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XEBRA

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Xebra
Current version: 19/July/2014 Build
Active: Yes
OS: Windows
Authors: Dr.Hell
Official website: Dr.Hell's Site

Xebra is a PlayStation emulator. It focuses on accuracy and only outputs in native resolution.

It is one of the only PS1 emulators to include compatibility with PocketStation.

DownloadEdit

Scroll down on the official website and click on the picture.

OverviewEdit

XEBRA has an accurate core, but its audio/visual output methods are problematic. Motion can be jittery.
Fullscreen with multiple monitors is often buggy, while requiring you to set the resolution each time, as far as I know.
Aspect ratio control is manual.
The only scaling methods are nearest and bilinear.
The audio is crackly and poppy running full speed with default settings. Setting needs to be changed to fix this.

The checkered dithering overlay from 16bit downscaling is much, much stronger than it should be. Far stronger than what a real PS1 on a high quality CRT TV over SCART would display.

Then there's the interface. Even after you're used to it, it's still not comfortable to use.

Note: the newer 19 july 2014 release fixes most sound crackling issues and games that used to hang during load, and there is a noticeable improvement on jittery on 2d games

Problems and solutionsEdit

For those with audio cracking issues with Xebra set the I Cache rate to E, the default 0x18 is too damn high.

Using XebraEdit

the XEBRA distribution comes with several executable those are:

  • XEBRA.EXE: the emulator itself
  • ARBEX.EXE: a bios free version of XEBRA, works but slightly less compatible
  • MCM.EXE: a memory card manager that allows you to edit memory card image files directly.
  • SIM.EXE: a editor for xebra emulation fine tuning options, that allow you to save setting as a single file for ease of loading, that allow to fix or alleviate issues with some games. mostly for advanced users.

The Xebra/ARBEX interface essentially imitates the way the real psx works, for example choosing a iso or a game cd is the same as placing the physical disc it on drive the original psx. most options such open/close shell, power, reset, start/stop card, loading memorycard image and so work pretty much as they would if you did it on a real console. most of the other options are for debugging or advanced tuning of the emulator.

Setting the bios Edit

File -> Open -> OSROM image. That will copy the bios file to the xebra directory and renaming it to OSROM (with no file extension). Doing that manually works as well.

Loading Games Edit

File->Open-> then either "CD-ROM via SPTI..." for a real CD in your cdrom drive or "CD-ROM Image..." for a iso file or similar. that has the same effect of placing a disc in a real psx, to play it you also need to use "Run->Power(Run)" XEBRA supports several image formats when in doubt between a which file to load (cue/bin/mdf/ccd/img/etc) choose the largest one and XEBRA will automatically look for file it needs as long it has they share the file name (game.ccd and game.img for example).

Changing discs Edit

In games that need to change discs, you essentially do the same that you would do on a real psx.

  1. open the psx cd drive with Run->Open Shell.
  2. change the current disc on the drive with File->Open->CD-ROM via SPTI... or CD-ROM Image...
  3. close the cd drive with Run->Close Shell.

Setting up controls Edit

that's the most complicated part of using xebra first choose "View->Controllers..." that will open a popup window with the current settings. the top drop down menu allows you to choose between changing the configurations of controller 1 or 2. the drop down menu below that will let you choose the kind of controller is connected in that controller port:

  • No Controller: as it says it acts like nothing is connected in that port
  • Mouse: psx mouse
  • Digital Controller: the launch psx controller without analogs sticks (not dual shock)
  • Analog Controller: a controller with dual analog Sticks, the Dual Shock.
  • Virtual Controller: seems to be the same as above, but with emulated analog sticks. not sure how it works.

the buttons in the windows are the buttons in the controller, they are laid out almost in the same way the buttons in the real psx controller are(having the window open without controller port selected will show which each button is), press any of those followed by the button you want to use for it to set it up (note that there is also a set up for the ANALOG button) the 4 drop down menus and the fields below it are for the analog sticks first is the X and Y axis for the left analog then the X and Y axis for the right analog, the numbers below it are the dead zone and the max range for the said axis.

it share the button configs across different controllers types, so you can change between analog and digital controllers without having to set up the buttons again. (NOTE: many psx games do not recognize the Dual Shock and will not work unless set up with digital controllers).

