Sunday, 22 November 2020

PS2 Mame - Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator for the PlayStation 2 / PS2 / PSTwo

OK, so its not exactly MAME.. oh wait.. It is MAME, and for the PS2!

PS2 owners are already rich and spoilt for choice when it comes to commercially released arcade game collections and arcade game conversions across both the PS1 and PS2 platforms, but almost every PS2 owner must have a few arcade games in mind that haven't commercially shown their face on the PS2.. could PS2 MAME be the solution to "Fill in the gaps"?

Well... as always, there are limitations. Dont expect to be grabbing your lightgun and firing up House of the Dead just yet.

There are three important things to take into consideration before you start tinkering with PS2 MAME:

  • The PS2 is an old console with limited processor power, graphics grunt and memory size.
  • PS2 MAME is based around an old release of MAME. Version 0.37b16 aka Version 0.52.
  • PS2 MAME is a technical demo. A proof of concept for want of a better word.

With this in mind, I decided to carry out two tests:

  • Test 1 - Make up a list of old 8 bit arcade classics that aren't already available commercially for the PS2 (or PS1), and try them out on PS2 MAME.
  • Test 2 - Make a list of increasingly complex arcade games, and determine at what point PS2 MAME's performance starts to become affected.

PS2 MAME - The Preparation

1. Download PS2 MAME. I found a number of different places that PS2 MAME could be downloaded from. The best download I found was "OPL Ready PS2 MAME", which containd detailed instructions and a pre made .iso file ready to add games to. I also found out that PS2 MAME doesn't have a browser, and will only launch games from the ROMS directory of the PS2 MAME ISO / CD. Max. number of Romsets per CD - 30.
This totally scuppered my plans to copy the whole MAME 0.37b16 romset to a USB stick and launch from there!

2. Download a complete MAME romset for MAME 0.37b16 aka MAME 0.52. I couldn't find a complete 0.37b16 romset available for download. After giving up searching, I found a .dat for MAME 0.37b16 and complete romsets for MAME 0.36 and MAME 0.72. I used CLRMAMEPro and the .dat file to the rebuild a complete unmerged 0.37b16 romset (Unmerged as I thought that this was the safest bet for getting games running). I ended up being around 30 individual roms short of a complete romset, and those 30 odd roms belonged to completely obscure games that I had never heard of, so at this point I decided that I had obtained enough romsets for the test.

3. Download a complete set of Samples for MAME 0.37b16. This was somewhat easier than acquiring the romsets as there are numerous MAME websites dedicated to MAME sample sets so I had the complete collection downloaded in no time.
This turned out to be a waste of time...

4. I used UltraISO to add a selection of old 8 bit arcade game roms and samples to the provided PS2 MAME .iso file, maximum of 30 games per CD. All of the romsets must be individually zipped. The authors notes mentioned using unzipped roms to reduce slowdown in games however all unzipped romsets that I have tried haven't worked. The zipped romset filenames must conform to old skool DOS. Name and extension in upper case, Name max. length 8 characters plus extension e.g. COMMANDO.ZIP. I also made a "gamelist.txt" file listing all of the games I had added minus the file extension in the order that they appear in the ROMs directory. Note: I have found that PS2 MAME doesn't support samples, so no need to bother with a "SAMPLES" directory. Two ISO's prepped for test 1 and test 2.

5. I copied my ISO files to the CD directory of a USB stick pre-formatted to run with OPL (Open PS2 Loader) and then used OPL to launch the ISOs. Note - By default, PS2 MAME is in NTSC format causing some of the game screen to be lost off of the bottom of the TV screen. Use OPL GSM to force PS2 MAME to run in PAL mode, and you will get a complete screen.

PS2 MAME - Test 1

I ended up struggling a bit with the list of games for test 1 as at least half of the list I initially selected were already available on the PS1 or PS2, however I did end up with a list of 18 games to try.

