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Emulating G-Darius on PCSX2 (for SHMUP fans)
#1
This is copy/pasted from a thread I made on the ShMUP forums, but I figured some ShMUP/emulation fans around here might be interested:
(keep in mind that this was written for people who are not necessarily familiar with PCSX2)

Introduction:
I'm posting this thread to explain how you can play what I feel is the best PC emulated version of G-Darius. First off, if you didn't know, G-Darius has had a rather difficult time with ports & emulation in the past, rendering the original arcade release as pretty much inaccessible to anyone that has wanted to play it on PC. Mame is incomplete (no music), and the official PC version (japan release only) is a port from the PSX version and as such suffers from some of the same issues as that platform had (music cuts out regularly, no full 60hz play, & much easier as a result). Some folks play the PSX version over emulators on computer to eliminate the slowdown from the original PSX release with hacks, but the rest of the issues with that port still remain.

The best way to play the original arcade game at home has been on the PS2, with a direct arcade port that is included in the "Taito Legends 2". This version is actually superior to the arcade original in that it plays at 100% full speed throughout, as the arcade original had slowdown in a few areas. Some players of this PS2 port have complained that a bit of the detail is lost due to the PS2's bi-linear filtering (more on that later), but gameplay wise, it does play like a dream.


Enter 2012: version 1.0.0 of PCSX2 is finally released, after 12 years of development.
Many of you may have tried emulating the PS2 version via this emulator in the past with less than stellar results.. I'm going to show you how to do this properly, and to revive what is simply one of the best shmups of all-time, in it's full arcade glory. This means 60hz gameplay, un-interrupted music throughout, and minimized input lag. Additionally, You will have the ability to render the game at a much higher resolution than the original, if you decide to (and your system is capable). This is especially beneficial to those that don't use CRT monitors, as scaling the original 640x448 to fit to HD resolutions can render older 3D games like this particularly ugly, with visual artifacts abound. High scores are saved properly within the game as well so you can keep track of your best 10 runs.


What You will need:

1.) A decently fast CPU/GPU, capable of running the PCSX2 emulator full-speed.

2.) PCSX2 v1.0.0 Official Release (Available for PC/Windows, Linux & Mac)

3.) PS2 Bios (required for PCSX2) There are online instructions on how to dump the bios from your PS2 console, if you have one.. but it is 2012, and most everyone on the planet (and their mother) has owned a PS2 by now and owned that Bios at some point along with it. However you obtain this is completely up to you. (Hint: it is a rather small file)

4.) A copy of Taito Legends 2 - This game is still on sale at Amazon for $34. This seems pricey for a PS2 game, but if you haven't seen this collection before, take a look at the amazon listing to see all of the games (quite a few good shmups) included in the package.. it's *well* worth the money, IMO. I see it listed "used" for as cheap as $8, also. All you need is the original disc to make an .iso image of it, so be wary of deep scratches that could prevent ripping the disc if you decide to go the used route.


Getting started:

First, install PCSX2 wherever you would like. (well, anywhere *except* in "program files", if you're using Windows 7)

The first time you start up the program, you will need to do a 1 time setup. You will see a screen showing the default plugins, leave these alone and continue. Next, You will have to point it to your PS2 Bios file.. I would recommend putting the Bios in your "My Documents/PCSX2/Bios" folder in Windows and pointing the program to that. Then select the Bios from the list (if you have more than one) and continue.

Additionally, you will want to set up your memory cards in the program to save your high scores. To do this, click "Config" and then "Memory Cards" in the main program window. Select any empty port to have the Create button enabled. By clicking it you will see the create new memcard dialog, where you can type the filename and select between 8, 16, 32 and 64mb for the memcard's size. You will probably want to just stick with 8 for the size, as larger memcards have compatibility issues with certain games on the PS2.


Configuring PCSX2 plugins for G-Darius:

Here I will show you how to configure PCSX2 specifically for G-Darius, which can be a rather daunting process if you are not familiar with the multitude of plugins for PCSX2.

