Review: Virtual Game Station
Published by: Connectix Corporation
2955 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA 94403
Phone: (800) 950-5880
Trial: Feature-limited (no virtual memory cards, no game pad support, 1-player only); download trial.
Recently, Connectix announced the release of Virtual Gamestation, an emulator which allows Macintosh gamers to enjoy the multitude of software available to the Sony Playstation platform. The concept behind VGS is that since there is still a limited collection of entertainment software available for the Macintosh, maybe it’s time to expand the Mac’s cross-platform capabilities.
Sony, apparently, didn’t see things quite the same way as Connectix, as they pursued a lawsuit against Virtual Gamestation. Fortunately, thanks to the release of Version 1.1 of this product, which added anti-piracy provisions to the program, a court has denied Sony’s request for a temporary restraining order halting distribution of VGS.
Unfortunately for older Mac users, this program runs native on the PowerPC G3 processor and can’t be used on any previous chip design (604s or lower). Connectix has also released a statement regarding G3 upgrades and their support of Virtual Gamestation. Connectix states that G3 upgrades should not be used with the program. However, upon visiting Sonnet Technologies’s website, I was informed that they have tested their upgrades and found those with 1 MB caches to run VGS just as well as a Power Macintosh G3 (for compatibility of G3 upgrades check with your upgrade manufacturer).
The VGS graphics are dependent on an ATI video driver included with the program and supply similar performance to that of the original Playstation. Currently, Connectix has a fairly good list of compatible games on their Web site, but don’t be disappointed if a favorite game isn’t listed currently, as the list continues to grow. When sitting down to play any game on VGS a video game controller would be an extremely useful add on (for a compatibility list go to http://www.connectix.com). In fact, version 1.0 had a distinct problem in that keyboard controls, when pressed, didn’t affect the game for a few seconds. However, this appears to be remedied with the update to Version 1.1. Overall, the gaming experience is good and the graphics, while not superb, are decent.
The less than perfect quality of the graphics can be attributed to the fact that Playstation games are designed to run on televisions and thus run at a lower resolution than the Macintosh. Some jumps and flickers do occur when the game must go through a complicated set of animations, such as a car crash, but they are corrected fairly swiftly.
If you feel limited by the game market for the Mac and wish to expand your library of games, Virtual Gamestation is a solid choice. It is relatively inexpensive when compared to purchasing one of the other options on the market such as a DOS card, Windows emulator, or even a Playstation. It is both easy to install and to use. The program has modest requirements in terms of RAM and hard disk space, but it does require a G3.
This program attains a rating of Very Nice, with definite room for improvement in the graphics department. Another welcome addition would be a version for older Macs which have an ATI graphics card.