The greatest PlayStation 2 emulator for Android mobile devices is AetherSX2
For a very, very long time, Android's PlayStation 2 emulation has been in a peculiar spot. It has been possible to imitate the system on your smartphone using a specific emulator that is accessible on the Play Store, but many people, including us, refused to promote the software even though it was the best method to play them due to claims of stolen code and unethical business activities. AetherSX2 is currently the finest Android smartphone app for playing PlayStation 2 games. It's available for free download from the Google Play Store and is also the quickest.
I conducted experiments to determine which games work and which don't, and the outcomes are shockingly fantastic. You still need a smartphone with top-of-the-line specs in order to utilize AetherSX2 right now. I experimented on the OnePlus 9 Pro running Android 12. I alternated between Vulkan and OpenGL depending on which game ran the best. One of the most potent smartphones available for emulation right now, the OnePlus 9 Pro fails to run some of the most well-known games at 100% speed. The Simpsons: Hit & Run, Need for Speed: Underground 2, and the original Ratchet & Clank were all tested by me. In addition, I wanted to test Sonic Heroes because the most current build had broken what had previously worked flawlessly.
Keep in mind that this is an early alpha build. We have been testing the private alpha build that the developer provided for us for a number of weeks. You may sign up for the current public alpha now. Currently, there are many games and features that are broken, and updates may bring about regressions. For further information, you want to visit the official AetherSX2 website.
The top mobile PlayStation 2 game emulator is AetherSX2.
There are only truly two other emulators available for PlayStation 2 emulation: Play!, a high-level emulator that doesn't require a BIOS to work, and PCSX2's licensing agreement-infringing PCSX2. While using PCSX2 code, AetherSX2 has received the blessing of PCSX2's creators. In essence, the fundamental code of PCSX2 is LGPLv3 licensed, and any GPL-covered code that is still present in AetherSX2 will be eliminated by the time the software is formally published, according to the PCSX2 developers who further described the licensing issue. AetherSX2 is now obtainable in early alpha.
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You will need a 64-bit device and a CPU with "big"/performance cores to run AetherSX2; the developer suggests at least a Snapdragon 845. Depending on whatever runs better on your device, you may choose between playing games using Vulkan or OpenGL, and you can go back and forth between both while you're playing. Internal resolution scaling, save states, several control schemes, and other wonderful features are all present in AetherSX2. It's still in alpha, as was already said, so performance may vary. For instance, Ratchet: Gladiator (also known as Ratchet: Deadlocked in the US) wasn't truly playable until recently since it would crash after the first cinematic prior to a recent update.
Tahlreth said on Reddit that the LGPL sections of the source code will be made available upon request for individuals seeking it. You can "relink the combined shared library if necessary per the license with the given object file," as well. According to Tahlreth, no Java source code will be made available to the public for the purpose of preventing clones that are jam-packed with adverts and in-app purchases. This argument does hold water in light of the fact that there are currently applications claiming to be AetherSX2. AetherSX2 doesn't even have internet connectivity, let alone ads. The distinction between LGPL and GPL is that developers may use portions of the code from another project and alter and redistribute it as long as it is licensed under the LGPL. The remaining portion of the project may be covered by a different license. According to the GPL, the entire project would have to be licensed.
You may have observed that there is just one control stick and no D-Pad if you have watched any AetherSX2 footage as well. You may alter that while a game is still in progress by going to the emulator menu and choosing to show those extra controls. The issue is that there is no reason to constantly display them due of the smaller screen real estate, especially because many games function just fine without them. The only game I had issues with in this regard was Ratchet: Gladiator since you need the second control stick to turn the camera.
Optimum configuration for the Aether SX2
There are actions you can do to increase AetherSX2's performance, and the creator has actually tested it extensively on their Snapdragon 870-equipped POCO F3 device. There are a lot of options you can mess around with and alter, but I've only made three changes.
Possibly the most important parameter you can change is the GPU renderer. Depending on the device you're using and the game you're playing, you may pick between Vulkan or OpenGL, and the performance you receive will vary.
If you've never heard of the Vulkan Graphics API from the Khronos Group, consider it an alternative to OpenGL and OpenGL ES. It is supported by firms like NVIDIA and Intel and is designed to provide developers additional choices when creating cross-platform games. Additionally, it uses less CPU resources, which might improve speed. Because it supports framebuffer fetch, OpenGL, as Tahlreth points out, is only quicker in select games. Because of this, your results may vary.
The second choice is underclocking, which I've discovered produces excellent results when done at a 75% underclock. The third and last one is a new option called "skip showing redundant frames" that was included in the most current AetherSX2 upgrade at the time of writing. It tries to determine the internal framerate of the game and stops duplicate frames from being displayed. Combining this with underclocking allowed games like Need for Speed: Underground 2 to go from being nearly unplayable to always operating at 100% speed.
I was most looking forward to playing Ratchet & Clank on my smartphone because it was one of my PlayStation 2 nostalgia favorites. There are things you can do to increase performance even while it isn't currently ideal. No modifications or other adjustments were made to the AetherSX2 experience used in the aforementioned video, which was captured on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Underground 2: Need for Speed
Need for Speed: Underground 2 is one of the games that needed further adjustments to function properly. On the other hand, it increased from about 50 to 60% speed when a 75% underclock and duplicate frame rendering were used. Although the game did hang at the very end of the video, the clip above was also captured on the OnePlus 9 Pro. It's a remarkable accomplishment that this game plays so smoothly because it was difficult to imitate on PCSX2 for years.
Hit and Run on The Simpsons
Since I am quite familiar with The Simpsons: Hit & Run, I frequently play it when evaluating cellphones. This is without a doubt the greatest method to play the game on AetherSX2, and it plays far faster than it does on emulators like Dolphin. Even on the Google Pixel 6 Pro, which had a lot of graphical issues, the game played well – more so than on Dolphin Emulator. A brief gameplay clip is shown below. Non-Adreno GPUs are incompatible with the Vulkan renderer.
How to download AetherSX2
AetherSX2 is now in a public alpha stage, thus even if it is not readily accessible through the Google Play Store, it is simple to try it out. You may either go the Google Play Store page for the app and sign up for the alpha there, or you can do so while connected into your Google account.
AetherSX2 is a great improvement over previous PlayStation 2 emulators, given their limitations. We're interested to see how the emulator develops and progresses in the future and appreciate the emulator's support from the PCSX2 creators. Personally, I'm interested in how the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will perform. Don't forget to give it a go and share your thoughts with us in the comments!