Utilising PCSX2 for PS2 Emulation on a PC

I have lately played some PS2 games with an emulator called PCSX2 on my desktop computer. I did try to play some Xbox 360 games on this Windows PC but it seems that my computer isn’t powerful enough to run this game consoles games. The emulator I tried was Xenia.

I do have a powerful enough GPU and also I have enough RAM memory on my PC. It seems that the processor lacks some power. So, I am not able to run Xbox 360 emulation using Xenia emulator. This lead me to once again try also PCSX2 and check if my computer can run some PS2 emulation instead.

I own now already two PS2 gaming consoles that don’t work. The first one I received as a gift and the second one I bought for 110 euros about a year ago. Playing PS2 games on an emulator seems to be a good option for buiyng a PS2 console. The price of a PS2 unit isn’t high but if you keep buiyng one every year it can get expensive.

PS2 was originally released back in 2000. It was the first console to include DVD player functionality which made it very popular. It was produced all the way to the beginning of 2013 and was then discontinued. It sold 155 units worldwide which makes it the best selling video game console of all time. There were over 4000 game titles released for PS2.

Installing PCSX2 is pretty straight forward. During installation you have to specify where on your computer you have your BIOS file or files. So you need to have a BIOS from your PS2 system that you actually own to play PS2 games totally legit. You can install PCSX2 for Windows, Linux or macOS.

I use my Xbox Series controller that I have especially bought to play some PC games. It is manfactured by PDP and it is a wired controller so you have to plug in a cable. You don’t have to have a long cable after all. If you prefer a PlayStation style of a button layout you can also use a PS4 controller which is also called DualShock 4. I have no experience about the latest PS controller or DualSense.

The games seem to run smoothly on this emulator. The games I have played include Call of Duty 3, Rayman Revolution and Gran Turismo 4 just to name a few. With over 4000 games PS2 manages to bring something for every gamer. I suggest searching for more good games to play from internet as there are many lists about recommended games for this system.

It seems that todays PCs are powerful enough to run an emulator like PCSX2. While we might not be yet ready to have some more newer gaming consoles emulated on our computers the future of emulation seems to be going to a strong direction. I hope we get to see also emulators for systems like PS4 and Xbox One in the near future. I also hope that we can get those emulators to run on our PCs.

Some Problems with Retro Hardware

As you have probably noticed I have been lately playing lots of PlayStation 2 games. My console is fairly new. What I mean is that I have only owned it for under a year or so. It is now malfunctioning. I am having problems with audio and video being cut off in the middle of playing a game like Need for Speed Prostreet or Tenchu – Wrath of Heaven. They come back after some seconds but what it comes to playing this is very disturbing.

Well what can you expect? This device is old. PS2 was released over 20 years ago. Would you expect some similar device, like computer, to function after this long of a time? Probably not.

This isn’t the first time that I am coming across issues with old hardware. I have had Xbox, Xbox 360 and earlier I had one other PS2 that started to malfunction. It couldn’t read the disc anymore. Dust can be one issue. One issue is that these old parts just aren’t reliable anymore after all this time that has passed.

You can, of course, try to fix the console yourself. This can be tricky. Not everyone is capable of doing this on their own. You can contact your closest electronic repair shop and ask them how much would they charge for the repairment of your console. There is also one more option and it seems to be an interesting one.

I am talking about emulation. You have retro games but you aren’t able to play them since your gaming console is broken. Why not make copies of them for your own use? I think it is reasonable since the console is broken, right? And with games that are on DVD this shouldn’t be an issue. What we know is that PS1 and PS2 games can be ripped to ISO files (files that end in .iso) with proper tools (software).

There are many options available. Some years ago I came across NVIDIA Shield TV. It is a device that makes your regular television a smart device that is basically operating on Android. You can install RetroArch to it. It is this kind of a forntend that you can run retro games on. It combines several emulator together. I found this to be handy with for example PS1 games. You could even hook your PS4 controller to the Shield TV with Bluetooth. You can install RetroArch on several devices. Windows and Linux are also supported along with Raspberry Pi.

You can also use a full Linux operating system on any PC that you can also hook up to any television that has the connectivity required. That is means to transfer video and audio from your dedicated computer to your television. One popular opertating system of this kind is Lakka OS.

Lakka OS boots up to its own user interface. You only need to go through some menus with your controller. This can be any USB controller that you might have. Lakka OS supports several retro gaming platforms including NES, SNES, Mega Drive and so on. The full list can be found from your favorite search engine. I can tell you that this list is long.

What I am most interested about concerning emulation, like using Lakka OS or RetroArch, is playing games of PS1, PS2 and GameCube. I can currently play my NES, SNES, Game Boy, Mega Drive and Master System games with my Retro Trio console and with the assistance of some adapters (Master System->Mega Drive adapter and SNES->Game Boy adapter). I also have a Mega Drive Mini also for playing Mega Drive games. I also play PC games. I also play games on newer systems like Xbox Series X, PS3, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. As you can imagine my setup is huge.

