A new free and open-source PlayStation 2 emulator for Android may be the best option for playing PS2 games on the go
Accurately emulating the PlayStation 2 (PS2) has proven to be quite a challenge. PC gamers have enjoyed emulators like PCSX2 for years, but the story is quite different on Android. The only two options for PS2 emulation both have significant drawbacks. However, a new emulator may be the answer to retro gamers’ prayers.
AetherSX2 is a new PlayStation 2 emulator for Android. Currently in a closed Alpha, the emulator has made some waves in the retro community this week, thanks in part to a YouTube video from Taki Udon (a prolific Android emulation console reviewer). The developer behind AetherSX2, known as Tahlreth, has been fairly forthcoming with information about the software. Tahlreth is developing AetherSX2 under the LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License), which means it will be free and open-source.
Thus, the emulator won’t cost a dime to use, and experienced programmers will eventually be able to easily see and tweak the source code. This could, in turn, open the floodgates for PS2 emulators on the Android market. The open-source nature of AetherSX2 will also allow the community to contribute to the project, hopefully improving the app more quickly than Tahlreth could do alone.
In his YouTube video, Taki Udon gives an overview of some of the key features of AetherSX2. One option allows users to change how the emulator receives and processes blocks of data, effectively “underclocking” the PS2 emulation. This can be useful for users with budget- or mid-range handsets that don’t boast the most powerful hardware; the feature allows less powerful chipsets to hit higher framerates.
The feature currently has a curious side effect: since the framerate of the emulator cannot currently be capped, more powerful phones (e.g., those with the Snapdragon 888 Plus) may run some titles too fast. Others may experience graphical or audio glitches. In some rare cases, mid-range handsets can run games smoother and more accurately than flagship devices. Tahlreth has expressed that future iterations of the emulator will allow for capped framerates and will work to smooth out these bugs.
AetherSX2 shows a lot of promise. Several titles run at playable speeds on a variety of SoCs (ranging from low-powered to top-of-the-line from Qualcomm, Samsung, and MediaTek). Best of all, under the LGPL, the emulator will remain free and open-source.
This is in stark contrast to one of the only options for PS2 emulation on Android, DamonPS2. DamonPS2 has generated significant controversy. Not only is it a paid emulator, but it borrows heavily from the open-source PCSX2 (which is also under the LGPL). Using code from an LGPL property in a paid application violates the LGPL, which has led many to deride DamonPS2.
Tahlreth hopes to release AetherSX2 in an open beta before the end of the year.
What are your thoughts about AetherSX2? Let us know in the comments.