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.
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
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
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
Bleem! - much to the
chagrin of the Sony Corporation, I'm sure - is available in stores and
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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