PPSSPP is one of the easiest to use PSP emulators. Theoretically, you can run it, select a game file, and almost immediately you’ll see most of PlayStation Portable’s titles run on your screen without a hitch.
Learn how you can install PPSSPP in Linux and customize how it works. If you have a powerful computer, you can also implement upgrades that can dramatically improve how all games are presented and perform in PPSSPP.
PPSSPP is quite popular, but it’s absent from many popular distributions. Among them, as a not-so-random example, Ubuntu.
To install it in most Debian-based distributions, you first need to add its official repository to them.
You should then refresh the list of available software with the command
Finally, proceed to the installation of the application itself, with the command
Playing a Game
To play an actual game, you will need a copy of the game stored locally, usually in ISO or CSO format. Select “File -> Load” and then, from the next window, select the game’s file. PPSSPP will load the image and run the title automatically. For full-screen mode, double click in an empty spot of the emulator’s main interface.
If you have a joypad set up, the emulator will probably have picked it up. The controls will have been mapped based on the mapping the PlayStation gaming family has used for decades. On the keyboard, the defaults are the cursor keys for the D-Pad (movement), Z as “X,” A as “Square,” S as “Triangle,” and X as “Circle,” with space for “Start” and V for “Select.” The analog nub is mapped to I-K-J-L (Up, Down, Left, and Right, respectively). If your joypad wasn’t recognized or you don’t like the default keymap, you can change them in the settings.
Settings and Customization
PPSSPP gives access to the same options from two different points. One of them is its typical top-row menu if you have PPSSPP running in window-mode. This menu is inaccessible in full-screen mode. The full set of options and settings, however, is only accessible through the Settings option through its, for lack of a better term, in-emulator environment.
Keep a mental (or actual) note of this option, for you may need it in the future: if a title has any problems with its graphics, try changing the emulator’s Rendering Mode to “Software rendering (slow).”
This has much lower performance but also significantly increased compatibility. Although rarely needed, in some cases it can be a one-way street for the proper reproduction of a title trouble-free – at least until the release of a new version of the emulator that fixes the problems that plague it.
In contrast to the software rendering, we saw in the previous step “Postprocessing shader” does not help solve problems and compatibility issues, but can dramatically change how PPSSPP presents all PSP games.
Postprocessing shaders are filters applied to the game directly on the GPU. They can, for example, smooth out annoying pixels in graphics (antialiasing), make your new screen look ancient (CRT scanlines), or modify a game’s colors (natural colors).
Instead of trying to describe them all, it might be best if you tried them one by one to see which you’d like to use. Tastes and opinions differ, and whereas someone might love a CRT filter because it reminds him of his childhood sitting in front of the family’s TV with a home console, another will hate a CRT shader’s unavoidable fuzziness.
Despite having a well-respected collection of outstanding games, the PSP, hardware-wise, was not only based on what is today considered ancient technology but also had the disadvantage of being portable. Well, yes, obviously, a portable console should be, first and foremost, portable.
The reason we mention this as a disadvantage is that, as hardware shrinks, so does its performance. So, although the PSP was released after the PlayStation 2, its actual performance is far lower than its bigger brother’s. We won’t even mention the following generations of Sony’s consoles.
All this is our polite way of saying that PSP games usually look much worse than anything running on a PlayStation 2 or newer. PSP’s actual resolution was a tragically low 480 x 272 pixels, 16 times smaller than the already “old” full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Fortunately, PPSSPP can do something about this little problem.
The “Rendering resolution” option allows you to change the resolution of the emulated games to a multiple of the actual PSP resolution. The 4x value is pretty much perfect for full HD monitors.
Usually, the higher the resolution the higher the emulator’s requirements. In this case, though, PSP was based on such outdated technology, and PPSSPP is so optimized, that most PCs won’t sweat pushing the resolution even higher – if your monitor can take it.
The options in the Texture scaling section can dramatically improve how a game displays and, quite the opposite, turn it into a nightmarish mess. Their effectiveness and quality of results depends on the type of each game’s graphics: are they two-dimensional or three-dimensional?
Texture scaling is ideal for 3D graphics, as it can upgrade the surfaces used in all 3D models that create a game’s world.
That is why we cannot provide predefined values and settings that will offer optimal results for everyone. As with postprocessing shaders, it all depends on both the individual game and the user’s preferences. However, it is worth fooling around with these options to see their results in action on each title. Some might end up feeling like wholly different games. Others will turn to Picasso wannabes. You can’t win all the time.
PPSSPP includes an FPS counter you can – and should – enable to see the toll your tweaks on the emulator’s options have on actual performance.
Although useful while tweaking, when you’ve set everything up, you might want to disable the FPS counter, unless you end up playing a lot of different games at the same time, continually changing the emulator’s settings for each one of them.
“Control mapping” allows you to remap the PSP’s physical buttons on your keyboard. And yes, this includes “the nub,” the little analog joystick that was, thankfully, ignored by many games.
To enjoy most of the games as they were designed to be played, you could use a PS4 joypad with a Bluetooth receiver on your PC or an older PS2 one with an adapter. They’re the closest you can get to the PSP’s actual button configuration on a PC.