In a startling turn of events, the curtain has fallen on the once-prominent Yuzu emulator for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s heavy-handed legal action has forced the project to shutter, leaving emulation enthusiasts reeling. However, the saga has taken an unexpected twist as a flurry of clones and alternatives, defiantly emerging from the fallout, signal a new chapter in the emulation scene.

Nintendo’s lawsuit, alleging Yuzu’s complicity in widespread piracy, has dealt a severe blow to the project. The developers, faced with the daunting prospect of protracted legal battles and hefty fines, chose to capitulate. In a settlement that saw Tropic Haze LLC, the company behind Yuzu, agreeing to pay a staggering $2.4 million to Nintendo, the emulator’s demise seemed inevitable. Tropic Haze was also the company that made Citra, a Nintendo 3DS emulator. The 3DS hasn’t been manufactured since September 16, 2020, and the Nintendo eShop officially shut down on March 27, 2023.

The legal complexity of this issue stems from the fact that while emulators themselves are not inherently illegal, the necessity of proprietary firmware and keys enters murky legal waters regarding the acquisition of these files from a console, even if one owns it. This dilemma mirrors past challenges faced by developers of the first PlayStation emulators, which relied on the PlayStation BIOS image for booting, yet largely evaded legal repercussions. What appears to have triggered Nintendo’s legal offensive in this case is the perception that Yuzu developers embraced the copyright infringement (often inaccurately termed ‘piracy’) aspect, thereby providing Nintendo’s legal team with sufficient grounds for aggressive legal action.

The demise of Yuzu sent shockwaves through the emulation community, but rather than conceding defeat, defiance has become the order of the day. Clones and spin-offs, bearing names like Suyu and Sudachi, have sprung up like mushrooms after a storm. While some merely serve as a testament to internet culture’s propensity for defiance, others boast dedicated development teams with aspirations to carry the torch forward.

The Streisand Effect has come into play with remarkable potency, as Nintendo’s attempt to suppress emulation has only fueled its proliferation. Screenshots circulating online proudly showcase games running on these new emulators, a bold rebuke to Nintendo’s efforts to stifle emulation. Peach Showtime, a game leaked prior to its official release, now finds itself featured prominently in emulation demonstrations, serving as a potent symbol of resistance.

The proliferation of Yuzu clones underscores a broader truth: emulation is here to stay. Despite Nintendo’s best efforts, the allure of playing Switch games on alternative platforms remains strong. The community’s resilience in the face of legal adversity speaks volumes about the demand for such solutions.

However, amidst the defiance and proliferation, a curious revelation has emerged, further compounding Nintendo’s embarrassment. Videos demonstrating Yuzu running on the Nintendo Switch itself, and outperforming the native gaming experience, serve as a poignant reminder of the limitations inherent in proprietary platforms. Internet culture, with its knack for subversion, has once again found a way to circumvent barriers, turning what should be a setback for Nintendo into a moment of reckoning.

The difference is likely that the emulator is not including any of the other tasks that normally run on the Nintendo Switch all the time, like the routines that support the Capture button. It keeps a rolling capture of the last 30 seconds of gameplay so that you can record short clips or screenshots of the game you’re currently playing, and there is absolutely no way to turn this off. This one task alone could be responsible for the difference.

What will happen to these other emulators? Nintendo obviously can’t play whack-a-mole forever, and nobody has yet taken them all the way through the litigation process to beat back Nintendo’s idea that emulation equals piracy.

As the dust settles on the demise of Yuzu and the emergence of its clones, one thing is abundantly clear: attempts to suppress emulation are futile in the face of determined community resilience. Nintendo may have struck a blow, but the emulation scene refuses to be silenced, proving once again that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Download Sudachi

Sudachi is a leading competitor to Yuzu, shares much of the original’s code, currently has builds for Android and Windows, and can be downloaded on the official github page here. Linux and Mac OS build instructions are likely on their way, but don’t hold your breath.

Citra Fork “Lemonade”

Citra may have been squashed, but it lives on for now as a code fork called Lemonade. They have just acquired new developer help, and the project is available on GitHub.


SCIFI Radio Staff
SCIFI Radio Staff is listener supported sci-fi geek culture radio, and operates almost exclusively via the generous contributions of our fans via our Patreon campaign. If you like, you can also use our tip jar and send us a little something to help support the many fine creatives that make this station possible.