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Bleem! PlayStation Emulator

reviewed by Donald Melanson

I've generally found it good practice to approach any product containing an exclamation point with a bit of skepticism. And as has been the case before, Bleem! doesn't quite live up to its punctuation. For those not familiar with it, Bleem! is a Sony PlayStation emulator for Windows that lets you play PlayStation games on your PC. How well it plays them is another question.

Now this has all the beginnings of a very negative review, it is and it isn't. Bleem! is clearly not a product for everyone, but there are also lots of folks who will probably find lots to like in it.

Until recently video game emulation was largely an underground activity. Emulators were (and still are) given away for free, and the games (also know as ROMs) are widely available on the net. However, these emulators were mostly for older cartridge based systems and arcade machines. With the possibility of emulation CD-based systems, we have a quasi-legal situation since you have to buy the actual game, just not the system. Sony obviously doesn't like this, but for the time being Bleem! and Virtual Game Station (a Mac PSX emulator) are legal and available at a store near you. So on with the review.

The installation of Bleem! couldn't be easier, you simply drag the .exe from the CD to your hard drive and run it. It will then prompt you to insert a game CD and the game starts. No problems so far.

The first game I tested with it was Tekken 3, which is on their list of compatible games. The intro movie played very well, the menu screen was slightly messed up but nothing significant, then the game started. It looked great, and as the package says, it runs at a higher resolution than an actual PlayStation, it was also running at about five frames per second. So I tweaked the settings and managed to get things running slightly better, but it was still nowhere near playable.

The next game, Ridge Racer Type 4 (which is listed as partially compatible), played somewhat better but still had some significant graphical glitches, and again is not what I'd consider playable. The first game I tried that actually worked well was Hot Shots Golf. There were some minor glitches but it was playable. In all cases, however, I'd rather play the game on a PlayStation.

The question everyone seems to ask is "what's the good of it when a real PlayStation only costs a hundred bucks?". And, quite honestly, most people would be better off buying a real PlayStation. The only significant benefit to Bleem!, as has been pointed out elsewhere, would be the ability to play PlayStation games on a laptop. But then again, most laptops don't have 3D accelerators, which Bleem! does not require but benefits greatly from.

So it seems to me that the only people who might be interested in Bleem! are those already interested in video game emulation. And if you are, you'll probably find that you're able to play some PlayStation games on your PC, some maybe even very well, but it's largely a game of trial and error, which means it's probably not for the average consumer.

I should point out that during the review period there were a couple of updates released, and this review is based on the most recent one available (v1.4). If there is a significant update at some point in the future we will try to add to this review.

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b i o

Donald Melanson is the editor-in-chief of Mindjack Magazine and is constantly learning on the job.

Review System:
Dell Dimension XPS
Windows 98
Pentium II 350MHz
STB nVidia ZX 8MB

The writer of this article welcomes your comments: