Play Super Mario and Zelda In Glorious High Res With AMD FSR On Latest Yuzu Emulator

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Super Mario Odyssey, downscaled from 4K.

To legally play console games in an emulator on a PC, you have to own both the game and the required hardware, which might leave some folks scratching their heads as to why you would even bother. Just play that games on the real hardware, right?

Of course, PC gamers know that there are a plethora of reasons one would prefer to play in an emulator. Beyond obvious things like save-states and speed-running tools, and even beyond less-obvious perks like the myriad control configurations that emulators allow, these hardware-spoofing applications usually give PC gamers the ability to beautify their favorite titles in ways that the original hardware never could.

Such is the case with the latest update to the Yuzu emulator, which brings Nintendo Switch games to Windows and Linux PCs. Its most recent early access update brings the long-awaited "Project ART" to its community of "yuz-ers." Project ART, simply stated, was a project to bring resolution scaling to the emulator. With it in place, gamers playing on the emulator can run their games at increased resolution relative to what the game's programmed for, or even decrease resolution to reduce the demands on their graphics cards.

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity downscaled from 5K

It probably doesn't even bear mentioning that, even in an emulator, the GPU built into the Nintendo Switch's Tegra SoC needs relatively little horsepower to emulate; almost any recent GeForce or Radeon has more than enough GPU grunt. In fact, this writer has even tested a Ryzen 5 5600G's integrated graphics and found it perfectly serviceable. As such, most PC gamers will likely find that they can crank up the resolution on their favorite Switch game by double or more with no real performance impact.

That's not to say that it's necessarily a click-and-go option, though. As ever, console games are created and intended to run only on certain, specific hardware. Because of that, many Switch games have hard-coded values for shader or texture resolution that break when you start scaling the render resolution. One perfect example is Paper Mario: The Origami King, which totally breaks when attempting to upscale due to its extensive use of compute shaders for output.

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Super Mario Odyssey in 5K is gorgeous.

If you don't have the horsepower for upscaling—or if your game breaks when attempting it—there's another part of Project ART that you can lean on to improve visuals a touch. Besides the native resolution scaling option, the Yuzu team also implemented a few different "window adaptation filters." Essentially, these are scaling algorithms that the emulator can use to scale the image from its native render resolution—usually 1280×720 or 1920×1080—to your window resolution.

Included among the familiar scaling filters (like bilinear filtering, bicubic sharpening, and Gaussian blending) is AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution, or FSR. Regular readers of HotHardware will probably be familiar with FSR, but just in case, it's a special scaling filter that combines Lanczos scaling with AMD's own Contrast Adaptive Sharpening to produce surprisingly nice-looking results with limited input resolution. Using it to scale Switch games from 1280×720 all the way to 3840×2160 produces a reasonably sharp image with impressive texture detail given the low input resolution.

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The brand-new Metroid: Dread, downscaled from 8K!

All of this is pretty great, so there has to be a catch -- and there is: Project ART is currently only available in Early Access builds of Yuzu, which are only available to the project's Patreon patrons. The good news is that it only costs $5 to join to Yuzu's Early Access program. You can head over to the Yuzu blog post to read about the update and see some nice side-by-side comparisons, or head over to their Patreon to support further Switch emulator development.