I hope this blog post gave you some ideas concerning playing retro games. The hardware isn’t perfect. It does wear out with time. Software emulation might provide a more stable way for a gamer to enjoy his/her retro games for a long time.

What the Heck is MAME (and Why Should I Care)?

You might remember video games like they were in the 1980s or 1990s or even earlier. Games were mainly played in arcades. You had a device that looked like a large cabinet that had on one side a large screen and some controls like joystick and some buttons. You might have some other controls also, like a wheel and pedals or maybe a light gun that you could point to the screen. I mean, who doesn’t recognize a character like Pacman or a game as familiar to you as Pong. Do you know Asteroids? These all were first playable back in the days in arcades.

If you are a young person you probably haven’t been to a real arcade. This experience however left a permanent mark in my memories. It might have been the pizza restaurant that had a Pacman game in it. It might have been the supermarket that had Street Fighter II in it. It might have been one of those gas stations our family visited as we were driving to country side to meet the rest of the family. It definitely happened when I was in a realm actual arcade playing some Mortal Kombat with some friends. As a kid from the 80s I couldn’t have missed this.

Even if you have never been in an arcade you can still find some really nice games to play that were originally made to be played in an arcade. We actually have an open source application called MAME that is short from “Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator”. You can install it to a Linux or Windows PC. For you to play a game you also need a rom file. As you can expect I cannot post a link here to any rom file because of these legal issues. But you can look up some videos about MAME from YouTube or you can also search for games to see what kind of games it is possible to play on MAME.

There are problems if you really want to play games with an emulator like this. Capcom released some time ago a Home Arcade console that featured 16 games and some controls for two players. It can be connected to a display with HDMI. I am actually a bit reflective because there are so few commercial products available. And MAME could be a good personal project for someone looking to build something out of a basic PC with a custom made controller interface. Imagine if you had a gaming cabinet somewhere i n your hoime that you could play several of these games originally made for gaming arcades. That would be cool!

As time has progressed we have seen the rise of home gaming consoles taking the main role in our living rooms. We are getting more and more hardware that is meant to be placed in our apartments. If you are into emulators why not try also MAME. I am definitely going to get to this a bit more. I remember so many wonderful games from my past. It might be a good time to consider buying some more controllers that are capable of bringing the experience for you. Consider a joystick for fighting games, a racing wheel for driving or maybe even a light gun for shooting. Just remember this thing about light guns – they don’t work with modern displays so be careful not to mix these technical things.

You can definitely try to search for more content on this topic. I found good information from Google and also from YouTube. I think Bing or some other search engine can provide you also with some articles. I mentioned some titles in this post. There are so many games that you can play on MAME that  you have to go and see for yourself for the gems. So go ahead. Maybe you find something that you haven’t played before and that you really like.

How Has Learning Computer Science Changed?

I was reading this book about JavaScript programming as I thought came to my mind. The book was dealing how you can launch a new web browser window  and how you can do it in JavaScript. I started thinking a bit about this.

I have always programmed something on top of a heavy operating system like Windows 10 or Ubuntu Linux. I am able to create a new window inside a web browser. I am able to produce code that can manipulate the contents of a web page inside the browser. What about the machine level functionality? How computer works inside?

I came to think about this for a second. Earlier, like back in the 80s, computer hobbyists had a computer that they could program a bit simpler and deeper with. It was Commodore 64. This device was partly an electronic device and partly a early personal computer. You could learn programming in BASIC or you could, if you had the talent and will to learn, program in assembler.

Assembler means that you are talking to the machine as close as possible. You get to temper with how the machine uses memory and so on. Commodore 64 was a perfect device for someone to learn skills like programming.

Today we don’t have such hardware. We do have complicated systems running complicated operating systems. You might get yourself a Raspberry Pi but that isn’t the same thing. I recently watched a documentary that was dealing with this issue. Back in 1990s there were people going to study Computer Science in universities. Nearly all of them had some background with C-64. Now there just isn’t a good enough source that you could basically learn and build on to learn some more about this field.

Things in computer technology have been progressing. It has become more and more difficult to learn the basics. It is also required for you to learn more about frameworks and software that runs on these complex systems. But you must remember that there is always the user in this field also. That’s where you can learn a lot.

Do you necessarily need Windows to play PC games?

Linux as an operating system of personal computers has been competing to this day against Microsoft’s Windows. Linux has advantages. First of all it’s free and mostly open source. So anyone with a decent knowledge about programming and computers and operating systems has an opportunity to learn and even modify this system. But is Linux capable of running the latest games? To this question I am trying to answer in this blog post.

Windows has a large support as an operating system that delivers reliability. It can run latest PC games and it is an answer to many electronic music producers as Linux currently doesn’t fully support VST instruments or many sequencer applications like, for example, FL Studio. Linux has some free music production apps. like Ardour, but to get your software and hardware to run decently is to my own experience a bit difficult.

Windows is not free. Windows still supports many hardware drivers that are important when running newest PC games. Take graphics processing units for example. Most of the GPU´s are supported. You have to pay for Windows. Usually you get the new Windows with a computer that you purchase. Usually you also get the update to a newer version when it is released. Still sometimes you might have an old computer and you don’t want to spend about 150 euros for only getting the newest operating system. Then Linux definitely is a good choice.

There is a war going on between Linux and Windows. It has been this way for decades. While Linux is supported by heavy users, technology nerds and programmers Windows is still holding on to it’s position as the default personal computer operating system. Of course there are also Mac users. So this also messes up the picture a bit. I definitely like to use Linux for programming if I can make a free choice. This is because it is more secure and it doesn’t need necessarily a virus protection application. It also has more opportunities to get deeper into technology of computer. You get to work with command line and the apps are mainly free and open source. You also get more updates and get to tweak your system a bit more.

You can get Windows games working with Linux. Older games certainly can be run through DOSBox, if they are DOS games, and through Wine, if they are Windows games. There has been a discussion goin on how clearly are Steam games running on Linux. There seems to be a certain distinction between Windows and Linux games that I am not so clear about. The software seems to be in question. I cannot reply to this question fully and I admit that. But it is an interesting point.

So if you plan to play the newest games my answer to you is – get a computer that runs Windows. That is to make sure that you have the latest drivers and have yourself the full support from hardware manufacturers and game developers. Since we are moving more and more towards digital markets when purchasing games it is also important that you have Steam or GOG.com or some other place to buy yourself games for your PC. This is how the situation seems to be. Linux has it’s own supporters and you have to keep in mind that Linux has it’s native games that run only on Linux. So to conclude – Linux is developing and it might be possible that it makes a takeover in the future but currently you will have to use Windows.

Redream – A Dreamcast Emulator

Segas last gaming console, Dreamcast, was released in 1999, at least in Europe. It was actually released in November 1998 in Japan. It wasn’t a bad console. Many say it was the best gaming console that was ever released. To some it was even better than the first PlayStation. It sure was more powerful. It had many great games but it only stayed available for consumers to buy for a short period of time. Dreamcast was drawn from manufacture at the end of 2001. So there might have been more games released for this system if it would have been longer in the markets.

Some good Dreamcast games that I’ve played are Skies of Arcadia, NBA 2K2 and Crazy Taxi. I have heard that games like Sonic Adventure, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Quake III Arena and Jet Set Radio are good games also. If you have a game for Dreamcast I haven’t mentioned here feel free to comment this post. Skies of Arcadia is a nice role playing game. It reminds a lot of Final Fantasy games. Crazy Taxi is a kind of a driving game where you pick up customers and drive them where they want to go. NBA2K2 is pretty much what the title says – a basketball game.

Let’s talk about Redream. It is a Dreamcast emulator. It is available for Linux, Windows and Mac. There is also an option for a download for Raspberry Pi. The setup is made easy for a user of a computer. You select the download that corresponds to your operating system. Then you unpack and just run the application. You might want to add shortcut to desktop also. The user interface is also easy to learn. You can see all the games you have currently. You can select the location of your rom files inside your computer. You can also adjust some settings concerning your saved games, input devices, video (for example the resolution of the screen you are using) and some other options related to localization.

Redream is a good looking Dreamcast emulator. It’s clearly the easiest one to use when I think about its competitors such as DEmul and NullDC. They required more fiddling with the settings. Dreamcast emulators, all in all, are far more easier to setup than a well known PS2 emulator PCSX2 is. Don’t get me wrong. PCSX2 is a great emulator. It just is a bit hard for a non technical user to setup. Redream also works very nicely. I haven’t had any problems. It hasn’t crashed at all as I have used it for some time now. You can download stable release or development release. This means that the stable version has been tested and development version is the most recent versio´n that has the most recent new features.

You can download Redream here

What kinds of games can you play with PC?

Besides newest games you can play also retro games with PC. There is lots of DOS and also retro console games available. For this purpose I would prefer Windows but Linux has also some potential. In this article the focus is on games you can play with Windows.

Let’s start our journey into PC gaming of today by introducing some DOS classics. I’m talking games like Bubble Bobble, Blues Brothers, Doom, Command And Conquer, Dune, Golden Axe, Lemmings, Mortal Kombat, NHL 97, Populous, Theme Park. This list isn’t in any way complete but I can recommend all these games. With DOSBox you can also run old apps such as Impulse Tracker, which is a music production app. Instructions on installing DOSBox can be found by Googling. I recommend GUI and I use D-Fend Reloaded for this purpose.

There is also a possibility to play old retro games with many different kinds of emulators. Almost every system has it’s own emulator and PC is good platform to experiment these. You can also choose to mod a device like original Xbox or use system like Raspberry Pi. In any case be sure to use a good USB connected controller that suits retro gaming. I myself have lots of different gamepads. My favourite for PC is Xbox One Elite Pad.

Of course you can play modern games also. There is a large collection of games found on Steam and online game stores like GOG. So when it’s possible, buy the game, because gaming industry really needs your support. You will support production of some quality games. Be sure also to check your local flea market as I have found many great older games from there and the price definitely is as low as can be.

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