Nvidia's Shield is a solid, high-end streaming micro-console with the distinction of using the same Tegra X1 silicon found in Nintendo Switch - which makes the existence of a high performance Wii emulator for the system absolutely fascinating. An official project, developed by Nvidia and Nintendo in partnership, is this an early preview at how Wii and GameCube titles could be added to the Switch library? Our first look at the emulator running Super Mario Galaxy proved compelling, but follow-up analysis on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess tosses us a curve ball, in that it's unlike any other version of the game available on the market today. It's still emulation - but with very specific customisations that set this release apart from the pack.
As things stand, we only wish that more Wii-emulated titles were available for testing - and that they were easier to come by. Right now, just four games are supported - Zelda, Mario Galaxy, Punchout and New Super Mario Bros Wii - and they're only available for Shield owners in China. Nvidia and Nintendo have done a pretty thorough job in locking out the games for other Shield users: you can only access them on Chinese hardware, and without access to specific Chinese social media platforms, they're impossible to buy even if you could access the appropriate store on Western Shield hardware.
Having overcome the availability issue by importing a Chinese console, we're now getting a sense of how much thought and effort has gone into this Nvidia/Nintendo collaboration. Super Mario Galaxy had full, localised Chinese text, perhaps suggesting that the developers are doing more than simply wrapping an emulator around the existing binary. Zelda: Twilight Princess goes much further - yes, there's the same localisation effort (obviously on a much larger scale for an RPG) but the game itself is a curious amalgamation of both Wii and GameCube versions, with one or two bespoke flourishes.