Audio and Video settingsEdit

as XEBRA aims to be a accurate emulator and does everything in software so there is not much to change

View->Video Output... Edit

will take you to video settings which are:

  • Stretch with OpenGL: uses open GL to stretch the native output, unless this is set up it will scale with software which can be slow, so just keep it on unless you have issues.
  • Stretch: if will stretch the video output at all, the native psx resolution is rather low so unless you have issues or want a very tiny image just leave it on
  • Whole Frame Buffer: it will output the whole frame buffer, which usually is just a garbled mess, for debugging purposes.
  • Nearest: only if Stretch with OpenGL is chosen, it will stretch using "nearest pixel" filter, this will keep all the pixels in their pixelated glory, else it will use billear filtering which blurs the whole thing, pick whatever you want.
  • Progressive: the original psx video output like most analog tvs was interlaced, this will double the lines to output a progressive image. if you leave this off it will give some line artifacts with fast motion(think psp 3000). no real reason to keep it off
  • Cycle(1),(2) and (3): those are the timings to set up frameskip. don't touch it unless you know what you are doing.

View->Audio Output... and View->CD-ROM Drive... Edit

those are mostly emulation fine tuning settings, which are really complicated, don't touch it unless you know what you are doing.

View->Debug Edit

is a debug utility which even i never figured how it works. you will never need to use this.

View->Width Edit

this allows you to change the width of the window.  

View->Height Edit

the same but for Height, however the options in the format "number:number" are special as they set the Height based on the current Width to reach that aspect ratio. use 16:12 for a normal SD aspect ratio(4x3) and 16:09 or 16:10 for widescreen aspect ratio  

View->Rotate Edit

rotates the output in a 90 degree angle, some shmups can be set up to output image like that.

View->Scale Edit

this one is weird or just might be bugged and is not necessary so feel free to ignore it.

it seems to try to stretch/shrink the image so it will get the psx normal aspect ratio(4x3) even if the current resolution has different aspect ratio(widescreen). 16:12 is the default and the "do nothing" option and the options with "u" in the end will add black borders on the sides of the screen while the ones with "o" will cut parts of the top and bottom of the image so it fits the screen horizontally however this setting seems to only work properly on windowed, in Full Screen regardless of resolution black borders will be added to the sides and will show the image correctly while set as 16:12, and setting this to anything else will squish the image.

View->Full Screen Edit

puts XEBRA on full screen mode on said resolution, note that pressing F12 in windowed mode will also take it to full screen and ESC will being it back to windowed, pressing F12 on full screen mode will also show the menus.

Dealing with memory cardsEdit

as default Xebra will start with two memory cards plugged into it, those are stored as the files "BU00" and "BU01" in the xebra directory. those memory cards works just as you would expect a real memory card to work, you can even manage them in the memory card screen of the psx itself. (open shell and reset the console).

to load a diferent memory card go to File->Open->Memory card 1/2 Image...  you can also save a copy of the current memory card with File->Save->Memory card 1/2 Image... that has the same effect as changing memory cards in a real psx, so don't do that while saving.

to remove all memory cards and act like there is none plugged to the console choose "Run->Stop card" and "Run->Start card" to plug them back.

the program MCM.exe however allows you to manage memory cards image files directly and in a more practical way:

  • the option View->Remove SJIS will try to show the file names in non-japanese characters which is a lot more useful for us.
  • it will show some things differently from the psx manager including only the first of a multiblock save having a file name while the others will be just named "LINK", only the first file can be edited however.
  • double click in a file then a pop up with appear, press yes to delete and no to save that file as a single file.
  • the open files menu only look for files with the extension .mc... even tough the default memory cards image files have no extension, just set it to open "all file types" for those
  • it can save the images in different formats and even just save the icons as bmps, However use the save->general to save in a Xebra format.
  • you can always edit a memory card image while the emulator is running in case you run out of space.

Emulating PocketStationEdit

Pocketstation in use

1) Download both Xebra and PK201.
2) Put everything in a folder together with respective FROM, KROM and OSROM files.
3) Run PK201 and do the initial setup, select File -> Save STAT and close it.
4) Run Xebra, select whatever game you like, then select Run -> Run-1/2/3 to start the game.
5) When in game, select Run -> Outer Card to start PocketStation emulation.
6) Enjoy your Chocobo Worlds or whatever.

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