The Magic Of Custom Firmware With Wipeout Pulse


Owners of the original PSP may recall that when the device was first released, Sony had clocked its processor to run at 266 MHz. Then, in 2007, they released a firmware update that allowed the device to run at a higher 333 MHz, which meant that all games released from that point onward could use the additional power. God of War: Chains of Olympus was among the first high-profile PSP games to benefit from this.


Unfortunately, it appeared that this only affected newer games. Older games wouldn’t benefit from the increased processing power, unless you used custom firmware to “force” 333 MHz in older games.


I didn’t take much of an interest in any of this until I saw people in the Wipeout community mention that Wipeout Pure — which, while being a great game, would occasionally have slowdown issues — benefitted immensely from being forced to run at 333 MHz. It made me think. If Custom Firmware could make Wipeout Pure run better, surely it would also have the same effect on Wipeout Pulse, the second (and better) Wipeout game on PSP?


Since I couldn’t find any information on whether or not Custom Firmware would affect Wipeout Pulse, I decided to try it out for myself. I loaded the latest Custom Firmware onto my PSP, forced 333 MHz mode for games, put in my Wipeout Pulse UMD, and played a couple of races.


The result was nothing short of amazing. Where originally Pulse ran at what seemed like 30 frames-per-second (with occasional slowdown when there was a big explosion on the screen), I could have sworn it was now running at 60, or at least at a much higher framerate than it originally did. There were no traces of slowdown to be seen either. It felt like I was running Wipeout HD on my PSP, and combined with me trying out a different craft than the one I usually used, this made the game feel new all over again.


Not everyone can tell the difference between lower and higher framerates, as long as there’s no slowdown — a lot of my friends can’t — but for those of you who can, take a look at these two short videos I captured to try and illustrate the difference.


Wipeout Pulse is one of my favourite games, which is why I thought of sharing my fun with our readers and anyone else that loves Wipeout enough to actually try this out. If you want to try it yourself, grab the latest “Pro” Custom Firmware (I’m sure you can find it on your own), boot it up on your PSP, and press Select while on the XMB. You should see this menu pop up:


Use the D-pad to highlight CPU CLOCK GAME, and press left/right until it displays “333/166”. Once you’ve done this, scroll down to EXIT and exit the menu. Then, press Select again, just to make sure it’s still set at 333/166. Now you’re all set, and both Wipeout Pure and Pulse should see notable framerate improvements.


Food for thought:

1. I tried using 333 MHz mode with a few other PSP games I own as well, such as Motorstorm: Arctic Edge, Fate/Unlimited Codes and Dissidia Duodecim Prologus. I didn’t notice a difference in the case of any of those games, which is understandable, as they’re all newer titles and likely run at 333 MHz already.


2. If you want that God Eater Burst theme, Namco Bandai released that via their God Eater blog several months ago. You can grab the file here. It’s a regular PSP theme and doesn’t require Custom Firmware. Just drop it into the “PSP-slash-Theme” folder on your memory stick.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.