Emulation of Super Mario Odyssey on Apple M1 succeeded

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of Michael Miskulin
Some developers have managed to emulate the Nintendo Switch game Super Mario Odyssey on a new Apple M1 computer. The emulation is not perfect and is still too slow for smooth gaming, but it is an impressive proof of concept.

The Nintendo Switch has been able to be emulated on PCs with the Yuzu program for some time. Now emulation is also possible under macOS. Developer “Sera Tonin Brocious” has managed to start the Nintendo Switch game Super Mario Odyssey on Apple’s new M1 ARM computer. She got the Nintendo title on her MacBook Pro, which has an M1 chip, running under macOS 11.0.1.

Nintendo Switch emulation on Apple’s M1 computer: A related processor

The ARM computers from Apple work with a similar processor as the Nintendo Switch, which simplifies emulation. While an M1 processor with eight cores works inside the MacBook Pro, a Cortex-A57 processor with four cores does its work in the Switch. The switch emulator Yuzu used here uses the 3D graphics API Vulkan, which is implemented on Apple’s own graphics engine Metal with the help of MoltenVK runtime.

However, the emulation of Super Mario Odyssey is not really playable. There are a lot of graphical errors, and besides crash issues, the speed is far too slow for smooth gaming. However, it is a passable proof of concept. Since the implementation on the metal graphics engine is not yet perfect, MoltenVK is still performing too slowly. The M1 chip doesn’t help at the moment. The developers at MoltenVK want to improve this.

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The developer “Sera Tonin Brocious” is also planning a future emulation for iPhone and iPad. All that is required is approval of the Hypervisor.framework for iOS and iPadOS by Apple. “Porting would then be pretty painless,” explains the developer. Apple’s A14 processor is installed in new iPhone and iPad devices, which is related to the M1 chip and thus also to the chip on the Nintendo Switch.

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