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Reviewed: Connectix Virtual GameStation
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: July 22nd, 2000
Page: 2

The attitudes of the various Playstation emulators shows quite well in their implementations: Bleem! went out to improve the games by adding in heavy-duty hardware support, high resolution output, and the various freeware emu makers have gone the same route for convenience. Connectix went in for compatibility, however, and so has limited the current capabilities of the emulator to normal video output. They also used a dump of the PSX BIOS in their development, then made their own BIOS for the emulator, a move which increases their compatibility but got them in trouble in the court system for a while.

Connectix seems to be going for a different market here: while Bleem! goes after top-title games and makes them excel graphically, billing themselves as a way to get more out of the games than a PSX will give, the Connectix emulator is a straight replacement for the PSX console to allow people to play their Playstation games on laptops and desktop PC's for portability and compatibility. With VGS, you can pop a playstation game into your laptop on the airplane and play while traveling. Theoretically you could do this with Bleem! too, except for the compatibility issues and the lack of 3D hardware on many laptops. This is also reflected in Connectix's required system specs and the fact that it plays down a lot lower; while Bleem! users need a relatively high-end (500 MHz, TNT or higher video card) for good performance, VGS users running a mere laptop should do just fine. Here are the specs themselves, straight from Connectix's webpage.

System Requirements
  • Windows® 95 or Windows 98
  • Pentium® II, Pentium III, and Celeron or compatible processor,
  • 266 MHz minimum (400 MHz or higher recommended)
  • Level 2 cache
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 75 MB Hard Disk space
  • 16-bit video card (24-bit or higher recommended)
  • DirectX® 6.1** compatible video and sound card with drivers
  • 8x or higher CD-ROM or desktop DVD-ROM drive***
  • Menu-wise, Connectix VGS beats Bleem hands-down. While Bleem makes users search through click-down menus to arrange buttons on their keyboard/joystick, Connectix uses the click-and-press method: click the control you want to customize, press the appropriate button or key, and you're good to go. The graphics and sound are similarly well set, with minimal customization needed.

    One big advantage Connectix has over Bleem currently is sound emulation. Bleem loses sound effects in many games, making them less than stellar to play. In games like Gex 3, the smart-aleck comments don't show up in Bleem. Connectix lets the sound out, and everything plays beautifully. This is especially important in games like the Resident Evil series or RPG's, where vital clues come in the game's sounds.

    Graphics-wise, Bleem beats Connectix in the field of 3D games, but the two are head-to-head or in favor of Connectix when it comes to 2D games such as the Street Fighter Alpha series, Marvel Versus Capcom, or a myriad of others that are primarily 2D. The reason? Bleem's 2D rendering setup can't handle the texel realignment which some cards apply, and gives a really nasty cracking tile setup all over the screen. While sprites aren't affected, this can be really messy even in games like Street Fighter EX or Final Fantasy VII which use 2D backgrounds. With Connectix and a TV-out, there's almost no discernible difference between the game and its Playstation-run equivalent.

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    Added:  Saturday, July 22, 2000
    Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
    Page: 2/3

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