GameCube games on Switch: Will the Nintendo Switch ever support GameCube games?

How possible is it to see GameCube games on Nintendo Switch? Here’s the situation as it is right now, and some speculation on what the future could hold for GameCube on Switch.

by Daryl Baxter

Backwards-compatibility with games from the previous consoles of Nintendo has always been a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey situation. And the situation with GameCube games on Switch is no exception.

With the Switch Online app serving up NES and SNES games aplenty, with new releases every few months, eyes have slowly been drifting as to what other games could appear on the service (and on the console at large).



We spoke before of N64 games coming to the Switch, both officially and unofficially, but the GameCube era of Nintendo has always been an intriguing concept, especially as there’s already been proof of the console being able to run both consoles at full speed.

With that, let’s go into how GameCube games could be possible on the Switch…

A Flipper Moment

Being able to play GameCube games other than the console itself was made possible in 2003 through an emulator called Dolphin.

After some false-starts and transfer of ownership, it became open-source in 2008, and since then, it’s thrived to become one of the most accurate applications for mimicking a console.

But even though this can be used to have games run in a 5K resolution and even have some games modded to use keyboard and mouse controls such as Metroid Prime, the allure of being able to play these games on the go has remained, and that’s why hopes have always been a constant of GameCube games running on Switch.

READ MORE: Playing N64 games on PC – will it ever be official?

A Hylian Shield Effort

We need to go a bit forward here first, and look to the Nvidia Shield. We have spoken of this device before, and it features the same ‘Tegra’ CPU chip that is also in the Switch. But what’s surprising, is that there are two games on this device that have been sanctioned by Nintendo, due to the deal both companies made.

Super Mario Galaxy and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, New Super Mario Bros Wii and Punch Out all run on an official ‘Wii emulator’ on this device, and at a 1920×1404 higher resolution, all at full speed.

The result of this shows the games looking fantastic, with crisp textures and even the motion controls that were present in some games, now relegated to a joystick on the Shield.

As the GameCube and Wii share almost the exact same hardware, this is almost an open secret that Nintendo and Nvidia have had for two years now.

READ MORE: Best retro consoles to buy in 2020

Of course, at the time of these games being released, the Switch was only a year into its release, with NES games barely a possibility for an official release at the time.

But now, with it being three years in, and with NES and SNES games on the Online service, it seems like it’s time for certain games to come to the Switch.

There have been rumours of some Mario games being remastered to mark its 35th anniversary, with games such as Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy coming to the Switch, and it makes us wonder if these will be ports, or an emulator, similar to the Shield.

Our guess would be, especially for the Wii and GameCube, would be that the emulator route would be most likely. But why?

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GameCube Games on the eShop

Well, it’s already been proven that games can run on the Tegra chip, and in turn, on the Switch, so there’s no danger of major compatibility issues or slowdowns.

The Online service has now come to a slight T-junction; to see whether N64 games can come to it, or if an ‘N64 Classic Console’ will be first.

So Wii and GameCube games, we can see them appearing as separate games to purchase on their own through the eShop. The size of a game can be 700MB minimum, and the Online Service has all the games from NES and SNES in the individual apps already when you download it.

If there was an option to do the same for a GameCube service with twenty games to play, you’d need to transfer some games to your memory card in order for the app to just fit on the internal space of the Switch.

So to have the games separate, in its own section on the eShop, could be a tantalising thought. They could be easily manageable space-wise, and if there was any issue found with a certain game, an update could be brought out to that game only.

All in all, GameCube games on the Switch will be possible, and it’s already been proven to run perfectly with the emulator on the NVIDIA Shield.

It’s simply a matter of ‘when’ for Nintendo, and what games will be released. Watch this space, folks! Or should we say, watch this Super Mario Galaxy?

READ MORE: Nintendo Switch Pro could have two screens?!

Daryl Baxter