The current State of lightgun emulation on RPCS3
RPCS3 is a PS3 emulator that is currently in development and is being heavily worked on. As far as I know, it’s the only serious PS3 emulator in the works and for the most part, it’s pretty amazing.
A large number of games are playable from start to finish (although normally with a few glitches). There are also a lot more that can be started but are only playable to a certain extent and some others that don’t work at all.
The PS3 had some great light gun games. Some worked with the Guncon 3 controller and all of them worked with the PS Move controller. With that in mind, I thought it would be worth having a look at the emulator and seeing if it’s possible to play the games that are available.
Because the PS3 is one of the more modern consoles, it has excellent graphics and 720p output by default. RPCS3 can upscale and improve them even more so that some of the games can be hard to distinguish from more recent releases on newer consoles. It’s a demanding emulator so even using it at all needs a reasonable machine and graphics card and upscaling will need something even better.
I found that my current PC can’t really handle it. It will start the games and run them to a varying degree but the frame rates make it unplayable. That’s ok because all I really wanted to do here was see if the games were playable at all and I was able to do that.
The emulator is constantly being worked on so the specs needed to play PS3 games drops all the time and I can always upgrade if it works so I will be coming back to this at some point later with more power to see how that affects things.
First things first – which games are available? The PS3 had a decent number of light gun games on it for a console. Here is the list of games that I will be testing. I think there are a few others but this is a good list of my favorites.
One thing to note is that I’m only including dedicated light gun games of a rails nature.
- Time Crisis 4
- Time Crisis: Razing Storm
- Deadstorm Pirates
- The House of the Dead 3
- The House of the Dead 4
- The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut
- Mad Dog McCree
- Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold
- Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection
The other thing to consider is how you play these games. I had initially hoped that it might be possible to play with a light gun type device such as the Aimtrak lightgun. That isn’t as simple as it sounds. The important thing is how the emulator converts the input from the light gun and sends that to the game. Most light guns work as a mouse type device with a particular format of input calles raw or absolute. The light gun does not send the signal constantly but just sends an absolute coordinate when you pull the trigger (or maybe at regular intervals). It turns out that using this type of device isn’t possible. RPCS3 currently does have some mouse support but it is emulating a ps move which controls the cursor in a much more ‘mouse like’ manner by converting your motion into relative motion of the cursor depending on where it is on the screen. (If anyone knows different here then please let me know in the comments.)
I don’t know whether raw mouse input will be supported because it’s not how the original peripherals worked.
To cut a long story short though, there are 2 options for controlling these games at present. Most of them support the Joypad input and the other option is to emulate the ps move with your mouse.
I have found that support for these games is fairly spotty at the minute.
Note, these games were tested on RPCS version: RPCS3 Version: 0.0.9-10202-adfc9d93 Alpha
Let’s get into the games and the testing though to see what we can play:
So firstly, the games that work (at least mostly!)
House of the Dead 3
This is the game that works the best for me. It works with both the mouse as a PS Move and the joypad. Its pretty much perfect and you seem to be able to play through without problems.
This port is no different from any other really though so I doubt I would actually play it here when I can play it with an actual lightgun elsewhere.
Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection
The Resident Evil Chronicles is actually 2 games. I was under the impression that it was 2 games on one disc but I found it as two separate disks.
Both were very slow on my machine but other than that worked pretty well.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
This game works fairly well. It will load up and play. you can use the Joypad and play through. It worked as far as I played which was just half way through the first level. I stopped because it was just too slow on my machine. That was the same on the Wii version as well so maybe this game just needs more power.
The PS Move emulation worked well but was impossible to calibrate. No matter where I calibrated it, I could not get it to be accurate. I suspect that it was something to do with resolutions but I didn’t get any further into resolving it.
Resident Evil the Darkside Chronicles
Exactly the same as the Umbrella Chronicles above.
Mad Dog McCree and Mad Dog McCree 2
These games worked really well with the mouse acting as a PS Move emulator. No real setup was required and the tracking was spot on.
Time Crisis Razing Storm
This game contains 3 games on the disk. Time Crisis 4, Dead Storm Pirates and Time Crisis Razing Storm. I’m going to list them all separately but call out that it’s on this disc as they don’t all work the same.
Time crisis Razing Storm works pretty well. It’s quite resource intensive so it’s not working fast on my machine and I was getting some audio chop but I think that is more to do with my setup than the emulator and could therefore be fixed.
I couldn’t get the PS Move emulator to work simply because I couldn’t get a Triangle button press from my mouse on the calibration screen and it wont let you press with any other device. Apart from that it works well so I have high hopes that it would work at some point.
The joypad controls work fine and lets you play the game. I only played a few minutes through but it all looked fine so far.
And the Ones that don’t work at the minute.
The House of the Dead 4
House of the Dead 4 is soooo close. It loads up, you can calibrate the mouse for motion controls and you can play the game. It plays well as well and runs at a decent speed.
Unfortunately there is a shake mechanic in the game that is not emulated with a mouse so certain parts of the game cant be done.
The graphics also are not perfect and there are some glitches. Those are manageable.
The missing shake mechanic makes it impossible to get far though.
If that was implemented it would be playable.
The House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut
This game looked like it was going to work for me but as soon as you start shooting it just hangs. Also, its very difficult to get past the calibration screen. I did manage to get through it once and it worked but at other times it was impossible to press the ok button to move on. Its actually a expanded version from the one on the Wii so it is one of the games that’s worth looking at if it works but I would avoid it for now.
Time Crisis 4
Time crisis 4 comes in 2 packages for the ps3. The first was a box set with the Guncon 3. I think that this was the only way that you could get the Guncon 3 and it may have been the only way to buy the stand alone version of this game.
It also came in a package with Time Crisis: Razing Storm on a disc that also had Dead Storm Pirates.
The standalone disc does not have any ps move support. It was designed to be played on the Guncon3 so the original did not have any support either. The only way to play this is with the Joypad.
To be honest I would think that the Guncon support would make it easier to eventually get it working with an actual light gun but I don’t know if that is on the roadmap right now.
There are also 2 versions. The EU and US ones
BCES00057 and BLUS30093
Both versions are listed as Ingame which means that it will start up but then not play properly. This was the case for me. It will load up to the title screen, let you start a game but then is unplayable as the screen is predominantly white.
Time Crisis 4 on the Razing Storm disc
Unfortunately, this has the same problem where it starts to play but the whole screen is white.
Dead Storm Pirates
This game installs and lets you start a game. Unfortunately, the hit detection seems to not work and you can’t actually hit anything which makes it unplayable.
There are some great games on the PS3 and it seems like its not that far away from them being playable on an emulator. They aren’t there right now though and I can’t recommend bothering with them.
Its likely that the glitches etc would be worked out in time as RPCS3 gets improved and performance will improve.
The big problems are the PS Move emulation which needs to be more consistent and the most important one which is being able to use an actual light gun on these games rather than an a mouse.
Most of these games can be played elsewhere where the graphics may not be as good but they at least work well.
I’ll be checking back on this in the future to see how it has improved but for now I’ll be playing on other systems.