Overlooked PSP releases that took place this year (and 2 interesting stories about their origin) – Hydra Castle Labyrinth port, CMFileManager PSP and UniPCEmu
Many homebrew and emulator developers seem to have gone fishing for a couple of Black Friday deals this week and as a result, news on those fronts has been scarce. In times like this, I go looking around for something a little unusual and to my surprise, I found a couple of PSP homebrew releases that few if any of us have heard of!
Hydra Castle Labyrinth ported to the PSP
Sometime in 2016/7, an anonymous user on 4chan apparently worked on porting Hydra Castle Labyrinth to the Nintendo 3DS. Then, in March 2017, a GBATemp found this user’s work and brought it some visibility. Shortly after, the 3DS’ port source code was uploaded to GitHub and it turned out that it contained a nearly complete PSP port!
Fast forwarding a little under a year, in February 2018, Wololo /talk user “carstene1ns”, with the help “ptitSeb”, was able to polish up and fix up the PSP port enough so that it could enjoy by the public. I personally tested it on my PSVita via Adrenaline and these are my observations:
- Sound and music work
- Performance is quite good and I didn’t notice any stutters in my short play session
- Both the d-pad and the analogue stick can be used for movement
- There’s an option to use 1:1 scaling, to fill the screen while keeping the game’s aspect ratio (4:3) and to stretch the game to 16:9
- There’s a blur mode which you can enable for smoother graphics
If you were around a couple of years ago, then you may have head of a homebrew called CyanogenPSP. This homebrew provided your PSP with an Android-esque interface and it had numerous features including:
- A launcher for homebrew, PS1 games and PSP games
- A picture viewer and music player
- Support for custom wallpapers and fonts among other features
While it included a lot of features and looked quite nice, its developer, Joel16, says that its code was quite a mess and the file manager barely worked. To ‘remedy’ this, he decided to give the PSP scene one final contribution and that was the release of CMFileManagerPSP which, obviously, contains much better coding than CyanogenPSP as Joel16 has learned a lot during his Computer Engineering course.
CMFileManagerPSP looks very similar to NXShell and provides the following features:
- Ability to copy/move/paste/delete and rename files and folders. You may also create folders
- Option to browse flash0 and flash1 although you should be careful not to mess around with anything here unless you know what you’re doing
- An image viewer (which didn’t work properly on the images I tried)
- A dark theme although I prefer the lighter one
- It can launch ISOs and homebrew
- Many other features including auto USB mounting and a nice looking status bar
To grab CMFileManagerPSP, follow this link to its Wololo /talk page. If you had already downloaded it a short while back, note that version 1.01 was made available a week ago!
UniPCEmu, by ‘Superfury’, is an x86 emulator that was originally made for the PSP but later on, it got ported to Windows and Android. This emulator apparently lets you emulate a whole slew of different hardware configurations, from an IBM PC with an 8086 to a Compaq Deskpro 386 with an 80486.
Unlike the other two pieces of homebrew mentioned in this article, there isn’t much of a story relating to the PSP version but I could come up with the following conclusions after loading it up on my PSVita:
- It has a whole slew of options to configure which hints that it values compatibility and accuracy over other emulators
- The menu is similar to that found in DaedalusX64 with the L/R triggers to navigate between pages
- The EBOOT takes a long time to load but it eventually works
- According to its developer, performance isn’t the best but you should try it anyway if you want to play some old DOS games on your PSP
For more information, check out the website linked above or its Wololo /talk thread.
It is quite surprising that the PSP is still receiving some homebrew even after a whopping 14 years following its original release in Japan.
Without a doubt, this is a console that holds a special place in the hearts of many of us and if you want to get back to the old PSP glory days, you can grab one for cheap nowadays. Alternatively, you can get a PSVita which is essentially a PSP on steroids plus its own game library and many notable homebrew games/ports!