Playstation Without Playstation
How Connectix and Bleem almost liberated your Playstation games
the pace of technological progress during the late nineties meant that shortly before the turn of the century, it became possible for sufficiently powerful computers to emulate the playstation – and two companies actually released commercial emulators.
The first was Connectix, a big player in the Mac software market which had a major success with its Virtual PC emulation software. The Virtual Game Station was released in 1999 and boasted high compatibility and speed for its time. Sony Computer Entertainment, unhappy with anything that could cause it to lose control of its platform in such a fashion, sued Connectix and won a temporary injunction halting Virtual Game Station sales. However, courts increasingly found that Connectix’s behaviour had been legal and in 2000, Sony bought Virtual Game Station and shut it down for good.
The other competitor was bleem!, a company with a flagship product of the same name, which emulated the Playstation on PCS and used 3D graphics cards to enhance games with higher resolution graphics and texture smoothing. The company also announced bleemcast!, a product which would allow Sega’s competing Dreamcast to run Playstation games. Sony was similarly litigious regarding bleem!, suing for trademark and copyright infringement but losing on both counts, before launching a patent infringement suit that bleem! was unable to financially defend itself from. The company folded in November 2001, by which time it had released discs that enabled Gran Turismo 2, Metal Gear Solid and Tekken 3 to run on the Dreamcast.
» [Playstation, left] With its unfiltered textures and lower resolution, original Playstation hardware suffered next to emulators.
» [Dreamcast, above] This preview image of Ridge Racer Type 4 shows the enhancements that Bleem offered – sadly, this game’s pack never saw a retail release.