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One of the big debates in the world of eighth-gen gaming centers around the limitations of today's game consoles not being able to properly hit 60fps in certain key game titles. Well, in the world of emulation the Dolphin emulator has managed to stomp out the arguments by enabling gamers to retroactively get games capped at 30fps to run at 60fps.
Over on the official Dolphin website, they offer a breakdown on how some gifted programmers managed to hack, slice and dice together a patch that enables the Dolphin to emulate Wii and GameCube games beyond the hard locked frame-rates that the games ran at when they originally released for Nintendo's consoles.
As mentioned by JMC47, a programmer on the Dolphin emulation project...
“While an emulator can't do much on its own to increase the framerate of a game, one of our users, ehw, believed that it would be possible to modify the game to run at a higher framerate. Mixed with the enhancements in Dolphin, ehw modified Super Mario Sunshine to run at 60 FPS without doubling the speed of the game!”
That last line is the most important. A lot of times it's possible to get games to run at 120fps, but there's a major issue of the sound, controls and actual game mechanics being sped up as well. It's literally taking the entire game simulation and just doubling or tripling the speed while the engine parameters are still set at the original speeds. In result, you have games that play like they're in fast-forward mode. This is one of the problems that occurred when modders tried fixing Need for Speed Rival's 30fps hard-lock on PC when they tried speeding up to 60fps. They had to increase the game time simulation and the engine simulation to match the 60fps bump. Otherwise, with the game sim running at 60fps and the engine sim running at 30fps, it just doubled the game's speed without actually increasing the engine runtime frame-rate, which resulted in the game breaking.
In the case of the Dolphin emulator, ehw patched it so that the game simulation runs proper at 60fps, as evidenced in the video below (which is probably not very good evidence since YouTube compresses the frame-rate down to 30fps anyway).
Amazingly, the modders were able to bypass the hard-lock and get the game running at 60fps with the hacks.
Now for the sad news: it's not a simple flip-switching hack. You will need to get quite a few patches to get it working right and it will also require a level cheat.
JMC47 further mentioned...
“Depending on the value of the patch, you can get a near perfect 60 FPS hack where the game is completable, or an even smoother variant that breaks certain stage portals. There is also a 120 FPS hack for those with high framerate monitors and T.V.s, but it breaks things just like the smoother variant of the 60 FPS hack. Super Mario Sunshine is an absolute joy to play at 60 FPS, and fans of the game should truly enjoy the work put forth.”
There's also some additional patches for Pikmin as well, enabling players to exceed the game's 30fps mark on the GameCube rendition and hit that almighty Holy Grail of 60fps.
However, it too requires some hacks to get the sound working properly at the 60fps mark without inconsistency.
That's kind of the beauty of emulation: it allows tinkerers and modders to explore options with various classic games that weren't possible when they originally released on the home consoles. Some hackers are already working on cracking the Wii U's Gamepad and other programmers are still hard at work on getting the PS3 emulator to work properly.
The Dolphin emulator is currently available but you'll need a decent rig if you want to make good use of the 60fps hacks for Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Pikmin and a few other GameCube and Wii titles.