While we here at Wololo.net have enjoyed the slow news week (as I’m sure you guys have, releases were non-stop for almost a month) it feels good to be able to report again on something major for all of us. As you well know, the Libretro team and their platform RetroArch is the go-to for emulation on the Vita at this point in time and their hard work has been the gift that keeps on giving: last week they gave us a better working PSX/PS1 emulator (even featuring EBOOT.PBP format support) by implementing Dynarec – also known as Dynamic Recompilation – into PCSX-R and this week, PicoDrive (the all purpose SEGA emulator) and the mythical gpSP have also received a dynarec update that made them significantly faster as the Libretro team themselves say on Twitter:
@frangarcj got the dynarec to work with gpSP for RetroArch Vita! Expect much faster performance for GBA emulation!
Dynamic Recompilation is basically a feature of the operating system that lets a program recompile some code at runtime. Long story short, it’s extremely useful for emulators and the like, because those need to do cross-platform code conversion on the fly. Having native support for such a feature basically means improved speed for emulators. Emulators will not get this for free though, the developers of emulators on the vita will need to implement Dynarec in their code. Yifanlu provided some pointers on how this is achieved, and now we see the fruits of that work grow as more and more emulators start using dynarec to enhance their performance significantly.
What Should You Expect?
I have been doing my share of testing with gpSP (remember that the PicoDrive update is barely out, nor do I have interest in the 32x) and from what I can tell, most games run better than they did on my current go-to emulator mGBA. Most games ran at 60 with a few drops here and there, I was even able to play Golden Sun – the juggernaut killer of any GBA emulator’s performance – at a steady 60FPS outside of combat and even within combat things stayed mostly smooth. Keep in mind however I did not go into the world map, so I can’t vouch for that yet but I’d say things are looking very promising.
The latest reports on this is that dynarec is causing some weird stuttering issues in gpSP but the libretro team is already on it as I type this. Expect a fix soon enough. RetroArch gpSP is still by far the better GBA emulator we have now however.
To be able to enjoy these latest RetroArch updates all you need to do is direct your browser to the Playstation Vita Nightlies folder of the RetroArch buildbot and download any build from the 4th October onwards.
I have also been asked on Twitter about the icon pack I was using for my RetroArch bubbles after the PCSX article. It’s rather simple really: all you need is go to the major GBATemp RetroArch thread and scroll down to the bottom of the first post where you will find this file. Extract it and copy the RetroArch folder for the emulators you are using to ur0:appmeta (not ux0:appmeta) and then restart your PS Vita to enjoy your shiny new icons. You need to do this everytime you reinstall an emulator however. Credits go to GBATemp users j33 and Melon Head.