While I have not been as active as I’d wish on Pandoralive in the past few months, it’s very clear we have had another blissful year for the Pandora. Who could have imagined one year ago that we would be running some of the stuff we are now using ? Here’s a quick review of the top releases in 2015.
There were many releases and updates in this year, but there were some major ones that no one will contest in the Pandora Community. First, Xash3D was an amazing port in itself, which made it possible to play Half Life 1 (along with several of its mods) on the Pandora – something numerous folks were dreaming of for a long time (and even tried using QEMU and stuff like that) but in vain. Beyond doing a simple port, PtitSeb managed to increase its performance several times by improving how the openGL calls were treated by glshim.
The second major achievement in this year is Diablo II, another game many were dreaming of running on the Pandora for a long time. It was kind of working via QEMU, but too slow and clunky to be really playable. Through his process of static recompilation, Notaz managed another tour de force with this port hitting the community by surprise at the end of the year, after his successful port of Starcraft in 2014.
Beyond such high profile ports, there are numerous other projects that deserve a clear mention.
- UAE4ARM: TomB has been a huge help to get proper AMIGA emulation working on the Pandora. Its latest UAE4ARM is a major rewrite of the previous UAE4ALL, improving overall compatibility and integrating a bunch of new features that make it possible to use Picasso96 graphics on the emulated desktop.
- PK68K: an excellent find by PtitSeb – a Sharp X68000 emulator that could be ported to the Pandora, enabling near perfect arcade ports of numerous games from the 80s and 90s. Excellent stuff overall.
- Tanks of Freedom: this game started by being a simple hackathon project, but ended up being pretty popular and is now continuously being improved by its community. Canseco is keeping us up to date with the port, which is great as well.
- PCSX ReARMed: earlier this year Notaz added DSP support to this already excellent emulator, just to prove it was possible and that it could provide benefits in terms of speed in numerous games using audio samples.
- LibreOffice 5: Thanks to PtitSeb (again!), the Pandora gets faster LibreOffice ports than major distributions out there. Mighty impressive feat to have such a modern office suite running on such a small device.
- DBGL: PtitSeb (again!) provided a refreshed port of DosBox that is not only much faster than all the previous ones on the repo, but which also provide 3D acceleration for Glide graphics back in the DOS days. It’s not perfect and not fast enough for all games, but that’s just something that was not feasible anyway until now.
- CodeBlocks: the latest version of the development toolchain provided by PtitSeb includes in a very large package a much more recent GCC version (providing additional speedups in loops apparently) as well as numerous libraries already pre-compiled. This is a more solid base than ever to create ports for the Pandora.
So that would be my short list for 2015, in terms of what was really new and outstanding. Let’s not forget all the other “silent” updates of all the existing software, which is nothing short of amazing considering how small our community actually is.
If 2015 were a wine, it would definitely be a grand cru. 2016 is most likely going to be the year of the Pyra as it hits the market probably by Q2-Q3, paving the way for some awesome handheld goodness.
But it will take a while for the Pyra to get as large of a (optimized) software library as the Pandora anyway.