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Dolphin Progress Report: August and September 2019

Earlier this month, an interesting development within the Wii reverse engineering scene was announced as Fullmetal5 revealed that they had hacked the Wii Mini via a Bluetooth exploit. This bookends a flurry of a Wii Mini hacking, including rigorous hardware modding by DeadlyFoez. You may be wondering, "Wait, wasn't the Wii hacked over a decade ago?". That's true, but the Wii Mini stubbornly remained unhacked all the way into 2019.

This resiliency came from the Wii Mini's cut down nature: it physically lacks the attack vectors that were used against the original Wii. In total, the Wii Mini was missing GameCube support, with no GameCube controller ports or Memory Card slots, lacked internet and browser support, and they completely removed the SD card slot. With so few attack surfaces, hackers have had to get inventive. DeadlyFoez created "FrankenWiis", mixing Wii Mini hardware and standard Wii hardware, to create exploit options and dump the Wii Mini firmware. This was as far as anyone could go, until Fullmetal5 found the holy grail: an exploit in the standard Wii Mini configuration, through the Bluetooth stack! This exploit completely opens the Wii Mini, allowing for arbitrary code execution to dump and/or load data over the Wii Mini's USB ports. The exploit is currently not public, but when it is released, users will be able to run homebrew on the Wii Mini just like any other Wii console, without any hardware mods. If you're interested at all in the Wii Mini and its many differences, feel free to checkout some of DeadlyFoez's videos of their efforts. It's a very strange little machine.

Update: During the writing of this article, the exploit was released!.

With the Wii Mini Menu dumped, the main question for us was... does it run in Dolphin?

The Wii Mini Wii Menu running in Dolphin!
Here is a normal Wii Menu for comparison. The Wii Mini lacks the Wii Shop, all internet channels, and the SD Card.

The answer is yes! In addition to that, Fullmetal5 also adjusted Dolphin to correctly detect Mini Wii Menu versions. While there isn't much practical use for running this cut down Wii Menu in Dolphin, it was exciting to finally see one of the last unhacked pieces of Wii hardware fall. We'd like to wholeheartedly thank everyone involved for their efforts toward Wii hacking and preservation.

With that out of the way, we have a few changes of our own to go through. While the end of the summer was a bit slow, there are still some essential fixes for several popular games and finally EFB Access is working correctly on Adreno devices... at least in Vulkan. Let's jump into August and September's Notable Changes without further delay!

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Dolphin Progress Report: June and July 2019

As seems to be happening annually, due to a short summer lull, we decided to combine the June and July Progress Reports. As you may have noticed, we're a few days into August at this point and things ended up running a bit late. That's actually a consequence of how we do these Progress Reports - we sometimes will go through big changes, test them, and get developer input on how they work in order to better explain them. In late July, a mixture of late changes, unexpected behaviors, and an extremely subtle game bug forced us to delay things while we sorted everything out. In this case, the end result didn't actually affect Dolphin, but does make for a better read as everything finally came full circle.

While we apologize for things being late, we do have a rather wide variety of changes that hit over the last two months to make this Progress Report extremely well-rounded. Whether you're looking for GUI updates, Android, fixes to ancient bugs, and even one feature inspired by a developer who saw Dolphin being used during Summer Game's Done Quick!

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Dolphin Progress Report: May 2019

The past few months have been quite hectic with a slew of gigantic changes requiring lengthy articles alongside them. These big features all hitting together seems to have brought up a talking point in the community would be irresponsible to ignore. Everyone wants to know when Dolphin 6.0 is coming. After all, Dolphin 5.0 launched nearly three years ago and lacks features like Ubershaders, Bluetooth Passthrough, Hybrid XFB, Emulated Motion Plus... the list goes on. Unfortunately, we have to announce that we aren't especially close to a release right now.

A release build is about more than just having exciting features, it's meant to be stable, reliable, and highly compatible. Since Dolphin 5.0, there have been a lot of minor and major regressions that haven't been fully worked out yet. Whether it's a game like Ed, Edd, & Eddy: The Mis-Edventures hanging on a loading screen or audio being broken in Resident Evil 2. There are dozens, if not over a hundred of these little issues that just take time and effort to address. Some of these issues are close to being resolved while others haven't even been investigated yet.

All we can ask of users is to continue using the latest development builds, continue reporting bugs, and be patient with the next release. With that out of the way, it's time to get to this May's Notable Changes. As always, users who want to try these features can download the latest development builds on the download page or use the auto-updater to get a new dev build every month automatically. Enjoy.

