The PSIO, a Playstation optical drive emulator developed by Cybdyn Systems, received a firmware update last week that addressed several bugs and improved game compatibility. The changelog is listed below:
Recent Changes from 2.6.11->2.6.12
- [Bug Fix] Launching by ‘Quick Start’ would not set the HC05 license correctly which would result in some games freezing.
- [Bug Fix] Some files would not be listed or sometimes the PlayStation would crash when getting the SD Card contents on boot.
- [Bug Fix] The wallpaper bitmap would become corrupted when using a multitap.
- [Bug Fix] Some PS-EXE BOOT strings did not contain a backslash which would make the PS-EXE string ‘null’.
- [Bug Fix] The intro video and credits videos don’t crash the PlayStation anymore.
ARM Firmware Changes
- “Assault Rigs” freezing fixed.
- “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” audio and graphics fixed.
- “Tomb Raider” freezing fixed.
- “Spider-Man 1 & 2” audio fixed.
- “Star Wars – Jedi Power Battles” audio fixed.
- “Philosoma” freezing fixed.
- CDDA synchronisation improvements.
For some context, the Redump database for the original Playstation includes 10,265 entries as of this article’s publication; if you’ll excuse this writer’s editorializing, that is an intimidating figure for a team looking to achieve broad compatibility though hardware simulation. Still, it would appear from the number of open bugs in Cybdyn’s tracker and the chatter on the PSIO forums that a significant number of games are at least playable to completion. For a project that has been in development since 2012, it must be immensely satisfying for the developers to see so few significant bugs left to track down.
A few parting thoughts:
I. Something I find interesting about reading the changelogs for previous PSIO firmwares is that they focus almost exclusively on compatibility fixes as opposed to new user-facing features. To be clear, that’s not a criticism—a functional ODE is more useful than a feature rich but unreliable ODE. However, one wonders what kinds of features could be implemented as compatibility improves and development resources become more fluid for Cybdyn. Could we see folder support? A way to run un-patched Libcrypt titles? A GameShark style cheat code system? No one but the team at Cybdyn can really say what milestones need to be reached before features like these could even be considered, but it is an exciting time to be a PSX user.
II. Because of the size of the PSX’s library, some bugs will be so rare and esoteric that they’ll likely never even be seen by a small team like Cybdyn. As a result, projects like this depend on user testing and feedback to help improve compatibility. After all, how can a developer fix a problem if they never even know it exists? Fortunately, Cybdyn’s PSIO forums have a section expressly for user feedback, which is a terrific way to bring bugs to the developers’ attention. Make sure to be respectful and thorough though, because vague reports filled with negative comments can be difficult for developers to sort through.
III. Lastly, it bears emphasizing that projects like the PSIO take plenty of effort and resources to develop. It’s no secret that nearly every project in retro gaming has a knockoff counterpart out there, and those knockoffs leech valuable assets (read: financial support) from the developers that need them the most. A few paragraphs ago I mentioned that the PSIO has been in development since 2012 and is, as I understand it, the only commercially available PSX ODE on the market—while it’s not an insignificant investment to buy a PSIO kit and have it installed, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue that its price is an accurate reflection of both its utility and the research and development that brought it to its current state. If you care about the developers that are working to preserve gaming through projects like PSIO, please buy official hardware.