PlayStation 2 emulators

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PlayStation 2
PS2-Fat-Console-Set.png
Developer Sony
Type Home video game console
Generation Sixth generation
Release date 2000
Discontinued 2013
Predecessor PlayStation
Successor PlayStation 3
Emulated
For other emulators that run on PS2 hardware, see Emulators on PS2.

The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is a sixth-generation console released by Sony on October 26, 2000, and it was retailed for $299.99. It has the Emotion Engine CPU based on the MIPS R5900 at 300 MHz with 32 MBs of RDRAM system memory and 4 MBs of eDRAM (VRAM). Its GPU was a custom Graphics Synthesizer, which ran at 150 MHz. It became the highest-selling console of all time, with over 155 million units sold.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest version Python System
2x6
PSX PS1 System
Link
Texture
enhancement
libretro Retro
Achievements
FLOSS Active Recommended
Desktop
PCSX2 Windows Linux macOS Nightly
Stable[N 1]
~[N 2] * ~ * * [N 3]
Play! Windows Linux macOS Web 0.58
git
libretro core
* * ~
AetherSX2 Linux ARM macOS Builds ~ ? ? ? [N 4] ~
hpsx64 Windows v0400
DobieStation Windows Linux git
Builds
orbum Windows git
NeutrinoSX2 (nSX2) Windows 0.08
PS2emu Windows 0.1
Mobile / ARM
AetherSX2 Android 1.4-3060
Alpha/Beta
~ ? ? ? [N 4]
Play! Android iOS Builds * * ~
DamonPS2 Android 5.0
Console
XBSX2 Xbox One Xbox Series X/S git ~ ? ? ?
AetherSX2 Xbox One Xbox Series X/S Alpha ~ ? ? ? [N 4]
ps2_emu PlayStation 3 FW 4.78 ~[N 5] ~[N 5]
Play! Switch git * ~ ~
  1. The stable versions are years out-of-date and missing countless features and bug fixes. Nightly versions are a better choice for almost all users; the stable versions should only be used if you have a specific need for them.
  2. Possible with this build, Guide. This fork only applies for Python 2 games. This does not and will never support Python 1 (entirely separate from Python 2) or System 246/256 games as those would require much more work than a simple USB device to make work. The MagicGate code being used in this fork also does not support memory card MagicGate encryption stuff properly (the memory card dongles used for Python 1 and System 246/256) so those platforms aren't really any closer to working compared to before.
  3. Only for standalone version.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 AetherSX2 dev calls it quits, shuts down site leaving a message citing "complaints, demands, and death threats" made to him during development process.
  5. 5.0 5.1 No PS2 game has trophy support or enhancements for PS3 backwards compatibility but PS2 games that received HD ports, do.

Comparisons[edit]

PCSX2 (compatibility) (PS1 Mode compatibility) (servers)
The first Playstation 2 emulator. Accuracy has continuously improved during dev builds. The emulator is capable of playing most titles without any major glitches. Check the Game Problems FAQ or the Official Compatibility List for information regarding playability.
AetherSX2
A closed-source freeware emulator partially forked from PCSX2. It's designed to be optimal for ARM-based platforms, primarily those running Android.
Play! (compatibility)
Development is almost all done by the single maintainer jpd002. Compatibility information is located on the emulator's home page; 804 games are reported playable and namco System 2x6 supported unlike PCSX2. Also has a playable Android and iOS port.
DobieStation
Many titles can go ingame, focused on accuracy, and therefore inherently slower than Play! or PCSX2. A compatibility list is provided here.
HPS2x64 (compatibility)
Can also run quite a few commercial games, but probably less so, and at slower speeds than Play!. It also emulates and focuses more on PlayStation emulation. There is also a mirror that has fixes done to it.
DamonPS2
Closed-source payware/malware emulator only for Android, illegally based on PCSX2, Play! and PPSSPP. It can hardly run any games and behaves very much like virus software. It is best NOT to use this emulator. DamonPS2 uses unnecessary DRM, making the emulator useless without an internet connection.

Emulation issues[edit]

Despite a large interest in PS2 emulation due to its sizable collection of games, it is still one of the harder consoles to emulate for several reasons.

