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The best GameCube emulators for most platforms

It's worth it just for Metroid Prime, to be honest.

Published onJanuary 8, 2024

Dolphin Emulator Google Play
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The Nintendo GameCube launched more than 20 years ago, back in 2001. It has plenty of classic games, including Mario Kart Double Dash, Tales of Symphonia, Super Mario Sunshine, Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Of course, many of those games aren’t available on modern consoles, so your only choice to play them today is emulation. With that in mind, here are the best GameCube emulators for most platforms.

At this time, Dolphin Emulator is the overall best GameCube and Nintendo Wii emulator. It's available for PC, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. OpenEmu and RetroArch also use Dolphin for their GameCube plug-ins on macOS. Thus, Dolphin is the one we recommend first. We have a guide to installing and using Dolphin Emulator if you need it.

Best overall: Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin Emulator Super Mario Sunshine
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

What we like:

  • Very good game compatibility, with over 95% of games either perfect or playable.
  • Works well on PC, Linux, macOS, and Android devices. It even supports modern Apple silicon and macOS versions.
  • It works well out of the box, with little configuration needed on most systems.
  • It’s free and open-source.

What we don’t like:

  • It has eaten up all of its competitors, so it’s the only real choice.
  • Linux users probably have to build it from source.

Dolphin Emulator is the best GameCube emulator for PC, Linux, and Android devices. It’s the top dog in this space by a wide margin, with most other competitors bowing out many years ago. It has excellent compatibility, good customization, and it worked fine in our testing. We tried it out on Android and PC, where it was consistently good. We especially appreciate how well it works on Android.

In any case, there isn’t much else to say here. This is your best option if your device can run it.

Best for iOS: DolphiniOS

DolphiniOS screenshot
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

What we like:

  • It’s a good emulator for iOS, a platform not known for its emulators.
  • It’s Dolphin Emulator, so it boasts the same compatibility and functionality as the other emulators on this list.
  • The emulator is in active development, so it’s improving all the time.

What we don’t like:

  • The installation process is a little rough for the technologically unsavvy.

DolphiniOS is basically Dolphin Emulator made specifically for iOS. The only part of this emulator that is tough to deal with is the installation. You’ll need to use either AltStore or a manual installation method in order to get it on your device, at least until Apple enables sideloading. From there, it works as Dolphin Emulator does on other platforms. You get the same high compatibility rate, same functionality, and same performance.

Since we’ve talked about Dolphin Emulator already in this article, we’ll spare you having to read the details a second time. Suffice it to say, this is the one you want on iOS.

Best for macOS: OpenEmu

OpenEmu GameCube screenshot
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

What we like:

  • It uses Dolphin Emulator for its GameCube support, so it has the same level of compatibility as the regular Dolphin Emulator.
  • All-in-one emulator support adds support for many other consoles.
  • Simple UI and menus make customization pretty easy.
  • It works on Apple silicon and modern macOS versions.

What we don’t like:

  • It’s a bit more finicky to set up and get going than Dolphin Emulator.

OpenEmu is a macOS-only emulator that supports various consoles. That includes many systems from Nintendo and Sony, along with some good Sega emulators as well. In practice, this works pretty well. You download your games, the emulator finds them, and you play them. The UI is pretty simple, and it’s one of those experiences where it works fine out of the box. Outside of the controls, we didn’t need to change much to get it to work. It also works on modern macOS versions along with Apple silicon, a boon if you have a newer Mac.

Best all-in-one: RetroArch

RetroArch Mario Sunshine screenshot 2023
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
  • Pricing: Free
  • Platforms: PC, Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi, and others (Downloads)

What we like:

  • It’s available on most platforms.
  • Uses Dolphin Emulator for its GameCube core, so it has the same compatibility and performance as the regular Dolphin Emulator.
  • It can emulate tons of different game consoles, making it a good all-in-one emulator for all your games.
  • It gets updated constantly, ensuring continued support and performance.

What we don’t like:

  • Usability has a learning curve.
  • A bit of a pain to install on iOS, but it’s no different from DolphiniOS.

RetroArch is arguably the best all-in-one emulator on any given platform. It uses “cores” to run a game console. You download the cores for the game consoles you want, and RetroArch plays the game. It uses Dolphin Emulator for its GameCube core, so you can expect the same compatibility and performance as the standalone version. In addition, you have the benefit of downloading other cores for other consoles, giving you access to tons of games.

In terms of day-to-day use, RetroArch has excellent performance, and it ran all of our test games with no problem. However, the UI is a little rough to learn at first if you’re not used to it. The good news is that once you learn it, it’s pretty much the same on every other platform, which is good news if you want to use other emulators on Android.