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AetherSX2 is a promising PS2 emulator for Android (Updated: PCSX2 team responds)

Update: The PCSX2 emulator team confirmed that AetherSX2 is based on their work, while also expressing excitement.

Published onNovember 25, 2021

  • AetherSX2 is a new PS2 emulator for Android that’s currently in closed alpha testing.
  • The primary developer behind the emulator answered some questions for us about what to expect.
  • YouTuber Taki Udon also has some examples of how the emulator works so far on a variety of phones.

Update: November 25, 2021 (12:24 AM ET): The team behind the mega-popular PCSX2 emulator for PC has issued a blog post addressing the upcoming AetherSX2 emulator for Android. In it, the team confirmed that the new emulator is based on PCSX2, while also expressing excitement about the project.

The PCSX2 team confirmed that they’ve discussed licensing barriers for AetherSX2 with the developer and that they were assured any remaining issues would be addressed by the time the Android emulator is released.

“In addition, the developer very kindly let us see an early alpha of the emulator, and it runs better than most of us expected! We are really looking forward to recommending it to all those wanting PCSX2 on Android, as this is probably the best it’s gonna get,” the team added, while cautioning against fake APKs out there right now.

Original article: November 19, 2021 (11:13 AM ET): If you want to emulate PS2 games on your PC, there’s one distinct choice: PCSX2. The Play! emulator is also around, but it doesn’t have the development support of PCSX2, which receives constant updates even today.

Related: The best emulators for Android to play old favorites

But what about a PS2 emulator of Android? Things get much murkier there. There’s DamonPS2, but that is a paid emulator that is controversial due to the developer taking a lot of code from PCSX2 and violating the LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License). RetroArch also has a Play! core right now, but it is nowhere near ready to handle most players’ needs.

Now, though, a new emulator has entered the scene: AetherSX2. This emulator is in a closed alpha state at the moment, but the primary developer is being very open about what we can expect. Additionally, YouTuber Taki Udon has a video of the AetherSX2 emulator working on various Android phones with various processors.

Below, we’ve got some questions the developer answered for us. If you’d rather just know the basics, it appears this PS2 emulator for Android could be the solution to all our problems. It already runs games well on a variety of chipsets (although the Snapdragon 888 Plus works best, obviously). It’s based on existing LGPL emulation work, so it will be free and open-source.

An open beta is expected to launch before the end of the year (although the name might change), so stay tuned for that!

AetherSX2 PS2 emulator for Android: What to expect

Tahlreth is the lone developer behind AetherSX2, at least for now. They are working on the PS2 emulator for Android in their spare time. However, the base code for AetherSX2 comes from a leading PC-based emulator that, for legal reasons, can’t be specifically named. It’s pretty easy to figure out though since there aren’t many LGPL PS2 emulators around.

Tahlreth has the full support of the development team behind the base emulator code, so this is not a DamonPS2 situation. Tahlreth also has committed to complying with the LGPL of that emulator, which means AetherSX2 will be free and open-source.

Thankfully, this is not a DamonPS2 situation. This emulator is being developed in cooperation with existing developers.

Since the base code comes from an existing, highly-developed PS2 emulator, the alpha version of AetherSX2 already looks great. It works on MediaTek, Samsung, and Qualcomm processors. However, as with any emulator, Qualcomm chips will perform best and the higher-end chips will produce the best results. Still, this is not an emulator that only those with deep pockets will be able to play. Taki Udon’s video proves that even mid-rangers will see decent results.

As mentioned before, Tahlreth hopes to get an open beta version of the emulator out there before the end of 2021. Stay tuned as we’ll give you a link to try it out once that happens.

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