Product Watch: Sony Playstation Games On Your
Mac Redux - Virtual Game Station Revisited
Connectix Virtual Game Station
Connectix's Virtual Game Station (VGS) has sort of disappeared from the radar screen since a court injunction banned Connectix from pushing more product into retail channels and also prohibited Connectix itself from selling the software online. However according to Connectix CEO Roy McDonald there is still plenty of the product in the retail channel. Because we think Virtual Game Station might make one great, inexpensive holiday gift, we thought we would take a second look at Virtual Game Station.
What is it
Virtual Game Station is a software program that enables popular Sony Playstation games to run on G3 Macintosh computers. It does this by emulating the Playstation environment. It support many input devices such as your keyboard and mouse but also game pads, joysticks and other game controllers. The user has the ability to define the functions associated with various buttons and keys. VGS is compatible with most native G3 Macintoshes, including desktops, PowerBooks and iMacs. However Connectix does not recommend VGS for G3 upgraded PowerMacs.
In MacReviewZone's review of VGS they said this: "I would strongly recommend Virtual Game Station to any gamer with a G3 machine. It opens a whole new world of game options especially in the sports area where Mac development has been dismal. By the way, even though it's not listed as an approved game Speed Racer works just fine. Go Speed Racer go! If you are planning on doing some serious gaming on your Mac do yourself a favor and buy this program. Make sure you have a set of good speakers with a sub-woofer."
You will find more reviews of VGS here
Connectix Virtual Game Station MSRP: $49 .......... Check for lowest price
What are the system requirements for VGS?
VGS minimum requirements are:
**Non-G3 Macintosh systems that have been upgraded with G3 daughtercards do not have the higher-speed 60/66 Mhz system bus and may not have the ATI RAGE 2/RAGE Pro video hardware required by VGS. For these reasons, VGS is not recommended with non-G3 systems that have been upgraded to G3 processors. Connectix has not tested VGS with these systems and they will not be supported at this time.
For improved game play flexibility, Connectix recommends using a multi-button game controller. VGS supports any input device that is compatible with Apple's Input Sprockets, including:
Are There any Apple "Factory Original G3s that are not compatible with VGS?
There are two PowerBook models that are not VGS compatible:
G3 introduced in October 1997 (PowerBook 3400 form factor). Family
number M3553, Gestalt 313.
Will VGS install on Macintosh systems that are not "Factory Original" G3s?
VGS will install on any Power Macintosh. However, the VGS application will refuse to launch if any of the following items are not present:
In addition, if the installed CPU is slower than 233 Mhz, is not a G3 or newer processor, or if the system bus speed is less than 60 Mhz, a warning dialog will be displayed each time VGS is launched stating that game performance will suffer due to the slow hardware.
Is VGS compatible with "My" 3D-accelerator card?
VGS is designed specifically for the ATI RAGE 2/RAGE Pro video hardware that is included with every "Factory Original" G3 system. Third-party accelerators - including Voodoo cards - will have no effect on VGS performance and will not be used by VGS.
Is VGS compatible with OS 8.6?
Yes VGS is compatible with all versions of the Mac OS from 8.0 to 8.6
What input devices can be used with VGS?
VGS supports any input device that meets the following conditions:
This includes input devices from Gavis, Ariston
Can I use real Sony PlayStation controllers with VGS?
No the connector cannot plug directly into the Mac. Connectix is investigating direct support for the Sony PlayStation controller.
Does VGS play all PlayStation Titles? How do I know if the game I want will work?
Connectix has not tested VGS with every PlayStation title available, and there are a number of games that do not play well or do not play at all using VGS. Connectix keeps an on-going list of games that have been tested by Connectix and are recommended by them for use with VGS. Connectix has tested over 250 PlayStation titles giving priority to the most popular games. However, failure of a game to appear on the list does not mean that it will not play well or play at all.
Does VGS Allow you to save games?
Yes, VGS allows you to save game situations and profiles to your hard drive. You can create an unlimited number of "virtual memory cards" to save your gameplay. Virtual memory cards can be shared with other VGS users.
Will VGS be faster if it is installed onto a RAM Disk?
No. The VGS application loads all necessary information into RAM when launched, making the location of the application irrelevant to overall game performance. In addition, creating a RAM disk may deprive your system of RAM that could be allocated to VGS, possibly reducing game performance.
Will the performance of VGS improve is I allocate more RAM to it?
VGS has a default RAM allocation of 10 MB. Increasing this will not improve performance. Unlike most home computers, Sony PlayStation systems have a fixed, not-expandable amount of RAM (2 MB). As a result, PlayStation developers design games with this amount of RAM, and as a consequence, increasing the RAM allocation of VGS will not improve game play.
How do I benchmark my performance?
Because VGS is a unique application, there are no existing benchmark applications available to measure performance.
A usual disadvantage of emulators is that they run slower than the original emulated platform. An advantage of emulating a PlayStation is that there is a fixed speed at which games usually play (going too fast is about as bad as going too slow). Connectix found that it is possible to make many popular PlayStation games run at this speed in most circumstances, and occasionally, "make up" the difference by skipping a video frame to "catch up."
What can I do to maximize VGS performance?
VGS is highly optimized as soon as it's installed. For example, if VGS detects that it is not keeping up with the game action, it can automatically reduce the frequency of screen updates ("frames") to maintain user control (NOTE: this can sometimes lead to choppy video). Here are some things to consider when striving for optimum performance:
1. Closing Other Apps. One of the most important things you can do to improve VGS performance is to close all open applications (everything listed under the Mac OS application menu) before launching VGS. Because of the way the Macintosh allocates system resources to open applications (cooperative multitasking), there is no upper limit on the amount of processor time other applications can take away from VGS. Closing all open applications before opening VGS will maximize the amount of processor power that can be given exclusively to VGS.
2. Reducing Extensions. Creating a custom Extension set that eliminates or reduces Extensions and Control Panels that add system overhead (especially Virtual Memory) will help to a lesser degree. The only Extensions needed are your ATI video Extensions, Input Sprockets, QuickDraw 3D, USB Extensions (if you use USB input devices) and Apple CD-ROM Extensions.
3. Color Depth. There is no need to adjust color depth ("thousands of colors," "millions of colors") to optimize performance-VGS automatically sets this to the appropriate value for each game and then restores it to the previous level when you quit the game.
4. Faster Processor. Ultimately, VGS performance is determined by the speed of the Mac on which it is running. The faster the PowerPC G3 processor, the better the VGS performance.
5. Larger L2 Cache. All Power Macintosh G3 systems include a hardware chip called an L2 cache that stores information recently and frequently used by the G3 processor. The larger your L2 cache, the better VGS will perform. If your G3 system allows you to increase the size of your L2 cache, doing so will improve VGS performance.
6. More Memory. Finally, while a G3 system with 32 MB of RAM is capable of running VGS, users with 32 MB systems may need to install Connectix RAM Doubler or turn on the Mac OS Virtual Memory to accommodate VGS and their normal collection of Extensions and Control Panels. In this case, users may improve VGS performance by increasing their physical RAM to 48 MB or more. However, increasing the RAM allocation to the VGS application will have no significant impact on performance.
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