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.

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