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DuckStation Tutorial

Last updated August 29, 2022

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This tutorial covers the Android version. Looking for the Windows version? You'll find that here

About DuckStation for Android

DuckStation's mascot DuckStation's mascot

This tutorial is to help you with DuckStation for Android. DuckStation is considered a top PlayStation 1 emulator. All games emulate flawlessly. In addition to up-scaling 3D graphics (a staple feature in all PS1 emulators), DuckStation comes equipped with all the modern PGXP correction features. These corrections fix the inaccuracies that are evident when PlayStation 1 graphics are enhanced.

DuckStation has been around longer on Windows. This Android counterpart is relatively new and still trying to nail down exactly how it should work. Hence, in future releases, you may find that certain menu items or features have been moved around. Or a new icon appears on the main screen offering a new feature.

Should you use DuckStation?

With all the emulator offerings as of 2022, should you use DuckStation? I suppose I would say yes just because it's free. ePSXe for Android is a good emulator, too. It's more user-friendly than DuckStation. ePSXe works on Chromebooks while DuckStation isn't available for them. But yet, ePSXe costs $4 US. It requires some setup as well.

Multi-system emulators such as RetroArch emulate PlayStation 1 great, too (and it's free). Although multi-system emulators can come off as intimidating if you're a beginner to emulation. Anyway, to wrap this up, 'free' can't be beat so going with DuckStation is fine.

Downloading DuckStation

This is the easy part. Simply search “duckstation” in the Google Play store. Or follow the direct link below:

Setting up the BIOS

The PlayStation 1 BIOS is required to boot games. This is a separate download after you've downloaded DuckStation. Of which, you can download it right here:

Next, move this zip file to DuckStation's “bios” folder, then extract it. If you need help with that, read the following step-by-step directions. This is lots of steps because I'm going slow and holding your hand (so don't skim through this and get intimidated!).

Moving the BIOS and extracting it Steps to set up the BIOS
  1. You can use any file manager app for these steps. Your device most likely already comes with one. For these directions, I'm going to be using Astro File Manager (it's free).
  2. The first step is to navigate to your device's “Download” folder. Astro's opening screen has a direct shortcut to the Download folder.
    • Note: If you're using an advanced file manager, it might start you at the true root of your device. If that's the case, you can find your main root directory by going to storage > emulated > 0.
  3. In your Download folder, you're going to see “ps1_bio._ip.zip” - that's my BIOS zip file. We need to move this to DuckStation's folder. Select the dot menu A dot menu then select Move to.
  4. Select the device icon Device icon to go up one directory, which is the main root directory. Scroll down and select duckstation, then select bios.
  5. Once in DuckStation's bios folder, we can finish the action of moving the BIOS zip file by selecting Move.
  6. Next, we extract the zip file. Select the dot menu A dot menu then select Extract Here. You'll see “Scph1001.bin” appear.
  7. We don't need the zip file anymore so you can delete it. Select the dot menu A dot menu on it, then select the trash bin icon.

And that's it! You don't need to do anything in DuckStation to configure the BIOS. When you load a game in DuckStation, it will automatically search to see if any BIOS files are present in its bios folder.

Where DuckStation saves everything

Where DuckStation stores everything Steps to find DuckStation's folders

This is important, so I wanted to highlight this. You can find DuckStation's folder in your main root directory: Device icon > duckstation. The picture to the right guides you there when using Astro File Manager.

Inside DuckStation's folder you'll see such folders as:

  • memcards - When you save at a save point within a game, this is where that save file is stored.
  • savestates - When you use DuckStation to save a state, this is where those save files are stored.
  • screenshots - When you snap a screenshot, this is where DuckStation will save it.

So you need to know where these folders are so you can grab your screenshots (if they don't automatically show up in Google Photos). Also, if you want to back up your saves or transfer them to another device, you'd need to copy over the “memcards” and “savestates” folders.

Notes about downloading ISOs

How big is your phone?

PlayStation 1 ISOs are pretty big for our Android devices. A single-disc game can range from 200 to 400 MB. A multiple-disc game can be over 1 GB. If your Android device only has 64 GB of space (or worse, 32 GB), you'll probably only be able to have one or a couple of PlayStation 1 games at a time.

That's within reason, of course. I'm assuming your phone is already full of music, photos, and videos. Here's an idea: delete all the photos of your kids to fit more PSX ISOs, haha.

Downloads... disappear?

When it comes to downloading PSX ISOs, Android can be a bit wonky. Sometimes, while you're downloading a large file, it might suddenly disappear without warning. Sometimes it'll tell you the download finished, but it didn't. If your Wi-Fi connectivity is spotty, the download might stall and never continue. This can happen in any app, whether using Google Chrome or cloud storage, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

To workaround these issues, what I recommend doing is to download your PSX ISOs on a PC (or a Mac). Then connect your Android device to the PC to transfer the PSX ISOs by cable. Here's some help with that.

