How To Set Up RetroArch For PS1

Sony PlayStation (PS1) emulators are now in an excellent place with near on perfect emulation being offered by the likes of DuckStation, which is an excellent choice for fast and accurate PS1 emulation.

The great news is that a libretro port of DuckStation has made its way to RetroArch under the name ‘SwanStation’ (See what they did there?).

Whilst SwanStation is not being developed/maintained by DuckStation developer ‘Stenzek’, SwanStation is proving to be one of the better PS1 RetroArch cores available and will be the one I use in this quick guide on how to set up RetroArch for PS1.

First of all, here’s what you’ll need before we begin:

  • Install RetroArch Download RetroArch Here
  • Have at least one PS1 game disc image ready to test – These are typically booted by launching a .bin/.cue, .img/.ccd/.sub or .chd file.
  • Have the relevant PS1 BIOS files depending on what region games you wish to play – I cover this in more detail here, but you will need a PS1 BIOS file to boot games with the SwanStation core.
  • To play games, you will ideally have a controller – You can struggle using keyboard controls if you want, but make life easier by using a quality controller. The 8bitdo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller is an excellent controller and is my personal preference to use across a number of emulated systems.

Alternatively, why not get a more authentic feeling PlayStation replica controller? The below selection are PS3 replicas, but since a PS3 controller is the same form factor as a PS1 Dualshock controller, they are perfect for playing PS1 games.

Bestseller No. 1
PS3 Controller, Wireless PS3 Controller Double Shock…
  • Third-party controller: This game controller is not original product, it is only compatible with 3 system, you can play games on 3 system.
Bestseller No. 2
JAMSWALL Controller for PS3, Wireless Bluetooth Controller…
  • 【Compatible with Ps 3 console】: It’s a Wireless Use Controller for Ps 3, made by third party company JAMSWALL Brand, not made by Sony. Discover greater precision, comfort, and control.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Zexrow Wireless Controller for Play-station 3, Gamepad…
  • Super Long Standby Power: Built in high capacity battery, USB charging cable. Auto sleep function after 15 minutes Please do not use the phone to charge at the charging voltage, because the phone is much higher, it may damage the controller.

Step 1 – Download PS1 BIOS File

The SwanStation core on RetroArch requires the use of a PS1 BIOS file so it can boot up games.

You will need to locate and download at least one of the following BIOS files.

  • scph5500.bin (Japan BIOS)
  • scph5501.bin (US BIOS)
  • scph5502.bin (EU BIOS)

Once you have your desired region PS1 BIOS, you will need to copy it to the ‘RetroArch/system/’ folder.

PS1 BIOS Download
PS1 BIOS Download

Step 2 – Download The ‘SwanStation’ Core In RetroArch

Next, boot up RetroArch.

Once you have RetroArch open, select ‘Load Core’. (Note – Your RetroArch theme appearance may differ from the one I am using, but don’t worry, the process is still the same).

Download SwanStation Core
To Download Cores, Select ‘Load Core’

Next, select ‘Download a Core’.

Scroll down the Core Downloader menu until you get to ‘Sony – PlayStation (SwanStation). Select this, then the core will begin to download and install automatically.

Download SwanStation Core
RetroArch SwanStation Core Download

It can also be a good idea if you are using an existing installation of RetroArch and not a fresh install, to go back to the main menu, scroll down to ‘Online Updater’ and select:-

‘Update Core Info Files’ as well as ‘Update Databases’.

This will ensure all the essential files and databases for RetroArch are fully up to date. If you are using a fresh installation of RetroArch, this will not be necessary.

Step 3 – Choose A PS1 game To Play

We are now ready to play some PS1 games!

Go back to the main menu in RetroArch and select ‘Load Content’. Then navigate to where you have your PS1 games are stored. Then select the game disc image that you wish to load.

RetroArch PS1 Select Game
Select A PS1 Game To Play

SwanStation will now kick into life and the game will boot.

RetroArch PS1 - Destruction Derby 2
Destruction Derby 2 Running On The SwanStation Core

And that is the quickest way to play PS1 games with RetroArch and the SwanStation core.

The SwanStation core has a wide range of enhancement options available, to access these settings, press F1, then scroll down and select ‘Options’, then select ‘Enhancement Settings’.

Here you can access everything from the internal resolution scale through to multisample antialiasing settings, making your PS1 games look far less jagged and upscaled!

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