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Dolphin Progress Report: February and March and April 2019

The last few months have been absolutely hectic, with several long-awaited features hitting the emulator all at once. In order to keep users up to date with these major changes, the blog staff has been busy with feature article after feature article. It has been exciting, but also pretty exhausting! With us burning the candle at both ends to keep up with development, the Progress Reports have fallen a bit behind.

So here were are, bleary eyed and with three months worth of changes to go through. So without further delay, let's go through February, March, and April's Notable Changes! Please enjoy while we go collapse in the corner.

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Mastering Motion: The Journey to Emulate MotionPlus

Your eyes are not deceiving you, MotionPlus emulation is finally here. In a dramatic return to the project after a long hiatus, Billiard returned to the project with the goal of cleaning up emulated Wii Remotes and implementing emulated MotionPlus correctly once and for all. These efforts have greatly improved Dolphin's ability to create motions that games can recognize without the need for real Wii Remotes. The key behind these improvements was thinking about motions differently, by treating an emulated Wii Remote as a virtual object acting out these motions, ...

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Dolphin Progress Report: November and December 2017

After the massive Hybrid XFB article that hit late November, we at the blog staff went into a bit of a hibernation. But after a short holiday break, we're back and ready for more. Before we get to the rest of November and December's changes, make sure you check out the absolutely massive Hybrid XFB article and the accompanying video.

With both Ubershaders, Hybrid XFB, and many of the other targeted features for the next release merged, a lot of users have started wondering when our next release will be announced. The answer to that is not soon. With these huge changes have come a lot of frustrating and annoying regressions that can't easily be solved without a lot of work. If we enter a feature freeze to work on those regressions, we'd be stagnating Dolphin and delaying the other large new features that are still being worked on without any guarantee that the regressions will be sorted out.

So for now, the plan is to just keep moving and wait for a better opportunity to start the release process.

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To the Screen with Hybrid XFB

Dolphin has been around for over 14 long years at this point. Goals, expectations and standards have shifted quite a bit since the beginning. At one point, just booting a game at all was good enough, regardless of what you would see or hear! Compatibility has gone from a few select titles to almost every game released across two consoles. Considering all of that, it should be no surprise that some solutions that worked in the past slowly came to be a burden going forward. In this case, we're talking about ...

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Dolphin Progress Report: September 2017

While an emulator's primary job is to emulate, there's usually a lot more that goes into a good emulator. For Dolphin, it may feel like a lot of work has gone toward luxury features and optimizations rather than improving accuracy and compatibility. For example, Ubershaders is a wonderful, game-changing feature, but it can't fix any bugs in emulation. With another of those huge features on the brink, it's important to highlight that no one has forgotten about Dolphin's weaknesses - it's just getting harder to fix them. Most of the games that no longer work in Dolphin either require better timings (which slow emulation and need to be hardware tested,) or rely on undocumented behaviors that have to be painstakingly sought out, rather than stumbled upon.

Case in point, fixing one of those cases could require weeks of devotion and every development tool in our arsenal just to locate the bug. With Red Steel, developers ended up having to reverse engineer why an engine bug affected Dolphin but not the Wii.

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Dolphin Mega Progress Report: July and August 2017

July and August have been busy on the blog. On top of working on this Mega Progress Report, two feature length articles had to be made after developers selfishly merged several huge, highly anticipated features without considering that it makes work for us here at the blog! Well, the extra work-load is well worth having the incredible Ubershaders and support for Dragon Quest X!

But even beyond those two massive articles, we've been hard at work keeping up with everything else going on because this is going to be a big one. Adding to that someone on the blog staff thought this month of all months would be a good idea to try and harness the power of the blog to get extra testing on some old issues. So buckle up, this is going to be a long read!

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Dolphin Progress Report: January 2017


Sometimes, it's easy to forget how much work there is left to do on a refined emulator. While the rush of getting a new game to boot or discovering a crazy feature hidden within an obscure gem never gets old, those moments do tend to get further and further apart as accuracy increases. As if to defy fate itself, excitement reigned over the month of January as a plethora of ancient bugs were fixed and many unbootable titles finally saw their day of reckoning come to be!

Among the new recruits are the final Virtual Console game, a massive Wii MMO that installs itself to USB, two games where we're almost certain the developers purposefully put code in to defeat Dolphin, and two channels developed by the remnants of Factor 5.



This is a massive Progress Report, so buckle up and enjoy this month's Notable Changes.

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