May 11th, 2006, 01:53 Posted By: wraggster
Sony Computer Entertainment's first console is coming roaring back, this time in portable form. SCE announced earlier that it would be featuring downloadable PS1 games for its PlayStation portable system, and in a test station here on the show floor, the company showed off Namco's PS1 game Ridge Racer playable on the portable.
Ridge Racer was a good choice to show on PSP, because it's one of the most visually-impressive and yet simple to control games on the PlayStation 1. And "simple to control" is key here, because several questions are still left unanswered with this demo. Chiefly, how will PSP cope with the lack of a second set of trigger buttons? It's possible that SCE and developers may be able to map one set of the triggers to the D-Pad when using the analog nub, but since the Ridge Racer demo didn't use both buttons, it's unknown how that'll work. In fact, it's unknown in general how emulation interfacing will work -- as demonstrated by the Pre-E3 demo by SCE, the PS1 demos on PSP boot straight to the game after download (although it's possible that there will be an option outside of the boot menu before the game starts.) Once in the PS1 game, it's a PS1 game -- the select and start buttons do what they did on PS1, and the only buttons that you can interface PSP-style are the volume, screen, and home buttons. Games made for the emulator from PS1 will be carefully remapped to the PSP controller to make the most of the system. On the start menu, when you go to controller options, you see the ancient PS1 white controller, pre-DualShock. Interestingly enough, the analog nub didn't work at all in the demo -- we're not sure if this is because the real PS1 game didn't have analog (although that should be an easy thing to cheat onto the stick), or because we were not able to find the analog switch-on feature, or if the feature is just not implemented yet.
Whatever the control system, the emulation was clear and nice. Framerate was not at all a problem for the advanced little portable, running Ridge Racer at full speed. Textures were sharp, possibly with some texture smoothing (road signs were perfectly readable.) The boxy textures of the old system were not nearly as much an issue as we expected, with flag girl Reiko looking like a dream all these years later. Color depth was incredibly rich thanks to the PSP's mondo screen, and aside from some graininess (which may be inherent in the PS1 original ... it's been a while since we've played this oldie), the game looked colorful and speedy. Using the PSP's screen button, you can change the aspect ratio while still at full play, between PS1 res, full res (scaled up to the PSP's boarders but not stretched beyond that), and widescreen (a full stretch to widescreen.) The full res option was probably the best way to play, with little issue in blowing up these low-res textures since the screen is so small; widescreen, meanwhile, should probably be avoided, since it stretches things obscenely, makes text look soft, and overall loses the good look of the emulated game.
Ridge Racer was the only game playable in PS1 emulation on PSP, so we still have a lot of questions and concerns for the feature, but as far as performance, the PSP looks to have no problem running its forerunner. Look for more PS1-to-PSP emulation soon.
True Emulation fans will also remember that Ridge Racer ran on the PSone Emulator for PC Called PSEmu pro and the size of the rom was only 2.5mb.
Interesting times ahead for this new commercial emulator - Unless someone ports a killer PSOne emulator to the PSP
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