Emulation allows players to run the older Panzer Dragoon games on a modern Windows PC. Various emulators such as Retroarch, Mednafen and Yabause facilitate this. In addition, the Yabause emulator can upscale and smooth out the graphics. Below is a list of quick setup guides you will need in order to get these emulators working.
- 1 Legally ripping games
- 2 Saturn Emulators
- 3 Playing the Panzer Dragoon Series in VR/3D
Legally ripping games
If you already own the physical copies of the Panzer Dragoon games you can use a program called Alcohol 120% to extract and rip your .cue files.
Retroarch Emulator Setup
Go to https://www.retroarch.com/ site and choose which device you want to install the emulator for. Once you have Retroarch installed you will need to put the bios files in the system folder found in your Retroarch main installation folder. Although, you’ll have to find the Bios files yourself, if you do a google search there is a pack on http://archive.org/
Once you have the emulator installed go to main menu and select the "Online Updater". Update everything in here. Then in Retroarch settings go to settings: Video/Scaling/Aspect Ratio/and set the aspect ratio to 16:9.
Next you will need to download the Sega Saturn cores. A core is the emulator itself of which you install within the Retroarch user interface. You will have a choice between 4 different Saturn emulators or cores. Go to main menu and select download core. I've successfully gotten the Yabause and Kronos cores to work. I recommend the Kronos core as this core can upscale and smooth out the graphics.
Once your core is downloaded you need to set up the game files. Retroarch will scan and play any .cue file of a specific game. Put your game files in a folder on your computer and move on to the next step. For a multi disc game like Panzer Dragoon Saga you need to go through an additional step. You need to set up a .m3u text document containing all of your game files. So open up notebook or notebook++ and copy the name of your game files exactly for each disc. Example:
042 Panzer Dragoon Saga Disc 1 of 4 (U).cue
042 Panzer Dragoon Saga Disc 2 of 4 (U).cue
042 Panzer Dragoon Saga Disc 3 of 4 (U).cue
042 Panzer Dragoon Saga Disc 4 of 4 (U).cue
Then go to file and save as. You can save this file whatever you want so I saved mine as: Panzer Dragoon Saga.m3u. But the ending extension is very important and it needs to be .m3u
NOTE: If you can't see the .txt extension at the end of your text document title you need to change your settings to show known file extensions. In Windows 10 it's very simple, you can find that on your folder under 'View' and a checkbox reading 'File name extensions'.
Once you create this file put it in the same directory as your game files. Then when in Retroarch use this file to load your game. Go to main menu/load content and select your game folder location and load that m3u file. Your game should boot up and you can select which core you want to use. I suggest the Kronos core as you can upscale the graphics.
When you actually have to switch discs you will need to press F1 and go into the quick menu and perform these steps:
Play until the "Please insert disc 2" prompt.
Quick Menu > Disc Control > Eject Disc.
QUICK MENU > RESUME, just for a second.
Quick Menu > Disc Control > Current Disc Index, change for disc 2.
And finally: Insert Disc.
For all other single disc games you can just go to main menu/load content and just load the .cue game file as is.
While a game is running if you press F1 you will be presented with a number of emulator options. It is here that you can fine tune your graphics settings or make any save states. For the Kronos Sega Saturn core I suggest these settings:
Resolution: 1080p or 720p
Polygon Mode: gpu-tesselation (will upscale the graphics)
Improved Mesh: on
Once you have Mednafen installed you need to go into your installation folder, right click on the mednafen.ctg file and open it up in a program like notepad and make some changes. Use Ctr+f within the document to search for what you need as shown below.
- Within the mednafen.cfg, file and using notepad or notepad++ to edit it, make these changes and save:
-Hit ctrl+f, search for ss.stretch
change ss.stretch aspect_mult2 to ss.stretch aspect
search for ss.correct_aspect
0 is native
1 will squash or stretch to 4:3
-ctrl+f search for ss.videoip
0 will give you sharp pixels
1 will apply bilinear filtering (a blur)
-ctrl+f search for video.frameskip
set this to 0
so the emulator renders all frames
ctrl+f search for ss.scsp.resamp_quality
sound quality for the scsp
0 is lowest
10 is highest
default is 4
-ctrl+f search for ss.midsync
setting to 1 can reduce input lag
but increases CPU load
-ctrl+f search for cd.image_memcache
if you have a good bit of RAM
setting this to 1 will load the entire game into your RAM
Basic Emulator Settings:
Alt + Shift + 1 -> Set controls for Player 1
Alt + Shift + 2 -> Set controls for Player 2
Alt + Enter -> Full Screen
0 - Save Screen Snapshot
F5 - Save Game State
F7 - Load Game State
F11 - Toggle FPS Text
ctrl+shift+esc (only use this if you have to force close Mednafen)
Loading a game:
To start a game drag an .Cue file of your chosen Saturn game over the mednafen.exe file found in your main directory folder.
