Hi, Ive just written this guide to emulators for the PSP, so far only the NES part is ready for primetime but I though I would put it up and if anyone finds it usefull Ill do the rest of the platforms (if you tell me which platform you want me todo next then I will do my best to deliver) so without further ado...
[UPDATE] I doubt that most of you wil want to read through all the details so I am going to put a summary of each emu at the top of this thread to make it simple to get a brief idea of what to expect.
[UPDATE] Added my SNES emulator impressions
[UPDATE] Added GBA emulators (all of it)
[UPDATE] Added PC-Engine/TurboGraphix 16 emulators (in a second post)
Nester J 9.5/10 (this is the best emu by FAR, get this one)
Nes for psp 0.04 5/10 (not really very good at all, DONT get this one)
Famicontest (v0.31) 6/10 (also not very good, AVOID)
The Nes emulation is pretty much perfect (already!) if you run at 222Mhz then most games run at full speed with perfect sound etc. speed up to 333Mhz and all games are taken care of.
Uo_Snes9x (V002y14) This emu is the best of the bunch but still only runs games at about 30 (half speed) frame skip helps a bit but makes the game quite choppy (see below for more details). 6/10
Snes9x for psp This is pretty much identicle to Uo_Snes9x but lacks auto frameskip setting. 5/10
Snex9x Optimised by Yoshihiro This emu ran but I couldnt get the file browser to show any roms. This meant I had no way of seeing how good it was 0/10
SNES emulation is not really ready to play games on quite yet. I think it will get there pretty soon (maybe the next few months) until then its best left for games that dont require quick reflexes such as RPG's.
VBAPSP This EMU is basically a proof of concept rather than an emulator designed to play games. 2/20
HuE 0.10 This is a pretty good emulator but some performance issues (namely sound) and some usability quirks, let it down. 7/10
PCEP V0.7 This is the one to get if you want a good PC-Engine Emu. Runs at full speed with sound and is really easy to use. Only problem is that it does not support 6 button layouts like HuE and so games like street fighter are unplayable on it.
Guide to emulators for the PSP v0.1 (Written by Evilsmevil)
A little less than 2 weeks ago a piece of software was released that allowed almost anyone with a PSP to play ‘Homebrew’ games on their handhelds. Homebrew code is anything that is not licensed by Sony to be run on their platform. With this raising of the gate many different programs have flooded onto the net promising all sorts of things! This guide is designed to give an overview of all the current emulators on the scene along with the pros and cons of each.
I will test each emulator with three ROMS from each respective system. I will then give average frame rates attained for each of the games. After this I will give an overview on the features offered by the emulator (such as state saving and clock speed options). I will then give it a score out of 10 for all those of you that like to only have to look at one number to have an opinion on something. I will group the emulators by platform starting with the most used and ending up with the more esoteric systems such as Wonderswan et al.
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
The original Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the US in August, 1985, and was an instant hit. Its graphics were far superior to any home-based console that had come before it, and it went on to sell over 60 million units worldwide.
The NES has several emulators currently available and as it is an old system it is pretty much runs all games at full speed at 222Mhz. The three games that I decided to use are
• Super Mario Bros 3: This was used as this was the most graphically intensive of the 3 and therefore all the previous versions will run just as well if not better also Mario games are probably one of the things that most people will want to play on the NES!
• Castlevania 3 Dracula’s curse: This was chosen as it is graphically intensive and will test how the emulator handles in more intensive games.
• River City Ransom: This game has fairly complicated controls (you need to press both A and B to jump, so it tests the responsiveness of the emulator and also if the PSP’s control layout is suited to the system it is emulating.
Nester J is a very accomplished emulator. It runs most games at full speed (see test results for details. Is very easy to use and has a full File browser that allows to you to select games from anywhere on the memory stick. It also has a battery meter so you know how much juice you have left. It supports loading and saving and has a very comprehensive options menu (Accessed by default with the left shoulder button) that allows you to change any option you can think of (including clock speed settings and full screen options).
Super Mario Bros 3: Mario Runs flawlessly on NesterJ and handles the game at full speed (60fps) at 222Mhz. The controls are tight and you might as well be playing it on a NES!
Castlevania 3 Dracula’s Curse: This doesn’t fare quite as well. The game will not run that well at 222Mhz but when Pushed up to 333Mhz it manages about 50fps. The game is just as responsive as Super Mario but it does feel like its running a little slowly (it is infact running at only 90% of the game speed). Still its very playable if a little plodding!
River City Ransom: This game runs pretty well On 222Mhz setting. It averages about 56/58fps Which is practically full speed, Ramp It up to 333 and everything runs perfectly. The controls are handled well and jumping (by pressing both buttons, is handled very well).
Overall NesterJ is a pretty much does everything you could ask for. It runs most games at full speed, features plenty of customisation, and lots of extra features like battery level indicators and game saves.
Final Score (out of 10): 9.5
Nes for PSP (v0.4)
This Emulator is nowhere near as good as NesterJ. It barely runs games, has little support in the way of options and lacks save support.
