Remember how people got Breath of the Wild going on an emulator only days after it launched? It's been a few weeks, and progress on the game has come a ridiculously long way.
When Breath of the Wild launched at the start of the month, developers behind the CemU Wii U emulator fired it up and started the process of getting it working. It wasn't good at first: people got an error that crashed the game, it wasn't possible to leave the opening area without using saves, certain runes didn't work, and the game physics was glitching all over the place.
As a visual reminder, here's how Breath of the Wild ran on CemU 1.7.3:
Starting from next month, however, the situation has improved remarkably. Instead of taking maybe a whole year before the game is playable, the process might only take a few months. The latest preview build has cleaned up a ton of glitches, and while the frame rate still drops in places it's relatively consistent.
Of course, here's where things get a little awkward.
Nintendo emulators have been cool for ages because they let you do things that Nintendo never could, like playing Wind Waker in 4K, better online functionality, and generally helping to preserve a whole lot of titles that have vanished from retail existence.
But Breath of the Wild is a new game, not just on the Switch but the Wii U, and it's a very popular game. It's the kind of game you should honestly go out and buy, even if it's on the Wii U. The game preservation argument doesn't really stand up when you're talking about one of the biggest selling games of three weeks ago, and the fact that the developers are receiving more than $US22,000 a month to help make it happen.
For the past 31 years, the setting of the Legend of Zelda games has mostly stayed the same — until now. The latest game in the series, Breath of the Wild, has transformed the traditional kingdom of Hyrule into something fundamentally different to its predecessors. a world which, now more than ever, is there to be lost in.
Early in The Legend of Zelda. Breath of the Wild, I discovered a puzzle shrine containing a small maze. Inside that maze was a little ball.
On the other side, the technical accomplishment is astounding. And as anyone who has followed the Dolphin emulator project will know, getting one game to work can often uncover techniques and tricks that will make other games playable down the road, games that might otherwise be completely lost to the fabric of time. There's also the part where you can't really pick and choose what games get emulated: if you're OK with one being preserved, the logic has to extend to all of them.
For me, it's an astonishing technical feat. It'll be interesting to see how the dungeons handle when you have to drag the gamepad screen around by left and right clicking, since that's the the only way CemU can emulate gyro controls. Otherwise, I'll stick to playing on the Switch - and if you can, do yourself a favour and buy Zelda.