WHAT IS EMULATION
Emulation, in a software context, is the use of an application program or device to imitate the behavior of another program or device. In our case we use Android device in order to imitate behaviour of Play Station Portable game console.
Technicaly, emulation is a complex process. First of all, because of the PSP central processing unit architecture, which is much different from Android ARM, ARM-64, x86, x64, etc. Practically, current emulation community developments made emulation process easy and user-friendly. But there are still some details which are necessary to understand and configure manually. The reason is simple: different PSP games use different PSP internal architecture abilities, so they require different emulation configurations.
Consequently, some game work perfect, some are not. Some are great on one emulator, some are on another. Since development is opensource and community-related, there are different emulators wich can share some features and can also have specific ones. But the global trend is single: to make emulation the simplest process for the end user, and to add perfect support for as much games as possible.
The following sections describe different aspects: the ways how to get PSP games and description of PPSSPP & Forks emulator configurational settings. For general recommendations which emulator is most suitable for your device (and game) you may visit Emulators page, for testing settings manually continue reading this article.
HOW TO GET PSP GAMES AND RUN THEM
First of all, it is necessary to know that originally PSP games have been distributed on UMD, which interprets as ‘Universal Media Disc’. This is a special disc format designed by Sony, and it is supported only by PSP consoles. To run games on Emulator you need to dump data from UMD, or use ready dump, which was already made earlier. Also it is possible to purchase digital versions of games using PSN (Play Station Network) service and decrypt them to Emulator-readable format, but not games are available there.
Game dumps are called ‘ISO files’ (so they have ‘.iso’ extension) — in the meaning of disk image composed of the data contents from every written sector on an optical disc. Also game dump can be compressed, such ones are called ‘CSO files’ (with ‘.cso’ extension). Please note: while CSO is always smaller size than ISO, PSP Emulators (as well as original PSP) run compressed CSO slower than original uncompressed ISO.
- In any case, you need to have purchased game. Depending on situation, it can be digital version in PSN (for example, on PSVita), or original physical UMD version. Cheapest UMD’s can be found on Craigslist and eBay, it can be simple discs without box and/or manuals.
- If you have an original PSP console, then you need to convert your PSP games into ISO files or CSO files. To legally turn your own PSP games into ISO files, you need to install Custom Firmware on your PSP. It is very easy to do on PSP-1000 and PSP-2000 models, and a bit harder on late revisions of PSP-3000, PSP Go and PSP Street. The good way is purchasing PSP console with Custom Firmware on the secondary market as ‘used’ one (and again, prices are rather cheap on eBay, Craigslist, etc). It is also necessary to say that Custom Firmware allows you doing great stuff with your console, including advanced debug settings and way to run homebrew applications.
- If you have a PSN account with PSP games, then you need to get game image (ISO/ROM) directly from your PSVita or PSP (for example, PSP Go, which hasn’t got UMD drive). It also requires special hacks, one of the ways is using ‘Media Go’ to download PSP game you legally owned, from PSN to your PC. Next you need to use any ‘PSN PKG Decryptor’ and ‘PSN PKG Extractor’, or ‘PKG to ISO converter’.
- If you don’t have original PSP console, or PSVita with PSN account with owned PSP games, then you still need to own legally UMD disc of game, but you just unable to dump it. Game ISO’s can be found on the Internet (by keywords ‘PSP ISO’, ‘psp isos’, ‘PSP CSO’, ‘psp csos’, ‘PSP ROM’, ‘psp roms’, etc), they are widely spread. Please note, that warez downloading PSP ISO images is illegal due to the copyright issues in most countries of the world. We don’t recommend this method and strongly insist playing only legally owned games. Please, carefully check the legislation at your place of residence and, if possible, talk with the regional lawyer, who can provide professional consultation.
Finally, when you are ready with ISO or CSO game file, you may run them on any PSP Emulator you wish! Simply transfer game file to memory card or internal memory of your Android smartphone, and ‘browse’ for that file in Emulator. Be sure, that you have enough empry space, because PSP games can be up to few gigabyte size.
EMULATOR BASIC CONFIGURATION
PSP Emulators have huge amount of settings. It is strongly recommended not to touch anything if you are not 100% sure what it mean. If you are feeling that you set anywhing wrong, always revert to default settings. For pre-sets dedicated to specific games visit our Games page, these pre-sets are made in average conditions of Android smartphone hardware, tested on ‘middle’, i.e. not low-end and not hight-end devices. For other cases, you may try configuring emulator yourself.
Here are basic settings which can be switched in order to test games on your specific device and achieve better gaming experience.
Rendering mode. The graphics rendering now supports Vulkan that works very fast, OpenGL is still supported because not all devices support Vulkan. If possible, for sure choose Vulkan.
Framerate control. Keep off the Frameskipping option, and un-check the Auto frameskip. That helps to ensure a smooth gaming experience. There are two more settings under this panel. Check the Prevent FPS from exceeding 60 and put 0 values in alternative speed (in %, 0=unlimited). Results depends on the game you play.
Features. You may choose any and see fun effects, but better to set this ‘off’, because they heavily decrease performance. But you definitely should enable the Immersive mode to get full-screen display.
Performance. This is the most important aspect, they rendering resulution which suites your device. The higher resolution you set, the heavier it will work. So, try with 2x Rendering resolution. It brings impressive graphics and supports stable gameplay too. Further, make sure to check Mipmapping, Hardward transform, Software skinning, Vertex Cache and Lazy texture caching. Don’t check Retrain changed textures, because it decreases performance. Let Retain changed textures (sometimes slower) unchecked while keeping Disable slower effects(speedup) and Hardware Tessellation(experimental) checked.
Textures scaling and filtering. Since we already setup with 2X rendering resolution, there is no need of using Textures scaling and filtering. Just keep them off all the time.
Hack settings. Just like performance settings, these settings play a very important role when it comes to smooth, and stable performance. Under these settings, just check following two options: Timer Hack (improves FPS significantly) and Disable alpha test (best for PowerVR powered phones). Also keep Aggressive mode in Lower Resolution for effects.
Overlay Information. To check the frame rate of games, it is recommended to choose FPS counter. Once you have it enabled, while playing the games, it overlays an information such FPS on current time basis. Just put FPS under Show FPS counter and let other settings untouched.
Audio Settings. Still, sometimes this emulator fails to render the audio part appropriately. If you enable it, the outcome is found to be quite noisy, lagging or something that may irritate you.
Emulation. A few changes may affect performance drastically. So we recommend to go for Trail and Error method. Try to make your own settings or just lookout for one that we have mentioned here: It is important to keep Fast memory (unstable) checked. It works on most of the Android phones, irrespective of their hardware. That means, it can help to improve overall performance. Multithreaded is experimental, keep it off most of the times. I/O on thread, just let it checked, and under I/O timing method, select Simulate UMD delays or Fast (lag on slow storage) (for low end device). These two add a little bit of smoothness to overall gameplay! Let Force real clock sync (slower, less lag) remains unchecked.
We do not document such settings as Contols setup because it is simple and just way of your own taste (for example, switching ‘action’ between O and X buttons). Good luck with emulator configuration!