If a PC isn't an option for you, my recommendation is to keep your device awake while a large file is downloading. That will help prevent download problems.

Preparing your PSX ISOs

Before we jump into loading games with DuckStation, your PlayStation 1 ISOs need to be collected into a folder and extracted. These days, ROM sites typically deliver ISOs in “7Z” format. Think of them as ZIP files but with better compression. I'm going to help you extract them. So let's begin:

Moving and extracting 7Z files Steps to prepare PSX ISOs
  1. First, you're going to need an app that can extract 7Z files. I recommend ZArchiver (it's free).
    • Side note: PSX ISOs are less commonly delivered in ZIP and RAR. Either way, ZArchiver supports extracting them.
  2. Open ZArchiver. You need to decide where you're going to house your PSX ISOs. It doesn't matter where you put them. Some people keep them in the Downloads folder. What I like to do is create a folder called “ROMs” and inside that folder create folders for “PlayStation 1”, “Super Nintendo”, etc. In ZArchiver, to create a new folder, tap the The Plus icon then The Folder icon. Proceed to the next step when you're ready.
  3. Return to your device's main root directory (the default screen when you open ZArchiver). Tap Download. Once inside, long press your PSX ISO and tap Cut.
  4. Navigate to the folder where you want your PSX ISOs to be. Tap the clipboard icon The Clipboard icon to paste the PSX ISO there. Tap on the file (not a long press) and tap Extract here. Depending on the size of the file, it may take 10-20 seconds or two minutes to finish extracting.
  5. Depending on how the ROM site set up the 7Z archive, it will either: (1) extract the ISO files here, or (2) extract the ISO files into a new folder with the name of the game. Either way is fine and doesn't require any extra steps for setting things up with DuckStation.
  6. Lastly, we don't need the 7Z file anymore so you can delete it. Long press it and tap Delete. Also, if you don't foresee yourself extracting more 7Z files in the future, you can go ahead and uninstall ZArchiver (long press its app icon and tap Uninstall).

Loading a PSX ISO

DuckStation's mascot Tap a game to load it

With your PSX ISOs prepared and ready, now we can open DuckStation. Upon opening DuckStation for the first time, it wants you to add a game directory. That's just a few quick steps: adding a game directory .

To load a game, simply tap it. That's it! And wait a few moments because games don't run immediately.

Games not showing?

After adding your game directory (your PSX ISOs folder) to DuckStation, you may run into an issue where not all of your games appear on the games list. It's important to note that DuckStation only supports ISOs that are in the following formats: BIN (BIN/CUE), ISO, IMG, CHD, ECM, MDS, and PBP. And they must be extracted from their 7Z, RAR, or ZIP archives. If you need help with extracting, the section above about preparing your ISOs covers that.

The Pause menu

The Pause icon

The Pause menu is important. This is where you'll access all the features and everything DuckStation has to offer. When a game is running, you'll see a pause icon in the upper-right of the screen. Tap it to access the Pause menu.

The panels in the Pause menu Core menus in the Pause screen

The Pause menu presents you with a row of four icons. The first three are menus.

  • Game Functions menu The Game Functions menu is what you immediately see when you tap the Pause icon. It contains game-specific features such as save states, fast forward, and cheats. And this is where you'll go to reset the game or exit it.
  • Controller Settings menu The Controller Settings menu gives you many options to customize the controls, onscreen overlay buttons, and gamepad configurations.
  • General Settings menu The App Settings is where you can tweak the graphics and audio. This menu is important! This is where you go to troubleshoot your games if they're running slow or buggy.
  • Close This just closes the Pause menu.

Q: Graphics appear broken!

Broken graphics Showing broken graphics in two games

DuckStation is an awesome emulator, but it's not perfect. You may find that certain 3D graphics are broken. Maybe pieces of the floor are missing or other graphics have disappeared. Fortunately, this has an easy fix!

  1. While a game is running, tap the Pause icon .
  2. Tap the sprocket General Settings menu for the general settings. Drag the menus left to scroll to the right, and look for Enhancements.
  3. Scroll down and toggle off PGXP Texture Correction, as shown here . Return to the game and the graphics should be fixed.

This could be done globally to affect all games. I think it's better to do it on a per-game basis (the directions above) because not every game will have broken graphics.

Setting up a gamepad

This calls for several steps.

