Emulation is a great way to experience your favorite games, but without the original controller, it can feel inauthentic. Here’s how to set up Nintendo’s official peripherals in the Dolphin Wii and GameCube emulator for PC.
What You’ll Need
To use a real Nintendo GameCube controller with Dolphin, here’s what you’ll need:
- An official Nintendo GameCube Controller. While unofficial options work, they are much worse in build quality. Additionally, you might find that some controllers that look like GC pads but are actually Switch Pro Controllers.
- A USB GameCube Controller Adapter. We recommend either Nintendo’s official adapter or the MayFlash Adapter for the best results. If the adapter is wired and works with the Switch or Wii U, chances are it’ll work here, too.
- Zadig. This is the application you’ll need to get your Gamecube controller set up properly with Dolphin. Download it for free.
- A Powered USB Hub (Optional). This isn’t necessary if your laptop or desktop has free slots for both the USB cables, but is necessary if it doesn’t. For vibration to work properly and to ensure the best performance, make sure that both adapter cords are plugged in and have stable power.
To use an official Nintendo Wii Remote (Wiimote) with Dolphin, you’ll need the following:
- An official Nintendo Wii Remote, ideally with MotionPlus built-in. Third-party options are not guaranteed to work with Dolphin, even if they work on the Wii.
- A PC with a compatible Bluetooth adapter. Newer is better.
- A powered Wii sensor bar. You can use your original sensor bar plugged into a running Wii, a battery-powered Wireless sensor bar, or a USB sensor bar.
How to Set Up a Real GameCube Controller in Dolphin
First, if you’re using a non-official Adapter that offers a toggle between “Wii U” and “PC” modes, switch it to “Wii U.” Dolphin has native support for the GameCube Controller Adapter once you have installed the proper driver, so feel free to ignore the PC mode unless you wish to use the controller in other applications. If you’re using an official Switch or Wii U adapter, skip this step.
Plug in your adapter and open Zadig. If you don’t have two USB ports free or you don’t care for vibration, you don’t need to plug in the white USB cable. It is solely for providing power for vibration to the GameCube controllers.
Within Zadig, click the “Options” menu and select “List All Devices.”
Click the dropdown menu at the top of the window, find “WUP-028” in the list, and select it. This is your adapter!
Look at the “USB ID” field below the Driver box. Verify the USB ID displayed here is “0573 0337”.
Warning: If the wrong USB ID is displayed here, do not continue. Your adapter will not work and you might risk damaging it by continuing.
If everything looks correct (like the screencap below), click the box to the right of the orange arrow and select the “WinUSB” driver. Click the “Replace Driver” button to install the driver, and once that’s done, you can close Zadig!
Now that you’ve installed the replacement driver, it’s time to try it out in Dolphin.
Go ahead and open Dolphin Emulator, and click the “Controllers” button on the far right of Dolphin’s built-in toolbar.
Under the Port 1 dropdown box, click “GameCube Adapter For Wii U”, and then click “Configure.”
Note that Port 1 is the first port on the left side of the controller adapter. The port assignments in Dolphin correspond to the ones on the adapter.
If you followed this guide properly, you should see the “Adapter Detected” window. Click”OK” to continue.
If it doesn’t show up, try repeating the process with a different adapter or USB port.
How to Set Up a Real Wiimote in Dolphin Emulator
As long as your PC already has Bluetooth, setting up a Wii Remote is much simpler than using a GameCube controller. Just make sure that your sensor bar is plugged in and your Wii Remote’s batteries are charged. You should also ensure your PC’s Bluetooth is turned on.
First, click the “Controllers” button on the far right of Dolphin’s toolbar.
Now, click “Emulate the Wii’s Bluetooth Adapter,” if it is not already selected. Under the Dropdown for Wii Remote 1, also select “Real Wii Remote.”
Now, simultaneously press the 1 and 2 buttons on your Wii remote. After about 20 seconds or less, your Wii remote will connect to Dolphin. Once you’ve done this, close the “Controller Settings” window, and click the “Config” button.
Click the “Wii” tab within the Config window, then adjust “Sensor Bar” position in accordance with your Sensor Bar placement. IR Sensitivity, Speaker Volume, and Rumble can also be adjusted here, and work in the same way as they do on an actual Wii. You are now ready to play your games!
Once you’ve finished playing, you will need to manually remove a battery from your Wii Remote to power it off. Unlike with the proper Wii console, Dolphin is not able to automatically turn off your Remote, and if you forget to do it yourself, it will continue using your battery until it runs dry.
What About Passthrough or the DolphinBar?
In our testing, results with Dolphin’s Bluetooth Passthrough solution and the DolphinBar are both finicky at best and require a great deal of extra tweaking for very little extra in return. For people who aren’t already power users, we do not recommend either of these solutions.
However, if you’re interested in exploring Passthrough as an option, the Dolphin Wiki page provides instructions. It offers an extensive list of tested USB Bluetooth Adapters and a setup guide. But, due to the complexity of the process and the higher likelihood that it simply won’t work at all, we have not included that in this guide.