--Emulation Settings--
Start by going to the "Config" drop-down menu in the main program, then select "Emulation Settings". This will open up a window with 6 icons at the top. Ignore the first 3, and click on the one that says "GS window". In this category simply put a check in the box that says "Default to fullscreen mode on open". Make sure at the top the aspect ratio is set to "Standard 4:3" (I think this is the default)

Now click on the next icon to the right, the category that says "Speedhacks". By default most of these should be enabled. You can additionally enable the one that says "MTVU (Multi-Threaded microVU1), but **ONLY IF YOU HAVE 3+ PHYSICAL CPU CORES**.

Last, click on the icon that says "Game Fixes" and check the box that says "Enable manual game fixes" and then check the box next to "Skip MPEG hack" below that. (Required to get Taito Legends 2 past it's FMV intro/menu)

--Video (GS)--
Again, click on "Config" in the main program window, and then scroll down to "Video (GS)" and another side-menu will open, where you will want to select "Plugin Settings..." at the bottom.

First you will want to choose your renderer. If your video card is newer and supports DirectX 11, choose "Direct3D11 (Hardware)", otherwise choose "Direct3D9 (Hardware)".

Now for "Interlacing", change this from "Auto" to "Bob tff" (not bff)

Next, un-check the box next to "native" and set the "Scaling" drop-down menu to "6x Native". (**WARNING**: Slower systems will *NOT* be able to run at this resolution. If you have any sound, video, or gameplay stuttering, I suggest that you lower this to "3x Native")

Further down you will want to put a check next to "Enable HW Hacks", and then click the "Configure" button next to that. Click on the box next to "WildArmsOffset" two times so that there is a blue square, *NOT A CHECKMARK*. Click the "OK" button here and also in the Video menu to finish.

--Audio (SPU2)--
Time to set up sound! In the main program window click "Config" and then "Audio (SPU2)", and then "Plugin Settings.."

For "Interpolation" select "3 - Hermite (better highs)", as this will give you the most accurate-to-arcade sound production.

Next, on the right side of this window there is a drop-down that says "Synchronizing Mode", for this you will want to select "None (Audio can skip.)"

Now grab that "Latency" slider right above and drop it down to the absolute minimum (3ms).

You can also adjust your PS2 output volume with the next slider up, as the default is very loud.

Click "OK" to close and save the sound settings.

--Controllers (PAD)--
*IMPORTANT* - If you are using a Gamepad or Arcade Stick (as you should be) you must make sure it is plugged in/configured to your computer before setting up these options. If it is not yet plugged in, then exit out of PCSX2 completely, plug it in, and then re-start the program and continue here.

In the "Config" menu of the main program, select "Controllers (PAD)" and then "Plugin Settings..."

Choose the tab on the top that says "Pad 1" and then simply click on the button that says "Square" and then press the corresponding key on your controller/arcade stick. You will see the bindings listed in the left box as you make them. Repeat this process for all applicable controls. When you are finished, click "Apply" at the bottom.

If you plan on playing with a friend, or trying a 2p run, you can set up player 2's controls by clicking on the "Pad 2" tab at the top. Remember to Apply any changes and then click "OK" to close the controls window.


Loading the game up for the first time:
Now that we're finally done configuring PCSX2, lets play the game! In the main program window, select "CDVD" from the top, then "Iso Selector", and "Browse.." and point it to the .iso image of Taito Legends 2 on your hard drive.

Finally, click "System" from the main program window, and then "Boot CDVD (fast)". This will boot up the game and after confirming/loading your memory card you should go directly to the main menu.

**IMPORTANT** If you hear crackling audio at this point, or any time during gameplay, it means that your computer is not maintaining 60 FPS and you will want to go back and lower some settings. In the Audio settings, You can try ticking the box that says "Disable Effects Processing" as this will save you some fps by disabling PS2 effects processing, which this game does not use. You can also fiddle with graphics settings to get quicker emulation speed. Try changing Scaling to 3x or to Native to see if this helps. If you have a fast CPU but a slow GPU, you can try one of the software rendering modes and see if this helps. As an *absolute last resort*, you can go into your sound settings and increase the "latency" slider until the crackling goes away, or try the "Timestretch" interpolation method.