First of all, many people believe that since the main CPU (Emotion Engine) runs at a clock speed of 294 Mhz (299 Mhz on later revisions), it would make emulation easy on recent hardware. But this isn't the case because the clock speed of the emulated CPU is not necessarily indicative of the ease of emulation. Specifically, the PS2's CPU contains a multitude of custom sub-components and chips such as the FPU co-processor, 2 Vector Units, IOP, SPU2, Graphics Synthesizer, and SIF which together work asynchronously to comprise the 128-bit Emotion Engine. Emulating them perfectly with correct timing requires an enormous amount of power. Moreover, the PS2, just like PS1, uses the MIPS architecture instead of standard x86 code, thus making emulation slower.[1]

Another big problem is the emulation of PS2’s floating-point unit (FPU) because it doesn’t follow the IEEE standard. To keep it simple, just changing a couple of numbers will cause glitches to occur to the game’s graphic (VU) and logic (EE), resulting in things like broken AI, odd behaviors, and/or graphical bugs. While PCSX2 allows for either clamping/rounding on both VU and EE as a solution to fix these glitches, it remains by far not the most accurate way to emulate the PS2's FPU.[2][3]

To conclude the problems with PS2 emulation, we come to hardware rendering. The PS2’s graphics pipeline acts very differently from modern GPU cards, and emulating it in HW mode with any degree of accuracy is difficult. This is due in part to the versatility of the PS2, the fact that it doesn’t use fixed shaders, or that even the games themselves do not use a consistent formula to achieve different graphical effects. Various emulation enhancements like display resolution scaling lead to the typical “black lines glitch” because of the use of a non-integer resolution. While the OpenGL backend on PCSX2 greatly improved on many of these issues, most games still require “software rendering” to fix many common glitches, which in turn slows down the emulation. Although Games using mipmapping (Ratchet & Clank, Ace Combat, etc...) and games running on the Snowblind Engine are playable in OGL HW mode with minimal problems on high-end PCs.

In summary, it is impossible to achieve close-to-perfection PS2 emulation with actual PC hardware, and even if it were possible, the results would most likely be unplayable. The PS2 is a very complex machine that even game developers struggled to work with.

EyeToy[edit]

The EyeToy is a device similar to a camera or a webcam. It's an accessory developed by Sony and manufactured by Logitech. It is used in some PS2 games to interact physically through motion detection. The EyeToy can be used on PC with unofficial drivers. It also works natively with the PS3.

PCSX2 is the only emulator that can emulate EyeToy mechanics in games.

USB plugin[edit]

Some PS2 games use a USB adapter with a module/dongle consisting of two jack ports for microphones. Installments from the SingStar series on the PS2 could use microphones (Sometimes bundled with these game discs) with this method.

These adapters could either formally or informally be called:
  • SingStar USB Converter (Official)
  • SingStar USB Converter Box (Official)
  • SingStar USB Microphone Converter
  • SingStar Microphone USB Adapter/Converter
  • SingStar USB Converter Microphone Adapter

Steering wheels are also supported for many racing games via a USB adapter.

While PCSX2 isn't benefiting from a working USB plugin in its original release, Jackun, a PCSX2 plugin author, made a USB plugin that supports a microphone in most games and even a steering wheel for racing games. The plugin is still updated nowadays. A compatibility list of the working titles with this plugin can be found here.

Arcade variations[edit]

Konami Python 2[edit]

Konami Python 2 is a Konami arcade system based on PlayStation 2 hardware.

A fork of PCSX2 supports the emulation of the Konami Python 2. This fork requires MagicGate key files into the bios folder (civ.bin, cks.bin, eks.bin, and kek.bin) and you must use "ps2-0190j-20030822.bin" BIOS.

MAME romsets of Python 2 games won't work on this fork as they are missing ILINK_ID files.

PSX[edit]

Not to be confused with the original PlayStation.

The PSX is a Sony digital video recorder with a fully integrated PS2 console. It was also the first device to use Sony's XrossMediaBar (XMB) graphical user interface, which was later used on the PlayStation Portable, the PlayStation 3, some Blu-ray Disc players, and 2008-era BRAVIA TVs.

None of the PSX features have been emulated yet.

Twitter user @DiscoStarslayer claims to be working on bypassing the HDD encryption of the PSX, which could result in this hardware being emulated, and it would allow for replacing the HDD in those consoles. This user also encourages dumping the content of the HDD of your PSX using a guide made by a PCSX2 contributor called 987123879113

External links[edit]

  • PCSX2 Wiki - For checking if your games work and any fixes, tweaks, or settings you should know beforehand. Note that the wiki can contain outdated information. It is encouraged to do personal testing and contribute to the wiki.
  • PlayStation 2 DataCenter - Tons of PS2-related things. Emulator files like plugins, game manuals, game configurations, and many tutorials are just some of the things you'll find here.

References[edit]