Pairing your gamepad

  1. Make sure your Bluetooth gamepad is fully charged and has LED lights indicating it's on.
  2. Put your gamepad in 'pairing mode'. Sometimes it's as simple as pressing the Start button and you'll see lights blinking on your gamepad. Gamepads that are compatible with multiple OSs might require a specific button to be pressed for pairing with Android. Read the documentation that came with your gamepad. Or go to the manufacturer's website and look for directions there.
    • For example, the 8BitDo Pro 2 (the #1 gamepad at the moment) requires you to press Start+B to enter pairing mode for Android.
  3. Next, enter the Bluetooth area in your phone to look for your gamepad to pop up in the list. Every Android device is different, so I can't tell you exactly where it is. Try looking up “[name of your phone] setup bluetooth” on YouTube. Or maybe one of these videos can help.
  4. Your device will indicate when your gamepad is successfully connected. The 8BitDo Pro 2 will even vibrate upon a successful connection.

Setup with DuckStation

Setting up a gamepad Steps to set up a gamepad

DuckStation doesn't automatically detect & configure the controller like RetroArch does. It requires setup.

  1. When a game isn't running, tap the hamburger menu and select Controller Settings.
    • Alternatively, while a game is running, you can access Controller Settings by tapping the Pause icon then Controller Settings menu. The difference here is the changes you make will only be applied to the game that's currently running.
  2. Tap Port 1, then tap Perform Automatic Mapping.
  3. DuckStation will ask you which gamepad you'd like to perform automatic mapping to. If your gamepad was successfully connected to your Android device, you will see it here. Tap it to continue.
  4. DuckStation will prompt you with a confirmation - just tap OK. And you're done!

Didn't work? If automatic mapping was unsuccessful, you can try to manually configure the buttons one at a time on the “Port 1” screen. If your gamepad buttons are not responding, make sure it's connected to your Android device. And make sure your gamepad is fully charged (there should be an LED light indicating that it's on). If you're still having problems, that'll be specific to your gamepad - try searching Google or YouTube using the full name of your gamepad plus your exact issue. For example: 8bitdo pro 2 not responding.

PGXP corrections

PGXP correcting texture mapping

'PGXP corrections' are the hottest feature of modern PlayStation 1 emulators. The original PlayStation 1 wasn't designed to be up-scaled to high resolutions. So when PlayStation 1 emulators upscale graphics, you begin to notice obvious faults in the 3D animation and 3D texturing.

(Left) Normal, (Right) PGXP Mode

View the sample comparisons around here. The image above shows PGXP correcting texture mapping. The GIF animation shows PGXP correcting jittery animation. Pretty cool, huh?

This Android version of DuckStation already has PGXP corrections enabled by default. So you don't need to do anything. Just load a game and enjoy what modern PlayStation 1 emulation has to offer :)

However, PGXP corrections can be a little buggy sometimes. If you ever want to turn them off, here's how to find them:

As mentioned in fixing buggy graphics, only “PGXP Texture Correction” needs to be turned off to fix broken graphics (if that happens to you).

Disc swapping for multiple-CD games

When you're playing a multiple-CD game and you reach the point to swap discs, here's what to do:

Swapping discs Steps to swap discs
  1. While a game is running, tap the Pause icon .
  2. Tap Change Disc.
  3. You'll enter Android's 'file selector' UI. Yours might look different from my screenshots. By default, this is in thumbnail view. You can tap the grid icon to switch to list view (makes things easier).
  4. Next, tap the ISO for the next disc. In my example, I'm playing disc 1 of Final Fantasy VII, and my ISO is in “BIN/CUE” format. That means I need to tap “FINALFANTASY7-2.CUE” for disc 2. If my ISO was in “CHD” format, I'd need to tap “FINALFANTASY7-2.CHD”. If my ISO was in “ISO” format, I'd need to tap “FINALFANTASY7-2.ISO”. Do you see the pattern?
  5. After selecting the ISO for the next disc, DuckStation returns to the game and you'll see messages on the upper-left about how it switched to the next disc. Then follow the prompts within the game to proceed.

Save states

Save states is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in any game. You can recall your save state at any time. There's quick to access. Here's how:

Save states
  1. While a game is running, tap the Pause icon .
  2. Tap Save State.
  3. DuckStation offers multiple slots, allowing you to have many save states. Tap on a slot, then DuckStation will immediately return to the game.
  4. When you want to recall your saved state, repeat the steps but select Load State. Then select the slot of the state you want to load.

Pro Tip: Use save states plus in-game saving. That way, you'll always have a backup just in case.

Memory card: copying/moving/deleting saves

DuckStation gives you the option to manage your saves in an exclusive editor or using the PlayStation 1's native interface. The difference is that DuckStation's editor is far more robust.

