What's inside RetroArch 1.9.7 for PSP

If you just downloaded RetroArch 1.9.7 for PSP, you will find 48 files inside the cores folder. Not all of them are emulators, and it’s not obvious what a lot of them are even for. While the list of cores included change from release to release (or even day to day, for nightly builds), this is an overview of what you can expect as of August 2021.

Fat rejection movement


The first version of RetroArch able to run on PSP ( had separate builds for the Slim and Fat models. The practice was discontinued pretty much immediately, and all later versions of RetroArch simply assume you are running a PSP Slim. If you are not, expect even fewer of the cores to actually work.

RetroArch PSP also doesn’t implement an exception handler, so once the system is out of memory, it will simply freeze.


  • 5 Nintendo consoles: NES, SNES, Game Boy, GameBoy Advance, Game & Watch.
  • 3 Atari consoles: Atari 800, Atari Lynx, Atari 7800.
  • 3 Sega consoles: SG-1000, Master System, Megadrive. The Master System emulators also run Game Gear games (since they had a common architecture). The Megadrive emulator supports the various add-ons like Sega CD and 32X.
  • 7 consoles from other manufacturers: NeoGeo Pocket, Fairchild Channel F, Mattel Intellivision, Uzebox, Odyssey 2, ColecoVision, PC Engine.

Fairchild Channel F and Uzebox do not have native PSP emulators; everything else does.


The Picodrive core on RetroArch can emulate the 32X pretty well - at least when compared to Robson Alcantara’s Picodrive fork, last updated in 2018.

Virtua Fighter on Picodrive 1.92.3 - 7 FPS:


The same game with the Picodrive core on RetroArch 1.9.7 - 22 FPS:


snes9x 2005

The SNES cores are more representative of the RetroArch experience though. Umihara Kawase isn’t a particularly demanding game, but snes9x 2005 doesn’t seem to realize that. Emulation never quite reaches full speed:


Snes9x 2005 Plus fares worse. The game barely hits 30 FPS with this core:


The PSP can do better - here’s the same game running in the native Snes9x TYL emulator, for comparison:


Home computers

This is the single largest group, and includes 10 home computers: ZX-81, BK-0010, MSX, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, PC-88, PC-98, Thomson MO/TO, Sharp X1.

Except for the BK-0010 and Sharp X1, all are emulated natively on PSP.

Game engines

Five game engines, for 2048, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Cave Story, Bomberman.

Wolfenstein, Doom and Cave Story were ported to PSP ages ago. 2048 and Bomberman both have solid homebrew recreations.

A note about 2048 here: the PSP2048 commonly shared on homebrew sites, and credited to one GhostRespawn, was actually taken from Anderain Lovelace’s GitHub repo - who is the real author of that version.

Other stuff

GME is a video game music player. The PSP homebrew scene offers GameMusicGear, GameMusicEmu, SexyPSF and countless other such apps.

Lutro is a Lua interpreter, but it doesn’t seem compatible with any of the myriads of Lua scripts that were created by the PSP homebrew scene.

MAME 2003 and MAME 2003 Plus are sadly no better than any of the native MAME emulators for PSP, none of which shine for their quality.

Pocketcdg is karaoke music player. Native alternatives include eKaraoke, Filer, PSP LyricShow Player, PSPLyrics.

LowRes NX, an emulator for a fantasy console, has no homebrew equivalents.

The full list of cores

  • 2048: game engine for 2048
  • 81: ZX-81
  • atari800: Atari 800
  • bk: BK-0010
  • bluemsx: MSX, ColecoVision, SG-1000
  • crocods: Amstrad CPC
  • ecwolf: game engine for Wolfenstein 3D
  • fceumm: NES
  • fmsx: MSX
  • freechaf: Fairchild Channel F
  • freeintv: Mattel Intellivision
  • frodo: Commodore 64
  • fuse: ZX Spectrum
  • gambatte: Game Boy (+ Color)
  • gearboy: Game Boy (+ Color)
  • gearsystem: Sega Master System
  • gme: a video game music player
  • gpsp: GameBoy Advance
  • gw: Game & Watch
  • handy: Atari Lynx
  • lowresnx: a fantasy console
  • lutro: Lua interpreter
  • mame2003: MAME
  • mame2003_plus: MAME
  • mednafen_lynx: Atari Lynx
  • mednafen_ngp: NeoGeo Pocket
  • mednafen_pce_fast: PC Engine
  • mednafen_pce: PC Engine
  • mgba: GameBoy Advance
  • mrboom: game engine for Doom
  • nestopia: NES
  • np2kai: PC-98
  • nxengine: game engine for Cave Story
  • o2em: Odyssey2
  • picodrive: Sega Megadrive / Genesis
  • pocketcdg: karaoke music player
  • prboom: game engine for Bomberman
  • prosystem: Atari 7800
  • quasi88: PC-88
  • quicknes: NES
  • race: NeoGeo Pocket
  • smsplus: Sega Master System
  • snes9x2005: SNES
  • snes9x2005_plus: SNES
  • tgbdual: Game Boy (+ Color)
  • theodore: Thomson MO/TO
  • uzem: Uzebox, an open-source console
  • x1: Sharp X1

Credits for the leading image: Rustom Capinpuyan.