From the games that I tried, I ended up with the following conclusions:

  • All of the vector based games that I tried didn't work. Just a mess of graphics on the screen.
  • All of the 8 bit games that required samples played ok graphically, but played in silence.
  • All of the other 8 bit games that I tried played well, although some had slightly distorted sound.

Details for Test 1:

  • Amidar - Works
  • Berzerk - Works, no sound (Sound Sample game)
  • Donkey Kong - Works
  • Donkey Kong Jr - Works
  • Donkey Kong 3 - Works
  • Frogger - Works (Yes there is a PS1 Frogger, but its a 2.5D remake)
  • Gorf - Works
  • Jr Pac-Man - Works
  • Mr DO! - Works
  • Qbert - Works (Yes there is a PS1 Qbert game with a "Retro" mode but no official port/emulation).
  • River Patrol - Works
  • Star Wars - Not Working (Vector Game)
  • Star Castle - Not Working (Vector Game)
  • Super Earth Invasion - Works
  • Time Pilot '84 - Works
  • Tron - Works
  • Uniwars - Works
  • Zaxxon - Works, No Sound (Sound Sample Game)

Not too shabby! I though I'd be lucky if 1 or 2 games worked, so whilst enthusiasm was high, I continued onto test 2.

PS2 MAME - Test 2

From the games that I tried, it was clear that once you go 16 bit there is varying levels of slowdown, although functionally and graphically a lot of them play correctly.

Details for Test 2:

  • Afterburner - Not Working
  • Outrun - Works very slowly
  • Shinobi - Works, noticably slower
  • Super Space Invaders '91 - Works, noticably slower
  • Space Harrier - Works slowly but screen tiles are mixed up some
  • Alien Syndrome - Works, noticably slower
  • Gauntlet - Works, noticably slower
  • The Simpsons - Not Working
  • Commando - Working
  • Ikari Warriors - Works, noticably slower

PS2 MAME test - Conclusions

If you want to play some old skool 8 bit arcade games on your PS2 (and you're not too worried about the sound on all of them being 100% perfect) then PS2 MAME is well worth your time and effort, but as a rule of thumb, any zipped romset larger than around 150 kB is not going to play at full speed, if it plays at all.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Non-Arcade Collections / Compilations on the Sony PlayStation / PS1 / PSOne / PSX

Sony's wonderful grey box was lucky enough to receive a wealth of original arcade conversions in the form of many commercial release of collections of original arcade games. Check out this post for further details.

There was one specific reason for this.. Emulation.

Software developers realised how popular emulation was and saw that there was a market for selling collections of emulated games from older platforms for modern platforms.

Whilst there isn't exactly a huge library, there are certainly enough collections to make a half decent post.

1. Activision Classics

Or to give it its full name, "A Collection of Activision Classic Games for the Atari 2600".

This title was released in the NTSC-U region only (North America). I guess that the Atari 2600 just wasn't popular enough in Europe or Asia to get a full worldwide release.

Contained on the compilation are the following Atari 2600 colourful blockiness:

  • Atlantis
  • Barnstorming
  • Boxing
  • Chopper Command
  • Cosmic Computer
  • Crackpots
  • Dolphin
  • Dragster
  • Enduro
  • Fishing Derby
  • Freeway
  • Frostbite
  • Grand Prix
  • H.E.R.O
  • Ice Hockey
  • Kaboom!
  • Keystone Kapers
  • Laser Blast
  • Megamania
  • Pitfall!
  • Plaque Attack
  • River Raid
  • River Raid II
  • Seaquest
  • Skiing
  • Sky Jinks
  • Spider Fighter
  • Stampede
  • Starmaster
  • Tennis

2. Intellivision Classics

Or to give it its full name, "A Collection Classic Games from the Intellivision".

This title was once again released in the NTSC-U region only (North America). I am guessing again that the Intellivision just wasn't popular enough in Europe or Asia to get a full worldwide release. Certainly in the UK, home computers were far more popular than game consoles in the very early 80s.

