Following our very recent review of Drastic 1.2.0, the new DS Emulator for Pandora, Exophase has just released a couple of new versions in a matter of days, based on the 1.3 version. There are a number of improvements and while we will not go in a in-depth review here, let’s see in more details what this new version brings.
Fundamentally, there is no major difference between 1.2.0 and 1.3.x (see changelog), so most of what was said in the previous article still holds true. It looks and works similarly, but two areas have seen significantly improvements over the last version:
- Compatibility (13 bug bixes)
- Display features (3 new features)
The evaluation from testers is still ongoing, but already the improvements are noticeable. Some games that used to crash are now fully functional, such as Picross DS, Picross 3D, Tony Hawk’s Proving Grounds, Pokemon Black, Eragon, Rayman DS, Super Scribblenauts, Zoo Keeper and More Brain Training. The issues around the 3D investigation scenes of the Ace Attorneys series are reportedly resolved, as well, through the implementation of specific geometry functions (BOX_TEST, POS_TEST, VEC_TEST). After a few fixes since the release of 1.3.0., a few bugs were ironed out and it seems that the present version, 126.96.36.199, does not seem to have any regression versus the previous 1.2. Mario & Luigi : Bowser’s inside’s story is still one of the few ones, with Okamiden, to crash at launch. See the compatibility list in the Pandora wiki (please sort by version to see the latest tests).
In terms of speed, there is no clear difference between 1.2.0 and 1.3.x in most games. Loading games is supposed to be faster than before, but I could hardly tell any difference. There is no specific 3D optimization done yet, so do not expect much difference for 3D-heavy games, but some games do feel faster. Mario Kart DS, for example, is still slow and running at low FPS, but the frame rate has improved (the implementation of the box test that may have helped, according to Exophase). So, all good here.
This is where this new version shines the most. You can now choose to display one screen bigger than the other, using the 2x:1x or 1x:2x mode. You now have keyboard commands as well to switch to a single screen mode (Using C) or to switch between screens left and right (using X). The most impressive is the TV Split mode, where you can use your Pandora screen as the bottom screen, and your TV as the top screen (or vice-versa), by setting your TV-out mode on “Main Display” and your Drastic mode on “TV Split”.
This is a really great feature, somewhat similar to the WiiU concept of having a large screen and a close screen display in your hands at the same time. The only drawback here is the availability of the TV-cables. Or rather the lack of, unless you know how to manufacture one yourself.
A pretty good and timely update for DraStic. Now that this emulator has become almost feature-complete and can already boast very decent compatibility, we are expecting to see some speed improvements down the road for the games that still run far too slow to be playable.