for Smash Bros. for 13 years, it just feels right, you know? Great as that adapter is for Wii U owners, it’s even more significant for PC gamers who play Nintendo games on their gaming rigs using the Dolphin GameCube and Wii emulator.

A few days after the adapter was released, programmers managed to reverse-engineer it to work on PC. But now the latest builds of Dolphin have native support for the adapter, making GameCube controllers plug-and-play easy. Thanks to Nintendo’s adapter, Dolphin now has perfect 1:1 GameCube controller mapping. To my knowledge, that’s a first for a PC emulator.

The Dolphin progress report for December goes into a bit of detail about the native support for the adapter, crediting Dolphin programmer skidau with the contribution.

It also provides a link to the setup page, which explains how to get the adapter working with Dolphin. Once you go through the setup process, plug in a controller and it’ll be automatically calibrated correctly, with working rumble and hot-plugging (plugging and unplugging the controller while playing). And yes, the wireless Wavebird controller works. So do the bongos used for DK Jungle Beat and Donkey Konga.

My favorite bit of the progress report uses F-Zero GX’s controller calibration tool to compare the accuracy and dead zones of various GameCube controller implementations. No surprise--it’s the best option, beating out a calibrated Xbox 360 controller and the Mayflash GameCube to USB adapter, which predated Nintendo’s official adapter.

Gamecube Adapter Dolphin Dead Zones

If you've never tried Dolphin before, now's a great time. The emulator has gotten much, much faster in the past year; I wrote about why a few months ago.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).