Usable Playstation emulation

Up until now, the Playstation emulation scene was – in my opinion – in a desolate state: Emulators do exist, but they are dependant on awfully complicated to configure plugins each with its own bugs and features and none of the emulators were updated in the last two years.

Up until now, the best thing you could do was to use ePSXe with the right plugins. What you got then was a working emulation with glitches all over the place. Nothing even remotely comparable to the real thing.

And it failed my personal acceptance check: Final Fantasy 7 had severe performance problems (“slideshow” after battle and before opening the menu interface) and the blurred color animation on the start of a battle didn’t work either.

Well. I was used to the latter problem: They never worked and it was – for me – a given fact that these animations just don’t work in emulators

The other thing that didn’t work in epsxe was FFIX. You could play up to that village where they are creating these black mage robots. The emulator crashed on the airship movie after that part of the game. The workaround was to downgrade to epsxe 1.5.1 which actually worked, but IMHO that just underlines the fact that epsxe is not what I’d call working software.

I was not willing to cope with that – mainly because I own a PSOne, so I could use that. Unfortunately, it’s an european machine though and both games I own and I’m currently interested in replaying, FFIX and FFVI, are german and especially FFVI is the worst translation I’ve ever seen in a game (even the manual was bad, btw).

So, there is some incentive in getting an emulator to work: You know, getting the US versions of the games isn’t exactly hard, but playing them on a european console is quite the challenge even if the games were optained through retail channels.

Keep in mind that a) both games are no longer sold and b) I own them already albeit in the wrong language.

And today I found for the Playstation what ZSNES was compared to Snes9x back in 1995: I’m talking about the emulator pSX emulator.

Granted. The name is awfully uninventive, but the software behind that name, well… works very, very nicely:

  • No cryptic plugins needed. Unpack, run, play.
  • It’s fast. No performance problems at all on my MacBook Pro (using BootCamp)
  • It’s stable. It just does not crash on me.
  • And you know what: Even the color animations work – precisely these color animations which we were told would never work properly on PC hardware.

But I’m not finished yet: The software even is under active development! And the author is actually taking and even fixing(!) bug reports. He/She is never blaming the player for bad configurations on the emulators forum. He’s always looking into reports and often fixing the stuff reported.

It’s not Free (freedom) software. It’s Windows only. But it has one hell of an advantage over all other Playstation emulators out there: It works.

As I hinted above: This is just like SNES emulation back in 1995: You had many abandoned projects, one emulator you were told was good (Snes9x) and one that worked (ZSNES). It looks like history is once again repeating itself.

My big, heartfelt thanks to whoever is behind pSX emulator! You rock!