How to Play Gamecube Games on Your Computer (Dolphin)

The Nintendo Gamecube is the successor to the hugely successful Nintendo 64. The console would be a platform that improved the graphics of 3D games overall – a concept that became the norm just one system generation ago. In this guide, we show you how you can play these games on your computer using the Dolphin emulator.

The first thing we need is the Dolphin emulator. For that, we can go to the Dolphin emulator website and download it from the downloads page. We note that this emulator is available across many platforms, but the main platform is Windows as the other stable ports seem to be a version or two behind the latest version.

Once downloaded, run the executable to install the emulator. After this, find a convenient place on your hard drive for all your Gamecube needs and create a folder for it. Once you create a folder, go into this folder. I personally chose to create a shortcut to the executable for the emulator, but this is optional. Next, create a folder that will house all of the CD images of the games you have.

Now, open the emulator.

Dolphin_1

The first thing we need to do is configure our Gamecube controls. For that, we can simply click on the GCPad on the toolbar. You’ll get a screen like this:

Dolphin_2

To change a key, simply click on a button and type in the button that you want for that particular button on your virtual controller. When done, type in the name of this particular configuration under profile and click Save. Some games will be easier to play with a different configuration and you may need to create multiple profiles meant for different kinds of games. When you are done, click on the “OK” button.

Dolphin_3

The next thing we need to do is point the emulator to your ISO folder. For that, simply click on the “File” drop-down menu and click on “Browse for ISOs…”

From there, just browse to your ISO directory and choose that directory by clicking on it and pressing “OK”. If you do not see ISOs appearing, click on the “Refresh” button to refresh the list. If the ISOs still do not appear, make sure the ISOs are not in their own directories. It seems that, by default, Dolphin does not read sub-directories.

From there, you can either double-click on a game in your emulator to start it or click on a game and press the play button in the tool bar to start it. This will open a separate window for the game itself. You can use controls from the first emulation screen to affect the game. When you are done playing, you can use the stop button on the first screen.

To save a state, use Shift+[F1 – F8] (each F key between 1 and 8 is it’s own save slot). To load a state, just hit F1-F8 to load a respective save state. This option can be accessed in “Emulation” and the two options on the button of the menu, but only when a game is actually running.

Like almost every other emulator out there, emulation isn’t going to be perfect for every single game. To find out which game is fully compatible or not, check out the official compatibility list on the Dolphin website.

That’s it!

Happy gaming!

Note: This emulator can also emulate Wii games, but this guide simply covers the Gamecube part of this emulator. If you want, you can check out our Wii guide which uses this very emulator! Much of the information is similar to what you see here, but worth checking out anyway.


36 Comments

  • Brynn says:

    Can you tell me were I can get [redacted] ISO because all the files I download are rar files. I’ve tried [redacted], [redacted] and even the [redacted]!Please help!

    Thanks

  • sima says:

    Hi I need help downloading super Mario sunshine on to dolphin

  • alfavhunter says:

    i downloaded a RAR for [game name removed] ROM on [website removed] and it doesn’t seem to work even after i installed WinRAR, was this a bad website? if so which would you recommend for the instal of it?

    thanks

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Did you extract the ISO/IMG/[other format] from the RAR archive first before trying to play it? If not, you have to extract the file from the compressed archive and open the uncompressed file in the emulator.

      If you did this already, you might want to try another rip.

  • Brandon says:

    Hello I downloaded the emu. Successful I just seem to have a rough time getting games to play I have both 7-zip and rar and extracted all files and still nothing

    • Drew Wilson says:

      That’s weird. You should be able to load the games through the emulator. There aren’t too many games that are completely unplayable, but just in case, you can check your game against the compatibility list here: https://dolphin-emu.org/compat/

      In that list, you can click on the game you are having problems with and seeing if there are settings you need to configure. It’s been my experience that you don’t need to tinker too much with the emulator though as default settings at least allow the game to run.

  • Nichole says:

    Well, i can get it running, but it wont respond to my keys even when i put it into the gcpad spot. I am utterly befuddled, and i would really like to play the games i’ve managed to get thus far, but apparently i cannot.

