Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: June 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The KXploit - no more swapping

Spanish PSP-Dev team member, Killer-X, who recently released the "swaploit", has just released a new and improved method of running homebrew applications on PSPs with the v1.50 firmware. The new technique (dubbed "KXploit") still involves converting homebrew programs using a PC application, but once they're on the memory stick duo, you simply select the icon in the PSP menu and press a button to run it. No swap required. It's a far more elegant solution, that will no doubt lead to many more people running emulators on their PSPs. The emulation scene is still going gangbusters, with the first release of a GBA emulator for PSP today, and rumours of a PSone emulator in development.

The other factor that may lead to increased take-up of homebrew on PSP will simply be the lack of official PSP games being released. There's a noticable black hole in the PSP release schedules between now and September, with very few titles coming out, and even fewer worth getting excited about. Emulation should provide a welcome distraction for PSP owners until the second generation of PSP games are released.

If you're interested you can download the KXploit pack here.

By the way, thanks for the 50,000 hits everyone.

Friday, June 17, 2005

v1.00 Firmware PSP Compatibility List

As I've mentioned before, Sony are trying to put an end to the practice of running unencrypted PSP programs (ie. homebrew) by way of mandatory firmware updates in new PSP games. While running homebrew is now possible with v1.50 PSPs (via the "swaploit"), it's still only really user-friendly with the original v1.00 Japanese PSP. Many v1.00 PSP owners have already bought a second PSP to play new games on, allowing them to keep their first PSP in its original state. If you have a v1.00 PSP, you might want to know which games you can play that won't try to update your firmware.

To that end, I've compiled what I believe is the first complete list of all PSP games that will run on the original v1.00 firmware. So if you have a version 1.00 PSP and want to keep it that way, you won't be playing any games on it that aren't on this list. Sad but true.

List of PSP games known to work under v1.00 firmware:


AI Igo (JP)
AI Mahjong(JP)
AI Shogi (JP)
Armored Core: Formula Front (JP)
Bleach: Heat The Soul (JP)
Derby Time (JP)
Doko Demo Issho (JP)
Eiyuu Densetsu Gagharv Trilogy: Shiroki Majo (JP)
Higanjima (JP)
Kollon (JP)
Kotoba NoPuzzle Mojipittan (JP)
Lumines (JP)
Mahjong Fight Club (JP)
Mahjong Takai (JP)
Metal Gear AC!D (JP)
Minna no Golf Portable (JP)
Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de Go! (JP)
Namco Museum (JP)
NFSU: Rivals (JP)
Piposaru Academia (JP)
Popolocrois Monogatari (JP)
Puzzle Bobble Pocket (JP)
Rengoku (JP)
Ridge Racers (JP)
Saru Getchu P (JP)
Shin Sengokumusou (JP)
Shoutokou Battle (JP)
Tales of Eternia (JP)
Vampire Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (JP)
WipEout Pure (JP)


Ape Escape: On the Loose (US)
Archer Maclean's Mercury (US)
ATV: Offroad Fury (US)
Darkstalkers Chronicle (US)
Dynasty Warriors (US)
FIFA Soccer (US)
Gretzky NHL (US)
Lumines (US)
Metal Gear AC!D (US)
NFL Street 2 Unleashed (US)
NFSU: Rivals (US)
Ridge Racer (US)
Smart Bomb (US)
Spiderman 2 (US)
THUG 2 Remix (US)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour (US)
Twisted Metal: Head On (US)
Untold Legends (US)
WipEout Pure (US)
World Tour Soccer (US)


Everybody's Golf (K)
Glorace - Phantastic Carnival (K)

That's it. If you think I've missed anything, let me know.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

PSP v1.50 exploit goes live

In what is sure to be music to the ears of many US PSP owners (and many Japanese PSP owners for that matter), the rumours I mentioned in my last post have turned out to be true. The exploit allowing unencrypted homebrew to run on PSPs with version 1.50 firmware (not 1.51 or 1.52) has been released. If you want it, there are plenty of download mirrors here. Spanish PSP-dev team member Killer-X is the guy who discovered this exploit.

I haven't tested it myself (as I don't have a v1.50 PSP), but from reading through the documentation, it's clear that for end-users, running homebrew on v1.50 is not quite as simple as it is under v1.0. On version 1.0 PSPs, it's as simple as pushing a button. Not so with v1.50 I'm afraid. Indeed the new trick has been dubbed a "swaploit" as it involves swapping memory sticks. Yes, you'll need two Memory Stick Duos for the magic to work, with special files on both. The first stick is for the loader. The second is for the homebrew software you want to run. Using a provided PC program called "MSwap Tool" you can create the files to put on both sticks (as the homebrew software will need to be specially converted to run via this method). Then it's a matter of booting your PSP with the first Memory Stick Duo (and no UMD) in, highlighting the loader icon, and not pushing the button yet. Get your second stick ready, hit the button and as soon the program starts running, you need to swap out the first Memory Stick Duo for the second one. Sounds dicey I know, but apparently that's how it's done. Voila! Homebrew running on v1.50.

