PPSSPP brings PSP emulation to the iPhone

It’s the PlayStation Portable’s turn to get an emulator on the iOS App Store thanks to PPSSPP, which just went live today. This emulator, from developer Henrik Rydgård, has been in development for more than a decade, and it’s free to download for the iPhone and iPad.

Rydgård says in a blog post that the version approved this morning has some limitations versus previous builds of the app that were available through various exploits and workarounds. The biggest is that Apple doesn’t allow Just-in-Time recompilers that retranslate code for the OS and can lead to smoother performance. (It’s why we might never see a GameCube / Wii emulator.) “Fortunately,” he writes, “iOS devices are generally fast enough” for almost all PSP games.

Besides that, Rydgård said iPad Magic Keyboard support had to be removed because “the old method was using an undocumented API” but that the feature will return. The emulator’s RetroAchievements feature is disabled, too. Rydgård didn’t explain why but says it’ll be back later “with a better login UI.” The same goes for Vulkan graphics API support, which he says will also come back, possibly with “a native Metal backend.”

I never owned Sony’s first handheld PSP, but I polled Verge staffers and was told Valkyria Chronicles II, Patapon, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII are all excellent reasons to check out PPSSPP. Lumines deserves a mention, too. Most of those games were released on other consoles later, of course, but they do represent the kinds of experiences that were available on the system.

PPSSPP works on iOS 12 and up, iPadOS 12 and up, and can also be played on the Vision Pro. Though the app is free, Rydgård’s paid version is coming soon for $4.99, he told The Verge via email. Assuming it’s like the $5 Android version, it may not be functionally different from the free app — it’s there to support Rydgård’s efforts.

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