Breaking Down Gamma, the New PS1 Emulator on the App Store

  • Gamma is the latest emulator on the App Store that allows us to play classic PlayStation 1 games.

  • Its performance is quite good, but there are many areas that need improvement.

Gamma, a PSX emulator for iOS
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Sony's first Playstation was one of the best consoles in history. Notably, this is fact, not opinion, and there's nobody that can tell me otherwise. PS1 games such as Spyro, Medievil, Resident Evil, Castlevania, and Metal Gear Solid marked the childhood of many gamers—and with good reason. Today, nearly 30 years since the PS1's release, we can finally play our favorite PSX games on the iPhone again with the Gamme emulator.

ZodTTD. The name "ZodTTD" probably isn't that recognizable, but it's the alias of a developer that was quite famouse back when jailbreaking was a thing on iOS. Fans of this world may be familiar with the Apple Bio repository in Cydia, which had themes for the iPhone. Well, ZodTTD was one of the main contributors. He's been working on PS1 emulation since the days of Tapwave Zodiac. Now, he's back with Gamma, an emulator for iOS.

Gamma. ZodTTD named the new PSX emulator "Gamma," and if it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. To create this app, its developer took a cue from Delta, the GameBoy and Nintendo DS emulator that's made a lot of noise. The software allows you to play PlayStation 1 games—not included—without using a BIOS. However, according to the developer, having this basic input/output system improves game performance. The app is free and monetized through advertising, which pops up full screen every time we start a game and can be annoying.

Spyro game in Gamma emulator for PSX Gamma interface. Screenshots | Xataka

Features to note. The emulator lets you add games from your iPhone’s storage and synchronize them to the cloud for safekeeping. It also displays each game's cover art, plays sound, and offers a touch interface that is less comfortable than it might seem at first glance. The best way to play is with an external controller, but a bug is causing games to crash or not work correctly. The developer is aware of this and claims to be working on an update.

There’s also an audio problem. Gamma is compatible with games with CDDA tracks, but the CDDA tracks themselves aren’t. The developer is working on support for that as well. As for data collection, this is an issue that’s causing a lot of debate given that the app asks users to accept a privacy policy. According to ZodTTD, this is a fairly new requirement for using Google's SDK.

Spyro emulation. ‘Spyro’ emulation | Screenshots: Xataka

How does it perform? Pretty good. We played some games with a stable and correct frame rate, and the sound also worked for us. The problem is that the touch controls are a bit rough. While that makes sense for a Game Boy emulator, on Gamma it’s a bit awkward.

In addition, the emulator doesn’t offer any options to improve resolution or scanline filters, both of which are quite noticeable. And the graphics are, honestly, a bit rough. According to the developer, this is a “high-priority fix,” so we’ll probably see some news soon.

Images | Xataka

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