Select "Options" from the main menu and make sure both "Original Aspect Ratio" and "AutoSave" are set to "ON". Further down, select "Register to Favorite", and hit your "X" button again and choose "G-Darius" from the bottom of the list. Press "Triangle" twice to go back to the main menu (should auto-save on the way out). Select "Start" and hit "R1" until you see your favorites list, and then select G-Daruis to start it up. Set up your controls and options here and then choose "Game Start". (Set up like this, you can just button mash "X" to start the game every time you load it up)

Insert some coins and go to town =) If you notice a bright line of pixels rendered at the very bottom of the screen, you can fix this by hitting the "Start" button and going to "Screen Adjustment". Press "Down" only one time and then hit "X" and resume, even if the line still seems to show up on the adjustment screen, it will be fixed in-game.


Final thoughts:
This is a relatively difficult emulation, and took me a ton of experimenting to realize. I can only hope that the Darius/ShMUP fans out there will appreciate being able to play this game in a completely realized form on their PC's now. Hooked up to a 1080p Monitor/HDTV, and with sufficient CPU/GPU power; you will be hopefully be as pleased as I am with how good this looks, sounds and plays.

CRT users can experiment with things like keeping hardware rendering in it's native resolution, or trying software rendering. YMMV

Some people have expressed issues with the native bi-linear filtering on the PS2 with games like this, and you can disable this in the PCSX2 graphics setup window. (though I do not believe that G-Darius uses this filtering for any of the in-game assets, only to smooth the menu fonts, etc)

My system specs: AMD Phenom 2 B55 x4 @3.6Ghz | Nvidia GTX 480 | 4GB DDR3-1600 Ram | Realtek ALC892 Onboard Audio | Win7 64-bit

On my system this emulation never goes below 60fps, slower systems should use lowered settings to assure 60fps constant. If you go below 60FPS for any reason it will most likely result with increased input lag & unresponsiveness.

If anyone would like to do some scoring runs with this emulation feel free to list your high scores in this thread. You can compress and share your memory cards (make sure to backup your original!) for proof of scores, if you deem necessary, as well.


Enjoy! Ninja
-Mordecai

P.S. If you play multiple titles with PCSX2 (and you should!), there is a convenient little program HERE that will allow you to keep your customized settings for each game, which is *extremely* useful when you have games like this one that have highly customized configurations. This is a link to the PCSX2 forum page for this tool.
PS StartMy PS2 Emulation Station: AMD Phenom 2 B55 x4 @3.6 Ghz|Nvidia Geforce GTX 480|4GB G-skill DDR3-1600 Ram|ASUS M5A99X-Evo Motherboard|BenQ XL2420T 120hz Monitor|Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
PS StartControls: PS3 Controllers Via Bluetooth w/MotioninJoy! | Hori Real Arcade Pro VX-SA Arcade Stick
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#2
Pretty in depth report, good job Smile You can also submit it in our compatibility list for everyone looking the compatibility of that game through our website. You just have to follow the preset template, but you can put all the additional details in it Wink
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#3
(08-13-2012, 07:56 PM)Bositman Wrote: Pretty in depth report, good job Smile You can also submit it in our compatibility list for everyone looking the compatibility of that game through our website. You just have to follow the preset template, but you can put all the additional details in it Wink

I plan on updating the compatibility page, but this guide is only for 1 game out of I think 20 or so in this compilation (Taito Legends 2).

The other ones need to be tested still (lol)

If anyone wants to give this guide a shot, and work on testing some of the classics in this compilation, let me know which ones you'd be willing to tackle/report back on.
PS StartMy PS2 Emulation Station: AMD Phenom 2 B55 x4 @3.6 Ghz|Nvidia Geforce GTX 480|4GB G-skill DDR3-1600 Ram|ASUS M5A99X-Evo Motherboard|BenQ XL2420T 120hz Monitor|Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
PS StartControls: PS3 Controllers Via Bluetooth w/MotioninJoy! | Hori Real Arcade Pro VX-SA Arcade Stick
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