Super Mario Bros 3: This does not run well at all. There is no FPS monitor on NES 0.4 so this is really an estimate but the game was running at about ½ speed so about 30fps at 222Mhz Mode at 333Mhz it did better (about 50fps) and was playable but the sound was a bit patchy and slurred a bit in places.
Castlevania 3: This ran terribly! My best guess was about 5fps at 222Mhz and a little more at 333Mhz but this was completely unplayable.
River City Ransom: At 222Mhz again, this game is a lost cause, Running at about 30fps its not really playable at all. At 333Mhz the game is definitely playable but the sound is a bit slurred and its definitely not running at full speed.
In the end NES 0.4 does not turn out a great performance, At 222Mhz its unplayable and at 333Mhz is barely cuts it, When compared to NesterJ it really does not compare favourably.
Final Score (out of 10): 5
Famicontest is another rough a ready emulator that emulates NES games. It is very barebones in terms of options and settings (there are none!). The emulator is set up so that is uses a technique called Frame skipping this means that instead of rendering every frame it will skip frames in order to keep the game play speed normal. This reduces the frame rate but keeps the game at a playable speed. With the other emulators I switched this setting off to test their raw performance. This emulator has it set and you are not able to switch it off. This means that the frame rates posted are quite low but the game is quite playable (even if the graphics are quite joggy).
Super Mario Bros 3: This ran with an FPS of 12 and a FS (frame skip) of 5. At these settings the game runs at full speed but is very joggy. This makes it very tricky to play.
Castlevania 3: This is the most brutal test and it shows! This ran at a frame rate of 0 and was so slow that it almost froze the PSP!
River City Ransom: This ran at 20fps and FS 3. It was fairly playable but why play with those settings when NesterJ can run it at 60FPS?
Overall Famicontest is a very simple emulator that shows what would normally be available a few weeks after homebrew starts. It is a testament to the skill of the scenes programmers how much they have managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time!
Final Score (out of 10): 6
Famicontest is a modified version of InfoNES that has been slightly optimised therefore I thought it was pretty pointless to review InfoNES as well. It is not really intended to be used as a real emulator but really a starting point for people that want to create an emulator without having to do it all from scratch.
Final Rating (out of 10): N/A
Continuing on the Nintendo Theme, Next up are the SNES emus. There are currently 4 Emus flying around most of them based on SNES9X, a pc based emulator that has a long history of development.
Chrono Trigger – This game has very detailed graphics and still looks extremely good this is used to test how well the emulator can handle high load games.
Super Metroid – This is an old fan favourite and I am sure many of you are anxious to play know how it runs (if you missed this when it first came out you really should try it out) it is also a very good looking game and so should test the emulator to its limits!
Super Street Fighter II – Ah yes the seminal Fighting game that really got the genre started, This game relies on quick reactions (and quick input) this should test how responsive the emulators are (my thumb will be tested to destruction as well!)
Now onto the Emulators
NOTE: All the Emulators have been run at 333Mhz only as 222Mhz was not really fast enough for any of them
This is the unofficial port of Snes9x and it works pretty well. At this point in time none of the emulators can run at full speed without frameskip but its still not bad (see games for details). It has a good lineup of features (variable clock speed, save support, Sound rate settings, Frames kipping) oddly, the Auto frame skip function did not seem to work. Hopefully this will be addressed soon.
Chrono Trigger – Being an RPG this game isn’t all that reliant on a good frame rate but it still performs pretty will, Uo_Snes9x averages about 30fps and with a FS of 2 the game runs at full speed and because of the games pacing this is perfectly playable.
Super Metroid – This game does not work quite as well as CT, Unfortunately it only runs at about 17fps during combat which is just too slow for an action game, also there are several graphical oddities that you notice while playing. For instance your character will disappear for several seconds when you are damaged. Also some shots from your gun will fail to be displayed. This makes it quite hard to play the game! (by setting the FS to 3 the problems mentioned will no longer happen (Thanks Shannon!))
Super Street Fighter II – this suffers the same fate as Super Metroid, Poor FPS means that it just isn’t playable (unless you enjoy playing SF in slow motion. Another problem is that the controls really are sometimes a little sluggish. For example when moving forward you can sometimes not be able to jump forward. Jumping in general is actually pretty flaky.
Uo_Snes9x is a pretty good emulator but not really up to gaming standard quite yet. Wait a few months and things should be better.
Snes 9x .003
This Emulator runs pretty much the same as Uo_Snes9x except it has fewer options, It would be a bit pointless doing benchmarks as they are exactly the same as Uo_Snes9x.
Basically the same as Uo_Snes9x but with a few options less, still not really good enough for gaming except strategy games and games where there isn’t really any action
Snes9x Optimised by Yoshihiro
This emulator gave me a lot of trouble and I couldn’t get it to run any roms (more specifically I couldn’t get it to list any ROMs in the file explorer. I know I must have been doing something wrong but I still couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get it running at all.
So far in this stage of the development process SNES games are not really ready for prime-time, I have no doubt that as the libraries are optimised and the frame rates go up things will improve but for now SNES is really only for playing games that don’t need fast reaction times (such as RPG’s). Give it a couple of months and you will be able to play anything though!