A Sony Playstation emulator for Windows reviewed on 9/9/2003 by Vincent T. Vantine.
"For many years, the only viable Playstation emulators were the commercial products Bleem! and Connectix VGS. Well, those days are done and the Playstation emulation community has a new champion, ePSXe."
Playstation is more than just another console in the list, it’s the platform that gave emulation its first push into the mainstream. Many people would debate whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, but most of them will agree on one point and that would be the emulation scene has been forever changed.
The challenge for every “Next Generation” emulator has been the ability to run a single game flawlessly. Though it’s true that this has been the goal of most “Retro” emulators as well, the new frontier in emulation has given that goal new meaning. While ePSXe was not the first to achieve this goal, it is currently raising the bar on compatibility and features the highest compatibility of any Playstation emulator, surpassing even it’s legendary predecessors.
One of the most noticeable attributes of ePSXe is it’s well-rounded user interface. Everything is provided in a very clear and easy-to-use fashion. Upon first initializing the emulator, the user is even presented with a wizard to guide them through the step-by-step process of setting up and configuring the emulator. This wizard can be invoked at any time afterwards as well with just a few clicks. Also included is a very well-written and comprehensive help file detailing just about everything and even guiding users to sites where they can find required files such as plugins.
A feature of most Playstation emulators, including ePSXe, it the ability to use plugins for most primary functions such as video, audio, input, and CD-ROM support. For this reason, it makes judging these categories quite difficult. So, for these categories we will be judging based on the included plugins and recommended plugins.
The first plugin we’ll take a look at is the graphics plugin. This is one of the only plugins that ePSXe doesn’t provide, with the exception of a Netplay plugin. In the built-in configuration wizard, there is a selection of Pete’s most common video plugins recommended as well as what respective cards they should be used in conjunction with. Also included is a recommendation for 3Dfx Voodoo users which would be Lewpy’s Glide plugin. We have found all of these plugins to be top-notch and all of the recommendations to be accurate. The documentation provided with ePSXe also does an adequate job of directing the user to where they can download the plugins mentioned.
The second plugin would be the sound (or SPU) plugin. For this function, the ePSXe team has created and provided their own plugin. The ePSXe SPU performed great. For most gamers, there will be no reason or need to change this plugin and using it couldn’t be any easier as no configuration settings are needed for this plugin.
Next up would be the CD-ROM plugin. This plugin handles both running games directly from the computer's physical CD-ROM as well as loading ISOs. For this, the ePSXe team has included two of their own plugins; one using the Win9x/Me ASPI core, and another using the Win2k/XP core. Both plugins are excellent and provide everything any gamer would want. For the most part, there should be no reason for anyone to need to change these plugins.
The last major plugin to address would be the Input Plugin, sometimes referred to as the Gamepad Plugin. This plugin serves a very simple function, and that is to provide input through either a keyboard or a gamepad to the emulator. ePSXe’s own controller plugin is fully integrated, and for good reason; it’s one of the best controller plugins available. There is absolutely nothing that this plugin is missing.
With all of that covered, the only real issue left is overall performance. Due to the plugin system, performance is very difficult to gauge. On a properly configured system meeting the requirements of ePSXe and the plugins being used, performance is excellent and on systems exceeding those requirements, performance can even surpass that of the Playstation in quality.
In the end, all that can be said is that the Playstation emulation scene finally has a quality emulator that is here to stay and if or when it dies, it will still be enjoyed by all and not simply known for a trail of crippled demos or litigation.
For those wondering what the primary configuration used in this review was, it can be found below. Other configurations were also used to test various aspects of the emulator and plugins.