It may not be the simplest, most elegant system, but it is functional. For now at least. Sony have already begun releasing games that will refuse to run without firmware updates, so it seems obvious that they'll make updates beyond v1.50 compulsory in future games. And so the eternal game of Pong between the console manufacturers and the hackers continues...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Brew O'clock for PSP

Most of you probably would have read my earlier write-up on how the PSP is currently underclocked to a maximum of 222MHz, and how it's full 333MHz clockspeed will be released by Sony in future. Well, Sony have been beaten to the punch.

I'm pleased to report that the clever coders at Japanese dev site PSPWiki have worked out how to adjust the PSP's clockspeed, and that knowledge is currently spreading through the unofficial PSP development community. Lucky folks who still have the version 1.0 firmware on their Japanese PSPs can now enjoy the benefits of the PSPs adjustable clockspeed up to its full 333MHz potential. The PSP homebrew scene has continued growing at an amazing rate and there are now emulators available on PSP for over a dozen different game systems, including SNES, NES, Megadrive, Master System, Game Gear, GameBoy Color, NeoGeoCD and even MAME. Most of the systems can now be emulated with full sound support and 100% speed thanks to the PSP's adjustable clockspeed. At this rate, the PSP looks set to take over the GP32 as the best handheld emulation platform.

Rumour has it that a method of running homebrew applications on the much more common version 1.50 firmware (that the US PSP's shipped with) has been found and will be publically released in about eighteen hours. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

World War E3

The dust is settling on what has been widely regarded as a somewhat unsatisfying E3. The next-gen console announcements stole the show, but the lack of real playable code on the show floor for any next-gen games has led to people coming away feeling empty. The focus on the next-gen despite the lack of solid content not only stole attention away from the current generation, it pre-maturely heralded the current generation's impending death.

Microsoft's marketing spiel was very slick, but given that they claim to be launching Xbox360 in November, it was disconcerting how little they had to show. Their demo pods were being driven by Mac G5-powered alpha devkits, not real Xbox360 hardware. Sony's scarcity of next-gen content was more understandable, as they're not expected to have the PS3 on the market for another 12 months. Nintendo aren't expected to debut Revolution until late next year, and their decision to show essentially nothing of their next-gen console was no surprise to anyone.

Some of the soon-to-be-released games shown for current-gen hardware proved there's still life in it. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Gamecube) was the standout game of E3 2005, with people waiting for up to four hours in queues just for the chance to get hands-on with a few demo levels. Okami (PS2) from Capcom's Clover Studios wowed attendees with its traditional Japanese woodblock print and brush-art visuals. Burnout Revenge (multi-platform) looks certain to be another massive hit for Criterion's series, and behind closed doors, Criterion showed VIPs more of their deliberately mysterious (and apparently extremely impressive) Black FPS project for PS2. Nintendo's forthcoming game line-up for DS looked strong, while the PSP's showing was relatively weak.

What was shown at E3 itself may not have set the gaming world on fire, but it has signalled the official start of the next-gen war. Microsoft have been going to great lengths to play down PS3's apparent hardware supremacy over Xbox360, telling anyone who will listen that the two consoles' capabilities are essentially the same. Certain gaming news sites *coughIGNcough* even went so far as to publish Microsoft's technical rebuttal pretty much verbatim, as if it were fact. Sony are taking the quietly confident approach for the most part. Nothing is cut and dried at this stage. While PS3 looks like the clear winner on paper, the difference in real world performance between Xbox360 and PS3 may well be much less distinct than the numbers suggest. Most people are basing their opinion on the much vaunted Teraflop figures alone - 360 can do one Teraflop, PS3 can do two. Here's a sobering thought: PS2's Emotion Engine CPU can do 6.2 Gflops, XBox's CPU can do 2.9 Gflops. Did PS2 turn out to be twice as powerful as XBox? You do the math.

Japanese newspaper Asahi Shinbun interviewed key players in the next-gen war last week. Allow me to steal a couple of good biting quotes:

Robert Bach (Microsoft Senior VP):
"The other two companies' presentations weren't surprising. Sony's capabilities are the same as ours. Nintendo is aiming for the niche market. [snip] The next-generation disc standard hasn't been solidified yet. Sony is taking a risk [with Blu-ray]. We will become the market leader with our next-generation console."

Ken Kutaragi (President of Sony Computer Entertainment):
"Microsoft is trailing behind us, they are not a threat. [snip] Beating us for a short moment is like accidentally winning a point from a Shihan [Karate master], and Microsoft is still not a black belt. Just like with their operating systems, they might come out with something good around the third generation of their release."

Satoru Iwata (Nintendo President):
"It's questionable what the horsepower of the two other companies' consoles will be used for, such as fast calculations and high-definition resolution. Creating game software in high definition will require everything from the models to the background to be redone, and it will bloat up development costs. And yet, it has no use for people that aren't playing with a high-definition TV set. [snip] Nintendo is a company that likes to see smiles on the faces of people that love entertainment. We're not about selling new kinds of TVs or taking control of the living room."

Game on.