Rather than taking a vacation from writing code and reverse engineering the chips inside old gaming machines, emulator developers use the hottest period of the year to release updates for some of most significant projects in the modern emulation scene. During the last three months new versions of ScummVM and Dolphin arrived, while a project seemingly started to absorb all the emulators in the world presents an important innovation regarding one of the most beloved consoles from Nintendo.
Good news are coming for ResidualVM and PCSX2, two virtual machines that in the near future should improve considerably (in the PCSX2 case) and add support for new games beyond the software’s original mission (ResidualVM). Both cases are a useful reminder for the fact that, unlike someone’s opinion, emulation is a world that doesn’t stop moving forward and it’s far from having reached saturation as for ideas, techniques and new old things to replicate on modern PCs.
A year and half after its first major release, in the last days PCSX2 got updates again with the release of two new versions in a short timeframe: the only existing (open source) emulator capable of replicating in software the complex hardware of Sony’s PlayStation 2 console reached release 1.2.0 at the beginning of February, followed the day after by release 1.2.1 aimed at correcting some last-hour bugs. PCSX2 is now able to run 2130 games in playable state, a remarkable result considering the about 3900 games making up the total PS2 titles library.
The seventh generation of home consoles is about to reach the last stage of its commercial life, a new console war looms on the horizon and the emulation scene delivers the nth project with an “impossible” objective, ie a software replica of the powerful hardware components of the Sony PlayStation 3. The new emulator is called RPCS3, the development team has great ambitions but right now the software isn’t more of a multi-window shell with little to show on the screen.
NullDC, the Dreamcast emulator released with an open source license by its author after years of inactivity, remains a noteworthy example of what kind of results the community devoted to emulating the newest gaming machines can achieve. Although there is wide room for optimization and the implementation of still-lacking features, nullDC is a powerful engine which renders with ease - granted it run on a suitable hardware - several instances of the Sega console at the same time on a single PC.
I had already talked about Dolphin’s remarkable qualities in a previous post, being it the only emulator currently capable of replicating a Nintendo Wii console on PC and running some commercial games. Another, impressive confirmation of the emulator capabilities comes from this YouTube video (via Joystick Division), that in a single shot shows off what the recently added Full HD video clips viewing (1080p, or 1920×1080 pixels) is really useful for while it demonstrates the growing Dolphin compatibility with the latest games published for the Nintendo console.
As the yet partial success obtained by PCSX2 with PlayStation 2 emulation demonstrates, adequately recreating the last generations videogaming machines on a PC screen - it doesn’t matter how much powerful and advanced equipped CPUs and GPUs are - isn’t an easy task. For this reason the results recently achieved by GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin are exceptional to say the least and let foresee a bright future for the Nintendo machines emulation “scene”.
“PS2 emulation is a complex task“, as it can be read on the about page of PCSX2, but it isn’t an impossible task as demonstrated by the advancements achieved during time by the only software currently able to replicate the most successful Sony console (a hit enduring even today) with an accuracy level that is enough to run a good number of commercial games. PCSX2 emulates the PS2 on PC, and the last release of the emulator delivered in these days, version 0.9.6, once again confirms that a group of talented and passionate coders is generally much more capable of achieving such kind of objectives than a multinational investing billions of euros and obtaining in return results embarrassing at least.
After nine months of waiting and the recent foray in the meanders of the technologically gifted (but maybe not enough) handhelds, nullDC returns on PC with version 1.0.3 released in these days. The plug-in based emulator that has renewed the glories of the Sega Dreamcast console, offering its most advanced and accurate emulation available by now, is for this time coupled with its arcade counterpart, that is the NAOMI system supposed to be impossible to emulate in the past years and now turned into the nth technological wall knocked down thanks to the work of drk||Raziel & fellows.
He has recently opened one of the most burning debates in the emulation scene and now drkIIRaziel, maker of the awarded Sega Dreamcast emulator nullDC, steps in to establish some steady points for his last adventure, namely the conversion of the above said software originally developed on PC, for the Sony PlayStation Portable console.
The news run fast, newbies begin to become excited and spread the happy tale: Sony PlayStation Portable is able to emulate the Sega Dreamcast! And the credit of this epochal event would go to the author of nullDC, an emulator that can already reproduce, with remarkable fidelity, the Japanese console on Wintel PCs. Obviously reality is very different, pretty unlikely nullDC will emulate Dreamcast on PSP and his author has ragged a great deal of gullible unable to reckon a bit before exalting themselves for nothing.