Difference between revisions of "PlayStation emulators"

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Revision as of 10:41, 28 July 2014

The Sony Playstation (PSX/PS1)

The PlayStation (known shorthand as PS1 or PSX) is a 5th generation console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment in 1994. It was a commercial success in part to being relatively easy to program for compared to others at the time, and because its CD based media was cheaper than the competition.


Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Plugins Libretro Core Accuracy Recommended
Mednafen Multi-platform High
PCSX-R Multi-platform SVN (Windows,OS X) Plugin dependent
XEBRA Windows 07/19/2014 Build High
ePSXe Windows, Linux 1.9.0 Plugin dependent
pSX Windows, Linux 1.13 Mid
NO$PSX Windows 1.9 Mid
Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Plugins Libretro Core Accuracy Recommended
WiiSX Wii, Gamecube 2.1 beta ?
POPS PSP/PS2/Vita 6.60/r12/2.60 ?
Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Plugins Libretro Core Accuracy Recommended
PCSX-ReARMed* iOS, Android r15 High
ePSXe Android 1.9.4 High
FPse Android 0.11.136 High

*Only available on mobile as a libretro core (e.g. RetroArch).



  • Mednafen PSX is an emulator focused on accuracy. It seems extremely compatible since 0.9.28WIP. Do note if you find an exception, though. Requires a minimum of a Core 2 Duo at 2 GHz clock. Mednafen itself is command line only and has no frontend. There are external frontends available. Savestates recently implemented.
  • RetroArch uses a Mednafen PSX core and includes some bonuses, such as superior synch, strong shader support and a built in frontend. Much easier to use than the standalone, so it's recommended.
  • PCSX-R is actively developed (though mostly OSX and Linux versions), and is open source. Also a plugin based emulator similar to ePSXe, but is active and has more features. It has a widescreen hack, rewind save feature , fewer glitches, proper multitrack CUE support, and support for superior plugins, such as LilyPad. Though please do note if you actually find an issue, as whatever it is could likely be looked into through their issue tracker. However, the Windows version is currently unmaintained and doesn't have newer features that OSX/Linux have.[1][2][3][4]
  • XEBRA has very high compatibility. Games that require subchannel data are not supported, but most other games run flawlessly. Obtuse user interface as the developer is Japanese, so be prepared. ARBEX is an alternate build of XEBRA that doesn't require a PSX bios.
  • ePSXe is a fairly standard plugin based emulator, and since it's closed source it only gets updates from the main developers, and only a few minor updates once every few years. Though 1.8.0's biggest addition was the Android version's advertisement. Closed source, focused on profit, and out dated. Although the basic program is near identical to PCSXR there are subtle differences, and ePSXe does have less features. Once the king of PSX emulation; like ZSNES it retains its high usage out of sheer notoriety.
  • NO$PSX is a well-rounded emulator by the same author of NO$GBA. There are two versions of the emulator, but standard users may want to use the cut-down gaming version. It offers decent compatibility with very low spec requirements – the programmer's philosophy is to deliver a working application out of the box. It includes a BIOS clone, which reproduces most of a genuine BIOS' functionality, although you can also use a standard BIOS too. As of today, it's still being developed. PocketStation is emulated through NO$GBA.
  • PSXfin is simple and has a "standard" interface, which is easy to get into. It has a lot of compatibility issues[5]. Dead development, closed source, no hope. Despite this, it has many hangers-on that continue to praise it as the best PlayStation emulator. Really only useful for very old toasters.

It's generally recommended to use Mednafen or PCSX-R. Many use Mednafen for its accuracy at native resolution, and PCSX-R for 3D games because of support for plugins which allow for better graphics quality than original hardware. Unfortunately the best PSX plugins which can increase internal resolution and have support for shaders (Pete OpenGL2 v2.9 and Edgbla gpuBladesoft v1.42a) are closed source and weren't updated for years so they are quite outdated and are not bug free.


  • POPS (short for PlayStation On PSP System) is the PS1 emulator for PSP made by Sony. It utilizes EBOOTs, a form of binary file for PSP, instead of bin/cue/etc, which can be made using a converter if required. Compatibility is very high due to being made by Sony for their PSN releases of PS1 games, including support for multi-disc games (within the one EBOOT). Only native PS1 resolution is supported, with games being stretched as the user wishes to fit the screen. POPS is also available on the PlayStation 2, although compatibility is not as high. The main method of installation is on a hard drive, although this can be changed with a hex editor. Saves occur on the hard drive.
  • PS2PSXe is another PS1 emulator for the PS2, however, this one is unofficial. Compatibility is very low. It is generally recommended to disc swap for the PS2, which in turn will utilize the built-in PS1 hardware available in every PS2. Double swapping (using the same method as a real PS1) is required for PS2s with model numbers SCPH-100xx - SCPH-390xx.
  • PlayStation 3 has a built-in software emulator with high compatibility, as it is used for PSN releases of PS1 games, not unlike the PSP.
  • WiiSX is a port of PCSX to the Wii. Compatibility is fairly low due to the weak power of the Wii, plus the lack of updates to this emulator mean that it generally isn't worth using. Still the best PS1 emulator on Wii, though, which isn't saying much.
  • PCSX-ReARMed is essentially the ARM version of PCSX-R, sharing a similar core, but optimized for portable handheld devices. Its biggest draw is its NEON software renderer, which is both fast and accurate, and has the ability to render at a higher resolution without resorting to HLE plugins.
Left showing native resolution and unblended dithering. Right showing HD and no dithering.
Example of jittering in PS1 games, which is more noticeable when emulating at higher internal resolutions. (Click to play)

Emulation issues

Several problems occur when running PS1 games, and they become more noticeable at resolutions higher than native internal resolution when using plugins which can increase it like Edgbla's GpuBladesoft, Pete's OpenGL2 and GSDX. Though they're still apparent at native, the low resolution's aliasing and blurriness kills almost any visibility, hiding the issues.

Jittering polygons are caused by low-precision fixed-point (to the native res, essentially) math. And more accurate math where relevant helps, i.e. GTE Accuracy. Though it can often create holes in the seams. It also should be possible to implement more precise texturing.

The PS1 hardware didn't have a z-buffer. The lack of a z-buffer causes things like polygons popping over others. Tekken character limbs are a good example to see that.Its theoretically possible to implement Z-Buffer in PSX emulators/GPU plugins.[6]

No texture perspective correction causes distortion to texture angles at certain viewing angles. Notably at the bottom near the camera. Which probably could be mitigated with modern texture filtering methods along with Perspective-correct texture mapping if someone implemented them in PSX emulators/GPU plugins.


  • PlayStation DataCenter - Tons of PSX related things. Emulator files like plugins, game manuals, game configurations, and many tutorials are just some of things you'll find here.