Ever had a burning desire to to play your favourite Sony PSP games console in virtual reality? No? Well, I’ll tell you why you’re wrong. PPSSPP VR is here, an emulator for Sony’s PlayStation Portable games console which brings the ability to render games in VR for your Oculus Rift DK2 – and it’s pretty awesome!
As a long time gamer and subsequent emulation fan, watching the retro-gaming scene evolve has been a fascinating pass-time. Back in ‘the good old days’, computing power was barely able to keep up with 80’s and 90’s games consoles let alone the latest platforms. These days however, just about every major (and not so major) games platform from the last 30+ years is emulated with extraordinary accuracy, and in many cases better than the original.
Based on the excellent PSP emulator PPSSPP, a new virtual reality enabled version has just been released which leverages the advanced emulation abilities of the original but adds the ability to play games using an Oculus Rift VR headset. And before you dismiss the idea, assuming that this is a gimmicky implementation with a lame floating screen in front of your face when immersed, it absolutely is not.
PPSSPP VR re-renders PSP game geometry and not only adds true stereoscopic 3D to the game, but adds head tracking and pre-warping. All of which means that, when you stick your face into your Rift with PPSSPP VR running, you’re immersed in the game with the ability to glance about the gameworld in 3D and at a higher resolution than the original console version!
You’ll need the emulator itself (check link above) and an ISO created from an original PSP game (yes, these are available online, no we’re not going to endorse piracy by linking to them here). The emulator installs professionally (proper program group and everything) and once fired up, the developers have implemented almost all menus via a VR version, displayed within the headset. Unfortunately, selecting the ISO itself still spawns a standard monitor window, there’s no VR file manager, but once you’re done you can keep your headset on.
Update: Seems I missed the obvious here – hitting the games button brings up a list of titles to choose from within VR. The requisite facepalms have been issued.
I grabbed a copy of Wipeout Pure (which I own, before you ask) and fired the application up, popped on my DK2 and I was in the game! As stated, this isn’t some nasty hacked-up VR implementation, and I spent a little while after the first race started aimlessly gawping at the track and scenery in glorious 3D while my AI counterparts sped off in front of me.
With no setup whatsoever, my Xbox 360 controller was automatically configured and I selected the ‘in-cockpit’ camera view from the game’s menus and I was ‘there’! Save for some Z-clipping issues and some stuttering (I’ve not tweaked anything as yet, so this may be entirely fixable) I was zooming around in my futuristic hover-ship marvelling at how far emulation has come.
Considering that this is an initial release, the emulator is seriously impressive. Game compatibility appears excellent and the virtual reality emulation appears almost as good as the much more mature (and highly recommended) Dolphin VR – it’s likely it’ll only improve from here too.