A couple of days ago I got the chance to see and play around with the first generation of emulators running on the PSP. It was inevitable when they gave it removable storage that could be accessed from a PC and gave the PSP the ability to run software from it, but it’s finally started happening and actually has me more excited than any of the actual retail games that are on the way for the PSP. Well…maybe not GTA.
The PC Engine emulator has more appeal to some of my friends than it does to me but it was already running at pretty much full speed, so anyone who is a fan of that particular machine might want to start tracking down a v1.0 Japanese PSP because it’s the best portable option for it thus far. Yes, even better than the PC Engine GT because it doesn’t require a magnifying glass and a ton of batteries.
The real meat and potatoes of the emulation scene will definitely be the SNES, the one that everyone always wants on any new emulation system. The first version of the Snes9x port isn’t quite full speed (probably around 80%, and far less on Super FX-intensive games like Yoshi’s Island) but has full sound support and shows the potential of what a few months of development could bring. It’s true that some SNES games have been ported to the GBA already, but this gives access to the whole library and lets you recreate the SNES control layout exactly. The prospect of being able to play Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI on the move almost has me salivating and really hoping that the shops of Japan will still have some v1.0 machines when I visit in September.
What really did amaze me was the absolutely stunning picture quality of these games on the PSP. The screen of Sony’s baby has been praised before, but seeing these games that we’re used to seeing through crappy composite connections in their full glory shows off how vivid and beautiful some of this 2D artwork is. It’s a similar jump as taking a GBA game from an original GBA to a backlit DS.
For this to really take off they need to get it working on the current PSP firmware. The number of Japanese machines which haven’t been updated to v1.5 can’t be that high, and all US and European units ship with that version preinstalled. It’s surely a matter of time, but it can’t come soon enough.