Technology has come a long way over just the past decade. For example, we now carry smartphones in our pocket that are capable of handling even the most hardware intensive tasks, which not too long ago required a looming beast of a machine to handle. In that respective, it’s easy to accept the fact that Android smartphones and tablets are more than capable of sustaining emulation software. We can play Game Boy Advance, PlayStation One, and even PlayStation Portable games right on our mobile devices. Recently, in a fit of nostalgia I dug up some of my old –and cherished- PlayStation one titles and it sparked my curiosity. It eventually led to my purchase of FPse, an Android based emulator which plays original PlayStation games. It’s worth noting right here and now that a free version of this app is not available, but seeing as it’s only $3.95 and it’s totally worth it I’m going to feature a review.
As a side note, video game emulators are something of a grey area when it comes to the legal side of things. While creating digital copies of titles you actually own is not illegal, downloading roms and isos from the internet is. I’m not going to highlight or discuss how to get games on your Android device, so if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll have to go elsewhere.
What is it and what does it do
FPse is an emulator that allows Android devices to run PlayStation One titles. Vandal Hearts, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy IX, Tomb Raider, Chrono Cross, Resident Evil 2, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon. If any of those titles tickle your fancy and send you spinning into a fit of nostalgic memories, then you should understand why I chose to review this app. With my main source of portable emulation dead, I figured I would try my hand with Android. There are emulators for PC, but Android devices are portable and wireless.
- Playstation 1 emulator for Android
- Can scale resolution of most games to HD quality
- Performs very well, and few games experience issues during playback
- Includes native compression support for disc images to save storage space
- Main UI displays game library as cover art
- Lots of customization options including virtual button setup (find a layout that works for you)
- No free version available, but it’s only $3.95
- Uses anywhere from 21MB of RAM to 50MB during use, pretty respectable for an emulator but still hefty for a mobile app
- FPse does not come with a PSX bios file, which is necessary for emulation
After the first boot, the application will prompt you to load the PSX bios file. It’s absolutely necessary for emulation, because it’s an integral file in the loading process. I cannot reveal how to get your hands on a bios, because it’s illegal to download if you don’t own a Playstation 1 console.
Most emulators on the market are just recycled from previous compilations. That is, an amateur developer -or resourceful one at that- took an older release and repurposed it. Generally, that means they took an emulator from a different platform and just ported it for use on another. Rarely do you see a developer producing an emulator from scratch, so when it happens it’s certainly a benefit. Well, it’s great unless the developer stops providing support, but that’s another kind of monster.
FPse is one such emulator that was designed from scratch.
It’s capable of running several different files types including iso, bin, cue, nrg, mdz, and proprietary z formats. The developers offer a unique tool which can decrease the total size of Playstation isos, by compressing media files and the like. This allows you to keep more games on your internal or external storage. You can also compress games from directly within the app using the same compression methods.
Once games have been loaded by the application, they show up on the main screen as simple cover art. This is a nice touch from a UI standpoint and is definitely welcome. A lot of emulators just use a plain old file browsing UI, instead of a graphically enhanced menu.
You can store games anywhere on your device, and use the applications built-in file browser to open them. Multi-disc games are supported, that means you can enjoy Final Fantasy titles even with their ridiculous array of necessary files.
The control layout can be edited at any time, both by altering the default setup or by creating your very own profile. I like prefer touch controls to be a little higher than they usually are (at the bottom left and right corners), because naturally my thumbs rest higher when I’m holding my tablet. They necessary buttons were very easily configured to suit my tastes.
Many of the games are scaled to an HD resolution through the app, but of course this is an option you need to enable in the settings menu. I have to say, it makes even some of the most graphically lacking titles look remarkably better.
The app even works with the OUYA if you have one. Devices running Android 2.1 and up are supported, but obviously you will need something a little more powerful to play the games at a decent framerate.
While idle, FPse uses about 21MB of RAM but it ramps up to about 50+MB when a game has been loaded. Still, that’s not bad at all for an emulator. Performance is fantastic all across the board, at least from what I encountered.
Conclusion and download link
Thanks to FPse, I can now enjoy my favorite Playstation One titles right on my Android smartphone or tablet. More specifically, I can experience them in a full HD resolution at impressive framerates. Of course, performance will vary widely depending on the device you’re using as emulation does require a bit of power to accomplish. That being said, FPse is definitely reasonable when it comes to RAM usage, capping off around 50MB or so. Every game I’ve thrown at it so far has run flawlessly, including Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot 2, Resident Evil 2, Dino Crisis 2, Vagrant Story and more. If you’re looking for a PSX emulator that will work great on your Android device, this one is certainly worth the purchase. It works great with wireless controllers and OUYA too. It’s not free though, so if you want to play you’ll have to pony up $3.95. In my opinion, it’s worth the price especially if you’re jonesin’ for a nostalgic gameplay experience.
Version reviewed: 0.11.113
Requires: 2.1 and up
Download size: 1.6MB (need much more space for disc images)