PPSSPP Better Than Ever!


The latest build of PPSSPP, numbered, is really worth a try. This is simply the best build so far in terms of stability and speed… and maybe compatibility as well. Let’s review in more details what we can do this time with it…

First things first, Speed. Speed, Speed, Speed. It’s what matters the most when you already have a solid emulator: running games as close as possible as full speed from the original platform. Well, this new version brings significant speed improvements that I actually did not expect. There are also more settings available in the menu to try to speed things up a wee more. I did not try (on purpose) the options that may have a deleterious effect on the way the game is rendered (such as the alpha hack), but if you do you may get better results in some games. Now, let’s see what we can get in terms of results. Note that for all the games I tested, the frameskip is on, because there’s simply no way that you will get 60 FPS rendered fast enough on the Pandora hardware, but it does not mean that frameskip makes games less playable. It really depends on how many and how often frames are dropped.

Loco Roco 2 now runs mostly full speed and the music only stutters when the scene gets really complex, so not that often anymore. Before, the frame rate dropped all the time and the music was stuttering like crazy every 2 seconds. This is a major improvement and the game is now fully playable. Maybe some overclocking would not hurt, but still, it’s a great achievement. There are still some issues (some cutscenes show a black screen only), but they are relatively minor.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva runs very, very well, with some occasional slow downs where the frame rate drops a little. It remains fully playable, but note that you may have a hard time getting great scores because of these little slow-downs – after all, it’s a rhythm game! I am getting addicted to this game because it has a couple of great Vocaloid songs that I enjoy listening to.

The fighting game Blaz Blue runs faster than before, and in game it now feels very close to full speed, but not completely there yet. The music stutters a lot, though. But there’s significant improvement and it can definitely be played.

Corpse Party is a 2D horror adventure game, and it’s running pretty well but for some reason the framerate drops in large environments. But it still works fine and is very enjoyable.

Akiba’s trip ran extremely slow in the previous update, but it seems that the regression has been fixed and it now runs faster than before. Full speed is achieved at times, but very slow in fights, so it’s probably not “green” yet, but another significant change to note.

Valkyria Chronicles 3: videos run perfectly now (the videos were dropping so many frames before), while in-game is running ok while could be better. It’s a strategy game, so it’s fully playable (and enjoyable) even in this state. I’d say it’s green, while it could still be a bit better.

Note: Youtube crap prevents the audio in this video to be played because it’s copyrighted. OMG give me a fucking break.

WipeOut Pure: This is one of the most stressful tests for the emulator (and the Pandora) since it’s been running like a slideshow ever since the first few versions. Now, I was actually amazed to see that it’s not so much of a slideshow anymore. It’s still very slow, but it runs at something like 3 to 5 fps now, and can actually be played a little! This is really what told me there were major improvements in emulation speed, because I had never seen WipeOut run this way on Pandora.

Lego Batman is another of these games where the speed is lacking, but compared to the previous version, you get cutscenes now running very smoothly. In-game, however, it’s still very much a slideshow, and remains unplayable for that very reason.

Pixeljunk Monsters now seems to run full speed as well, with no noticeable sound stutters, while it was not the case in the previous version.

Ridge Racer 2 is reported to work just fine as well (PtitSeb tested it), almost full speed in most areas. It’s always good to know you have a good racing game option, especially when the other ones out there on PPSSPP are so slow.

Some games gained speed but are still far from being playable: Lego Batman, Fat Princess, for example, still run very much like slideshows at this stage. It’s true they probably tend to have more complex graphics than other games, so it may be related to that.

I could not see notable differences in compatibility. Pretty much the same games that were not compatible in stay with the same issues, while sometimes it even seems to be getting worse. I’m sure there is a lot more work needed to address these issues and we’ll need to wait for fixes. It’s always a very tricky thing to do progress on, since sometimes games are programmed in ways that use specific hardware functions out of the ordinary. Or it could well be that PPSSPP does not emulate everything yet, either.

Anyway, GTA Chinatown wars is still broken – you do not see the character at the beginning of the game, and the menus are not visible either. It’s unplayable. Persona 2 does not show much improvements either. The whole screen looks very dark in-game, and it’s slow just like a slideshow. Sakura Taisen is not showing any progress either, with glitches all over the screen. Characters in Star Ocean: The First Departure are visible through the buildings… while the characters in Joan of Arc remain invisible (except for their shadows). So, such issues already present in previous versions show no sign of being fixed at the moment.

Yet, this release is very exciting. As I mentioned, there’s now a significant amount of games that can be played almost like they were on the PSP, and there’s really no reason to wait to try this emulator if you haven’t done so yet. Of course, you’ll probably need a 1Ghz to enjoy it, but you should already know that getting a 1Ghz model has several advantages and is well worth the extra cost.

I salute the PPSSPP team on their work, and many thanks again to PtitSeb for the port and timely release.

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