A trip down homebrew lane: Basilisk II on PSP
Computer emulators have been a thing for quite a while on portable devices but they are rarely useful enough like say, console emulators. Most of them are quite clunky, slow and overall painful to use and that was true for some 90s computer emulators on the PSP such as Bochs which was nothing more than a Proof Of Concept.
The main choice for 90s computers was between two giants, Apple and Windows computers. You had DOS, Windows 3.1/95/98 and ME via DosBox 0.74 and System 7/7.1 and MacOS 7.5/7.6/8.0/8.1 via Basilisk II. While many people have fond memories of their old Windows games, DosBox on PSP barely booted Windows 9x let alone run fast enough to even play the most basic of games such as Hover! (a game that was bundled on the Windows 95 CD). DosBox on PSP was a tad clunky to use when it came to keyboard input and it had one big flaw with Windows 9x; anything written to disk wasn’t saved after quitting DosBox so it made doing anything on Windows 9x purely useless as it disappeared next time you used it on your PSP. While DOS emulation was pretty decent with a mouse-enabled shell, it still proved to be a tad clunky because of hard to use keyboard input and the fact that the iconic DOS 640×480 resolution didn’t really scale very nicely on the PSP’s screen (480×272).
On the other side, there was Basilisk II. A less well-known emulator for a slightly less popular platform (68k macs) that still had a lot of software back then. Basilisk II was a much better alternative since it improved a lot on DosBox in the following areas:
- Better keyboard input (you didn’t have to remember key combos)
- Better performance
- Ability to save files after poweroff
- More stable
- Easier to configure
- Ability to use 512×384 or 640×360; both of which scale nicely
- Ability to use multiple hard drive files and CDs
All of these advantages combined with the fact that it wasn’t very hard to set up a virtual machine on a computer and copy it over make Basilisk II probably the best 90s computer emulator on the PSP and on probably every portable device. Basilisk II was not the usual PoC piece of homebrew but it had an actual use that made it more than a novelty. Most 68k mac software ran on it and most at a decent speed as well which coupled with the nice UI of older Mac OS made the whole experience a very enjoyable one.
The emulator can even benefit from the added RAM and TV-Out on the PSP slim and newer models along with being able to use IR keyboards that are compatible with the PSP Phat. Of course, the emulator also has sound support and a UDP tunnel for Appletalk over WiFi which probably makes it the beefiest PSP computer emulator out there and the UI it is bundled with makes it extremely simple to configure the settings.
Nowadays, Basilisk II can be enjoyed on any PSP as it works correctly on CFW 6.61 and even on Adrenaline 6.61 on the PSVita. Maybe one day we’ll get a native port of it on the PS Vita (and maybe even SheepShaver which is kind of wishful thinking)
Download link: http://www.consolespot.net/uploads/downloads_downloads/BasiliskII-PSP-1.1.1.zip (link copied from a /talk post: http://wololo.net/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11478)
Link to set it up on Windows (just copy files over): http://www.emaculation.com/doku.php/basilisk_ii_setup
Image source: E-maculation and Low End Mac via Google Images