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Are you able to save the gamepad profile somewhere? If so and loading it back in is not fixing the problem, then I wonder if you’ve just installed the emulator into the program files folder. That is known to cause problems since some Windows OS’s (i.e. Vista, 7, 8, etc.) have restrictions on those folders (like write protections). If that’s the case, you’ll need to install the emulator somewhere else. The latter problem is what caused a vast majority of the problems when I was testing this and installing it in my own custom folder solved a vast majority of the problems I encountered.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

  • anjan says:

    Ii have DVD of [title removed] it is rar .size 4.32gb how I open it

    • Drew Wilson says:

      To open a rar file, you can either download 7zip (free) or Winrar (has a free demo, but nags you to purchase a license).

    • AnnieM says:

      The best extraction tool I have ever used is called Extract Now – it’s a tiny totally free program that has been able to open just about anything I’ve thrown at it: .RAR, .ZIP, .7z, etc. And, no nagging like WinRar does.

  • Game guru says:

    All is well hihi…..

  • wiz says:

    dolpin emulator does it require special specs for pc

  • fstmanvid says:

    get back to in messages

  • Kat says:

    So, I have tried to get five different roms to work on different GCN emulators including Dolphin. They were .7z files and I changed them to .iso, as many online guides said to do. However, NONE of the emulators can find them still. I have moved them back and forth, downloaded copies, and extract them. I have no problem with any other rom or emulator then the GCN. What should I do? I did as it said here, so please don’t repeat what’s already typed, like so many websites do.

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Files in .7z archives need to be extracted. Simply changing the extension will not work. If you don’t have an archiving software that extracts the file from a 7zip file, you can download this software: http://www.7-zip.org/

      A .7z is essentially a kind of file compression. What happens is that someone compresses the file using the .7z format. This makes the file smaller to both save on disk space and on bandwidth. The .7z file itself won’t likely be readable by the emulator itself, though, so you need to decompress it first before it can be readable by the emulator.

      • Kat says:

        I have actually tried that recently, but 7-zip will not let me extract over 890mb without buying the program first, and I have nomoney or way to do so.

        • Kat says:

          It also says that it “works with CD images obly”. What dkes this mean? Please forgive me, for I am not very computer savvy.

  • Kat says:

    Ignore all my idiocy before. I somehow installed a different program O.o 7-Zip would download on the computer I transfer everything from(My Laptop can’t use internet anymore, so ot’s just for games) and I ended up becoming completely blind to the text “AlltoISO” somehow. 7-zip definitely helped. Can play my favs now, since my Wii got broken ♥

  • samuel says:

    it does not work

  • DaShawn Brandt says:

    I am so confused at how to download any games, i need like a step by step how to download kind of thing from Dolphin otherwise I’m frustrated and just can’t figure this out and i want to play soooo many games.

  • Tilani Taliarin says:

    Hello, um.. can I ask you something please? I have downloaded the Dolphin emulator to my computer. . But it appears that I need some or a kind of WinRAR? it says that it needs WinRAR or something like that… and yup, I did have the game as an ISO and not as RAR or ZIP..

    Thanks for your time!

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Hi there,

      .rar files need to be extracted. You can extract those files using either by getting the Winrar program (which can give you nag screens) or you can extract .rar files using 7zip which is a free open source archive program. Hope that helps!

  • Cameron Ackley says:

    I can’t even download the emulator I click it and my computer starts loading and then nothing happens I check my downloads and nothing with the emulator is there. This is really pissing me off.

  • Squash says:

    I’m so confused. I downloaded the WinRAR and the 7zip and I can’t figure out how to play the game. The game is a 7zip file and the emulator is Dolphin 5.0. Please help

  • Teddy Washington says:

    The dolphin emulator works as well as the games, however the frame rate drops very often especially on popular games such as smash bros and mario kart, how can I keep a constant FPS on the emulator? Thanks!

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Dropped framerate is often the result of having a computer that is unable to handle the processes necessary to emulate the games in question. If you are attempting this on an older computer, that could very well be the reason. Emulating this particular generation of consoles is very resource intensive – especially if you are doing this on, say, a laptop. If you are emulating on a laptop, definitely beware of heating issues because stuff like this can really heat things up and potentially compromise the lifespan of said laptop.

      If this is not the reason, there may be a way to open up more resources for the emulator to use, but that is something I have not looked into myself.

      Hope that is at least somewhat helpful.

  • mack keener says:

    how do you play it idiots suck my balls

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