Option #1 - Managing memory in DuckStation

Managing memory cards Steps to manage memory cards
  1. While a game isn't running, tap the hamburger menu, then Memory Card Editor.
  2. Tap to add a memory card. Then select the game you want to manage the memory for.
  3. Once a memory card is open, you have several options:
    • To delete a save, tap the save you want to delete, then Delete Save.
    • To format this memory card, tap the dot menu, then Format Card.
    • To copy a save to another memory card, that requires another memory card to be open. Proceed to step #4 for this...
  4. To open a second memory card, tap . Then select the game you want memory copied to/from.
  5. With the second card open, tap the save you want to copy over, then select Copy Save. DuckStation will ask you which memory card to copy it to. There's only one other memory card open, so simply select the only card listed.

Option #2 - Managing memory natively

This method can't be used by default because DuckStation saves memory cards on a per-game basis. Memory needs to be changed to shared memory to use this option.

  1. When a game isn't running, tap the hamburger menu, then Start BIOS
  2. You should arrive at the BIOS main screen . Choose Memory Card to proceed.
  3. Now you're at the memory card management screen:
    The native memory card management screen
    This is the screen where you can manage your memory card saves. You would do so exactly as you would on the real PlayStation 1 system.

Fast forward

While a game is running, tap the Pause icon then select Toggle Fast Forward. DuckStation will return to the game and it will be running in fast forward. To turn off fast forward, simply repeat the same steps.

Capturing screenshots

This is a little tricky. At the time I'm writing this, DuckStation doesn't have a shortcut to capture a screenshot. It does, however, let you set a gamepad button to capture screenshots when you go to Controller Settings > Hotkeys > Save Screenshot. Captured screenshots are saved to the screenshots folder.

If capturing screenshots are important to you (and you don't have a gamepad), switch to ePSXe for Android or RetroArch.

Using cheats

DuckStation auto-downloads cheats! Enabling cheats takes mere seconds.

Steps to use cheats Steps to use cheats
  1. While a game is running, tap the Pause icon .
  2. Tap Patch Codes. (They can't call it “Cheat Codes” because the word 'cheat' raises a red flag with Google's protections.)
  3. DuckStation will then prompt you with a warning that enabling cheats--er, patch codes, could cause games to break. For the most part, DuckStation's cheats are tested and don't cause problems. This warning is for the complainers out there who bother the DuckStation team with dumb complaints. You can select Don't ask again.
  4. Next, select the cheats you want to use. Tap OK when you're done. That's it!
    • The Add button adds new cheats. It's a little confusing - don't tap 'Add' thinking it's the confirmation button after you've selected the cheats you want to use.

Adding your own cheats

Continuing from the directions above, the patch codes screen has an Add button. Tapping that allows you to enter your own cheat code, as shown here .

After adding a new cheat, it's added to the bottom of the cheats list and automatically checked.

Editing & Deleting cheats

This is the 'fun' part. DuckStation doesn't let you edit or delete cheats/patch codes. However, cheats are being pulled from a text file. Hence, editing and deleting cheats is simply a matter of editing the text file.

Editing cheats/patch codes Editing cheats/patch codes
  1. First, you need a text editor. This is not to be confused with a word processor such as Microsoft Word. A good text editor I recommend is QuickEdit. It's free, but it does show you ads. I'm using it for these directions.
  2. We can't directly open the cheats file in QuickEdit. We need to do the reverse and open the cheats through a file manager app. For these directions, I'm using Astro File Manager (it's free). Open Astro or your preferred file manager app and navigate to duckstation > cheats.
    • Optional: As a precaution, you may want to duplicate the cheats file to have a backup before you start modifying it. Just in case you do something that messes it up and you want to start over.
  3. Tap the dot menu for the cheats file you want to modify, then select Open as > Text.
  4. Skip the annoying ad that comes up. Then QuickEdit is going to ask for your permission to edit text files on your device. Follow the prompts to enable permission. Don't let the language scare you: “Allow QuickEdit access to manage all files”. QuickEdit is a safe app from a trusted developer.
  5. You can now edit or delete cheats for the game you selected. With any new edits you make, it's important to follow the exact format that you see used for other cheats in this file.
  6. When you're done, tap the floppy disk icon to save changes.

Dumping your PSX games to ISO

Dumping your own PSX games to ISO requires a PC with a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. I have step-by-step directions for this process in my RetroArch (Windows) tutorial.

Finding PSX ISOs

In my links page, I have some good links to sites where you can download PlayStation 1 ISOs. If you want to try to find more sites than what's in my collection of links, just Google around. For example, if you want to download Final Fantasy VII just Google “download final fantasy vii psx”.