Yabause 0.9.15 Setup
Note: This emulator can also upscale and smooth out the graphics
Main Site: https://yabause.en.uptodown.com/windows
Go to settings and General :
First, select a folder for your Saturn BIOS. You will have to find them online. Do a search in Google for “Sega Saturn BIOS v1.00a (1995)(Sega)(US)(M6)” . These are the ones I used. Put them in the same folder as the Yaubause 0.9.15 installation folder. Next, CD-Rom should be set to *ISO-File Virtual Drive* . uncheck *Enable Built in HLE Bios* . Translation option should be set to *use system locale* . Lastly, make sure *Enable Frame Limiter* is checked. If not, the framerate will be way too high. And check off *Enable Multithreading* .
Next, go to Video :
Select *OpenGL* as the video interface. Select *Bilinear Filtering* . Also, for OSD Core use *Software OSD Interface* . Fullscreen Resolution should be 1920X1080. Most importantly now is the video upscaling option at the bottom. This option will upscale and smooth out your graphics. So, set User *Integer Pixel Scaling* to 4.
Next, go to Sound :
The best option here is *SDL Sound Interface* .
Next, go to Input :
I was able to get the L and R buttons mapped with the pad option only. The 3D control pad option would not map the L and R buttons. Select the controller for *Pad* . You’ll have to map the movement to the d-pad because for some reason Yabause has issues with controller input settings. But the pad option will ensure you at least have all of your buttons mapped, just without analog movement. And the L and R have to be mapped to the top L and R buttons, doesn’t map to any back triggers of a 360 controller for some reason… But ironically for some odd reason the 3D controller option works with Nights into Dreams just fine though…except when you’re walking around with the kids.
Lastly, go to View :
Select hide on fullscreen. This will keep the top menu invisible when you go into fullscreen. You can go into fullscreen by going to the top menu, view, and select fullscreen. Once in fullscreen you can exit by pressing the command alt+Enter on your keyboard.
To load a game/ISO go to file and Open ISO. You will need to open a .CUE file of the game you want to play. And to save go to file, save state, or load state.
Playing the Panzer Dragoon Series in VR/3D
With the emulators mentioned above you can split the screen and play the games in 3D with your VR headset of choice. Retroarch has a built in split screen mode but the other standalone emulators like Mednafen will require a program called ReShade to split the screen. More information below:
Retroarch: Split Screen Shader setup (works on all Saturn cores)
Retroarch has a split screen shader that is built in to the emulator itself and when set up will split the screen. Here are some instructions to set up the Side by Side shader:
Note: make sure first in Retroarch settings go to: Video/Scaling/Aspect Ratio/and set the aspect ratio to 16:9.
When a game is running press F1 and scroll down to Shaders. Next go to Load and select shaders_slang/stereoscopic-3d/and select the side-by-side-simple shader. This shader will split the screen. Go back and then select Shader Parameters. In these options set each one to:
Eye Separation: -0.50 or -0.55 (-0.52 is preferred: see how to manually alter this number below)
Vertical Placement: 0.42
Horizonal Placement: 0.99
If the Shader fails to load you might have to fix the file manually. Might be fixed and updated later but in case it isn't, here is how to fix it:
Go into Retroarch installation folder. Go into the shaders folder. Next, go into shaders_slang folder. Go into stereoscopic-3d folder. right click side-by-side-simple and open it up in notepad++. Change this line:
shaders0 = shaders/side-by-side-simple.slang
shader0 = shaders/side-by-side-simple.slang
Then go to file and save.
You can also manually increase the number count of the Eye Separation by editing that file as well. So you will get an even more precise 3D effect. Here is what you have to do:
Go to: [retroarch dir]\shaders\shaders_slang\stereoscopic-3d\shaders\side-by-side-simple.slang
Right click on side-by-side-simple.slang and open it up in notepad or notepad++. Edit this line near the top:
#pragma parameter eye_sep "Eye Separation" 0.30 -1.0 5.0 0.05
Change the 0.05 to 0.01
This will allow to eye separation to increase in increments of 1 instead of 5. Make sure to go to file and save your changes. With these new changes in place I suggest a starting number of -0.52 for the Eye Separation.
Next all you have to do is merge the screen with a free program like desktop+ or bigscreen. But I suggest the paid version of Virtual Desktop as it has more options as far as merging the screens go.
Mednafen and Yabause 0.9.15 installed with ReSade (A program that will split the screen)
Now, to play these games in 3D you will need a program called ReShade; a program that will split the screen. Go to the site and download it. Next install ReShade on mednafen.exe, and Yabause 0.9.15.exe, found in the main directory where you installed the emulators. When installing ReShade Select OpenGL
When you open up the emulator and load a game, you will see the ReShade interface overlaid on the emulator screen when you start a game. Hit the home button to bring up the tutorial and hit continue to bring up the shaders. From the list select Depth3D to split the screen. You can then play around with the Divergence and Convergence, which will set how strong the 3D is.
Install Virtual Desktop from the Oculus Store: (This program allows you to merge the two screens.)
Note: you can use free programs like desktop+ or bigscreen but I suggest the paid version of Virtual Desktop as it has more options as far as merging the screens.
Next, you will need to buy a program from the Oculus or Steam Store called Virtual Desktop. Once inside this program you can bring up the emulator from your desktop into full screen. You can then, either from the Virtual Desktop menu or by pressing F6, split the screen to go into VR along with the ReShade split screen. You can also curve the sides of the screen and zoom in or zoom out to your liking.