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Bleem

bleem! brings PlayStation Games to the PC

By Jim Bray

Game nuts lusting for the aimless thrills of a PlayStation can now waste otherwise productive time playing the Sony machine's games right on their PC.

bleem!, a $30US software package, turns the PC into a "virtual PlayStation," handling - according to the Beverly Hills company that makes the emulator - at least 400 PlayStation titles. While I can't claim to have tried nearly that many (I had to write this piece!), the ones I did play worked pretty well.

Who cares? Well, besides the "Gee Whiz" reason (which is good enough for me!) a properly-enhanced PC can output better graphics to your monitor than you can get on your TV, giving a better gaming experience.

Then there's the huge library of PlayStation games, only some of which have been converted to the PC, so if you've run out of PC games, bleem! can not only keep your adrenaline pumping, it can help you avoid getting a life!

It's also a lot more convenient to install bleem! on your notebook computer than it is to drag a PlayStation along with you on business trips. bleem! allows "gaming by stealth," letting you kick back with your favorite PlayStation title without your traveling associates thinking you're some kind of unprofessional flake for dragging a game machine on the road with you.

bleem! installs easily onto your hard drive, putting an icon onto your Windows desktop. When you double click the icon, bleem! loads and prompts you to insert your PlayStation game disk into your CD-ROM (or DVD-ROM) drive.

At least that's the theory. I quickly discovered that bleem! wouldn't work on my Windows 2000 installation and that, when firing it up under Windows 98, I was actually glad to be a dog owner - because the elapsed time between clicking the bleem! icon and it actually "leaping" into action was enough for me to walk said beast.

What was more annoying was that if I sat there and waited for bleem! to start it would just sit there, taunting me, until I got bored and left - and when I returned bleem! would be sitting there, patiently waiting for me as if nothing were wrong.

Artificial Intelligence, indeed…

This could have something to do with my Windows 98 installation, which can be temperamental at the best of times, but it was a real pain in the neck.

That said, once bleem! actually deigned to run, it ran well, though games ran more slowly on my system than they would on a real PlayStation.

You don't need a graphically powerful PC, but it sure helps. The company says the minimum requirement for bleem! is a Pentium 233 MMX with 16 Megabytes of RAM, DirectX 6.1 and 3 Meg of hard drive space. bleem! recommends a Pentium II-based system with 32 Meg of RAM, however, and a 3D accelerator graphics card (like the Voodoo 3, ATI Rage Fury, or TNT1&2), for real shoot 'em up performance.

Forget the minimum recommendations; you'll be happier with a more robust PC. My PC has good (but not great) graphics acceleration, and "bleem-ified" PlayStation games looked about as good as they do on TV. When run on a system with the "Lexus of graphics cards," however, things looked appreciably better.

The bottom line is that the more hardware you have, the better bleem! - and you - will like it.

Remember, too, the higher your screen's resolution is set (Microsoft Windows defaults to a piddlin' 640x480) the more it challenges your hardware - and bleem! - and this can also seriously slow down your game, causing choppiness which, depending upon how quick your reflexes need to be for a particular game, could result in "virtual death."

To be fair, this is potentially a problem with just about any game, so it isn't just a bleem! thing.

One lovely thing about playing on the PC is that you can use the game controllers you already have. This means, for instance, you could hook up a racing wheel, complete with pedals and gear shift, for driving games. Controllers like this are also available for the PlayStation, but if your PC already has such a beast you can save a few bucks - while keeping your family room less cluttered with toys.

Bleem! - much to the chagrin of the Sony Corporation, I'm sure - is available in stores and from www.bleem.com.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.

 

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January 31, 2006