Contained on the compilation are the following Intellivision joy:

  • Armor Battle
  • Astrosmash
  • Auto Racing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Chess
  • Football
  • Frog Bog
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Hover Force
  • Las Vegas Poker N Blackjack
  • Night Stalker
  • Pinball
  • Sea Battle
  • Shark! Shark!
  • Sharp Shot
  • Skiing
  • Snafu
  • Soccer
  • Space Armada
  • Space Battle
  • Space Hawk
  • Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball
  • Stadium Mud Buggies
  • Star Strike
  • Sub Hunt
  • Tennis
  • Chequers

3. Konami Antiques MSX Collection Volumes 1 to 3

These three collection were released in Japan only (NTSC-J) and featured selections of MSX games released by Konami in Japan.

Contained on these three compilation are the following MSX dynamite:

  • VOLUME 1
  • Antarctic Adventure
  • Gradius a.k.a. Nemesis
  • Gofer no Yabō Episode II a.k.a. Nemesis 3
  • Hyper Sports 2
  • Konami's Boxing
  • Konami's Ping Pong
  • Mopi Ranger
  • Road Fighter
  • Sky Jaguar
  • Yie Ar Kung-Fu
  • VOLUME 2
  • Athletic Land
  • Gradius 2 a.k.a. Nemesis 2
  • Knightmare
  • Konami's Golf
  • Konami's Billiards
  • Hyper Sports 3
  • Magical Tree
  • Super Cobra
  • TwinBee
  • Yie Ar Kung-Fu II
  • VOLUME 3
  • Comic Bakery
  • King's Valley
  • Konami's Tennis
  • Konami's Soccer
  • Konami Rally
  • Parodius
  • Penguin Adventure
  • Pippols
  • Salamander
  • Time Pilot

4. Namco Anthology Volumes 1 and 2

Namco, well known for releasing compilations of their arcade titles, released two small compilations of titles that they had released previously in Japan for the Nintendo Famicom (Japan variant of the Nintendo Entertainment System) and the Sega Megadrive.

These titles were Japan only releases and contain both the original games and remakes of each game.

Contained on these compilations iare the following Namco retroness:

  • VOLUME 1
  • Star Luster
  • Tower of Babel
  • Wrestleball
  • Conqueror's Continent
  • VOLUME 2
  • Pac-Attack
  • Valkyrie no Boken
  • Namco Classic II
  • King of Kings

5. Memorial Star Series Sunsoft Volumes 1 to 6

Another set of Japan only releases, each volume containing two real gems from Sunsoft's back catalogue originally released on the Nintendo Famicom (Japan variant of the Nintendo Entertainment System).

Contains the following Sunsoft Retro Heaven:

  • VOLUME 1
  • Ikki
  • Super Arabian
  • VOLUME 2
  • Route-16 Turbo
  • Atlantis no Nazo
  • VOLUME 3
  • Kanshakudama Nage Kantarō no Tōkaidō Gojūsan Tsugi
  • The Wing of Madoola
  • VOLUME 4
  • Ripple Island
  • Blaster Master
  • VOLUME 5
  • Journey to Silius
  • Ufouria: The Saga
  • VOLUME 6
  • Super Spy Hunter
  • Gimmick!

6. Jaleco Collection Volume 1

Jaleco Collection volume 1 is a compilation of Nintendo Entertainment System / Nintendo Famicom released by Jaleco back in the day.

Contained on this compilation are the following Nintendo emulations:

  • Argus
  • City Connection
  • Exerion
  • Field Combat
  • Formation Z
  • Ninja Jajamaru Kun
  • RodLand

And to round up..

So, not masses of commercially emulated games to choose from on the Sony PlayStation, and certainly Japan ate these releases up far more than western regions were expected to, but a nice niche corner of gaming and good to see developers recognising that true gamers will always revisit an old skool favourite!

I guess that the natural progression would suggest a post on non-commercial emulation for the Sony PlayStation?